Any regular TV viewer would be familiar with the silver-haired gourmet and travel author Anthony Bourdain taking them around the world on a gastronomical and emotional roller-coaster
The man with such unabashed zest for life was found dead, last week, in his hotel room in France where he was shooting the latest episode of his on-going television series. The news came as a shock to his family, friends and fans as he had fought and overcome substance abuse in the past and showed no signs of being on the brink of committing suicide.
The Kerala visit
Bourdain visited Kerala in 2010 to shoot an episode for his show 'No Reservations' and was surprised by the diversity of non-vegetarian options available there, something he saw for the first time.
Megastar Mammootty paid a tribute to him on Facebook after his death, recalling the fish curry meal they shared on the set of his movie Pokkiri Raja. “After that day I made it a point to catch episodes of 'No Reservations' as well as 'Parts Unknown.' His shows brought the world closer together by showcasing various foods and cultures,” he wrote.
Bourdain tried almost everything from the vast array of options in Kerala's cuisine. From extra spicy cuppa biryani to beef and chicken fry at a thattukada to sadya at a Malayali wedding, Boudain indulged in all the flavours Kerala had to offer.
He even spent a touristy day relaxing on a houseboat in Alappuzha and eating fresh and spicy seafood. Apart from the food and festivities, he also took a peak into the hard work of the brass vessel making community of Kerala.
You can watch the episode here:
Bourdain's legacy goes beyond his television appearances as he influenced people by teaching them that indulgence is an art. He also documented his culinary adventures in books, essays and articles throughout his career. His 2007 best-seller 'No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach' garnered global success due to its unusual insight into the foods and people who cook them.
One of the many reasons for Bourdain's popularity was his unfiltered opinions on more than just the joys of eating. He was fearless to call out people of power for their oppressive policies. “The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinian people, none more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity. People are not statistics,” he had said after his trip to Gaza for a show.
He also introduced Asian and especially South-East Asian street food to the western world as one of the most diverse and appetising foods. And for that he gained love and gratitude from the Orient for portraying their culture without stereotyping or branding them as freaks, unlike other media-people.
Although coming from an affluent family, Bourdain started his career from the scratch by washing dishes in a posh restaurant. He later went on to study at the Culinary Institute of America and served as a chef for 20 years.
Despite being a successful chef, his advice to aspirants of this profession was always that do not enter this field if your passion for food does not surpass every other emotion you may feel in life. He himself had given into the pressure of the occupation and started using cocaine. However, he survived the bad times and sprung back to making amusing critics on food everywhere.
The sad demise of the humble traveller led the social media to not only express grief but also spread awareness about mental health and the importance of personal and professional health to handle the issue. The wave of posts regarding his death also introduced his expertise to the previously oblivious lot. He taught many that destinations are made, not found.
“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go,” are his words that have the power to pierce minds.
Bourdain, 61, was found dead on Friday hanging by a bathrobe belt in his hotel room in Kaysersberg-Vignoble, France