BOURDAIN HAS CERTAINLY not endeared himself to me recently — during his visit to Montreal in The Layover, he declared, “Without Montreal, Canada would be hopeless.” Ouch, Anthony. Ouch.
Despite this, I enjoyed following his Ask Me Anything thread on Reddit. In typical snarky Anthony Bourdain fashion, he delivered nothing but honest responses. Here are a few favorite things I learned about the man himself.
1. He used to be an asshole.
Someone asked what he was like in his 20s. He said: “I was a complete asshole. Selfish, larcenous, druggy, loud, stupid, insensitive and someone you would not want to have known. I would have robbed your medicine cabinet had I been invited to your house.”
To which another commenter responded, “No, he asked what were you like in your twenties.” Bourdain: “ba dum tshhh.”
2. He experienced his greatest culture shock in China.
The question was: “What is the first place that you would recommend a college aged American to travel if they want the ultimate culture shock?”
Bourdain’s answer: “China.” The sheep and cow stomach he sampled while filming for No Reservations might have had something to do with it.
3. He likes making omelettes with his daughter.
First up, I didn’t know he had a daughter. The real reason for the inclusion of this tidbit, however, is this ensuing comment from a Reddit user: “Have you considered using eggs instead of a child?”
Reddit. You never disappoint.
4. He thinks cleaning squid is really, really hard.
Someone wanted to know which was harder to master: cooking, or writing?
Anthony: “Cooking professionally is hard work. Writing is a privilege and a luxury. Anybody who whines about writer’s block should be forced to clean squid all day.”
Having written several novels, I’m inclined to believe him.
5. He used to be an addict.
Bourdain is really not afraid to talk about his troubled past. The top question is, “What do you never want to taste again?” Bourdain responded with “Methadone.”
His worst experience on drugs: “Combing the shag carpet for paint chips in the hope that they were fallen crack bits. Smoking them anyway.” He’s kicked the habit for years, and can now enjoy drinking without relapsing.
His craziest experience, however, was hallucinating “circles of scotty dogs in the sky.”
6. Rick Steves still has his bong.
7. His favorite late-night guilty snack used to be canned corned beef hash.
To which someone suggested, “Fry that shit up crispy in some bacon grease, make into a halo in the skillet, dump in three eggs, and fry over easy. Add Tabasco.”
8. In his opinion, the greatest American traditional food comes from the South.
When expressing his dislike for Paula Deen, he says: “I reject the notion that what Paula was selling is traditional Southern food. Cheeseburger on a Krispie Kreme bun? Nobody’s Grandma EVER made that shit.”
9. Restaurants sometimes caused trouble during the filming of No Reservations because they announced Bourdain’s arrival beforehand.
“It ruins the whole naturalness of the scene, and makes it impossible to do a ‘normal’ scene the way we like. We don’t want an audience in the background. We want the place to be as close to like it is without us around when we film.”
10. He feels he was never actually a great chef.
Someone posed the question whether or not chefs were resentful of him because they felt he had more skill in the profession than they did.
Anthony’s reply: “Not really, I hope. I’ve tried to be really upfront about my limited skills in the kitchen, and that I was NEVER, EVER a great chef. I never owned a business. I try and remind people of that. What I do is easy. Running a kitchen — or owning a restaurant — is MUCH harder.”
11. His favorite places in the world for street food are Singapore, Hong Kong, and Saigon.
But he got violently ill with food poisoning in Liberia, in case you were wondering. He was “crawling around leaking in all directions for two days.”
12. He’s “all about Quebec.”
Bourdain is in love with Quebec. He’s become good buddies with Dave McMillan and Fred Morin, whom he refers to as “brilliant, bon vivant, scholarly chefs” who look good in Speedos. They’re his mentors in Quebec, and he highly recommends Joe Beef and Liverpool House in Montreal.
13. Libya was the sketchiest country for him in his travels.
“Libya was worrying at times. Shit was happening around the time we were there. But the militia dudes from Misrata who were looking after us took real good care of us, and it ended up being a pretty inspiring experience.”
[Note: Anthony Bourdain has a new show on CNN starting this spring called Parts Unknown. We’re stoked to see what he’s got in store.]