The last days have seen a flood of lament over the passing of Anthony Bourdain. He left us two days ago and the world suddenly seemed a bit less interesting.
Many travel bloggers that I follow, such as Chris Guillebeau and Rolf Potts, mention him as an inspiration. I think he was a great source of inspiration in the gray media landscape of today, where most people resort to the echo chamber instead of voicing their own opinion.
Sure, he could be a bit harsh and gritty at times, but at heart he was a great storyteller and managed to bring out unique stories and sharp observations in his own brilliant voice that no other tv host could pull off.
I discovered Bourdain over a decade ago while watching the Travel Channel at a hotel room in Australia. It was the same year as No Reservations debuted, an improved version of his first series A Cook’s Tour. Next thing I know I bought his book Nasty Bits in Singapore and was hooked.
Since then I’ve tried to revisit some of his locations just for fun, which has brought me to places such as Tokyo, Tucson, San Sebastian and Valparaiso.
If you’re new to Bourdain, there’s a ton of stuff to catch up with. Books as well as TV series.
No Reservations is perhaps Bourdain at his prime. Witty and cynical with a great sense of dark humor. There are too many favorite episodes to mention, but be sure to check out the time he visited Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age in the Californian desert. Yesterday I actually saw a concert with Queens of the Stone Age and was somewhat surprised that his old friends in the band didn’t mention him. At least they ended with A Song for the Dead.
The current series Parts Unknown on CNN has a more sober note, with many highlights such as the beer with Obama in Vietnam.
There are also several books such as Kitchen Confidential and Nasty Bits when you grow tired of watching the screen.
I hope his spirit of curiosity stays with us.
“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”
–Anthony Bourdain (Nasty Bits preface)
Cheers Tony. May you find cold beer and blood sausage wherever you are.
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