Remembering Anthony Bourdain

Like just about everyone else in the culinary and media worlds, yesterday I got the early morning notification that Anthony Bourdain had passed away, by his own hand.

No, I never had the chance to meet Bourdain; I would have moved mountains to make it happen if it had been a possibility. But his presence is definitely felt here: a good chunk of why I started this blog back in the first place was that, like Bourdain, I’ve had a love of food and love sharing quirky, offbeat, and interesting places with people, and sharing the underlying culture that makes food one of the great things that brings us together. No, Offbeat Eats will never become anything like No Reservations or Parts Unknown; I don’t have the budget, the time, the talent, nor the personality (although if someone has a spare camera crew lying around…), but it was my experiences with his various books, shows, and commentary that really inspired me to improve my cooking, my travel, and my enjoyment of different food.

Heck, I started to tally up the various posts here that were either for places I’ve visited directly because of Bourdain, or at least encouraged by his visits to a particular region, but stopped since it’s a rather long list, including a handful of a places that are still in my “to-be-reviewed” queue from Detroit (of which Bourdain said “I’d love to be able to say that I came from Detroit. That would be like the coolest thing I could ever say.”).

In any case, some of my favorite Bourdain moments are when it stopped being about the food for a bit. I remember when his No Reservations trip to Beirut ended up with him watching the airport getting shelled and getting evacuated by a “Mr Wolf” and then the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit to an aircraft carrier as he reflected the sadness of what was becoming of Beirut again right in front of his eyes. An early Parts Unknown on Massachusetts was every bit as much about the opioid epidemic and him coming to terms with his own heroin addiction as much as it as was about food. And his trip to Azerbaijan’s contested Nagorno-Karabakh region ended up getting him banned from the country. But through it all, he was always good at seeing the people for who they were.

So at some point this weekend, I’ll drink a toast to Tony, pour another one out for him, and remember to keep his spirit alive as I explore and eat.

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