Monday, July 23, 2007
I’ve never been a fan of the Food Network, or foodie shows in general for that matter. Something about watching food being prepared that I can’t actually eat just doesn’t sit right with me. That said, tonight I managed to watch four straight hours of a show that is very much about food yet not about food at the same time. On No Reservations, former New York chef, bestselling author, and all-around wise guy Anthony Bourdain takes you along on exotic travels to the far corners of the earth, in pursuit of curious tastes for his flavor palette and to take in the view. And what a view it is.
This world is so much bigger than working at a four star restaurant in New York City, and Bourdain knows it. He enters a new world on each show and is willing to try any local food (really, I’m amazed) and to accept different cultural practices and customs - well, at least in front of the camera anyway. In Namibia, he raises the point that half of all arable land is held by the 5% white minority in the country, and spends time living with both a German land owner and African nomad farmers. He is humble with both, understanding that he’s a visitor in their homes, a neutral purveyor attempting to take it in and make sense of it all over palm wine and truffles. At the end of a trip to Malaysia, he wonders back in New York if America is the way the entire world should be. Do we really have all the answers? Are we really the bee’s knees?
Maybe it’s not the time or place for such conversation. Maybe it’s just time to eat.
A brand new season of No Reservations premieres next Monday, July 30.