Skip to main content

Something to Savor

I had the pleasure of seeing Anthony Bourdain last night at the DAR. A first for me, as I was not very familiar with him and admit to not ever having watched his show, No Reservations (although that will change after last night), I loved every minute of it. He made me laugh and he made me think about food.

He started by reminding the audience that Paula Deen is possibly the worst cook for America. He emphasized “for America.” He did not say “the worst cook” or “a bad person.” His point was merely that should one eat only Paula Deen’s cooking, one would most likely die sooner than someone eating a diet of protein and vegetables. He illustrated his story with images of the “Lady’s Brunch Burger”, which has 1354 calories, burger patties, bacon, all in a Krispy Kreme bun. As I have been strictly counting calories for the past few months, this dish scares me, and does not even look good… He also spoke about her children’s cookbook, in which she presents the “Cheeseburger meatloaf”, apparently a favorite. Deen’s brand is based on the concept of excess: she presents her viewers with an unapologetic philosophy or over-consumption without any thought for the consequence. This can’t be good for the country’s waistlines…

After this irreverent start, he spoke for the duration of his presentation about what it takes to be involved with his TV show, No Reservations, peppering his comments with photos and video clips. He mentioned the characteristics of some of his team members, namely humility, a love of danger, and an ability (a desire?) to never disrespect a host, i.e. to be a good guest, always. Always follow “the grandma rule”: “when you’re in grandma’s house, you eat what grandma cooks, no matter how bad it might be; that’s just good manners.”

He also reminded us that food is more than just something on a plate. “Sometimes you have the entire history of the world on your plate.” When people give you food, he reminded us, “they are revealing something about themselves.” Food is “an intimate gesture,” it is something that someone hand-makes (think of hand-rolling sushi), then hands you, to make you happy. Food is to be respected: “never disrespect food or waste food,” he preached. To him, places such as Olive Garden, Macaroni Grill, or the Spaghetti Factory are examples of people disrespecting Italian food…

Yes, he did swear a lot, yes, he was somewhat controversial – but that was part of the fun. After two hours, I left with a renewed appreciation of what food is – not just something to hurriedly put in my body when I am hungry, but something to appreciate, to honor, to savor.