Friday morning the world lost Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain was many things, chef, writer, and TV host, what he was able to do with all three whether separate or all together, was that he was a storyteller.
One of his best stories was his brief relationship with a waspy foreign European in the Caribbean Islands which ended with him an island away from his house with no place to stay, as be brilliantly and hilariously describes in his second book Raw Meat (the moral of this story is to judge somebody by how they treat the waitstaff at a restaurant. If they’re rude to them leave as fast as you can because that means they will treat everyone around them terribly, especially those who they feel superior too. These are the life lessons that one should hold near and dear to them).
A man of many hats
What made Bourdain unique was his daringness to show as many sides of the cube as possible. Corruption, war, the poor, the rich, the bought, the innocent, the defeated, the hopeful. All these characteristics that Bourdain brought, specifically to this show “No Reservations” and “Parts Unknown” are the type of dynamics that get highlighted during the World Cup, which starts in just under a week.
Bourdain and the World Cup
Bourdain was never a sports guy, but he would have loved everything that the World Cup brings and his ability to play chameleon would allow him to show the world the best or worst of every aspect. Chameleon used in the best way possible since Bourdain had the ability to be as waspy with the best of them, it’s easy to see him sitting at a 5-star restaurant with a FIFA higher up and be able to ask the questions of corruption and bribery only to be responded with a very political none answer from one of these higher-ups. Of course, he was too classy to push the issue at that moment, but in the voiceover, you would listen to his option that he knew the person was just full of crap and saving his own behind.
The man of the people
His greatest strength though was his willingness and how purely joyful he was with those who didn’t live in privilege. Through the struggle, there was joy, usually through food, through drinks, music, and through more food and a lot more drinks. He countlessly made far away countries and far away dishes seem like something we're all familiar with. He was able to make grandmothers or mothers that looked nothing our own feel like they shared that same spirit that ours have. He highlighted the importance of culture and of a religion of these places and why they’re important to people in those areas and what makes them unique. His talent as a storyteller was that he also showed and made the ability to connect through the differences and show us as humans regardless of culture, ideas, food, or religion, are much more alike than we are different.
That’s what over the next month the World Cup will show us as well. Through the corruption of FIFA and the shadiness of Russia, across the world, we will be sharing and connecting with people of different cultures and countries. We will be happy, sad, and angry with people we don’t know. There will be laughter, chants, and tears shared. We will learn about cultures we didn’t know, and we will meet people who remind us our cousins and uncles. People will get drunk with each other, and some will fall in love with each other.
Bourdain was never a sports guy, but his life work, his storytelling, and his message will be expressed over 31 days. Through the crap of corruption, violence, and politics, most people from different languages, cultures, and religions will get together through soccer. We will eat, drink, and dance, and at the end, we will continue to see how similar we all really are. Anthony for his part will get to see it all unfold with a cold drink in one hand and food in the other, with the best seat in the house.
Rest In Peace Anthony Bourdain