Anthony Bourdain had some of the longest arms in the world, a reach that included street food vendors, every professional cook and chef, former U.S. presidents, activists, heads of state, international journalists and the countless world cultures he humanized and helped us appreciate.
Declaring his French-origin surname was originally pronounced “boor-dah”, Anthony Bourdain first tasted an oyster as a teenager on a family vacation in France, the birthplace of his father, an event that would forever secure his love of food and cooking.
Anthony’s descriptors brimmed with the unabashed intellect and no-holds charm he cast, describing “flambe traveling up an inexperienced cook’s leg” or the loving castigation of his friend, Le Bernardin chef Eric Ripert, for “dicking around with your insane professionalism”, or his assertion that “we deserted Detroit because it was full of black people.”
On CNN’s Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, he called street food “the path to true happiness and wisdom”, yet spoke of the loneliness of travel. He had a not-so-well-disguised undercurrent of love and empathetic appreciation for all cultures; yet he admitted to personally having “become harder in some ways.” Who among us cannot relate to the dichotomy.
Anthony authored blogs, essays, articles, fiction, historical non-fiction, cookbooks and travel-exploit books. Occasionally interwoven in interviews and commentary was the thread of his personal “struggle”, and always a deep honesty of the challenges he lived.
A lot has been written about the question of death by suicide. Others we’ve lost we’ve loved no less for their brilliance and courage when faced with what must have seemed insurmountable.
If only we could extend to him the arms he extended to us.
I, for one, am still in his reach and will miss him deeply.