Food lovers that prefer a side of snark will undoubtedly know of Anthony Bourdain, former chef of Les Halles, best-selling cookbook and memoir author, and host of No Reservations, The Layover, and Parts Unknown, which all involve our humble narrator exploring the world, eating street food and delicacies alike, and seeking the ubiquitous "meat in tube form" that he so adores. Every visit also comes highly-saturated in the local politics and the local alcohol.
While white-haired Tony is a delight to watch, whatever happened to gray-haired Tony? The Tony of Remembrance Past? Last month, Netflix released both seasons of Tony's first food and travel show, A Cook's Tour, which originally aired on the Food Network. In 2012, it switched over to The Travel Channel, resting among the likes of Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods. Since then, I thought young Tony was lost to history.
But A Cook's Tour is a gastronomic gem in its own right. The series focuses on Tony getting the true locals' experience of the cities he visits. In Ho Chi Minh City, Tony takes on the ultimate challenge and eats a still-beating cobra heart, served freshly plucked out of the venomous reptile by a clearly-injured waiter. In rural Japan, he has an insanely formal meal where he unabashedly shows his ungraceful Americanness while in the presence of geishas. In Portugal, Tony witnesses the devastating plot of a pig hunt (not for the faint of heart, liver, spleen, or lungs). With his signature wit and badassery, Tony educates as much as he entertains.
What's also cool about this recently-unearthed and Netflixized series is that Tony wrote about his adventures in a delicious book of the same title. So if you're a little squeamish, you can read the book instead and leave it all up to your imagination. In the book, we see a different side of Tony. You'll see it in the story where he and his brother go back to their childhood summer escape in France, searching for the magic of youth. But though the pastries and oysters taste just as good as he remembered, there's something missing. Something bigger than the stunning landscape and the nostalgia of the past.