BOURDAIN INSPIRED TRAVEL TO ‘PARTS UNKNOWN’

The paperback Anthony Bourdain: The Last Interview and Other Conversations was an impulse buy at Target. (That’s redundant, I know.) What happened next was less predictable. As the youngish cashier scanned the book, she looked up and sighed, “He inspired me to travel. To Croatia.” On that note, with no customers behind, we began rapid-fire trading travel adventure stories.

Favorite destinations — past and next. Historic sites. Trains … that run on schedule. The wildest festivals and celebrations. The strangest ethnic foods. Culture and heritage.

“I have family there, that’s why I went. But everyone should experience Croatia. The country is amazing, and the people are wonderful,” she encouraged.

We agreed the best part of travel is the perspective and tolerance that comes with introductions to other people and places.

Anthony Bourdain would be proud. His legacy extends so far beyond the places he visited. In the process of crossing borders, he helped remove barriers, misapprehensions and prejudices. (As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”) Bourdain is an exceptional storyteller; and an even better listener, especially over good food and drink.

In the preface to one of the book’s interviews, John W. Little, the creator of “Blogs of War,” wrote that Bourdain’s broad experience made him an obvious person to share views on global affairs. “He is a keen observer of the human condition who leverages mankind’s shared passion for a well-cooked meal as a tool of discovery,” Little wrote.

Here are some beautiful Bourdain takeaways from the interview with Little.

ON HUMANITY: “I used to think that basically, the whole world, that all humanity were basically bastards. I’ve since found that most people seem to be pretty nice — basically good people doing the best they can.”

ON EXTREMISM: “If I have a side, it’s against extremism — of any kind: religious, political, other: there’s no conversation when everybody is absolutely certain of the righteousness of their argument.”

ON EMPATHY: I’m good at looking at things from the other guy’s point of view. I can put myself in their shoes. I’m willing to reach out. I’m a good listener.”

And there’s this observation, from another conversation, with “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah.

ON CURIOSITY: “I love showing up in places thinking one thing, and having those expectations turned on their heads all the time. But then again, you know, I’m a fool. I think curiosity is a virtue.”

Take the word of world-renowned traveler, writer, observer and relationship builder Anthony Bourdain … and of a curiously inspired Target employee: Traveling to “Parts Unknown” invariably becomes the most empowering and humbling of life experiences.

4 Comments

  • Lucy Fisher says:

    and I put Bourdain Remembered in my cart at Costco, of all places. Didn’t have a conversation with a clerk, but everyone I’ve spoken to has warm, thoughtful memories of him. He is still with us.

  • Lesley K says:

    Thanks Stuart for this great commentary on Anthony Bourdain. He was a gift. I agree that he would be so pleased with how his stories told via his show affected people. I recently watched the episode on his visit to the Antarctic. At first I was absolutely sure that it was a godforsaken place and I wasn’t sure I was even going to finish watching the episode but I have to say, by the end I understood the dynamics and the beauty that made people want to be part of the research team that lives there and I wanted to join them! He really had a gift. And he left us quite a legacy.

  • greenbaumgpr says:

    Reflecting on last week’s post, Anthony Bourdain would be a definite consideration as the “IT” person who would command the attention of any room.

  • Steve Castle says:

    And it is special by yourself but even more with family and friends…something to share down the road

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