by Anthony Bourdain
Tuesday night it was grilled turbot at Elkano, about ten miles down the coast from San Sebastian. David Chang and Wylie Dufresne were happily sucking lobster brains out of the shell when Daniel Boulud insisted on portioning and serving the fish tableside, a skill that unsurprisingly, he excelled at.
The next night, it was roast woodcock at Mugaritz–and foie gras and megrim, skate “filaments” and braised iberian pork tail and pan fried langoustines. Juan Mari Arzak debated the nature of umami (flavor or sensation?) with Chang and Neil Perry over red cardoon salad and clams with black bean broth.
But only two nights before, at a Courtyard Marriot near Kingston, New York, it had been Stouffer’s frozen macaroni and cheese, purchased in a moment of desperation in the lobby. I heated the thing in the microwave in my room. Unable to locate anything resembling a fork or a spoon, I ate the molten, unnaturally orange substance off my room key card.
A few days before that, somewhere between…somewhere and Madison, Wisconsin, at an airport Johnny Rockets, I ate the world’s worst “Philadelphia Cheesesteak” a soggy, cardboardy, sour creation that left the lingering taste of dead ferret and onions in my mouth for the rest of the day.
This morning, I woke up at home and ate cold pork lo mein out of last night’s take-out container.
Tonight, it’s take-out again–as we’re packing. Next day, it’s plane food for sure–or airport chow. At this point, I picture the airline, and I can visualize the terminal at the airport: I see two “panini” stands, their food encrusted sandwich presses reeking of carbonized cheese. The “gyro” counter where–if you ask–they will tell you they “just ran out”, though they in fact stopped serving them over a year ago after some never referred to gryo-related tragedy.
But, on the other end of an overnight flight? Vienna. A place I’ve never been. I’m hoping, at very least, for some superb schnitzel. I’m guessing there will be pork. Promises have been made about the shooting and eating of adorable but delicious beasts–for which purpose I have packed my manliest hunting garb. I have re-watched The Third Man for the twenty-second time, noting that this will be yet another show this season with a direct link to Graham Greene or his works. A zither player will be engaged imminently. A kitten has been hired for the key cold opening scene. Sewers and Ferris wheel await.