Monday, November 12, 2012

Bourdain in Baltimore

Photo credit: Travel Channel
So Bourdain is coming to Baltimore's Hippodrome Theater yet again (on my birthday!), this time unaccompanied by his Gallic BFF Eric Ripert. Bourdain's also hitting several other cities, including Houston, Memphis, Las Vegas, and Dayton. To commemorate the occasion, there was a grand conference call featuring journalists and food writers from those cities.

I participated, too. I hadn't intended to participate, just to listen in, but after the moderator announced the name of another local blogger who chimed in that she, too, was only listening, I realized that everyone on the line was automatically in the question queue, so I hurriedly came up with a couple of lame ones.

The first question I asked suggested that he do some shows with his wife, Ottavia, who seems like a formidable person. He could eat while she was off beating people up, that sort of thing. He stated that she had been on No Reservations a few times already, most notably in the Rio de Janeiro episode. Which of course I hadn't seen, so I suppose it made me seem a little dumb. But honestly, I can't say I've enjoyed No Reservations for several years. After a while, watching him eat and get plastered with the locals got boring. (Personally, I preferred the snark of his first global eating show, A Cook's Tour, which aired for one season on the Food Network and is finally available on DVD.)

The second question I asked pertained to Ruth Bourdain, a mash-up of Ruth Reichl and Bourdain that started as a Twitter account and has led to a book. I wanted to know if Tony (yes, I call him Tony) had any guesses as to her (his?) identity. He responded that he preferred not to think about it, because it was fun and he didn't want to spoil it. I then said he should forget that I asked, at which he chuckled.

The rest of the questions were from residents of Ohio and Texas who grilled Bourdain on whether he had been to their states and, if so, where did he eat. I had to laugh. The man has eaten raw seal with the Inuit, warthog anus in Namibia, and a still-beating cobra heart in Vietnam, and you want him to remember the name of the sushi restaurant he enjoyed somewhere near Cleveland?

Tony also mentioned that he was trying to complete another novel in 2013, for publication in 2014. (If you haven't read his novels, they are of the gritty crime fiction genre.) He's also busy with his new network, CNN, and working on a reality cooking competition for ABC which he'll be hosting with Nigella Lawson. I was happy to hear that he was currently writing, because I do think that is his true talent, but disappointed that no new food-related books were in the offing.

Another caller wanted to know what five ingredients Bourdain would torture chefs with in an appetizer basket for the show Chopped. I'm not sure he's seen the show before, because he suggests chicken, egg, blood sausage, salt, and butter. I'm sure the caller expected him to say cobra heart, warthog anus, balut, ants, and mortadella - as did I.

There was other stuff, too, like his approval of the food truck movement because it's so beneficial for under-capitalized chefs who can't afford a brick-and-mortar restaurant. He also would love to get Rick Steves and his "mom jeans" liquored up and take him to a titty bar in Bangkok. Now that would make for some fun television, but I'm sure it will never happen.

Catch Tony at the Hippodrome on Saturday, November 17th, or, for the time being, as reruns on the Travel Channel.

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