Monday, January 11, 2010

Bourdain Is Back

Magnet # 140: Lebanese Map

Material: Rubber

Purchased By: Ian

A new season of one of the Travel Channel's most popular shows, No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain begins tonight. It's hard to believe that at this point, there's anywhere that Bourdain hasn't been on this program, but apparently Panama is one. He'll visit that tonight, and help authorities set fire to cocaine.

Anthony Bourdain is one of the more unusual hosts on television. He was born in New York City, raised in New Jersey, and now lives in Manhattan - and it shows. He has a dirty mouth, a pretty bad drinking habit, and is very opinionated and direct about his views. And yet, he's surprisingly likeable. I have to admire his nearly three decades worth of experience in professional kitchens and the fact that he's openly put his drug use behind him. He even quit smoking after his daughter was born. It's pretty amusing how he makes fun of other television hosts like Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee. But he also gives credit where it's due, praising celebrity chefs like Mario Batali and even Julia Child. One thing's for certain - Bourdain calls it like he sees it. You're never left wondering just how he feels about any of his experiences. And when it's time for him to be respectful, he really manages to come through. I'm amazed by his ability to occasionally suffer through some of the worst meals imaginable and remain upbeat, not offending his hosts. But there are moments when he is truly snarky in his travels and it's pretty entertaining.

Bourdain's 2006 trip to Lebanon might be called his finest moment. Little did he and his crew realize that, early on in the shoot, the Israel-Lebanon conflict would break out. The Israeli army took out the airport as he watched from his hotel room, and he and his four-person crew were stranded in Beirut. But they went on filming nonetheless, capturing some pretty compelling moments. It was interesting to see more of the people behind the cameras, as they hunkered down at their hotel, talked to fellow guests, and tried to stay optimistic in the middle of so much chaos. Finally, after a week of waiting, a cleaner Bourdain referred to as Mr. Wolf managed to get them safely onboard a United States Marines landing craft, and then USS Nashville took them back home safely. Bourdain had nothing but the best to say in regards to the Marines who helped them, and was even grateful for the tuna noodle casserole and macaroni and cheese they were served in the dining hall. He and his crew were lucky - over a thousand people died during the conflict, many of them Lebanese civilians. The home of one of Bourdain's guides was destroyed. He said that both he and his crew were very shaken by their trip to the country. If you've never seen this episode before, it's really interesting, even if it is a little unsettling.

I did want to thank Ian for buying this magnet on my behalf. He's the son of a friend of mine who is Lebanese and was going to visit his extended family there last year. I begged him to get me a magnet, and he happily obliged. And, yes, he had a safe trip - clearly, life has gotten much better over there. So, tune in for Bourdain's all new antics tonight, if you're interested. Yes, he may be a bit of a food snob, but he is always interesting to watch in action. And don't ask me to pick my favorite between Bourdain and his fellow Travel Channel host, Andrew Zimmerman. Zimmern is just so upbeat and likeable that he is nearly Bourdain's opposite, but I like them both equally. What can I say - the Travel Channel just has some of the most interesting shows around, and if you haven't checked out No Reservations, you're missing out.

No comments:

Post a Comment