Chapter 89: COVID Chronicles

By Karen

Day 106

#BourdainDay News from the Home Front

Were Anthony Bourdain still with us, today would have been his 64th birthday. In 2019, his chef friends Eric Ripert and José Andrés began celebrating by designating June 25 #BourdainDay. All that’s required in recognition is to raise a glass or have a great meal that Tony might have loved — which is to say, do whatever makes you happy.

Restaurants all over are featuring specials in his memory. For example, Tojo’s in Vancouver is recreating the seven-course menu served when Bourdain visited in 2008, with a portion of proceeds going to Mind the Bar, a fund for local restaurant workers dealing with depression. Even in death, Bourdain still champions worthy causes.

GoTraveler posted a tribute consisting of early Bourdain TV clips that left me smiling. He was so exuberant when he and his earring embarked his globe-trotting adventure…

I met Anthony Bourdain’s wife Ottavia in November 2009 when several Cats Working readers and I gathered in Washington D.C. to attend the annual Capital Food Fight, which Tony was hosting with José Andrés…

Since then, Ottavia and I have occasionally touched base, and she graciously provided an update on how she and daughter Ariane are doing.

Ottavia’s parents live in Italy’s Lombardy region, which was the epicenter for COVID-19 there. Bourdain once filmed an episode of No Reservations featuring them and other members of Ottavia’s family. Fortunately, they have been able to stay healthy.

But Ottavia wasn’t so lucky. She’s gone back to school to study neurobiology (she had once studied dentistry in Italy before emigrating to the U.S.). In February, she got her EMT (emergency medical technician) license.

She told me she caught COVID-19 in mid-March, probably in school or on the bus, so her plans to begin volunteering as an EMT had to get scratched. Here’s what she told me about coronavirus:

“It was AWFUL. I wasn’t one of the worst cases and I managed to stay out of the hospital, mostly because I have a stethoscope and a pulse oximeter at home and I could check my lungs’ sounds and my oxygen concentration. It took me over three weeks to recover. I still have lingering issues.”

Ottavia is in her early 40s (her 1965 birthdate repeated all over the internet is wildly inaccurate). She describes this lingering aftereffect of COVID that I haven’t seen reported anywhere:

“I had completely lost my sense of smell and could barely taste anything. But things were getting much better until last week, when I started smelling a sinister scent. Like rotten carcass. I was sure there was a dead mouse in the apartment, although Eddie and Ariane couldn’t smell anything. I went on a hunt for hours. But then I realized that I could smell that scent in meat, tuna, coffee, body wash.

“I emailed my doctor, and turns out that many people who recovered from COVID-19, and had lost their sense of smell, are now, weeks later, suffering from parosmia, a distorted sense of smell. For some it’s so bad they can’t even eat because everything tastes like rotten meat.

“I’m sure this too will pass, but it’s a scary virus because there are still so many unknowns. It’s maddening to see how many people are nonchalant about it.”

Ariane and Eddie haven’t gotten sick, and Ariane even tested negative for antibodies, so somehow Ottavia managed to successfully quarantine while they were all living in the same apartment.

Ottavia has had a relationship with Eddie Cummings for several years. They met at Renzo Gracie’s Academy while practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

I don’t know how much of a role, if any, BJJ still plays in their lives. Eddie is completing his master’s degree in applied mathematics and plans to go on to Ph.D. studies.

Ottavia is keeping busy with a lot of summer school classes. Last year she told me she wanted to study neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and would love to earn a Ph.D. in biomedical science.

Daughter Ariane is 13 now and studying for high school admission tests she’ll be taking in the fall. Can you believe how time flies?

It sounds like Ariane has some strong Bourdain genes. She’s already taller than Ottavia. She’s a straight A student. For hobbies, she’s into playing music and painting. Ottavia also reports that Ariane is a great writer.

Ariane is certainly old enough to surf the ‘net, and she does. And what she sometimes finds about her father is disturbing.

In case Ariane’s surfing ever brings her to Cats Working, I want to say that none of us know the full story after 2016. Only after Tony was gone did we learn he’d become deeply entangled in an explosive mess created by that woman he was dating. Had it come out while he was alive, it would have damaged his reputation and possibly ended his relationship with CNN. So, anything he did to keep that woman happy and quiet may have been to protect his own family, not because he preferred her.

Since this woman has never shown the slightest regard or respect for Tony’s family before or after his death, anything she puts online about him can only be construed as self-serving and possibly cruel by intent. She’s firmly established that’s how she rolls. Our only reasonable response is to ignore it and her.

I think I’ll be celebrating #BourdainDay later with a dirty martini. Cheers!

BONUS: has a series of links to amazing tattoos of Bourdain people have posted. Check them out.

19 Responses to Chapter 89: COVID Chronicles

  1. Joanne M Miarecki says:

    Karen thanks for the update on ,Ariane and Ottavia, so glad they are doing OK ,I am glad she as weathered the storm with this virus.

  2. bassgirl23 says:

    Thanks for the update, and cheers – I plan on having a negroni or two tonight to celebrate my 21st wedding anniversary as well! Wish I liked sushi, as we are only a few minutes away from Tojo’s, but no one in my family (myself included) would eat it. Even though I grew up in BC, raw fish just isn’t something I can eat (and I’ve tried so many times!)

    Glad to hear Tony’s family is thriving and moving forward out of the spotlight. Must be so difficult as a teenager to be able to read all the crap that’s out there, but am sure she has a strong community around her to help her sort it all out.

  3. Anita says:

    Karen, here’s a toast to Tony today. I watched the Go video and he was so young and full of hope and life. Sometimes I wonder if Trump’s election didn’t have an effect on his psyche.

    We all knew how horrible it would be if Trump was elected, but I honestly didn’t think it would be this bad. I couldn’t get out of bed the next day so somewhere in my soul, I must have known.

    Thank you for the great update on Ottavia and his daughter. That show with her family was truly one of my favorite shows. He looked like he adored her back then.

    We miss you Tony. More than you would ever know.

  4. catsworking says:

    bassgirl, congrats on the anniversary! I’m sitting here with my dirty martini right now. I’d eat sushi with you. I love that stuff.

    Hope you check the link to Tojo’s. There’s a sweet picture of him with Bourdain in the article.

    Ottavia says she is helping with the various projects about Tony (book and documentary) but she really wants to stay out of it and live a private life.

    Of course, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors, but Ottavia always seemed to me to be an incredibly good sport about being in the spotlight with him. Certainly more than first wife Nancy, who wanted nothing whatsoever to do with it. He needed that support, I think.

  5. catsworking says:

    Anita, I do like watching his earlier shows, when he still had his joie de vivre. I have all of Cook’s Tour and 99.9% of No Reservations on DVD, but haven’t gone back to them since he died. Parts Unknown, particularly after 2016 when he was being systematically drained as if by a vampire, is kind of depressing, except the episodes he did with Eric. I LOVE those.

    I think Tony died before much of the worst of Trump hit. Caging children, banning immigrants, mass deportations. I think Bourdain and Trump were on a collision course, and if COVID hadn’t shut things down, Trump would have found ways to throw a wrench into Bourdain’s travels, making it hell to leave or return to the country. Bourdain would have been outspoken about Trump’s shit, and Trump would have gone postal — especially because of Tony’s CNN connection.

  6. Mary Hunter says:

    Thanks so much on the update. So good to hear about Ottavia and Ariane. Fond memories of sitting right here hearing about you meeting Anthony, and later Ottavia. Cheers to Tony!

  7. Bonnie C. says:

    Thanks for the update Karen.

    Except for “The Layover”, I have all the episodes from AB’s other travel shows (“A Cook’s Tour”, “No Reservations”, & “Parts Unknown”) recorded, & had them marathoning all day yesterday as I puttered around.

    Toasted AB with a nice chilled Chablis, & for dinner made my utterly incendiary, heavily Szechuan-peppercorn spiked version of “Mapo Tofu”, which was one of the very few tofu dishes Tony claimed to really enjoy (probably due to its blow-the-top-of-your-head-off spice level – lol).

  8. catsworking says:

    Mary, thank you. You’ve been around here for a long time if you still remember how I first met Tony in Durham, and then him and Ottavia in D.C. I can still vividly remember the instant she and I spotted each other in the crowd. She and Tony were standing off to the side of the stage and I was in the bleachers. In a minute, they were right there with us, and she forgave me on the spot for saying she looked like a “grinning idiot” in that episode of Miami Ink I had initially found her in. We were all so young and foolish. 🙂

    Bonnie, I used to love Chablis, but haven’t really seen it anywhere in a long time. So it’s still a thing? Seemed to get replaced by Pinot Grigio, and now Chardonnay seems to be making a comeback.

  9. Bonnie C. says:

    Good Chablis IS difficult to find these days unless one frequents a good wine shop, & pricey when you DO find it. I’m also a big Pinot Grigio (or “Pinot Gris”, for the French style) fan, & am more apt to have “good” bottles of that on hand, although I do also keep inexpensive (but still tasty) California jug Chablis on hand for cooking & casual sipping. I’ve never been a Chardonnay fan & tend to steer clear of them. Even the non-oaky ones tend to be too strong for my tastes.

    The way I look at it, I’m sure Tony didn’t mind my toasting him via California Chablis, especially when one looks at some of the things he had to drink on his shows – lol!

  10. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, I know nothing about wine so I don’t know good ones from bad. I just like it dry and white, because red wine makes my nose run.

  11. MorganLF says:

    Ha! So sorry I missed this. Glad Ottavia made it thru covid but her lingering symptoms are a part of this.
    My fear of catching this are consuming me, cause I know I won’t make it through.
    As a result I am suffering…I’m the last person to own this but it’s happened, trump has affected my life to a degree I never thot possible.
    I now know what clinical depression means.
    I isolate cause I must. I live in an area where the virus was epicenter.
    Started to sleep…just to get past his meandering daily press rallies
    Now sleep …a lot.
    I never understood depression before.
    I mean clinical…I’m rethinking my assessment of Anthony’s state of mind.
    It’s as if our world is imploding..
    I’ve never been this chick. trump has created it.
    My personal life has also suffered, so layer upon layer…
    I’ll get back to my sassy acid tounged perspective someday and if I don’t? Oh well

  12. catsworking says:

    Morgan, I don’t think what you’re going through is unusual. Seriously, if I didn’t have these cats keeping me on a schedule, I would be living under the couch. I’ve told my doctor that Trump has affected my mental health, my weight, my drinking habits, and he pretty much dismissed it. So I’m assuming he’s a Trumper.

    I feel that our world has no hope of coming through this in one piece until Trump is not only out of office, but dead. Even if he ends up in a dementia ward or prison, he will still be news and still try to poison minds. He must be silenced permanently. But not assassinated. His cult needs to see him melt before their eyes into a drooling pile of goo to prove he’s not the superman they think he is.

    But then we still have his kids. It they don’t all get life in prison, Jr. and Ivanka will try to carry on Trump’s dictatorship.

    So, it’s like on top of COVID, we’ve got Trumps trying to kill us all. I never dreamed in my worst moments that life would ever become this nightmare we can’t escape.

    For what it’s worth, know that you aren’t alone. Many of us, particularly those who live alone, are feeling depressed and hopeless and scared. I truly don’t know if I could survive COVID, but I’m terrified to test it.

  13. MorganLF says:

    Once again old friend, amen.
    You pulled those thoughts out of my head.
    Have a triple olive dirty vodka martini on me.

    What’s next for normal Americans…Auschwitz?

  14. catsworking says:

    Morgan, the clock just struck midnight and I’m having that martini right now. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep stone cold sober. Tomorrow is Monday and I know work is light, so what the fuck?

    I really do see the tide slowly turning against Trump. Biden’s fundraising is way up and he’s still mostly in his basement. Every additional COVID death is another nail in Trump’s coffin. Unless the Democrats find some spectacular way to fuck this up, we are about four months from driving the stake through Trump’s shriveled black lump of shit he uses for a heart.

    Now is not the time to despair. We are the majority and we will end this.

  15. MorganLF says:

    Unfortunately I think the Dems will fuck this up.
    Biden is not a pretty candidate, was this the best we could do?
    Don’t know if I’ll make it .till then but I have my eye on Gavin Newsome.
    ..NJ is still raging but at least our governor is taking charge.

  16. MorganLF says:

    Does anyone remember when Tony was interviewed and asked what he’d serve trump? Tony’s quip was” hemlock“.
    He subsequently wrote about it and he said the FBI came a knocking.
    Can you imagine as cuntfuk trump was caging children, stealing wads of cash from his “inaugural” fund ( read Russian slush fund) race baiting and all the rest, the FBI expended resources investigating our Tony.
    If he was alive today, he’d be railing against trump and frogman barr, his main henchman.

    Why hasn’t barr been removed?

  17. catsworking says:

    Morgan, I’m 100% with you on Barr. I don’t know why what state bar he’s licensed with hasn’t revoked his license. He not only disgraces the legal profession, he’s committing crimes by tampering (killing?) witnesses (Epstein, without a doubt) and destroying investigations and trials.

    I thought it was patently absurd that the FBI questioned Bourdain over the hemlock comment. But now it’s gotten to the point where so many people are discussing and openly wishing for Trump’s death, the floodgates have opened.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I think by now Bourdain and Trump would have been on a collision course. Trump would be shit-tweeting about how “overrated and 3rd rate” Bourdain is, and if COVID hadn’t halted travel, would have handed down orders for the TSA and Customs to give Tony and his crew the ultimate jerking around every time they hit a domestic airport.

    Trump would hate Bourdain not only for what Tony would undoubtedly have to say about him, but also for the CNN connection. Plus, Tony was so much taller, leaner, better looking, and had a real tan and real hair.

  18. Lorraine E Villeneuve says:

    Just saw the Joe Rogan interview with Roy Choi after Tony died. He was completely demolished by his suicide. I can only imagine how many friends were affected by his death. I hope Ottavia is feeling better and will have minimal after effects of Covid 19.

  19. Corinna ther says:

    I came to this article late . Thank you Karen for the update . I sincerely hope ottavia and Ariadne are well and wish them much happiness . Still sad about tony ( who isn’t ?) I have been reading his books , watching his shows . But I do not think I can watch Roadrunner .

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