"This is better than The French Laundry, man."
On Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown, the storytelling legend catapults through several Southern locales — Nashville, Houston, the Mississippi Delta, to name a few — elevating everyday fare to a pedestal worthy of our speculation and respect.
I'll always remember his jaunt to Miami in Season 5. Walking along the beach, Iggy Pop says, "I'm still curious. You seem like a curious person." Bourdain quips, "It's my only virtue," and bursts into a giant smile. "...Curious is a good thing to be, you know? It seems to pay some unexpected dividends," repies Iggy Pop. In light of Anthony Bourdain's death, I've had that scene playing on loop mode in mind.
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That's why, in Season 6, when Bourdain explores Charleston's culinary current with Chef Sean Brock, I wasn't surprised that he voraciously dove into his first Waffle House experience. After a long day, the duo head to the Waffle House. "It is indeed marvelous. An irony-free zone where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts, for everybody regardless of race, creed, color, or degree of inebriation is welcomed," Bourdain narrates. "Its warm yellow glow, a beacon of hope and salvation, inviting the hungry, the lost, the seriously hammered all across the South to come inside, a place of safety and nourishment. It never closes. It is always, always faithful, always there for you."
After they're seated, Brock gently coaches Bourdain on the intricacies of Waffle House hash brown phraseology. The epicurean comrades feast on a "tasting menu" of pecan waffles, patty melts, a green salad with Thousand Island dressing, pork chops, T-bone, and more, deadpanning and devouring in tandem (Netflix Chef's Table fans may recognize the show's classical theme song blaring mockingly of highbrow dining in the background). Watch a clip below.
If we can all learn anything from Anthony Bourdain, it is this: Curiosity does indeed pay some smothered, covered, and unexpected dividends.