A letter to Anthony Bourdain | June 8, 2018
“He literally changed the landscape. I am just so damn sad” – Chef Jonathan Waxman
That’s how I feel…so damn sad.
I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to the best storyteller the industry ever saw.
To Anthony Bourdain:
I think you know the number of lives you changed, the inspiration you brought when defending my country and the people who tirelessly work in kitchens. The dreams you started as we all sat on our couch and watched you eat noodles on a very tiny red plastic chair on the streets of Vietnam. The laughter and relatability we saw when you were uncomfortable at the robot bar in Japan, and the revolution you ignited when you pushed the boundaries of the unknown.
We all have a story that involves you. We all have an adventure that started with you. Whether we were watching No Reservations or Parts Unknown, reading Kitchen Confidential, or just googling, “Where did Anthony Bourdain eat in San Sebastian?” We all wanted you there with us one way or another, having a beer in our sweaty clothes and having a fucking laugh.
You are why I want to tell stories.
How could I ever tell friends of the overwhelming “sensory kaleidoscope” overload of Bangkok if it wasn’t for you? Who would describe Thai dishes as “the delicate interplay of sweet, sour and spicy, the gradual buildup of pleasure/pain to the point that you feel your vision starts to get weird”? What it’s like to eat in the hot and humid climate of Thailand?
“I forgot what it’s like to eat in a permanent state of moistness. You’ll always have a drippy forehead and your shirt will always be stuck to your back.”
I always would daydream of you visiting Monterrey again (No Reservations Season 2 Episode 08) and how for some magical reason I would be chosen to be your guide. I would think of the places I would take you to eat, who I would want you to meet, what music I would play for you in the car, and how my dad and you would end up drunk in my house and would become best friends. I would take you to eat some elotes from La Huasteca, we would definitely take a road trip to Monclova and have some of my grandmas cortadillo with flour tortillas from La Fondita. For sure take you to the soccer stadium to have lukewarm Carta Blancas in giant styrofoam cups (and would get showered in beer when Rayados would score), get some litros, eat barbacoa for breakfast, have some alcachofaand Ribeye a la sal at La Nacional, maybe sneak into the Indio Azteca (even though women are not allowed), and to finish it all we would have a proper carne asada in my house (this is where you and my dad get drunk) after taking you around to see the beautiful mountains that surround this city.
You would love it.
Thank you for always defending Mexico, thank you for loving my country as much as I do. Thank you for shedding a light on what everyone sees as “the other side”, but to me, that is the side I’ve always known. It is until the last couple years that I’ve been the one “en el otro lado”. While our worlds might endlessly fight for what side is better you saw through and called us your “brother from another mother”.
Past the “melted cheese over a tortilla chip”, past the Cancun Spring break of twenty-whatever, past the “stealing American jobs”, past everything, you saw through. You saw the good, the bad, and the ugly, but through nonetheless. Gracias amigo.
While this piece may be all over the place and has plenty of grammatical and writing errors, its written from my food and travelling heart to you.
Witty, wise, funny, sarcastic, honest, chingón, human, abierto, atento, real, viajero, storyteller, and el fucking jefe.
Buen viaje amigo, me tomo un mezcal en tu honor y hasta la próxima.
“It’s been an adventure. We took some casualties over the years. Things got broken. Things got lost. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”