It’s been a year since Anthony Bourdain died. I remember someone mentioned it on Facebook and I stared at my phone for at least five minutes trying to figure out how to react. It was the same reaction I had when I heard of Robin Williams’s passing and Troy Gentry’s plane crash.
I have always loved trying new foods, worked in food service for many years, love all sorts of documentaries about food and travel, and have been interested in journalism, so Anthony Bourdain’s name was one I heard often. He is someone I admired and respected for a long time.
Anthony Bourdain was the type of journalist I aspire to be. He spoke with brutal honesty and didn’t give two shits if he came across as an asshole as long as the truth of the matter came out. He was not afraid to speak his mind on subjects he was passionate about, but he listened to everyone else’s opinion with curiosity and respect. He was genuine and he was real, which is unfortunately hard to find in today’s media.
He was also the type of traveler I hope everyone who reads this blogs tries to be in their travels. He didn’t go to only Michelin starred restaurants, he tried down home cooking, street food, and everything in between. He talked to famous chefs the same way he talked to home cooks who only ever made dinner for their friends and family: with respect and excitement for the deliciousness they were serving him.
He was described by people as “not like a rude American tourist” because he treated people from every country like they were humans. Whoda thunk that would be exceptional? But he didn’t go around trying to pretend like he knew everything about the country he was visiting and the food he was going to be eating. He never acted disgusted or rude when he was offered food that was weird by American or western standards. Compare this to Dark Tourist, where the host there acted rude and holier than thou when invited to a ceremony in Indonesia and Cambodia.
Bourdain was the kind of person that I would have wanted to chill with. He liked finer things in life like drinks and nice food, but he also loved the “nasty bits” and advocated for snout to tail cooking out of respect for the animal. He was open and honest about his depression and drug addiction; he was outspoken against Trump and for smarter gun control and the #MeToo movement among female chefs. He was the type of man who was not afraid to speak his mind, even if it gave him enemies. The kind of guy you could enjoy blunts, beers, and burgers with while watching the sunset. He is a man who will surely be missed by the travel and food communities.
Today, and every day, especially when traveling and trying new foods, remember Anthony Bourdain for the mark he left on the world. For his love of early punk rock, his sarcastic comebacks, and his refusal to grow up. Remember him for the way he traveled and saw the world. Remember him for introducing us to amazing places, amazing people, and amazing food.
Don’t remember him as selfish. He was a person who suffered immensely until it became too much and he became another tragedy. We shouldn’t glorify what he did or make it to be anything that it is not, but we also shouldn’t condemn him or insult his memory. He cried out for help, as well as received help. He did what he needed to do when he could. His death will always leave more questions than answers but we should remember that mental health cannot and does not get a one and done fix. It is a daily struggle for the rest of one’s life to push through that illness and there will be both good and bad days.
We should do what we can for our loved ones on their bad days and rejoice with them on their good days. We should perform as many random acts of kindness as we can because you never know how it will change someone else’s outlook for the day. I’ll be the first person to say it’s easier to be honest, even if you sound like a bitch, but it’s also so easy to be kind. Compliment a stranger; hold the door open for someone; give a coin or two to a homeless person; share your artwork with your friends on Instagram…do something that’ll put a smile on someone’s face for no reason other than that smile!
And if all else fails, talk to someone. Talk to your significant other, your parents, your friends, your teachers. Talk to the pigeons in Central Park or the cows in the streets of India. Or call your local suicide or mental health hotline. Someone will talk to you. Someone has time for you. Someone cares about you. Whether you’re young or old, someone will always want more time with you.