Another love letter, this time for Tony

House Is Good.  No Doze.

(If you are reading this post on a RSS reader, click through to Chez Pim for the slideshow.)

I’m writing a lot of love letters these days. I’d better bring my irkable, cynical self back soon or I’d lose all my street cred. But I’ll excuse myself this time, for a love letter to Anthony Bourdain. I’ve just finished watching his unstoppingly entertaining show No Reservations. In this episode he went to New Orleans.

It’s not the kind of show that tells you where to go eat, or the kind of critique that warns you the Trout Amandine at Galatoire’s was too oily. And it’s certainly not the kind of article that’s full of stereotypes and mean-spirited comments about the degenerating quality of the food and people in the city.

The New Orleans episode of No Reservations exposed Tony, not as the cranky, sinewy bastard he’s
constantly portraying himself, but as the sentimental old soul that he
truly is. Tony, man, I adore you for it.

I don’t know how to describe this particular episode properly with mere words.
I’m just going to tell you to find a way to see it yourself, so
you could feel the spirit of the people, taste the food, share their
pride, their joy, and perhaps even empathize with the palpable pain
that the folks in New Orleans are still feeling every day. Katrina
happened years ago, but her presence is never far from yesterday.

What was so extraordinary about this show – and so much about Tony
himself – is that the point here is not at all about appealing for
pity. Pity is the last thing they need. The whole show was brimming
with admiration of the resilience that the city and her people show, in
the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Every. Single. Day. I wish
I had an ounce of that courage.

The show ended with a poetic, loving, and poignant ode to his city by Chris
Rose,
a columnist for the brilliantly tenacious Times-Picayune, with
Tony making a brief appearance for the last line, "I’m here, why aren’t
you?"

P.S. The slide show just below is a set of pictures I took when I
was there last year, trying to capture that beautiful spirit I
witnessed. Check them out. (Click on the photo to move on to the next in the slide show.)

By the way, I’m going to New Orleans again
this April for the IACP conference. If you’re going, make sure we get
to say hi. Together we’ll toast the indomitable spirit of New Orleans.

And, happy Mardi Gras! Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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27 Responses to “Another love letter, this time for Tony

  • Food Rockz Man said:
    February 5th, 2008 at 8:00am

    Great love letter, Pim. It’s a riot how tough-guy Tony is obviously such a softie at heart! I authored a love letter of sorts to him last night . . . in the form of roasted bone marrow . . . a food I was first inspired to eat after reading that it’d be Bourdain’s last supper if he had a choice. Unfortunately, the buffalo bone I bought and roasted had no edible marrow. So it was a tragic love letter, but a love letter nonetheless. It’s the thought that counts, right?

  • Burnt Lumpia said:
    February 5th, 2008 at 11:26am

    Thanks for pointing this episode out, Pim. I’m sorry I missed it, will have to catch it on a rerun.

  • cjk said:
    February 5th, 2008 at 1:36pm

    I’ll watch the NO episode, but just wanted to say that your photos more than any other I’ve seen make me want to go to New Orleans again. Thanks!

  • Dr. Biggles said:
    February 5th, 2008 at 4:33pm

    Cheers!
    xo, Biggles

  • Steph said:
    February 5th, 2008 at 5:21pm

    I’ve always loved Tony. For me, it’s easy to see through the facade to the sensitive man.
    Maybe because we are similar that way!

  • bee said:
    February 5th, 2008 at 7:57pm

    I missed that episode. Should have check the schedule since I was waiting for it when I saw the ad for the new season. I recently returned from my second trip to NOLA for NYE and volunteer. I’m excited to see progress but sad that it has taken so long. Here is a link to my pictures from both trips. http://www.flickr.com/photos/travelingbee22/collections/72157603712088688/

  • Tal Greywolf said:
    February 6th, 2008 at 4:06am

    Let me state that I have been a long-time New Orleans resident and that only because of my job I haven’t lived there since 2002. However, I do regularly visit the city and go to the old haunts that I love, even after Katrina did it’s best to push the city back into the Gulf of Mexico.
    If you haven’t seen the episode, then go look at the television schedule, set the DVR/Tivo and watch it. If you have, then you already know just how biting and poignant an episode this was. And if you haven’t ready his interview with Dave Walker of the Times-Picayune, go read it. It makes an interesting addition to the episode.
    As for the episode itself… I’m sure the Travel Channel and the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce are very uncomfortable with what was seen. Good. They should be. But it also showed how the citizens of the town aren’t going to give up, no matter how bad they may be treated, or how bad things get. You can have your city flooded and blown apart, but as long as you have your family, your friends and your spirit, you keep on doing what you do best, and that’s enjoy life.

  • Jeremy said:
    February 6th, 2008 at 4:40am

    Thanks Pim,
    I can second that opinion that Tony is genuine. He interviewed with me on my site and was giving and well not a celebrity about it, he was a fellow chef and really nice!
    As for New Orleans it’s a place I have passed in transit but would love to visit, my brother spent some time in Lafayette and told me about the young people there who want to learn their French language and culture that was pretty much oppressed by a Anglo first culture! It seems that New Orleans and Louisiana were down, but can’t and I hope won’t be beaten, especially now with this election!

  • nam said:
    February 6th, 2008 at 5:35am

    I to was struck by this episode Pim.
    It was as you said not his usual. Although it had his usual wit, it was much more sentimental and “political”
    I hope that it inspires more people. It inspired me to visit, and also made me wonder if i would have half the courage of those residents he interviewed.
    My heart and wishes goes out to all the residents of NO.
    Hope to see you soon.

  • stljoie said:
    February 6th, 2008 at 10:53am

    My husband and I, plus friends, are going for the Jazz fest…it is my first visit to New Orleans and I am considered a virgin of sorts. I am sooo excited

  • Barbara Jacksier said:
    February 6th, 2008 at 1:55pm

    I missed Tony but I’m sure it will be in reruns soon. Great photos. I, too admire the city’s spirit. I was there on bizness for the first post Katrina Mardi Gras season, then showed up for Jazz Fest that April to hear the music, visit friends, and show my support by spending my money in NOLA. Listen everybody: Tourism is the lifeblood of New Orleans and it’s still in the doldrums. So, go, go go, ya’all!

  • loulou said:
    February 6th, 2008 at 8:06pm

    I’m here visiting New Orleans, but unfortunately missed the episode. Hopefully I can catch it later.
    Thank you for writing about this city that I love so much. New Orleans is truly unique, has a special spirit, kind people and serves up the best food you’ll ever taste in America!

  • kudzu said:
    February 6th, 2008 at 9:10pm

    Tony has come into my life after several years’ hissing at his sexist bad self. Now I see him as his own bad self and it’s a good thing. It’s an especially good thing to have happen this week in New Orleans, where some of the old magic seems to be reborn. I so appreciate his efforts in the battle. Thanks for giving him credit. (BTW I see his turnaround as part of his positive growth that has evidenced itself in his wry, wise comments that continue to evolve.)

  • Kate Hill said:
    February 7th, 2008 at 4:48am

    Love letters come in all shapes and sizes. It was a big love letter by a lot of vocal members of IACP to keep that post-Katrina conference in New Orleans as planned. We ARE going, bloggers and fooders alike, from all over the world to celebrate that NOLA rhythm on a plate! See ya there Pimcess! oh and Tony… luv ya too, in Gascony.

  • MD said:
    February 7th, 2008 at 3:59pm

    I live here in New Orleans and was at one of the events filmed in the ep (and Tony’s wearing my friend’s shirt for part of it…). I can tell you that he doesn’t put on pretense at all and is exactly what you see. It’s reassuring. I was scared of how the episode would turn out, but I am very very happy with how they portrayed our city. Pim, great essay. It’d be nice to meet you with KH when you’re down for IACP.

  • foodette said:
    February 7th, 2008 at 6:09pm

    I haven’t seen it, but now I sure want to. Thanks for pointing it out!

  • Jules said:
    February 8th, 2008 at 3:32pm

    I love him as well and New Orleans is my favorite city in the US. I think his episode while trapped in Beirut is quite good also.

  • Diva said:
    February 8th, 2008 at 11:01pm

    Long live NOLA!
    I am a NOLA virgin, IACP will be the first time I will visit and i am ready!
    I have heard about Tony’s show.
    Bravo!
    Here in Italy, we will see in next year probably!
    See you in NOLA with Steve and Judith!
    Judy

  • Sherry said:
    February 9th, 2008 at 5:15pm

    I did happen to catch that episode and it was wonderful. Thanks for your love letter too ;-)

  • Michael said:
    February 9th, 2008 at 7:37pm

    Agreed, the No Reservations “New Orleans” episode was very good….but don’t kid yourself, Tony is still a cranky, sinewy old bastard! ..he is the “Don Rickles” of Gastroville…
    Love you Tony!
    keep up the Emeril bashing

  • Stu said:
    February 10th, 2008 at 1:23pm

    I lived in New Orleans in 1983 for six months on my internship. You can’t live there and not fall in love with that city.
    God bless their hearts.

  • eatingplum said:
    February 11th, 2008 at 2:38pm

    I went to NOLA twice since Katrina to help out. I had a chance to talk to the victims, and what I saw and heard was heartbreaking, and angered me too. I can’t believe how little our government has done.
    On the flip side, I know this city will live, and the spirit is strong. And Cafe du Monde has unbeatable (and cheap!) beignets. =)

  • keiko said:
    February 12th, 2008 at 2:37am

    Dear Pim – thank you for sharing this wonderful post, I finally had a chance to watch an episode of No Reservations last time I was in the US and (although it wasn’t the New Orleans episode) I loved it too. Watched Spike Lee’s When the levees broke also and it made me want to visit the fascinating city myself. Your photos are really beautiful.

  • monkey said:
    February 13th, 2008 at 5:58am

    Pim, when you go, here’s my top ten list HI and LO: http://tinyurl.com/2vc8gm

  • oakley said:
    February 13th, 2008 at 9:45pm

    There is nothing wrong with the “cranky, sinewy bastard”. I like him for that. Then again, I do have this weird infatuation with skinny, tall, perhaps cranky but truly witty as hell bastards like Hugh Laurie/Dr. House and Tony.
    My husband is one of those. Except I cook a little too well so the skinny part no longer exist. Heh. :)

  • flowbee said:
    February 14th, 2008 at 5:59pm

    actually, the last line was “i’m here… what’s holding you up?” (i know, super picky)
    i was very touched by that episode as well.

  • Tiffany Pendant said:
    February 8th, 2010 at 10:03pm

    You’re welcome all. I just adore him. Too bad Stockholm is a bit too far to drop by for dinner!

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