Tony Eats It
I\’m watching Tony Bourdain eat roadkill.
For the last hour I\’ve been cutting a scene of Tony at a Chicago restaurant that specializes in molecular gastronomy of a rather unusual variety. Try to imagine Ferran Adria\’s El Bulli crossed with a novelty gift shop that sells chocolates in the shape of dog turds and you\’ll get some idea of the place. He\’s just had a big bite of a dish called \”Roadkill,\” actually it\’s a very delicately prepared dish of shredded duck confit with a splattering of a beet puree and a toasted rosemary infused marshmallow that is meant to resemble entrails, or maggots, or …well, you get the idea
It\’s a fun scene and the kind that usually cuts itself. Tony is clearly digging this kooky molecular gastro- concoction. At one point he says kiddingly, \”I may have eaten roadkill before.\” But is he really kidding? One of the aspects of this show that consistently amazes me is Tony\’s willingness to eat whatever his hosts are generous enough to offer. Anything and everything.
Anyone who has been even a casual viewer of this series has likely seen Mr. Bourdain ingest fermented meats, fermented meat liquor, raw poultry, animal genitalia (lots of animal genitalia), Hawaiian luau steam-table fare, various and sundry livestock organs and, of course, unwashed, semi-cooked warthog rectum, and that\’s just scratching the surface. In other words, he doesn\’t just talk the talk he walks the walk and he keeps on walking the walk.
A lot of travel show hosts may \”eat for the camera,\” meaning a few bites just enough to get the scene done, but when you see Tony eating a meal, he\’s actually eating that meal. Whether it\’s a 15-course tasting menu or a pound of grilled hyenna spleen, he is there. And of course, it\’s worth noting that it\’s not just the meals you see in the show that he eats, there\’s also the meals that wind up in the International versions of the show and the meals that don\’t even make it out of the edit room. What you see isn\’t what he\’s done . . .it\’s merely a portion of what\’s he\’s done. At times it\’s a burden, we should all be so lucky to have, at other times it borders on literally putting his health (at least his gastro-intestinal health) in jeopardy. It lends another layer of authenticity to the show and is a testament to his dedication.
But it doesn\’t just stop at food. In addition to keeping it real with his meals, TB also does his own stunts. Perhaps, he would rather not, but through the magic of semi-planned circumstance, what you see is what he got. Getting rolled over twice by an ATV in New Zealand — no stunt-double there. Descending hundreds of feet into a wet, stinking, treacherous, bat shit-filled cave in Jamaica – that was really him. And sitting through hour upon hour of mind-numbing conversations about crop cycles with German-Namibian farmers – all Tony.
So just remember, next time you\’re really enjoying an episode of \”No Reservations,\” or if you\’re not enjoying it, or if you\’re pissed because you\’re watching the same repeat from season 2 that\’s been airing for the one millionth time, just remember what Tony does. For your entertainment alone Tony risks it; for your entertainment alone Tony does it; and for your entertainment alone. . . Tony eats it.