Huddle Around The Fire Of Anthony Bourdain's Convictions
One last big breath all together before we go under.
January 11, 2017 ● 5 min read
"Go on strike tomorrow. Go on strike every night. Show America what happens now before it's too late."
That's what Anthony Bourdain had to say when I asked him what all the immigrant cooks should do now. It was a week after the election when we talked and everyone seemed numb — but he didn't. He didn't pause before he answered me, and his call to action both put a smile on my face and reminded me that as cheesy as it sounds, we are actually all in this together. Succumbing to fear or dismay wasn't going to be helpful, and if nothing else, at least we've got Anthony Bourdain as a fellow citizen. If he's not taking this sitting down, nor should we.
"Look, this guy's a businessman," he added, "Sooner or later, a bunch of other businessmen are going to talk, and say, 'Listen, asshole, this is the situation. You're hurting my business. My business cannot operate.' And by the way, who do you think's picking Donald Trump's grapes at his vineyard? I would be really shocked if they're American college grads out there in those fields. I'd be shocked if the people doing it are even documented. Somebody is going to have to explain reality to the guy."
Lately, I can't stop thinking about all the men and women I've worked with over the years: how America, with its sanctuary cities and Dreamer programs, suddenly took a turn away from tolerance and compassion and ran into a (border) wall. Duplicity and bigotry are nothing new to immigrants, but this is fucking crazy. We know it's crazy, but it's not going away.
So for now, we'll take comfort in Bourdain's consternation and rallying cries he's made in the past, excerpted below. It's partly to get through this week, and partly to give you something else to read other than another account of what band is dropping out from the inauguration concert because they don't want Bruce to be mad at them, or the protests, or how POTUS 45 might believe that 24/7 actually means 8/5 at best.
On unhealthy contempt for one another via Reason.com:
"What I am not concerned about with Trump? Wherever one lives in the world right now I wouldn't feel too comfortable about the rise of authoritarianism. I think it's a global trend, and one that should be of concern to everyone.
...The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we're seeing now.I've spent a lot of time in gun-country, God-fearing America. There are a hell of a lot of nice people out there, who are doing what everyone else in this world is trying to do: the best they can to get by, and take care of themselves and the people they love. When we deny them their basic humanity and legitimacy of their views, however different they may be than ours, when we mock them at every turn, and treat them with contempt, we do no one any good. Nothing nauseates me more than preaching to the converted. The self-congratulatory tone of the privileged left—just repeating and repeating and repeating the outrages of the opposition—this does not win hearts and minds. It doesn't change anyone's opinions. It only solidifies them, and makes things worse for all of us. We should be breaking bread with each other, and finding common ground whenever possible. I fear that is not at all what we've done."
On the uncertain future via Eater:
"Hunter Thompson said, America looks soft but under the flab it’s all fucking titanium steel underbelly, and it’ll come rolling right over you, any time it wants. And look, there are people in this world who have deliberately inspired exactly that kind of opposition, just to give them a reason to roll over it. So I’m not saying we should sit back docilely and silently while Trump dismantles our institutions, and our Supreme Court, and the rights of individuals, as men, as women, as parents — I’m not saying that at all. But we’d better come up with some fresh fuckin’ ideas. And I would think that they’d better be grass roots, and they should keep very much in mind all those people who voted for Trump. Many of whom surely, surely, are decent people who love their kids, and go to sleep at night like all of us wanting good things for their kids, a roof over their heads, some security, to live without fear, a measure of justice, some hope. Anything that doesn’t include that kind of an outreach, that’s not going to help. That’ll be playing into their hands. I lived through the ‘60s. There ain’t gonna be no revolution."
On love for Mexico via anthonybourdain.tumblr.com:
"Americans love Mexican food. We consume nachos, tacos, burritos, tortas, enchiladas, tamales and anything resembling Mexican in enormous quantities. We love Mexican beverages, happily knocking back huge amounts of tequila, mezcal and Mexican beer every year. We love Mexican people—as we sure employ a lot of them. Despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes towards immigration, we demand that Mexicans cook a large percentage of the food we eat, grow the ingredients we need to make that food, clean our houses, mow our lawns, wash our dishes, look after our children. As any chef will tell you, our entire service economy—the restaurant business as we know it—in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers. Some, of course, like to claim that Mexicans are “stealing American jobs”. But in two decades as a chef and employer, I never had ONE American kid walk in my door and apply for a dishwashing job, a porter’s position—or even a job as prep cook. Mexicans do much of the work in this country that Americans, provably, simply won’t do.
...It’s a country I feel particularly attached to and grateful for. In nearly 30 years of cooking professionally, just about every time I walked into a new kitchen, it was a Mexican guy who looked after me, had my back, showed me what was what, was there—and on the case—when the cooks more like me, with backgrounds like mine—ran away to go skiing or surfing—or simply “flaked.” I have been fortunate to track where some of those cooks come from, to go back home with them. To small towns populated mostly by women—where in the evening, families gather at the town’s phone kiosk, waiting for calls from their husbands, sons and brothers who have left to work in our kitchens in the cities of the North. I have been fortunate enough to see where that affinity for cooking comes from, to experience moms and grandmothers preparing many delicious things, with pride and real love, passing that food made by hand, passed from their hands to mine."
"'Donald Trump eats his steak well done,' said Bourdain in a conversation that also included José Andrés, Eric Ripert, and Tim Love. 'He likes fast food. He loves Big Macs, though probably a Quarter Pounder would be better for his tiny little fucking fingers.
...He's never been seen with chopsticks,' Bourdain said, of the then-candidate. 'He hates people who come from outside of the United States. Imagine him at a Chinese State Dinner trying to handle chopsticks.'
'Well done steak,' he added, as if in disbelief."