By Susanne Merrett
Anthony Bourdain was one of the most interesting humans on the planet. Besides being a consummate and wildly adventurous foodie, he was extraordinarily curious and empathetic about his fellows. His recent departure from our astral plane has left a deep and vast black hole, one that will not be easily filled.
By his own admission, Anthony was a decent chef, but not in the upper echelon of Michelin star chefs. His true brilliance came through in his exploration of food, places, and people. Using food as a gateway into people’s lives and cultures, Anthony excelled at examining the human condition. He showed us life in obscure places, while constantly championing the underdogs and the downtrodden, finding common ground within diverse cultures.
While Anthony was at home with both upscale restaurants and street side food vendors, he had an inherent, visceral connection with traditional foods and cooking methods. His inner chef firmly abided by the “use everything, waste nothing” doctrine of old school chefs. And, he was an unabashed carnivore. I think that if he had to choose one food to take to a desert island, it would be pork. His love affair with all things pork knew no bounds – whether stuffed in a tube or twice baked cracklin, Anthony walked the talk of snout to tail food consumption.
While he was a much more adventurous eater than I am (I draw the line at live snake hearts, raw blood soup, or feral eggs), I completely agree with his observation that food is political. Who is eating, who is not eating, what they are eating, and what they are not eating...all these elements are directly linked to the current political atmosphere.
Fortunately, there are aspects of food where we do have more control. Choosing to buy locally supports local companies, keeps more money in the local economy, reduces the carbon footprint, and creates a greater sense of community.
Aside from these practical choices, there is a less empirical side to food that Anthony would have wholly understood. Food, beyond its political ramifications, is so much more than mere sustenance. Food is a celebration. Food is comfort. Food is community. Food is the ultimate expression of love when words fail us.
So, when tragedy occurs, casseroles are made. Food, as Anthony knew, is the very best part of humanity, the common denominator amongst divergent peoples, the glue that binds us all together.
Find Anthony Bourdain’s Roast Chicken with Lemon and Butter recipe at: