Searching for Tony Bourdain

Foie gras taste on a Big Mac budget

harsh reality

The people who know me well know that I love the city of New Orleans. I spent some time there the summer after Hurricane Katrina, rebuilding a jazz club (Ernie K-Doe’s “Mother-in-Law Lounge, which closed last winter; news that deeply saddened me) and cleaning out flooded homes. Like most former volunteers, I have what’s known as a “Katrina Ghost Story,” which is basically a story about being in proximity of the scene of a human casualty resulting from the storm. I won’t recount the story because that isn’t the subject of this post. Maybe another time, on my other blog.

New Orleans is a food city.  Like New York and Chicago, it is one of the great food cities in this country. I’ve eaten at Delmonico and Dooky Chase, Juan’s Flying Burrito and La Divina Gelateria, and I even–four times–tasted the authentic home cooking of a kind woman named Antoinette K-Doe, the owner of the jazz club we were rebuilding.  She passed a couple years ago.

New Orleans is also a music city. And one of the most well-known neighborhoods in the city is Treme’, which is the home of many of the musicians that occupy and brighten the city. HBO has begun airing a show named after the neighborhood, though it’s hardly a bright and sunny show.

Season 2’s trailer is chilling. The poem, “Oh Beautiful Storm,” has beautiful and terrifying images, and explains why many of the city’s residents, such as a couple friends of mine, still struggle day to day with its aftermath.

When the show finally began to showcase the restaurants, especially in the kitchen, the producers went looking for a writer who had intimate knowledge of the inner workings of a professional kitchen and wouldn’t hold back on the realism. They came to Tony.

The scenes are vulgar, intense, and honest. And they drip of Bourdain. Food, like television, should be nothing if not honest and authentic. Tony has succeeded here.

Treme makes me wish I had cable, if for no other reason but to see these scenes.  I’ll save my “I Love New Orleans” rant for later.

For your viewing/reading pleasure, here’s the rest of Eater’s coverage of Tony’s exploits. The One-Liners are priceless.




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