Saturday, February 11th Bourdain and Ripert stopped in Seattle at the Paramount as part of their Good VS Evil tour. First, I feel compelled to tell you who these gentlemen are. Some of you may know, however I found it very interesting that the people sitting behind us in the VIP section didn’t know one, that Bourdain had a guest, and two, who Eric Ripert was.
Anthony Bourdain is known to the masses for his travel and food show No Reservations on the Travel Channel. He is also a writer, largely known for his tell all book Kitchen Confidential. For many years he was the executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in New York and has an excellent knowledge of most all things food and cooking related, as he has been a guest judge on Top Chef many times.
Eric Ripert (rih-pair) is a French chef, author and TV personality. Best known as the executive chef at the three Michelin star Le Bernardin in New York. His pedigree is very impressive, training under “Chef of the Century” Joel Robuchon and also guest judging on Top Chef. He and Bourdain are good friends.
I often get asked when I tell people I’m going to see Bourdain, “What does he do? Just stand up there and talk?” And I say, “Well, yes.” I have seen Bourdain four times now. The first two times he was by himself, the third time was with Mario Batali (who’s parents own Salumi in Seattle) and this was the fourth. I had forgotten that you walk away from these events with plenty of food for thought (no pun). I shall elaborate on several topics from the evening.
First, Grandma’s Rule – eat what is placed in front of you. Have the common courtesy to eat what someone else has taken the time to cook for you; guest in someone’s home or in your own home. Its simply good manners to be gracious, thankful and respectful by eating a meal prepared for you. This rule is non-negotiable and under no circumstances breakable in another country or on another continent. You may be a special guest and they have saved the very best, most prized morsel for you. It may be the backside of a wart hog in the Kalahari as was the case for Bourdain in his Namibia episode. But you know what, he ate it. It wasn’t for the sake of good television, which he could care less about shock factor. It was because, in their culture this particular piece of meat was our equivalent to crispy chicken skin and they had spent all day hunting and cooking it (for him). He was the honored guest; he knew it and he did the respectful thing.
Bourdain asked Ripert, “If the last blue fin tuna in the world was caught, would you have a piece?” Ripert (a practicing Buddhist) said, “No, it’s the principle.” Bourdain on the other hand, said, “Yes, because it’s the last one . . . ever.”
Let’s bring this point a little closer to home. My husband and I love sushi. One of our favorite things is unagi or freshwater eel. It is on the overfished list. When going to sushi, do we order it, because it’s there anyway; it’s been purchased by the restaurant and it will go to waste if we don’t eat it. Or do we not order it, therefore (in a small way) decreasing the demand for it and not contributing the overfishing of this item. My point is to be aware of what you eat and where it comes from. Do you want the dwindling numbers or possibly extinction of a fish weighing on your conscience simply because you like the taste? Not me!
Which brings me to my third (and final) point. Organic? There are all sorts of rules and regulations on what is and what isn’t and I’m certainly no expert. But do you know where your food comes from? I’m not just talking about your veggies, but fruit, grain, and protein too. Are you aware of what some large food corporations do to the food they put on the shelves for you to buy and eat? And how exactly that product gets from farm to store. Conditions, chemicals, packaging, cleanliness, company standards and morals, etc.
The main problem society at large has with organic, is it’s more expensive. And many can’t afford it. In our country fast food is a cheep, quick & very convenient alternative. But we all know it’s not good for you in fact it’s pretty darn bad for you. Now I may be getting myself into hot water with some folks, but we all make choices as to how to spend our money. Yes? In my opinion, it comes down to a choice (as most all things do). For example, a few years back I chose to live without cable and a landline phone because if I didn’t make some changes to my finances, I’d be in trouble. Whatever it is, if it’s important to you, you make the choice and the necessary arrangements to have it in your life. Being healthy, for some is a harder choice, but nonetheless it is indeed still a choice.