I Blame Bourdain

I also love Mondays.

That’s right, you read that correctly but I’ll say it again for confirmation.

I love Mondays.

The caveat of that is my schedule; 8:30am to 5:00pm, Tuesday through Saturday. If it were any other job I could probably despise the schedule but it works nicely with my location. Because my job is laid back, it’s sometimes boring, but it often feels like a three-day weekend (even on busy Saturdays). This means Monday – for me – is a chance to do errands, to recharge, to luxuriate in my quiet routine.

Two years ago this week marked the start of a crazy three months. We were in the process of buying our first house and encountering all the snags that go along with that. We gave our landlord notice July 1, 2009 and moved in August 1, 2009 – luckily we had just over four weeks prior to get the new place livable. I’ll save that post for a little later this year though, but it makes me reflect on how different things are.

My Mondays now are many things – specifically whatever I want them to be – but they all involve two things: tea, and Anthony Bourdain.

Apparently I am not alone in this sentiment, and just found another blog entry that sums it up nicely also.

Some people watch Man Vs Food, some people watch Bizarre Foods, some people watch (and read, and get inspired by) Anthony Bourdain. I count myself among the latter. My personal opinion is thumbs down on eating contests and Zimmern gives me a weird touristy, condescending vibe. Yes, I get that he’s traveling to other cultures and trying to fit in, and look at that, he just ate raw goat testicles, but it just has that …Hawaiian Shirt on Friday, “forced production” feel. It might be because the narrative reminds me of high school geography/economics books. I can’t put my thumb on what it is exactly (because I do watch the show), but I wouldn’t call myself a fan.

Something about Bourdain, however, just rings true with me. Maybe he has less crew? Maybe because he reminds me of myself? Maybe because I enjoyed his books and his writing? It most likely has something to do with the fact that he appears genuinely grateful for all his experiences, without that overly formatted thank you.

In any case, if I’m home on a Monday, the television is on all day and Anthony’s voice is a soothing mantra through my house. I’ll alternate between watching the show and leaving it on as background noise, but there’s just something comforting about what he’s saying. I’ll re-read his books, I’ll look at his blogs. It doesn’t matter if it’s a rerun about transvestites in the French Polynesia, the drinking (and the beatings!) with his Russian friend, a tiny fishing village in Maine or street food in Mexico. It makes me want to go, to be there, to live.

Before his show, I didn’t really eat – or know how to do much more than heat up a chimichanga (from the blue bag) and dump some hot sauce on it. Growing up included dietary staples of standard Western Pennsylvania food: starchy, filling, fatty, greasy. Fried chicken, hamburgers, tuna casserole, meat loaf, soup, peanut butter and jelly, bread pudding, french fries. Not that my mom can’t make some great fried chicken (and I won’t pass up burgers or fries), but the only time I remember having “salad” at home was endive soaked in vinegar with onions gratuitously scattered throughout. We’d order KFC and have a little picnic on the back porch, homemade iced tea and all. The food was simple but not complex. If we went to the farm stand it was mostly for corn, though we had a few tomato plants in the backyard. The fresh corn and tomatoes were DELICIOUS. I should have known then, but it took me the better part of two decades to realize that food can be just wonderful. There’s nothing like picking a baseball-sized tomato from the vine you helped to grow, feeling how the fruit is warm from the sun. Sprinkle a little salt on it and take a bite right there in the yard, and you’ve found one of those true delights.

PLEASE EAT THIS

When I found out about Anthony, probably the most exotic thing I’d ever tasted was a bite of swordfish (tray-passed hors d’oeuvres during some event at the Warhol Museum) or a California Roll. I might have once even opted for some flavored cream cheese on a bagel… but I never, NEVER expected to get excited about food. The preparation, the display, the texture, the taste. No one ever explained to me that food can be art. Vegan, Thai, Persian, Indian food? No. Never. Going to 99Ranch and browsing jackfruit, rice noodles, sushi-grade fish? Absolutely unheard of. Now my domestic goals include learning how to perfect potato confit, make Alchemy-worthy dishes at home, eventually having more counter space, and getting a really fine set of knives.

Mondays for me are also about having the time to experiment with and enjoy food that my somewhat hectic workweek doesn’t afford me the time to do the way I want (today, a soyrizo scramble with sides of fruit, maybe later on a puff pastry filled with home-grown apples). To have a cup of tea and watch TV for two hours. It’s my weekly ritual, and while I don’t want to turn this into a food blog, I want to get back to recipe sampling. True, my ranks in the foodie world are still in the noob levels, but I can always dream.

So, Mr. Bourdain, I owe you a thank you. While my finances don’t let me do much more than live vicariously through you, I am ever in search of my own foodie delights. I’ve learned that what works for me is to experiment, enjoy, thrive. To at least take what my friend tells her four-year-old son is a “polite bite” (the equivalent of try it, you might like it). To eat, to live, to be hungry for more.

Thank you!

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3 thoughts on “I Blame Bourdain

  1. ivonne says:

    You know me and my love for tony… and having had the opportunity to get *very* close to him, well lets just say a check mark on my bucket list was complete.

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