Would Bourdain Call Frito Pie a Manly Meal?

October 7, 2013

By Karen

My new DVR has changed my TV viewing dramatically, but somehow I always come back to Anthony Bourdain, who still surprises me after all these years.

Last night, I binge-rewatched the first 3 episodes of Parts Unknown Season 2, with Season 1 “Prime Cuts.” After his visit to Israel, I’m still trying to wrap my head around Tony’s claim that he grew up totally without religion.

None of his books have a freaking index, and I’ve been unable to find where I KNOW I read that he was once an altar boy. Tony the innocent little Catholic kid is part of his persona to me, and I know it’s not backstory I dreamed up. I was as surprised to read he was that deep into Catholicism as I was to just learn he’s half-Jewish.

Not that his religion matters either way, but he’s been accused by various drive-by commenters at Cats Working of periodically reinventing himself, and I’m wondering if we’re seeing some of that now.

Google didn’t help, but I did find this one-liner Eater quoted from No Reservations: Naples in 2011…

“I’m not exactly a good Catholic. I do have the paperwork to suggest that I might be.”

Not exactly a good Catholic? Those don’t sound like the words of an atheist, or even an agnostic, as he proudly claims to be now.

Anybody else out there remember anything?

And then he went and ate Frito pie in New Mexico. Ever since, my Bourdain Google alerts have been filled with outrage — even though Tony said the disgusting mess was “delicious.”

The butt-hurt sprang from his snarky voiceover that Frito pies are made with “canned Hormel chili and a Day-Glo orange cheese-like substance.” If you haven’t seen it, here’s the offending scene…

The fallout was immediate and widespread. A blogger for Houston Chron asked if Bourdain is a “mindless cretin” or “culinary fraud.”

Note: Check the comment under that post from Oct. 2. Hmmm… any guesses on who the mysterious Texan-baiting “B” might be?

Frito pie chili is homemade and the cheese real. Bourdain has apologized for intimating otherwise.

I tried to imagine a dish as gross, and came up with a dessert…

  • Take one bag of unopened Oreos and smash it.
  • Slit the bag open down the side.
  • Warm a jar of peanut butter to soften, then put two big scoops onto the broken Oreos.
  • Douse the whole thing liberally in Hershey’s chocolate syrup.
  • Dig in and enjoy!

I recently read Bourdain’s new short story, “The Ten Manliest Meals in America,” in the Summer 2013 edition of Lucky Peach. Yes, I actually shelled out $12 to read 4 pages.

I wouldn’t call it a short story, but an 1,800-word character sketch of an unnamed 65-year-old, twice-divorced New-York-based food writer at a men’s magazine who drinks and ruminates on writing the article that constitutes the story’s title.

Perhaps there’s a nod to Ottavia in the character’s first wife who, he recalls, ordered a T-bone for two, then…

“Polished it off in ten minutes flat, picked the bone up with manicured fingers and gnawed the thing down to a shine. The Serbian waiters masquerading as Italians had clapped admiringly and cried ‘Bravissima!’ She’d never looked so beautiful. He’d never felt so in love.”

And was Tony waxing autobiographical when he wrote…

“His mother had been the strength of the family. He’d loved and been loved by two magnificent women in his time.”

For me, the piece was Bourdain’s vision of his future self had he not met and married Ottavia.

But was it a glimpse into the novel he’s been writing, or discarded pages? Or just a one-off for his buddy, David Chang?

I guess time will tell. But even if it’s a throwaway, I still love his dead-on eye for detail, which shines in his description of the perfect manly meal…

“Chicken wings at a no-name strip club, blacked-out windows, meth-head bouncer, the bar lined with flabby, middle-aged men like him, most of them neutered by diabetes, gout, and high blood pressure, pawing at cold-eyed girls who despised them and their hot-sauce stained fingers.”

BONUS: Tony talked to The Guardian about his family values, with more on his late father than I’ve ever seen anywhere.


It’s Bourdain Season Again

September 13, 2013

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain’s back from an extended vacation in the Hamptons, and he describes beautifully for CNN how he goes “Full Metal Ina.” Who wouldn’t want to spend a month at the beach with a guy who does all the cooking? Lucky Ottavia!

Today, David Chang’s magazine Lucky Peach should be on newsstands with a new Bourdain short story.

And on Sunday, Parts Unknown Season 2 begins with Tony visiting the West Bank and Gaza in Israel. Another episode this season that I’m particularly excited about is Copenhagen. (Oh great. Now I’ve done it. I’ve got Danny Kaye singing in my head and he won’t stop!)

BONUSES…

Tony recently did an interview with Forbes about Parts Unknown.

The day after he returned from vacation, he did this 47-minute audio interview with Opie & Anthony on Sirius…


Bourdain Goes Short (Story)

August 16, 2013

By Karen

Mark your calendar. Anthony Bourdain’s got a short story in the #8 issue of Lucky Peach, which is themed “The Gender Issue.” The magazine is on newsstands September 13. I think I’ve seen it in Target, so I won’t miss Tony’s latest foray into fiction. I wonder if it’s a preview of the novel he’s been working on?

But before that…

On August 27, Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews by Marilyn Hagerty, is being released by Bourdain’s imprint at Ecco Press.

UPDATE: Eater has published the full text of Bourdain’s foreword to the book. Nicely done, Tony. But the book still sounds like a snooze.

Since Grand Forks happens to be Hagerty’s stomping grounds, the title is brilliant, but the cover design evokes the ‘50s. I predict if sales are disappointing, that cover will become a scapegoat.

It’s only available in paperback and retails for $14.99. ($11.98 on Amazon.)

Hagerty is 86 now, and when not asking myself, “Why, God, WHY HER??!! I’ve been happy for her to finally see her work in bound form after all her decades in newsprint.

UNTIL I just learned the Grand Forks Herald published The Best of The Eatbeat with Marilyn Hagerty as a 99-cent, 59-page Kindle e-book last year after her Olive Garden review went viral and Bourdain started sniffing around.

AND in 1994, her paper published a hefty paperback anthology of her work called, Echoes, A Selection of Stories and Columns. It’s now out of print, but 2 autographed, exorbitantly-priced copies are available on Amazon.

UPDATE: One copy has disappeared since I started writing this, so some idiot astute collector must have snapped it up.

As for Grand Forks, my inner UnFoodie has this reaction to reading decades-old reviews of local joints in North Dakota, sandwiched between covers that remind me of My Little Margie, even if annotated with updates on their status today…

Who cares?

But it will be interesting to see if the foodie fire Hagerty lit with her earnest Olive Garden piece still burns hot and consumes enough copies to propel her to the bestseller list.


Bourdainia Galore!

May 25, 2011

By Karen

I’m playing catch-up with DVDs of Treme, the HBO New Orleans series Anthony Bourdain has been writing for. After the first 2 episodes of Season 1, I’m still waiting to feel hooked, but I’m optimistic. Luckily, the Internet teems with video clips of the restaurant scenes Tony is doing for Season 2, which is airing now.

For example, here’s the scene of food critic Alan Richman taking a drink in the puss. Richman wrote about that later in GQ and actually seemed to be a good sport about it.

Tony also gave Tom Colicchio and Eric Ripert cameos with lines, and then Tom talked to Esquire about the experience.

A video of Tony speaking to HuffPost Food has been surfacing in pieces. He discussed which foods he’d like to see more of in the U.S. and modified his stance on bacon. He also talked about things he’ll never do — which we’ve already seen him do — and manages to lump Jay Leno in with strolling through steaming bat guano and being mounted by an Uzbek masseur.

In this video clip from PopEater, Tony talks about celebrities.

Last week, Bourdain was in Australia for the Sydney Writers’ Festival and did a video interview with MUmBRELLA where, among other things, he shared his thoughts on the value of Facebook and Twitter. 

At the Sydney festival, he appeared in a sold-out session on May 19 with AA Gill. Links to the full audio are under May 21 at 3 p.m., but they seem screwed up. Click “Download” to just listen.

If you don’t want to do that, Book Thingo provides a written recap and a snippet of illicit video taken from the audience.

Here’s a recap on another appearance Tony made at the festival called “Medium Raw,” which also sold out.

While rooting around for the festival stuff, I found a phone interview Tony did with ABC Sydney back in July 2010 that I don’t recall ever hearing.

On the literary front…

Bourdain will be a contributor to a new quarterly food journal, Lucky Peach, edited by David Chang and others, which debuts June 14. Each issue will have a theme, and the first one is ramen. According to the site, it’s the sister project to “an iPad app produced by Zero Point Zero that will feature more than two hours of videos, plus recipes, art, and essays.” Right now, the site is features a conversation on mediocrity among Bourdain, Chang, and Wylie Dufresne.

Tucson Weekly is critical of Bourdain’s involvement with Treme (2nd paragraph from the end). The writer seems to have an outdated image of Tony’s persona, but from the clips I’ve seen on Eater, I find myself relating somewhat to his unfoodie perspective. But that’s fodder for a future post.

I found this fascinating site on tumblr called Fuck Yes, Tony Bourdain! It’s devoted to photos, video clips, and quotes.

Finally, Travel Channel posted a video clip of Tony discussing his job with his adult niece, Isabelle.


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