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Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations


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#31

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Posted Jul 28, 2005 @ 2:42 PM

He and his brother went back to France and he went on and on and on about the house and village he grew up in from early childhood into his teen years (in France). That makes him a native in my book.


He didn't grow up in France. His family vacationed there when he was a kid. He's a New Yorker.

#32

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Posted Jul 28, 2005 @ 2:51 PM

And the hotel he stayed at? Boy he's off the grid isn't he?
Bourdain called L'Hotel ?a hipster hangout? which nowadays is synonymous with ?place where one is likely to run into Paris Hilton?. It is most definitely upscale. Oscar Wilde would not have been caught dead in any place that was considered ?off the grid?.


Well poor Oscar had come down pretty far in the world by the time he died and the D'Alsace as it was called at the time, was pretty trashy. Hence Wilde's deathbed comments (not sure if they are totally accepted as truth or not) paraphrased "either this wallpaper must go or I shall" upon which he is reputed to have drawn his last gasp.

Now it is upscale indeed. Very upper-middle class tourist. Groups from Turtle Creek, Deerborn and Bethseda. Complete with shiny bus and umbrella touting (though quite chic as far as that goes) tour guide. First student trip to Paris we had to stay there. Had some of the best bacon and eggs (it was a little cheese souffle) for breakfast. Bacon. Now that's Paris for you!

Can't wait until he does New Jersey week after. And tells us that great food can be found there. Yeah like its always been the food we were scoffing at when New Jersey came up in the conversation. All these incredibly entrenched myths he keeps destroying! And the Soprano's drive is so likely to happen.

#33

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Posted Jul 28, 2005 @ 3:14 PM

He was born in New York. Plenty of people don't speak their ancestral tongue.


He's from New York, but his father, at least, is a bona fide Frenchman, born in France. His family spent the summer in France every year when he was a kid. He at least can make himself understood--in the Cook's Tour episode where he went back to France, he parlay-vous-ed just fine with the locals.

You can get "absinthe" without the hallucinogen in a lot of places in Western Europe.


Hee! You can get it here, too. Isn't absinthe without the hallucinogen Pernod?

#34

Ronnie Suburban

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Posted Jul 28, 2005 @ 3:21 PM

He and his brother went back to France and he went on and on and on about the house and village he grew up in from early childhood into his teen years (in France). That makes him a native in my book.

He didn't grow up in France. His family vacationed there when he was a kid. He's a New Yorker.

Correct. They spent summers there. IIRC, the house was the residence of his grandparents. And fwiw, I'll bet Tony speaks Spanish more fluently than French.

I thought the show was solid -- but not without some problems, which many here have already mentioned. For me the main issue is this: Bourdain has always been synonymous with cooking and eating and while his branching into other areas (general travel) seems fairly natural, it isn't as nearly compelling as Bourdain on Food. I didn't learn a whole lot about Paris from watching this episode but I was entertained by it. I'm a fan of Bourdain and I appreciate his take on things and his overall persona.

That said, I think the scripted bits need to be shorter and tighter. There were also a few narrative segments in the 2nd season of A Cook's Tour which clunked a bit too; but they were clearly the exception, not the norm. Tony, Chris, Lydia, etc. are a savvy group and they'll want to refine what they're doing. My guess is that as the production rolls along, they'll develop a more critical eye for their work on this show. Perhaps the larger budget and complete creative freedom they're enjoying has led to a bit of self-indulgence. Knowing Tony, I'm not worried about it becoming a trend.

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more episodes. Tony is a unique voice and while the first episode wasn't perfect, it certainly succeeded in delivering 100% unfiltered Bourdain. Of course, if you're not a fan, that's probably a big negative. But I doubt the show will deviate much in that respect. He is who he is and that will always be up front and center. In fact, this first episode was as much (or more so) about Bourdain as it was about Paris. But, in this relatively new (for Tony) medium, there is much to master. Still, there's no doubt that Bourdain can tell a story. Given that, I'm confident the show will accomplish its mission as he continues to develop his mastery of the medium.

#35

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Posted Jul 28, 2005 @ 4:49 PM

Isn't absinthe without the hallucinogen Pernod?


I prefer Ricard, but yes. Exactly. There are a few made with a "safe" level of Thujone. And there are recipes.

#36

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Posted Jul 28, 2005 @ 6:16 PM

Thanks for correcting my presumption. I remember AB was born in NY but thought he grew up in France.

He's from New York, but his father, at least, is a bona fide Frenchman, born in France.

Not trying to beat this to death, but isn't his mom French too?

#37

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Posted Jul 29, 2005 @ 8:45 AM

For some unknown reason, I deleted this episode on my DVR as soon as I was done watching it, even though I liked it and was interested in visiting some of the places he mentioned (bad Me, bad bad Me). Does anyone remember the name of the last restaurant he visited, the one hidden behind drawn curtains on a sidestreet, where Mom still works in the kitchen?

ETA: Nevermind, I found it: Chez Robert et Louise, 64, rue Vieille-du-Temple, Marais. Of course, the Marais! Chez Robert is now on my list of places to go in Paris. Except, I'm supposed to throw away the list and just go with the flow, right?

Edited by Cheezitsofcool, Jul 29, 2005 @ 2:57 PM.


#38

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Posted Jul 31, 2005 @ 7:42 PM

I don't think this is an improvement on A Cook's Tour, but I guess they won't be making any more of those so I'll take what I can get.

ETA: And obviously if you don't like Tony, both of these shows will be unwatchable.

Edited by Smackfu, Jul 31, 2005 @ 7:43 PM.


#39

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Posted Aug 1, 2005 @ 12:12 PM

I wish the show didn't attempt to have so much narrative flow -- i.e. the snooty waiter taking him to the wine cellar and then abandoning Tony in the sewers, etc. We know the wine cellar logically can't be directly connected to the sewer without at least a locked door, so why pretend otherwise.

Also, I wish he hadn't gone for the ubiquitous "fat Americans" comment at the beginning, particularly since the bistro guy was quite a chunk-load, as were quite a few of the meat market guys.

AB is still 10 times better than anyone on The Food Network, though.

#40

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Posted Aug 1, 2005 @ 1:24 PM

Also, I wish he hadn't gone for the ubiquitous "fat Americans" comment at the beginning...

Actually, when I was in France I couldn't help but notice how much thinner (and shorter) they were than Americans in general. It's not just a mild difference, it's really noticeable amongst both sexes and all ages. The odd portly one here and there stands out as a rarity. The subject may be cliche, but so is a shot of the Eiffel Tower, and I wouldn't expect a show on Paris to be without one.

Edited by Hairymango, Aug 1, 2005 @ 1:30 PM.


#41

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Posted Aug 1, 2005 @ 4:30 PM

I'm not saying there isn't a difference; I just wish he hadn't tried to make a connection between the cultures, diets, weight, etc., because it's so flawed. Life expectancy in the two countries is about the same -- slightly higher in the U.S. for males, lower for females. The thing is, I don't care what Bourdain's take is on that particular issue -- he's a smoker who extolls the virtues of pastry, meat, and booze. Don't get me wrong, these are all great and wonderful things. But don't even talk to me about health issues; that's not what I watch his show for.

#42

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Posted Aug 1, 2005 @ 4:31 PM

Tony B's stuff is so much better than the usual crap on the Travel Channel. They seem to think Vegas is the most exotic destination in the world. I will totally watch this series.

#43

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Posted Aug 1, 2005 @ 5:00 PM

Tony B's stuff is so much better than the usual crap on the Travel Channel. They seem to think Vegas is the most exotic destination in the world.

**gasp** You mean - it isn't?!!! I kid, I kid!

Along with the shows on the Travel Channel exploring haunted locations - yep, I catch every single one of those shows when they air, please don't ban me - Bourdain's show is different, entertaining and fun. Can't wait for tonite's Iceland show. And yeah, as someone pointed out upthread, there's something vaguely . . . I dunno, sexy about him. Maybe it's a chef thing, cause I also have a thing for Gordon Ramsay. But YMMV.

Edited by AlmondEyes, Aug 1, 2005 @ 5:01 PM.


#44

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Posted Aug 1, 2005 @ 5:45 PM

I mostly enjoyed it, but it was a bit... overdirected. Too much time spent on him having 'hallucinations' and running around the sewers, and not enough rhapsodizing about food and great markets


Agreed. I appreciated the absinthe segment, up until the 'hallucination'--not because absinthe doesn't cause hallucinations etc (in fact my late stepfather lost four entire days back when he was in his twenties and drank absinthe in Germany; he just had no idea what happened during that period), but it was just a bit overdone in this instance.

LOL'd at the "it's cold, I need a cup of hot chocolate and two chicks" comment.

#45

thermodynamics

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Posted Aug 1, 2005 @ 10:08 PM

nevermind

Edited by thermodynamics, Aug 9, 2005 @ 4:32 PM.


#46

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Posted Aug 1, 2005 @ 10:31 PM

I've been kicking myself for years over missing A Cook's Tour b/c I loved AB's books so much. If this show is anything like his last one, I didn't miss much. He's boring and not funny.

#47

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Posted Aug 1, 2005 @ 10:41 PM

I don't think this is an improvement on A Cook's Tour, but I guess they won't be making any more of those so I'll take what I can get.

ETA: And obviously if you don't like Tony, both of these shows will be unwatchable.


Actually i found A Cook's Tour to be quite watchable as the food was co-star to Bourdain. Granted, it was a co-star that had to kick and scream and fight for that role, but most of the time it worked.

Actually, when I was in France I couldn't help but notice how much thinner (and shorter) they were than Americans in general. It's not just a mild difference, it's really noticeable amongst both sexes and all ages. The odd portly one here and there stands out as a rarity.



I think it depends on where you go. I went to three weddings in various parts of the heartland and was pleasantly surprised at how few overweight people I saw. Which would seem to be the expected reverse. Last year's family trip to Normandie and I kept thinking I was in Russia or the Ukraine. Talk about porkers. Bourgogne had its share as well. I guess there are always exceptions to the rule.

Tony B's stuff is so much better than the usual crap on the Travel Channel.


Problem is they followed Michael Palin's Himalayas with this. Now if they had only had Palin do this show!

#48

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Posted Aug 2, 2005 @ 5:48 AM

I thought Tony brought the snark last night, but I'd have to be some kind of hungry to tuck into a buffet of putrified shark, smoked sheep jaws, head cheese and gelatinous sheep testicles.

In the interest of full disclosure, I've tasted head cheese made from pork. It was scrambled in with eggs and my host told me it was corned beef hash before 'fessin up after my second or third bite. We're no longer friends.

And concerning the testicles. I once visited a cousin who works on a yoooge cattle operation. While I was there, the cowpokes were castrating a couple of hundred young calves. They had a chuckwagon set up, and the cook would take the newly-freed testicles, rinse them in salted water, then in fresh water, roll them in seasoned corn meal and toss them in the fryer. They tasted like beefy hushpuppies to me, but the unnerving part was that a small herd of the emasculated calves were standing around watching us eat their nuts. One locked eyes with me and seemed to be saying, "Eat up, motherfucker, but you better pray we never meet in a rodeo, cause if we do, payback's a bitch."

#49

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Posted Aug 2, 2005 @ 9:31 AM

LOL'd at the "it's cold, I need a cup of hot chocolate and two chicks" comment.


I thought he said two fat chicks, but it went by so fast I wasn't sure if I heard it right. Maybe I was unconsciously projecting my annoyance after the "fat Americans" thing in the first episode. But on the other hand, my initial response to what I thought I heard was, "tasteless... but funny."

It struck me as kinda funny that Bourdain, who so often praises the creativity and skill of working class cuisines because they use all parts of the animal out of necessity, was downright squeamish about the sheepshead and the fermented shark.

#50

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Posted Aug 2, 2005 @ 10:27 AM

xii, he did say "two fat chicks"--looking back, I can see I simply forgot to type in the qualifying word "fat" in yesterday's post. Whoopsie. Must have been an unconscious revolt against that word while I chowed down my philly beef sandwich and french fries yesterday.

Actually I enjoyed last night's episode much more than the France one. I thought it was pretty amusing when Tony was getting his ass whupped in arm and thumb wrestling with all the beefy weightlifters, and I appreciated the fact that he wasn't trying to really gloss over the fact that Iceland's cuisine is, let's face it, disgusting. I had to avert my eyes during the display of sheep's skulls and fermented shark in the kitchen, and there was some humming (by me) to drown out the sound.

#51

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Posted Aug 2, 2005 @ 11:18 AM

>I enjoyed last night's episode much more than the France one.

Yeah, there was still more filler than in "A Cook's Tour," but it was worth watching. His reaction to the shark was up there with the Japanese breakfast dish he described in the book as tasting like "salt-cured, sun-dried goat rectum."

Also, cliched as it may be, I really enjoy the local-color segments with Tony buried in mud, Tony beaten with birch twigs, Tony humiliated by horny Icelandic weightlifters, etc.

#52

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Posted Aug 2, 2005 @ 11:58 AM

I dunno. I thought this was pretty bad and there was a lot more filler than the France episode, which I liked. Too much time with the weighlifters and lost in the snow. I liked the Icelandic dinner sequence.

I liked a Cooks Tour much more. This series is a lot more of Tony wandering around aimlessly being snarky.

#53

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Posted Aug 2, 2005 @ 12:23 PM

I don't mind the aimless wandering that much, as long as they don't try to impose some kind of fake narrative on the events. I liked the pub-crawl part a lot, because it seemed to be more of the actual hilights of the evening, rather than the "lost in the blizzard" stuff, which was obviously fake.

"Concave chest" -- heh. I like his sense of self-deprecation.

#54

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Posted Aug 3, 2005 @ 9:39 AM

I liked A Cook's Tour much, much more too. It had heart and seemed much less self-indulgent. Tony's snark was also much more good-natured and moderate. Now it's continuous and just plain mean-spirited. Though I did crack up when he made the "Sarah Jessica Parker" comment while playing with the Icelandic horse.

It struck me as kinda funny that Bourdain, who so often praises the creativity and skill of working class cuisines because they use all parts of the animal out of necessity, was downright squeamish about the sheepshead and the fermented shark.

Well, it appears that some animal parts can't taste good no matter how much cooks try to dress them up. No offense, but the head cheese did look really nasty. I don't want Tony sugar-coating his comments and saying that something tastes "interesting" when it's really a vile piece of crap.

#55

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Posted Aug 3, 2005 @ 11:35 AM

I wanted to like this episode -- I like Iceland, and visiting it midwinter seemed interesting compared to the routine 'land of the midnight sun' trip -- but I was just bored, and found myself skipping ahead.

#56

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Posted Aug 3, 2005 @ 12:03 PM

... I appreciated the fact that he wasn't trying to really gloss over the fact that Iceland's cuisine is, let's face it, disgusting.

Well, the smoked salmon there is the best I've ever had, other seafood there is great as well, the reindeer is tasty, the veg. are fresh and well prepared, and the food prepared by that top chef for Bourdain's picnic was excellent, or so TB said. I think it's just the old, traditional food that's pretty awful, as it is in pretty much every culture IMO. Lefse and lutefisk (sp?), anyone? Polish duck soup made from lots of duck's blood? Chicken blood omelets from southwest France? I'm glad that TB showed that tasty picnic and the traditional fish stew.

But I thought the pace of this episode lagged, as did the one in France. Too much wandering around in the snow for me as well.

Edited by DeepRed, Aug 3, 2005 @ 12:04 PM.


#57

thermodynamics

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Posted Aug 3, 2005 @ 1:33 PM

nevermind

Edited by thermodynamics, Aug 9, 2005 @ 4:32 PM.


#58

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Posted Aug 3, 2005 @ 1:56 PM

Fair points, DeepRed. I should have said I think Icelandic cuisine seems disgusting to me, rather than just declaring it so. ;) You're right about traditional food, though. I suppose if I went to Iceland I'd be living on smoked salmon then. I couldn't eat Rudolph or Blitzen. Am I squeamish? Why yes I am...

#59

timesamillion

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Posted Aug 3, 2005 @ 1:59 PM

Anyone see TB on Letterman last night ? He took the piss out of Rachel Ray something fierce. Something to the effect of "how do you get by on $40 a day ? BY STIFFING EVERY WAITER AND WAITRESS, BITCH !".

Gotta watch that again on my TiVO later.

#60

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Posted Aug 3, 2005 @ 2:28 PM

Ah CRAP! Can't believe I missed Tony on Letterman. I thought the Iceland ep was HILARIOUS. I enjoyed the France one, but this one was worlds better. Yeah, the blizzard bit went on too long, like the absinthe bit in Paris, but I thought Tony was incredibly funny this week. As a native, can't wait to see where he goes in NJ...maybe the llama farm in Long Valley? Clearly he goes to the Bada Bing, or whatever the actual name is. There are loads of cool and weird places to go in NJ. I just hope he gets Disco Fries at some point. (that's cheese and gravy fries to you non-natives.)