Monday, September 24, 2012

Reading Response 3

“My mood begins to improve immediately. Everything is brightly colored, crunchy, exotic, unrecognizable, and attractive. I suddenly want everything,” (57).
                If there’s one thing that you can glean about Tony Bourdain from his book A Cook’s Tour is his candor about life and food. From smoking hash in Morocco, to getting incredibly drunk in Spain, Tony Bourdain is certainly not trying to shield his world trip experience from his reader. One thing I appreciated most about his experience so far was his ability to try new things: I can’t keep Jim Carey in the film “Yes Man” from coming to mind. Bourdain is really trying to find the best meals on the planet, like in Russia when he’s eating fish and black bread and says: “If not the perfect meal, this was in many ways, a perfect one. Good food, good company, exotic ambience, and an element of adventure,” also teaching me that the experience of food is not just what is on the plate (86). He experiences so many different food cultures: killing the pig in Portugal, killing the lamb in Morocco and dining with the people who prepared these various cultural foods. I just imagine it to be such a luxury to, first, be a top notch chef who can demand anything be brought to his own restaurant and second, a top notch chef who gets to demand what he tries in other countries. Obviously the run-down hotels and the hangovers are a cost, but he surely gets a high benefit.
                Another thing that really caught my attention with Bourdain’s work was the motif of finding a sense of place within a foreign place. At first, he tries to find a sense of nostalgia in France with his brother: feel reconnected with his past and his father however, it leaves him off considerably sadder than before. Afterwards, he tries to feel grounded in the cultures he visits. In Spain, when explaining the Basque elements, Bourdain exclaims: “you knew, at all times, where you were,” (77); and later in Morocco describes the prayer call during a meal saying: “Upon hearing it, you understand - on a cellular level – that you are now ‘somewhere else,’” (103). I find it so interesting how food can truly ground you in a place completely different than your own. Tony Bourdain is traveling around the world and realizes that there’s a lot missing from the “American” pallet. It’s also pretty inspiring to think that when you’re miles away from home, you can feel more comfortable in a strange culture by getting in touch with, and enjoying, their food.
                Tony’s candid explanations for the tastes, and places that he takes on shows one of remarkable curiosity and intrigue. I wish I could be so lucky as to travel the world and choose the best dish on the earth to try for exploratory’s sake. However, I don’t believe my incredibly uncultured tongue could handle it: eating baby octopus, or lamb genitalia is just something I think I will just have to read about to understand. However, I am lucky that there are people in the world like Tony Bourdain, so I can at least imagine the wild tastes that he tries.

1 comment:

  1. You describe Tony as "lucky," but I wonder if what we're really dealing with here is privilege. How is his experience traveling and eating the globe colored by the particulars of who he is: tall, male, white, a chef. I'm not asking us to judge him for these things, but to simply look at them and how they play out--and how his self awareness of his privilege plays out in his writing.