photo manipulation by nacrowe
i was a late comer to ANTHONY BOURDAIN.
seems i was inadvertently chasing him around the world like R.E.M. and BLACK FLAG on the same HARDCORE/INDIE ROCK circuit of VFW HALLS and CIVIC centers back in the 1980s. wherever i was abroad in some random part of SOUTHEAST ASIA or EASTERN EUROPE or SOUTH AMERICA at a local restaurant there inevitably seemed to be some reference to BOURDAIN and some episode of PARTS UNKNOWN after the fact either in tourist literature or by fellow travelers. i specifically remember having ceviche at a place in CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA and it turned out an episode was filmed there.
ugh. not gonna lie. it kind of annoyed me at the time since i feel like places should be exciting in and of themselves, not because some random AMERICAN celebrity anointed the place important. struck me as slightly colonialist in a way. i ate at places because that was where the locals ate.
what i failed to realize is that he connected his audience to the world, and specifically local communities on a very intimate level trough his capacity to appreciate all aspects of food.
i remember when i was abroad i'd seek out and buy dresses for my niece. by learning about traditional clothing across cultures and learning common inspirations and locally-sourced materials, you in turn learn a great deal about the native culture in a fairly intimate manner. i can recognize that same drive in BOURDAIN. also, its always nice to see an AMERICAN who is has the correct instinct to connect with other cultures without resorting to exoticizing or passing judgement, which is something i have long seen in travel series and documentaries meant for mass consumption. BOURDAIN spoke with eloquence, intention and genuine curiosity that was contagious to watch. i only wish more of my fellow countrymen could do the same when visiting abroad.
rest in power fellow world traveler and ally of global culture. rest well.