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Q&A: Kitchen Confidential's Anthony Bourdain



EXPRESS: You've chomped seal eyeball with the Inuits and a whole cobra in Vietnam. What do Americans eat that foreigners think is weird?

BOURDAIN: I think Cinnabon would be terrifying to any reasonable person from outside our quarters. The sight of a 400 lb. American eating one! And if the Thais saw us eating Cheese Whiz or cottage cheese, they'd be nauseated.




Q&A: 'Kitchen Confidential' Scribe Anthony Bourdain CHEF/FOOD RACONTEUR

ANTHONY BOURDAIN leapt to fame chronicling the behind-the-burners life of pro cooks in the book "Kitchen Confidential." The drinking, smoking wise-ass went on to become a culinary Marco Polo, scarfing yak cheese in Tibet and bug tacos in Mexico on the Travel Channel's "No Reservations" (Mondays at 10 p.m.).

EXPRESS: "No Reservations" usually sends you to exotic locales. Why'd you go to Cleveland this season?

BOURDAIN: Cleveland's a beacon of hope in the great blank area between the coasts. There's an original German butcher doing things old school and new chefs doing things that are hopeful, like new Great Lakes fish dishes.

EXPRESS: And you "visited" your own hometown, New York, too?

BOURDAIN: I went to off-the-map joints — a kooky Russian nightclub where people did multiple costume changes and a Japanese restaurant where sushi chefs hang out.

EXPRESS: You capture food in books and on TV. Which medium is better?

BOURDAIN: When you're making television, if you have good food-porn images and you can hear the sizzle, it's probably as close as you can come to tasting something. But a lengthy paragraph on what it's like to sink your teeth into a properly roasted pork belly works too.

EXPRESS: What New York food do you crave when you're on the road ?

BOURDAIN: I want Barney Greengrass, some good deli. That's what we do in New York better than anyone.

EXPRESS: You've chomped seal eyeball with the Inuits and a whole cobra in Vietnam. What do Americans eat that foreigners think is weird?

BOURDAIN: I think Cinnabon would be terrifying to any reasonable person from outside our quarters. The sight of a 400 lb. American eating one! And if the Thais saw us eating Cheese Whiz or cottage cheese, they'd be nauseated.

EXPRESS: I know everyone asks this, but what's the vilest thing you've ever eaten?

BOURDAIN: The worst thing you could call food, not medicine, would be fermented shark in Iceland. They rot it until it's putrid and pickle it. The smell alone is cripplingly awful.

EXPRESS: And which places have the most overlooked cuisine?

BOURDAIN: It shouldn't be news that London's great. And Ireland's got these rogue cheese makers.

EXPRESS: You're on the road almost nine months a year. Any packing secrets?

BOURDAIN: I need plenty of my own cigarettes. And it's good to have antacids and plenty of aspirin.

EXPRESS: What about the airplane food?

BOURDAIN: If I'm on an American carrier in the U.S., I'm not eating. The only reason people eat on planes is to break up the boredom and monotony.

EXPRESS: What do you cook at home?

BOURDAIN: Usually one-pot dishes. I made wild mushroom risotto the other day.

EXPRESS: Any favorite gadgets there?

BOURDAIN: It's nice having an immersion blender, but I don't think you really need one. You can make marvelous things without gadgets.

EXPRESS: What's an unnecessary one?

BOURDAIN: I start trembling with rage every time I see a Salad Shooter on TV. Like it's too hard to chop your friggin' salad!


Posted by Jennifer Barger at 12:06 PM on August 31, 2007

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