Have you ever decided to go somewhere, but were worried whether or not you would like the food? When you’re in a foreign country, do you find yourself leaning towards the easily recognizable McDonalds you just passed by?Well, before trolling Travelocity’s forums for the best non-offensively, dietary friendly foods, I would suggest you try something else. I would look through the chef’s eyes.
Anthony Bourdain has fairly eschewed the title of “Celebrity Chef”. He doesn’t belong with the Rachel Rays and the Guy Fieris of the world. Instead, over 10 years past his Food Network debut, he has become a cultural/travel television guide on CNN. He flourishes under fluorescent lights, sitting on plastic chairs as flies go lazily by, snacking on something mysterious and juicy in a bowl with little bone bits. In these 45 minute segments, he’s asking you to travel smart and to eat smart. Just because there’s a Chili’s in your chosen travel destination, that doesn’t mean you have to go to it.
Bourdain recently invested in a digital travelogue series RoadsAndKingdoms.com. They publish longform cultural and travel essays. Their subjects go from subsiding solely on Chinese MREs for a week to a tour of where Mad Max was filmed in the Australian outback. They’ve refused to hire Brooklyn hipsters to write about what’s happening in the world from their overpriced lofts. Instead, they’ve hired over 500 freelancers across the world. There’s food, photos, and features. You get on the ground, grassroots, gritty news.
Narrated by Bourdain, PBS has brought you “The Mind of a Chef” for the past three seasons. It takes an intelligent lilt on international cooks and cooking. This departs from the gritty, painfully local themes that Bourdain has embraced in his past publications. Instead, world renowned chefs are featured to answer questions about food chemistry and trends. You see recipes and restaurants and the hearty men and women behind them. It’s an honest and clean cut look at technique. How do you make good food? How do you tell what ingredients are good? And most importantly, how is your food different from mine?
The perfect meal won’t come from an airport TGI Fridays. Nor will it come from a sketchy roadside stall with no customers and only one unhappy cook. Instead, it’s worth exploring what chefs do. Those brilliant, unafraid people who dive deep into culture and rip it apart, bone and tooth. It’s their job to figure out what works and what tastes really really good. Why not piggy back off their success?