Like everyone else in my food-centric social media circle, I was shocked and extremely saddened this morning to hear of the death of one of my culinary heroes, Anthony Bourdain.
Of course I didn't know Tony personally, but I somehow feel his loss so profoundly. I mentioned to a friend that Tony was pivotal in my introduction to the food world. Food has always been a huge part of my life, but it wasn't until I began traveling and experiencing what was for me, mind-blowing cuisine, then wanting to come home and recreate it that Tony's culinary genius found me. In the slew of up-and-coming food shows in the early 2000s, it was his show "A Cook's Tour" and then "No Reservations" that resonated with me.
Making connections has never been easy for me, and I struggle daily with feeling socially awkward at all times - but when I hit the road in search of my next epic meal, everything odd and unwieldy about myself seemed to disappear over a steaming bowl of "the best thing I'd ever eaten in my life". Any differences I may have felt about myself and the strangers around me melted away and I would find myself opening up to an awareness about my humanity in a way that only a shared meal with someone can do.
Tony did this repeatedly, exceptionally, and gracefully on his shows, and it somehow encouraged me to be more open to a shared human experience. Over food!
I've written occasionally about Tony in my blog:
"Perhaps that’s why I’m leaning so heavily on shows like Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown”, a food-focused presentation that provides a window for me to look through to places I’m unfamiliar with, showing me just how similar we all are. I feel like Tony and his guests solve so many of the world’s problems over a a simple yet delicious bowl of noodles and I desperately want the world’s decision makers to sit down with them."
That voice is gone, which is crushing me this morning, but I was encouraged as I scrolled down my Instagram feed to see how many people in the culinary world and just the world in general have learned from Tony how important speaking up is, and how they plan to keep that spirit alive.
I never met him, but will miss him regardless. RIP, Tony.