Friday, June 8, 2018

My idols are dead and my enemies in power

I always feel a little fake, overly emotional, when a celebrity death affects me. I can count on one hand the celebrity deaths that have hit me hard. This was one of them.

I went to bed last night having watched the Washington Capitals win their first cup. Ovechkin, who has more than earned a cup, lifting the heavy trophy with a happiness rarely seen. Oshie, who will forever be the babyfaced Blue that took down Russia almost singlehandedly in the Olympics, choking as he talks about his Alzheimer riddled father remembering this event. It was a high note to go to bed on.

I woke up this morning with my Twitter feed exploded with condolences for Anthony Bourdain. I had that sinking feeling in my stomach and I've not been able to shake it since. Just been in a funk all day.

When Sal and I moved to Myrtle Beach, I lost a lot of drive. I was ready to sink into middle management in retail and just live out my days watching my big screen TV and eating my mediocre pasta dinners until retirement.

It wasn't until I read Kitchen Confidential that I felt inspired to cook again. I felt the pain of loss that my college education had priced me out of doing what I actually loved doing for a living, cooking.

I started challenging myself to find out where my food came from. How do you make BBQ sauce? How do you make bread and unleash the deep flavors from the fermentation? I love beer and I want to make it.

And soon my will to not just settle into a 9-5 existence was strong. My cooking was not enough.

Bourdain then had several travel shows where he would pick a destination, and food was the glue that held it together, but it was more about experiencing other people's cultures and getting to know them on a personal level.

I always liked this quote from him:

Meals make the society, hold the fabric together in lots of ways that were charming and interesting and intoxicating to me. The perfect meal, or the best meals, occur in a context that frequently has very little to do with the food itself
He made me want to travel, something I never thought about. He's the reason Sal and I went to Detroit and started chatting up random people in downtown bars. He's why I shoved that fear of being in a foreign place down and allowed me to go to Germany. He's the reason I look ahead a month with excitement about going to Japan.

He wasn't like other cooking personalities where it was just about cooking or just about getting into people's kitchens or challenging himself to eat a 50 inch pizza.

Anthony wanted to hang out with you and your friends on the beach during the pig roast and get to know your family and share a bottle of wine in Italy or cook for the staff when locked down during a civil war erupting outside of his hotel.

He was just this punk rock, down to Earth guy that could find good in everything. One of the first rock stars of the cooking world.

Dammit Bourdain... just dammit... we need you.

My internet feeds have been filled with stories of Anthony's grace, warmth, and his hunger to be in touch with humanity.

RIP chef, hang your apron up, you are already missed.