"He was only in my home for a brief time, and he was the kind of person you felt like you knew forever," Linda McKinney said to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.
As the world mourns the death of travel luminary Anthony Bourdain, many feel a palpable friendship with someone they've never met. And what do friends do when they borrow something of yours and lose it? Replace it with something equally wonderful.
Such is the case for the McKinney family in West Virginia who hosted Bourdain for dinner in the Season 11 premiere of Parts Unknown. During filming, Bourdain borrowed Bob McKinnery's old coal miner's lunch box for a trip to an underground coal mine to stay true to their way of life. On the show, Bourdain easily settled in for a feast of family-style Italian cuisine at Bob and his wife Linda's home, and wrapped up shortly thereafter to head out for his next adventure. The lunch pail got lost, as Bourdain would say of his wayfaring lifestyle, in transit.
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Many people, of course, wouldn't have thought much of the lost memento. Bourdain, despite a packed schedule and lengthy list of obligations, was not one of those people. Just a day before his death on Friday, June 8th, Bourdain returned to the McKinney family in the most unexpected of ways, as the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports:
"Bourdain came back into their lives Thursday when a package arrived at the Five Loaves & Two Fishes Food Bank in Kimball. The show’s crew shot a scene there because Bob and Linda operate it. Linda said that she at first assumed that it was a DVD or a DVD set of Bourdain’s show. Bob, who is a mine safety trainer, works nearby, so she took the package to his office and he opened it. Bourdain had not forgotten about the lost lunch bucket. Inside the package was a new lunch cooler," writes Greg Jordan.
In addition to the cooler itself, Bourdain took the time to draw a chef's knife and autograph it: “To Bob, with many thanks, Anthony Bourdain.” Taking on a new significance after the beloved storyteller's untimely passing, the family will keep Bourdain's gift alongside other keepsakes in the family's china cabinet. There, the unused lunchbox will sit, as a reminder that we're all, always, in transit.