If you’re like us, you’re more than envious of Anthony Bourdain’s life of exploring fascinating cultures and people of the world while tracking down the most delicious, authentic food on Earth—and getting paid to do it. But the jealousy doesn’t prevent groupie-like devotion to his Emmy-winning TV show No Reservations, now in its seventh season on the Travel Channel (Mondays at 9 p.m. EST). The fact that his strong, sometimes eviscerating opinions do not always flatter his fellow celebrity chefs—as expressed, in part, in his latest memoir Medium Raw (a sequel to Kitchen Confidential)—just makes us trust his travel advice even more. Bourdain is really telling it straight. And he has the travel chops to sift the extraordinary stories and places from the merely great.
We tapped Bourdain for some world-wander culinary wisdom and insights from the current season of No Reservations, his most adventurous yet, featuring Cuba, Iraq, the Brazilian Amazon, the American Southwest, and even one of the last sittings at Spain’s El Bulli, once the best restaurant in the world. Of course, there were some surprises too, such as thoughts on the importance of being a good guest, swapping Viagra for rhino horns in traditional Chinese medicine, and the idea that eating yourself to death is fine, just don’t use stuffed-crust pizza and other fast food to do it. If all goes according to plan, Bourdain will dine in Libya this year. In next week’s episode he'll dive into California's Mojave Desert with Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme. —Mary Anne Potts
Did you have breakfast this morning?
Anthony Bourdain: Ah, no. I never eat breakfast. Maybe coffee, but that's it.
What are some adventurous things you've done to score something good to eat?
A.B.: I don't know that that's been my prime motivation. I travel for travel's sake at this point. I do it in a food-centric way, but I'm not going to go into a war zone just for food, you know? But I have gone into war zones.
I did go into the Amazonian region of Brazil. They have prehistoric river fish that weigh in at around 600 pounds, which you don't see anywhere else. And foods that cannot be exported or even found in other parts of Brazil. This region was described to me by Ferran Adria [chef of El Bulli] as the last frontier of food. So that’s where people do extraordinary things to get food.