Anthony Bourdain’s death has reverberated around the globe. People I didn’t even know had heard of him mourn with me that one of the most influential men in travel and food has departed this world.
I first glommed on to Bourdain with his show, No Reservations. I’d been an armchair traveler up until then, watching Rachael Ray and Samantha Brown navigate the always-clean and PG worlds of very safe cities around the globe. But Bourdain, man. He dug deep. He got out of the tourist lines and into homes of locals. He ate things I’d never be brave enough to try. He made friends.
He, in short, showed me a different side of travel.
I was hooked.
Since then, I’ve tried to travel like a local as best I can. I opt for the AirBnB rental nestled in a quaint neighborhood over the chain hotel. I wander blocks off of the tourist district to eat where locals go. I prefer to people watch from a cafe rather than visit a museum with everyone else.
Bourdain did, in part, lead me to this travel philosophy.
Forging His Own Path
Bourdain got his start as a chef, and for most food lovers, that’s a path in and of itself. And yet, he wasn’t content to work long hours in a hot kitchen. He won accolades, made a name for himself, and even wrote books, but that wasn’t enough.
So he turned to travel.
Actually, food and travel go together incredibly well. Who doesn’t love to have an amazing meal of local delights on a trip to another country? And so he began to explore the world through his tastebuds. No Reservations — and subsequent other shows like The Layover — allowed us as viewers to experience a place through the meals that he ate for us.
He never ever turned down food presented to him. He knew enough about cultural norms to understand that it would have been the utmost offense to do so. He opened himself up to experiences, and as a result, had some, I’m sure, incredibly wonderful memories to treasure.
Bourdain was sardonic, sarcastic, and frankly, did not give a fuck. That’s what we loved about him. He wasn’t clean and precise. He was real. Authentic. And now there’s a tall, Bourdain-shaped hole left by his absence.