We all know Anthony Bourdain’s love for food had been a love affair of sorts and it grew stronger with his visits to France. The love was such that he globe trotted around the world, putting his taste buds on the line and checking out dishes with the locals. On his adventures, it would be expected of him to come across food only Bourdain was destined to experience and which were like no other. Here is the list of the top 10 food experiences that the famous American celebrity chef, author and TV personality witnessed in his lifetime.
10. Johnny Rockets made him sad
The American restaurant chain may have filled our bellies with ridiculous amounts of fries, shakes and burgers. It may give you the option of letting your dog end up having a good time from the special 20 item dog menu or the staff may entertain you by singing and dancing every half hour. Despite all the good memories you might have of the food chain, Anthony Bourdain does not have any. Not even the popular chain could withstand the famous chefs no nonsense attitude when it comes to food related endeavors. On one of the episodes of Tuesday nights of Conan, he recalled a tale of his experience with Johnny Rockets at an airport location. He expressed the experience as ‘soul destroying.’ His meal included a cold burger, limp fries and a whole lot of misery on part of the staff, including him. This made him lead to a “spiral of depression,” as he expressed it in his own words. What else can you expect from a guy who travelled the world, visited exotic locales and treated himself with authentic, ‘delicious’ food for a living? Even a smiley face with ketchup on a paper plate would not have made the chef happy after that experience.
9. Eye of a Seal
If you thought having a week old pizza slice, lying on the floor was gross, think again. You haven’t tasted anything disgusting yet. During the shoot of No Reservations, Bourdain had the opportunity to spend time with the Inuits in Quebec, Canada. To be part of the crowd, he participated in a seal hunt. When you visit someone’s house and are offered food, you expect to relish it and expect to acknowledge the generosity towards yourself as the guest, which is what Bourdain did. He had a good time having kidney, liver and yes the eyeball of the seal. He considered the eyeball as being “not bad.” Now when the chef describes the experience in too short a words, you start having doubts as to who to trust anymore when it comes to food advice, even Anthony Bourdain. Let us all hope he added some salt on the raw eyeball, otherwise it would have been an “eye” opening experience.
8. Iceland shark carcass
While Iceland maybe known for its scenic beauty, glaciers and active volcanoes, it is also famous for fermented shark. In an episode of No Reservations, back in 2004, Bourdain visited Iceland and at the time the season of Þorri was going on. Being a good guest that he was, he tasted some of the traditional Icelandic dishes like þorramatur delicacies. Also part of the dish was the Icelandic shark. The fish leaving a bad taste in the chef’s mouth would be considered as an understatement as he recalled it being “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible-tasting thing” he had ever come across. It was something he emphasized he would never go for round two again. To the uninformed minds, who don’t know what a fermented shark is, it is a Greenland shark. It is hung and cured for months on end, after pressing it under stone. The results are that of a decomposed exterior, after only which it is ready to be consumed at hearts content. After hearing the wise words of Bourdain and a brief description of the preparation that goes into this delicacy, greater will be the person who still has a stomach of steel to try it out. Yes the shark’s feelings might have been shattered after Bourdain’s taste buds rejected it, but you can always make it up to the fish by checking it out on your next trip to Iceland and see what the fuss is all about. What say?
7. The heart of the slithering kind
If you thought nothing could top the seal eyeballs or fermented shark food in its decomposed glory, think again. On his show No Reservations, Bourdain was involved in a number of instances which would weaken the hearts and stomachs of many. But its Anthony Bourdain we are talking about and the man had a fondness for all things crazy and questionable. On one of the episodes, the chef ate the beating heart of a cobra. He recalled the experience on The Late Show with David Letterman and revealed that it is a table side dish in Vietnam and the cobra is allowed to hiss at you till it is zipped open with gardening shears. The heart drops on the plate, beating and you are ready to go. This wasn’t just one isolated incident where Bourdain was involved with a beating heart. On his TV series, A Cook’s Tour, he swallowed the cobra heart and compared the experience to “an athletic aggressive oyster.” This is something which Voldemort would not be happy with, knowing that he has a strong connection with snakes in the Harry Potter series.
6. The anus from hell
If you survived this long and managed not to take multiple trips to the bathroom, this next food choice is right up there when it comes to consuming the most repulsive things imaginable. Anthony Bourdain being the respectful guest that he was, managed to get himself stuck in sticky situations and this can be safely assumed as a worthy contender on this list of food experiences. During his time in Namibia, Bourdain was honoured by the Namibian chief as he was offered an unwashed warthog butthole, filled with fecal matter, sand and dust. In order to show respect, he had to accept the offering and with every bite of the butthole of hell, he had to suffer a bit more everytime. To top it off, you would feel for the man if you came to know that the anus was unwashed as well. Pumbaa, we have fond childhood memories of you singing Hakuna Matata as you waltzed through the forest in the Lion King, but after this, we would recommend you steer clear of the chief at all costs. Thanks, but no thanks. No amount of being courteous and respectful can coax us into trying out an anus Bourdain. Warthogs look good from a safe distance in a safari and that’s how it should be for us. Not all of us have super powers like him. God bless his soul.
5. Plane food? Definitely not
Celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay have shown their enmity towards plane food because of the way it tastes funny. We have all been there on our globetrotting adventures, cursing and dreading the food while in the air, but eating it because of hunger pangs. Anthony Bourdain too had shared his complete disassociation with the culinary delights available on planes, multiple times. You would think how bad plane food could be for the guy, compared to his repertoire of food indulgences that could make mere mortals like us go insane, just thinking about having them. Well he did elaborate on his disliking by mentioning how the food is not prepared under similar conditions, if made on the ground and it is just edible enough. The closest he ever got to plane food was his experience with Johnny Rockets at an airport, if the synonymy of airports and airplanes counts and we all know how that turned out.
If you think about it, the chef has gone to almost all corners of the world and half the time he spent in the air to reach his destination. The whole concept of bland, frozen, repackaged processed airplane food is something that he simply loathed. You would imagine him getting starved on those ridiculous long flights, but the chef always had a plan up his sleeve, reserved just for such occasions. He would drink himself silly with some wine or scotch and some cheese added in the mix. So there you go. In case you were ever in the mood of a sound advice regarding how not to starve on a plane without having food, drinks and cheese it is. We should probably take this seriously as it comes straight from the master chef. Besides, you can never go wrong with a good scotch on a long journey.
4. Balut for breakfast
The food is as exotic as the name sounds. Balut is one of the delicacies of the Philippines and is part of the street food culture of the place. We might not see boiled eggs the same way after having a taste of this particular egg. It involves an unborn duck fetus, which you are supposed to boil and consume just like that, embryo and all that comes with it. Sounds weird? Looking at Bourdain’s exploits of the past, he loves all things unknown in the food department and not trying out Balut would have been sacrilege for the man. We might not find it as a common snack to munch on compared to the hot dog stands all over the place during summer time, but for the Filipinos, it is just that and many have it more than once at a time. Knowing Anthony Bourdain, the chef wanted to catch in on the bandwagon and check it out himself, while in Vietnam in 2006. Compared to a Warthog’s anus, this seemed like a dessert for him and he described the experience as “crunchy” and “delicious.” He further added that if you could get past the feathers, things would not be as bad. Thanks Bourdain for making that sound like a consolation to minimize the discomfort while having one. Do you plan on having a Balut with your pancakes? Make sure to boil it well and chug in a lot of milk after to forget the experience. Its okay if you can’t have in. Afterall, not all of us have stomachs of steel like Anthony Bourdain.
3. Variety is the spice of life
Anthony Bourdain has had a fascination with all sorts of testicles when it comes to the food variety. We wonder why, but that’s how it was. The chef tried out sheep testicles in a Moroccan desert, roasted of course. It was part of his series, A Cook’s Tour. You would think that he would have stopped this madness right there, but no. On Piers Morgan Live Show it was Turkey testicles and in one of the episodes of No Reservations, he had the balls (the ones to consume) to try out iguana and bull testicles. Apparently he found iguana testicles delicious. It wasn’t just restricted to that as he was challenged to eat things without knowing what he was having, on the Piers Morgan show. The ‘rubbery stuff,’ as he so fondly phrased on the show, turned out to be a bull penis. This is a stark reminder of how to lose your appetite once and for all.
2. Brains and blood
This next item sits proudly in this list of uncanny food items. On his trip to Thailand, Bourdain was offered pig’s brain by a friend. Being a good samaritan that he was, Bourdain could not say no to the offer. As he was enjoying the meal, he didn’t even bat an eye, but yes once a bowl of Lou was also presented to him, which is soup filled with raw pig blood, even he cringed at the site. If that doesn’t sound gruesome, Bourdain himself compared the scene to a horror movie and even a “CSI soup,” which he thought of himself eating out of an open wound. The man was of a few syllables when it came to elaborating on the taste of whatever he ate and in this case too, he just described it as “completely delicious” and declaring it the best meal he had in Thailand. Whatever you dress up as this Halloween, a brain for a meal with some pig blood to digest it quickly would surely set the mood for a celebration of gruesome horror.
1. The revenge of the tentacles
For this particular dish you don’t have to globetrot across the globe to try it out. Anthony Bourdain happened to find it in Queens, New York. The restaurant is called by the name Sik Gaek, a Korean BBQ. They believe in serving fresh food and they are not kidding when they say the seafood is fresh. The dish in question is called San-nakji and it involves a live fresh octopus, chopped with tentacles still wiggling and fidgeting, ready to be devoured. Nothing can get as fresh as this and for all those who relish their food just out of the water, moving about in their plates, this place is for you. Compared to other items on this list, this one is alive and kicking and although having one doesn’t seem to gross us out unlike warthog butts, sheep and bull penis, and so on, it still would be something we would think twice before eating.
If you do make up your mind to eat one, there are risks involved when you order your octopus. The animal can use the suckers on its tentacles to clasp onto you and suffocate you while you are trying to eat it alive. Wonder if that is mentioned in the fine print in the menu and that you have to sign some kind of agreement form before you take the plunge. Now this is the kind of food that can actually kill you, literally. Bon appétit.