Checking in On Bourdain

August 8, 2011

By Karen

Even though I stopped logging regular reports on Anthony Bourdain, I’ve been casually keeping tabs. I’ll confess I miss our old debates about Tony, so here’s some dish on what I’ve been seeing lately and I invite anyone to weigh in.

First, a round of applause to Tony, who seems to be pulling through his hair gel phase. His mane seems to be slowly returning to its original lushness.

I adored No Reservations in Naples. Maybe it’s because I can relate to the food, or maybe it’s Tony’s love for all things Italian, but his episodes in Italy are always sumptuous and highly rewatchable. And, of course, it’s a joy whenever Ottavia shows up and takes him down a few pegs, which she did when he and his crew crashed a wedding they happened upon. It was truly a gauche move, even for Vic Chanko.

The El Bulli episode? Meh. Yes, I know. The end of a culinary era. I should be wearing black. However, watching Bourdain & Friends consume the highlights of 52 one- or two-bite courses did nothing for me, although the sheer bizarreness and utter impracticality of what was shown was impressive and, I’m sure, delicious.

There’s no doubt Ferran Adria and David Chang are geniuses at what they do. But I think their notion of dining out is akin to a theater producer bankrolling some full-scale, avant garde musical and allowing only one row of seats for an audience. He sells a dozen tickets per performance, max, and eventually everyone’s claiming he’s got the hottest thing on Broadway and keeps the show “sold out” forever. But do I want to keep hearing about how wonderful, yet impossibly exclusive, it is? No.

On August 4, Tony visited the Colbert Report and didn’t quite seem to be getting the joke, playing straight his usual schtick on the evils of restaurant chains. After spending 28 years in restaurant kitchens, he said he now “boils with rage” at chains like Chili’s or Applebee’s, and claimed Cinnabon to be the most “grosteque” thing ever.

Was he implying he was cooking haute cuisine all that time? We know better.

Yeah, it’s a crying shame all Americans can’t hop a plane on someone else’s dime to grab a fresh bowl of pho in Hanoi or a pizza in Napoli when we want a nosh.

Colbert managed to make Bourdain sound even more elitist and out of touch by asking Tony to describe the rite of eating ortolon whole, as he described in the opening of Medium Raw.

On August 5, Tony appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher, and food consequently got shoe-horned into the political discussion. As the show wrapped up, Maher thanked “Arthur Bourdain” for being there.

The camera caught Tony’s nonplussed reaction. Sorry, I couldn’t find that bit anywhere online.

This clip is from the “Overtime” segment without Maher, where the guests discuss viewer questions. I’m guessing Maher apologized, saying he meant “author Anthony Bourdain” but it got jumbled.

Ep. 223: August 5, 2011 – Overtime

Tony’s a smart guy, and he’s branching out beyond food TV. I just wish he’d tap into his his worldly experience and talk about things other than food.

Technical PS: I’ve given you the links to the videos two ways, in the text and separately, as a WordPress experiment just to see how “embedding” from those sites would work.


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