If There Is Any Reason

Why Anthony Bourdain and I should not be joined in Internet matrimony, I’d like to know what it is:

I admit I’m genuinely annoyed by the occasional internet poster who suggests that whatever I might have to say about food, about travel–about anything–is somehow gravely diminished by the fact that I’m no longer working in a professional kitchen. That proximity to the line, the actual job of cooking dinner for the public enhances one’s powers of perception, focuses the mind and builds vocabulary and that “keeping it real” necessitates dying behind the stove, a broken, broken kneed and broke-ass geezer in his mid-fifties, long past it as a cook – finally succumbed to stroke or liver disease. It’s a point of view popular among internet nerds and cubicle geeks who’ve never done a minute’s physical labor in their lives, the same people who take photographs of every course at their favorite restaurants, convinced that it’s Jean Georges himself in there, personally boning out their squab.

My instinctive reaction to this kind of inverse snobbery is normally a raised middle finger and a “I had twenty-eight years of standing behind a stove – while you were arguing over bundt cake recipes in a chat room, motherfucker! Now, kiss my ass!!”

But the fact is, there’s a little voice in my head that completely agrees with their point of view.
All those years hanging out with no one but professional cooks, looking out at the world through the narrow tunnel vision of the kitchen – it alters, irrevocably, one’s value system and ties one’s sense of self worth inseparably and inversely to how bad, physically, you feel at the end of the day when you roll into bed. While I may want to reach through the computer screen and across the ether to strangle some snarky Comic Book Guy who’s basically sayin’ I’m a pussy, there IS that subconscious connection in my mind between flopping half-drunk on top of the covers, my back, knees and feet throbbing painfully, smelling like Charlie the Tuna after a hard day’s work – and the sense that I have completed a day of honest, virtuous toil.

A.

15 thoughts on “If There Is Any Reason

  1. Elspeth R says:

    Sorry A, I get him first! 🙂 I lurrrrves me some Anthony Bourdain! I love his books, I love his cookbooks, I love his shows… If my ex, the chef, had been more like him, we would still be together…but I like to think now I am free to find someone more AB like! 🙂 LOL!
    I will consider a timeshare agreement w/you though – we ARE the Supreme Courtesans! 🙂
    Elspeth

  2. liprap says:

    God bless Tony Bourdain. I think he was put on this earth as proof that God exists, myself…

  3. Henry Holland says:

    I worked factory jobs until my early 20’s. I was working at a car parts factory when I crushed my thumb because I was daydreaming while working at a metal press. While it healed, I said “Fuck this, fuck manual labor” and enrolled in secretarial courses. I’ve been a professional secretary since 1985, and the most manual labor I’ve done since is lifting a box of files on to a shelf. Break a sweat? Hahahahahahaha, yeah, right.
    Manual labor is waaaaaaay overrated. Freakin’ Puritans…

  4. virgotex says:

    You’re building quite the harem now, aren’t you A? I believe it’s been less than 24 hours since I witnessed you command someone else to marry you…
    not that there’s anything wrong with that.
    (OT: no crack van tonight?)

  5. Athenae says:

    Virgo, nah, we need a van break. Fucking primaries are killing my kitten-noise-sending fingers.
    A.

  6. mizburd says:

    Note to the many who’d like to see more of Mr. Bourdain — the latest foodie-oriented coffee table book is called My Last Supper. It has a photo of Mr. Bourdain nude, with a large, very strategically-placed beef bone. Three words: no tan lines.

  7. spo cko says:

    I know what you are talking about. Have just received my
    first copy of “It Doesn’t End With Us” I think Athenae is talking about journalism. (BTW, have you ordered your two copies yet?)
    Being a Vulcan I read her afterword first. It was brilliant and I can understand the hunger to be part of something bigger than yourself, whether it is putting out a fabulous meal or a great paper. Being in at the heart of the creation with the heat of stove or pressure of deadline is a sort of drug.
    When I was in my pressure cooker job I remember the debilitating stress but I sometimes long for the goodies that came from it. I know now that it was sick, and I’ve tried to recreate the feelings in other ways that are more healthy. But at the time we wore our 100 hour weeks with pride, people who couldn’t hack the pace were the ones with the problem.
    I think that Anthony Bourdain at least understands that the odds of ending up broken in the physically demanding work is clear, just like I knew (or my body knew) that the mentally demanding work would kill me. So my body made a decision for me. But that doesn’t mean that my mind doesn’t keep going back to the source of both pain and pleasure like a tongue feeling the socket of a diseased tooth that was just pulled.
    And from now on when I say, “I know what I’m talking about” the people who I want to teach can hear the stories and say, “well at least you have been there, in the heat so we will listen to you.”

  8. mizburd, you rock and I have now put that book on my amazon wish list!!! 🙂 (it’s out of stock at the moment…)
    Mr. Bourdain’s writing is just so flippin’ real and sharp and it’s just engaging as hell. I LOVED “Kitchen Confidential”. Loaned my copy to the chef ex, but now that we aren’t even speaking/texting/e-mailing, I bought myself a new copy. Even he had said how good a read it is…and being an ‘insider’ he was usually pretty critical of chef-related things… I bought my brother the book “The Nasty Bits” for xmas.
    Okay, well, since the flippin’ courts opted to uphold the 1st amendment rights of the corporation over the 1st amendment rights of the citizens/candidate and opted to allow Kuch to be bumped from the debate afterall…I am going to find other things to fill my evening and MSNBC is off of my viewing roster. I am sorry to have to bid adieu to KO, as I lurves him…but screw his bosses. Scaredy cats one and all.
    Peace all,
    Elspeth
    (jonesing for the crack van… 🙂 )

  9. TX Scotia says:

    Tiny taste:
    PAULA DEEN: I’m reluctant to bash what seems to be a nice old lady. Even if her supporting cast is beginning to look like the Hills Have Eyes–and her food a True Buffet of Horrors. A recent Hawaii show was indistinguishable from an early John Waters film. And the food on a par with the last scene of Pink Flamingos. But I’d like to see her mad. Like her look-alike, Divine in the classic, “Female Trouble.” Paula Deen on a Baltimore Killing Spree would be something to see. Let her get Rachael in a headlock–and it’s all over.
    Big gulp:
    http://blog.ruhlman.com/ruhlmancom/2007/02/guest_blogging_.html
    OK, I have NO IDEA how to post a linky thingy, but this is a real smackdown. Along with the Lebanon show, oh my!

  10. pseudonymous in nc says:

    I love how Bourdain took to blogging, after being prodded through the dastardly Michael Ruhlman. (And Ruhlman came to it late, after a friendly prod.) His posts at Ruhlman’s site are a delight.

  11. Ray says:

    VTx, guess I was just used for some rebound sex and then tossed aside for another ex-addict. At least Bourdain’s a better cook than I am.

  12. Auntie Meme says:

    I think he was put on this earth as proof that God exists, myself…
    and She has a wicked sense of humor ;->
    Actually…can’t make up my mind between bad boy Bourdain and prepster Ruhlman. Both so cute and erudite. *sigh*

  13. virgotex says:


    VTx, guess I was just used for some rebound sex and then tossed aside for another ex-addict.

    so that’s why you’re having a bad day.
    At least Bourdain’s a better cook than I am.
    I read that too fast the first time and I thought it said something completely different…

  14. Ray says:

    I read that too fast the first time and I thought it said something completely different…
    Ha! Nah, I’m all ego in that department.

  15. coldH2Owi says:

    What about me? I have quite the man-crush on the man. Keep your hands or paring knives away from him. & I mean all of you, including the ferrets.

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