I’m not sure sometimes if I am in love with Anthony Bourdain or if I just want to be him. Aside from his dashing good looks, his acerbic wit, and even the way he makes eating look badass on his show, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, he is an example of someone who is “living the dream”. To me, he has found a way to combine all of the best parts of life — food, travel, and writing — and even make some cash out of it. The best part is that he does all of it with honesty and respect for the cultures of the many places that he visits. If that doesn’t make for good TV, then I don’t know what does.
To summarize, No Reservations is a travel show hosted by and featuring Anthony Bourdain, who travels all over the world to sample different cuisines, learn about local cultures, and provide a little bit of his insight and humor on his trips. In addition to eating, we also see Bourdain drink alcohol, visit a few happening nightspots, do a little karaoke, and go to religious functions, among others. To me, what makes Bourdain and No Reservations stand out from his peers, most notably Andrew Zimmern and his show, Bizarre Foods, is the way he really engages himself in the local setting and comes in with a very open mind. Perhaps this is what makes the title No Reservations so clever and so encompassing of the host’s attitudes towards new experiences and life in general.
After watching hours of No Reservations re-runs, I realized that, despite his travels throughout Asia, Anthony Bourdain has not yet featured the Philippines. I am of the mind that this must be rectified, post haste. Here are my top 5 reasons why Anthony Bourdain must feature the Philippines in his show, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.
- Filipino food is delish, obviously. So I’m biased. Still, this may come as a surprise to people who may not have ever heard of or tasted Philippine cuisine. Admittedly, Filipino food doesn’t exactly inspire the global imagination in the same way that Chinese, Japanese, Indian, or Thai cuisines do. Furthermore, there is still a hint of insecurity about a perceived lack of exoticness or authenticity in Philippine cuisine, seeing how it is deeply influenced by Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and U.S. cuisines. Nonetheless, I am curious to hear what Anthony Bourdain has to say about Filipino food and see what brilliant piece of insight he can give us after tasting his first sinigang.
- More importantly, Filipinos love to eat. I think there is something to be said about a prevailing social expectation to invite others to eat with you, even if you do not have enough, because it is considered rude to eat alone or in front of others without inviting them to join you. This is one thing that Filipinos have in common with Anthony Bourdain, and I am sure it is something he will appreciate.
- Anthony Bourdain keeps it real, but in a good way. That’s right, I’m talking to you, Andrew Zimmern. While generally enjoyable, one of my problems with the show Bizarre Foods is the way Andrew Zimmern comes in with the assumption that, just because something is prepared “differently”, that is must be considered “weird” or “bizarre”. Take his response to the ice cream sandwich, one of many common street foods (start at 5:03):
I understand that it is new to him, but I don’t understand why he has to go up to someone who clearly appreciates it and tell him just how “unusual” and “different” it is. No, honey, you’re the one who is different here.
On the other hand, check out this clip of Anthony Bourdain trying out what Filipinos call balut for the first time:
While clearly not his cup of tea, he doesn’t go out of his way to offend people, especially locals, with his thoughts about how different he thinks it is. He briefly and graciously tells us his opinion, stopping short of enlightening the viewer with a value judgment, and moves on. I would prefer to see someone who can present his reactions in a chill and dignified manner, instead of exaggerating its difference. Anthony Bourdain is the man for the job.
- Anthony Bourdain is cooler than Rachael Ray. Enough said. Don’t get me wrong; Rachael Ray does have her moments. I just don’t understand why she is as popular as she is and why I can’t flip past the Lifestyle Network without seeing her talk show. We need a little bit of cynicism to hit our shores. We need Anthony Bourdain!
- Anthony Bourdain would totally eat balut. See the second video in #3. This is the gold standard for foreigners upon visiting the Philippines. If you can eat balut, you become one of us. Anthony Bourdain has already joined the family, and he hasn’t even met the cousins yet. Anthony Bourdain needs to get his ass over here!
I encourage all foodie or travel fans to get this brilliant man to the Philippines, whether by writing him or by cooking up a storm so large the smell reaches New York. I think Anthony Bourdain would do an excellent job of presenting the Philippines, and we can expect nothing less than an honest, respectful, and humorous account of his visit.