Remembering the wayfaring philosopher, Anthony Bourdain.
I never met Anthony Bourdain. But — like millions of his fans — I knew him. His cynical joie de vivre, his puckish smile, his elevation of curiosity as a virtue. All of this, and so much more, made me a fan of the 61-year-old CNN Parts Unknown host. Then, of course, there was his insatiable love of food. While his adoration for noodles in spicy broth seemed to trump all, any Bourdain devotee also knew of the soft spot he held for Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.
How serious was this obsession? In this Saturday's issue of the New York Post, several of Bourdain's friends and colleagues honored the renegade raconteur with brief tributes. Jason Merder, his road manager from 2009 to 2013 recalls, "[O]ne of the funniest things was Tony’s cravings for Popeyes chicken. Every time we flew through Atlanta and had an hour between flights, I would get a look from him. And I was like, 'All right man, we’re going to Popeyes.' It happened every single time, and it didn’t matter what time of day it was. Sometimes the chicken would be gone before we got to the gate."
While most celebrity chefs can easily wax poetic on a Michelin-starred meal, Bourdain exhibited the same gusto for food that set you back less than a Hamilton. His ethos towards food extended into his ethos towards life: Bourdain treated a pedicab driver with the same respect as the President. Oftentimes, food felt like the afterthought on Bourdain's many TV shows. This was the point. Food, for Bourdain, was merely a medium for expressing love, or, to lift a line from his 2013 Peabody Award acceptance speech, "some really astonishing answers."
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Last night, CNN aired the latest episode in Season 11 of Parts Unknown. As always, Bourdain ended the show with a monologue: "Start again, start again. Look back at the past; never forget it," he urges viewers. "Like an Irish playwright said, ‘You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.’”
Tonight, one box of Popeyes or bowl of spicy noodles at a time, we will go on — greasy fingers and chili-torched tongues, surrounded by people we love, or maybe people we've just met — the way Bourdain would have liked it.