Went to see Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert Sunday with my dear friend Julie Powers and had a blast. It was a very entertaining show that consisted of the two of them interrogating and making fun of one another for the first hour or so, then taking questions from the audience.
There were lots of classic Bourdain lines. Someone asked them if they could choose only one country to eat in for the rest of their lives, what country they would choose. Both of them said Japan. Bourdain added, “The thing that makes their porn so disturbing is also what makes their food so great — attention to detail.” And when asked who he would most like to smoke pot with, he said, “Dick Cheney — while I’m waterboarding him.”
When Ripert was doing his interrogation of Bourdain, he brought up an incident in Africa when Bourdain went wild boar hunting with a tribe. When they slaughtered the animal, they brought him the rectum of the animal, telling him that it was the most prized part and, as their honored guest, they wanted him to have it. True to his ethos that you never turn down the hospitality of your hosts, he ate it — and then took antibiotics for 10 days. Ripert said that he had done some research on this and found no evidence at all that any culture in the world prized the rectum of a pig. “Tony, I think they were fucking with you,” he said. (In fact, he’s wrong; pork bung is served in many a genuine Chinese restaurant, though I’ve never had the nerve to try it. But then it’s prepared a bit differently than when Bourdain was asked to eat it after nothing more than a rinse of water.)
I was a bit surprised to hear him still slagging a lot of the talent on the Food Network now that they’ve bought the Travel Channel and he has to work for them, but he didn’t really let up. He hammered Paula Deen pretty hard. And he said sarcastically said he was jealous of Guy Fieri, saying that he wished he could just “pick my clothes from the Ed Hardy douche collection, put my sunglasses on backwards and make that kind of money.” But he did say he wouldn’t say anything bad about Sandra Lee because “she scares me.”
Someone also asked him, based on his travel all over the world, how people in other countries tend to view Americans. His answer was very interesting, and once again criticized the company he works for. He pointed out that much of the world, including in poorer countries, sees American television by satellite and that a lot of people have seen his show and recognize him from it. But they also see a show like Man vs Food, where they get to watch a guy shoving more protein in his mouth in 30 minutes than their family likely gets in 6 months — and not even enjoying it, but often being in pain because of it. So how do they view us? How would you view us if you saw that? It’s a thought-provoking point.
Before going to the show, we had dinner at an Italian restaurant that had good food but also had a guy walking around with an accordion taking requests from diners. Our request that he leave the room and never return went sadly unfulfilled. The only saving grace is that it wasn’t a mariachi band.