As you probably already know by now, Anthony Bourdain is dead. The news broke my heart, because Bourdain was one of the only childhood heroes I ever had, next to Steve Jobs (also unfortunately dead) and Gregory House (fictional, and the show is over, so effectively dead as well.) I remember watching No Reservations when I would get home from school on the tiny silver CRT TV that I had in my room in California when I was no older than 10- (the first season, when he played paintball in Vegas.) Flash forward a decade or so and I’m watching pretty much every episode of Parts Unknown while fasting, and I still haven’t gotten sick of the guy.
He was a unique figure in his honesty. Here’s this well spoken, well read, classically trained chef who wasn’t afraid to eat a duck embryo out of an egg in the Philippines, or to admit that he usually preferred the home cooking of some random villager to Michelin-starred restaurants. Somehow, he toed the line between the whimsical experience of drinking his way across a new place and the impassioned reverence of a man who absolutely did not take his life for granted. He was truly unique, and we are less without him.
With that being said, here’s some of my favorite quotes from Tony:
“I always entertain the notion that I’m wrong, or that I’ll have to revise my opinion. Most of the time that feels good; sometimes it really hurts and is embarrassing.”
“To the extent I am known, I think I am known as a person who expresses his opinion freely about things – and I was sensitive to the possibility that if I was seen taking money for saying nice things about a product, my comments and choices and opinions would become, understandably, suspect.”
“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.”
“Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.”
“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel — as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them — wherever you go.”
“Assume the worst. About everybody. But don’t let this poisoned outlook affect your job performance. Let it all roll off your back. Ignore it. Be amused by what you see and suspect. Just because someone you work with is a miserable, treacherous, self-serving, capricious and corrupt asshole shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying their company, working with them or finding them entertaining.”
“I’m a big believer in winging it. I’m a big believer that you’re never going to find perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary.”
We should all strive to be so wise.
Because I doubt he would appreciate anyone being too morbid, here’s a great scene of Bourdain going to Waffle House for the first time: