Friday, August 26, 2011
In Defense of Anthony Boudain
I am the first admit that butter or bacon (or both) will improve the taste of any food. That said, I must say that I have to agree with Anthony Bourdain's comments about Paula Deen in a recent TV Guide interview. To quote: "The worst, most dangerous person to America is clearly Paula Deen. She revels in unholy connections with evil corporations and she's proud of the fact that her food is f---ing bad for you. If I were on at seven at night and loved by millions of people at every age, I would think twice before telling an already obese nation that it's OK to eat food that is killing us.
Plus, her food sucks."
And, Sam, I realize we disagree on this.
For anyone outside the food world, Anthony Bourdain is a well known chef, culinary traveler, and someone I am in awe of the fact he is still alive given his early recreational chemical habits and admitted (and well documented) self destructive behavior. All I can figure is that he must share some of the indestructible genes Keith Richards has, but I digress.
He has gone down the Amazon in a dug out canoe in search of some ancient traditional tribal fare and several months later showed up in South Carolina in an old pickup truck and a (borrowed) hound dog to learn the secret behind the Sweatman's world famous BBQ and ribs. After all, someone needs to expose us to the culture of eating live fish, dead snakes, yak, or disgusting looking vegetables being prepared the same way they have for centuries, as well as fine southern cuisine. Even though there is a place for coconut cakes and sweet tea, food should be an adventure approached with "no reservations".
If Anthony is from Mars, Ms Deen is from Pluto. Not everything should come in a package or consist of butter, flour, eggs, and sugar. There is something to be said for "natural food" and learning about other cultures. If you have watched his shows, you know the breadth of his exploits. He travels from fine dining in Italy to places in Mongolia no longer on the map to the back streets of Shanghai to lost islands in the Pacific to BBQ pits in the southern US. In another words the world is his oyster (no pun intended). And, the irony is he is a professionally trained chef (graduated from the Culinary Institute of America) so he knows his way around a kitchen. But he believes there is more to a menu than patés, terrines, confits, and magrets.
I realize that I may now be accused of southern culinary blasphemy, but I have been accused of worse. Even though I am not a Paula Deen fan, as I have said before I still have my standards, I know when to wear white shoes, not to put dark meat in my chicken salad, how to properly set a table, and most all when it is all said and done, down here collards, fried chicken, and biscuits are still the holy trinity of southern fare.