Philly vegetarians are terrorist scum, says Bourdain.
Anthony Bourdain has the best job ever. He trots the globe in search of exotic cuisine, unapologetically drinking and smoking to his heart's content while making his super-cool TV show No Reservations. Admit it--you'd swap.
From his days as a dishwasher on Cape Cod to his post as an executive chef in Manhattan, former heroin addict and cocaine enthusiast Bourdain has seen it all.
All except, it would seem, Philadelphia's cuisine.
"Honestly, I've never even bothered with Philly," says Bourdain, who reads from his new book No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach at the Free Library on Saturday. "It seems to me it's a two-horse town: Starr and Perrier."
True enough as far as big-box is concerned, but this is straight from the mouth of the same chef who claimed the best eateries are those which traffic in "minimal bullshit." And anyone who's bothered with Philly cuisine knows how minimal our tolerance is for bullshit.
Bourdain's ignorance is a shame. He's a Philly kinda guy, a straight-up bad boy among the poseurs, poodles and powder puffs that comprise the bulk of celebrity cheffery. Bourdain first found fame in 2000 with Kitchen Confidential, his definitive insiders' guide to what really goes on in restaurants. It ripped away the curtain of mystique behind which restaurateurs have been bullshitting the eating public for decades--and it had a massive impact.
Suddenly everyone knew that the folks washing your dishes are on the brink of deportation and your high-priced dish is likely teeming with bacteria.
Bourdain took a firm grasp of the brass ring. He signed on with the folks at Food Network and--for a while--jumped through their culinary hoops like a good little TV cheffy.
But after a few agonizing months doing Bobby Flay tricks, Bourdain was offered his own show on the Travel Channel. The deal was irresistible: You tell us where in the world you want to go and we'll make it happen.
Travel Channel followed Bourdain's every move and granted his every wish. It was as if he'd stumbled upon a fairy godmother.
But it's not all sunshine and beach cuisine. Bourdain's best moment came when he and his crew were all set to tape a show about foodie culture in Lebanon. They were holed up in a Beirut hotel when the Israeli bombs began to land.
"Those kookie-krazy kids from Hezbollah were popping off their weapons today," he posted on foodie forum Egullet.org. "Israel has been bombing and mobilizing a division in the South with reported land and sea strikes ... While the party continues in Beirut there's a lot of concern that the Israelis will follow up with strikes on infrastructure (like the power grid). And we were due to head to the Bekka Valley tomorrow. BTW this town is party central!" The resulting videography was deeply disturbing.
"It wasn't so much harrowing as it was heartbreaking," says Bourdain. "It was truly heartbreaking to see a great city destroyed for no good reason at all. Honestly, it was a deeply shaming and discouraging experience."
And one that won him an Emmy.
Back to the important stuff, though--like those whom Bourdain refers to as a "plague of vegetarians."
As things stand, Bourdain has a unilaterally declared truce with the veggies--in that he's promised not to physically attack them. He's particularly pissed off with those--like the Philadelphia-based group Hugs for Puppies--who claim that eating foie gras is a threat to society or the environment.
"These fucking people are not really all about us not eating duck liver," snarls Bourdain. "No, no, no. They don't want us eating any animal product whatsoever.
"When they win this tiny battle, they'll move to the next one, like freeing the lobsters.
"These people," says Bourdain, "are the worst kind of terrorists. And they must be stopped."
Dinner with Luke Palladino