Today, in light of the recent one-year anniversary of Anthony Bourdain’s passing, I re-read one of my all-time favorite profiles of him done by (of course), The New Yorker, entitled, Anthony Bourdain’s Moveable Feast. The article describes Anthony’s travels as “communion with a foreign culture so unmitigated that it feels practically intravenous.” The writer says he “makes a fetish of authenticity,” which I can completely relate to. As someone who loves to travel, I think I’m also obsessed with finding authentic experiences that aren’t just about being catered to in a specific way just because I am a tourist, but rather because I want to do whatever that local person is doing or eating. But that desire could easily be read as homogenized, which defeats the purpose, in many ways, of travel.
I’ve never really been that sad by any celebrity’s death, but his passing was just so horrible to me because even though he’s a white man, he embodies what I wish every traveler could be and what I want to be when I travel: the kind of person who wants to fully immerse himself in the culture he’s in, who isn’t scared of eating or doing the things that local people do in their local towns and cities, who doesn’t assume an air of superiority because he comes from a rich, westernized, and overprivileged nation. He also doesn’t make dangerous, sweeping assumptions about the places he’s been that generalize and reduce them down to stereotypes. Why can’t more people be like him?