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Part 250 - Bourdain

Chef, Traveler, Adventurer

· meditation
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"Chefs are fond of hyperbole, so they can certainly talk that way. But on the whole, I think they probably have a more open mind than most people."

- A. Bourdain (June 25, 1956 - June 8, 2008)

I have several friends who are chefs. Some of them spent time with Bourdain. Some of them just admired him through his writing and storytelling. I never met the man, though I was fascinated by him.

I am not a chef, but I am fond of hyperbole. I often employ outsized descriptions. I remember big.

My chef friends are indeed some of the most open minded folk I know. They are also, by and large: crass, irreverent, funny, thoughtful, generous, and caring. All of these words make me think of Bourdain. I never met him, but he sure seemed to be all of these things.

For me, Anthony Bourdain punctuated the notion that food and travel and adventure bridge gaps, dispel myths, and are - as Mark Twain would put it - fatal to prejudice.

I've traveled more than some, less than others.

I've slurped borscht in Moscow. I've plowed through hudut in Seine Bight, Belize. Sipped wine in Bordeaux. Eaten pupusa in Guatemala. Suckling pig in Madrid. Pintxos in Pamplona. Fideua in Barcelone. BBQ pork in Humblodt, Tn. Lobster rolls in Maine. Oysters by Tomales Bay.

I've had farm fresh vegitables on a platter in my pal Evie's home. I've sat up with my buddy Josh watching smoke pore over our thanksgiving turkeys. I've sliced and prepped with Mike while he wowed the judges in a cooking competition. I've eaten sauerbraten made with love by my friend Volker. He and I've driven 50 miles on a quest for proper jaegerschnitzel. Vegan with Evi. Steaks with Dan. Mutton with Bryan.

I've stood in 98 degree heat and 100% humidity by a roadside farm stand eating a ripe tomato with a salt shaker in one hand and a napkin in the other. I've pan fried fresh caught trout at 11,000 feet in Colorado. I've eaten mudbugs, scallops, razor clams, green chilis. I've eaten goose barnacles (Percebes) in Finisterre. I've eaten pulpo a la Gallega in Melida. I've eaten khachapuri in a Georgian joint above a house, down an alley, in Moscow. I once ate a burnt end sandwich at Evie Mae's in Wolforth, TX.

I can say that the travel, the adventure, the food have certainly destroyed prejudices, myths and divides.

I've traveled more than some, less than others.

Watching No Reservations sparked curiosity in me. I - as so many of us, I suppose - could see myself in similar situations as Bourdain. He did that. He just made it look possible.

The more I travel, the more I share my home with friends from around the globe, the more open I feel to the world in general.

We've had friends in town from Cambodia for the past month or so. Chantha and Clara have filled out home with smells, people, and love. I got home earlier this week and could smell the fried garlic. I was standing on the sidewalk, 20 feet from the closed front door. I could smell the garlic from that far away. I walked into the house on Wednesday to 12 random people in our kitchen, all taking notes and watching and cutting and frying. I've shared coffee on the back porch with Chantha, just sitting there remarking about the beauty of the day and how much love there is in this house.

Yeah. Chefs tend to be more open minded. Exploring other methods. Learning other cultures. Trying new things can't help but open the mind.

I was sad to hear the news of Anthony Bourdain's passing this morning. Deeply saddened by the nature of his passing. The world needs more open minded people like him. Willing to speak with a clear and honest voice. Willing to try new things. Willing to share stories.

Fare thee well, chef. Fare thee well.