Anthony Bourdain won a 2014 James Beard journalism award for “The Mind of a Chef” — the David Chang-spawned PBS show he hosts that combines travel, cooking, history and science and has featured the likes of Sean Brock and April Bloomfield.
But this week, Bourdain created another kind of buzz with another one of his TV shows, the excellent “Parts Unknown” on CNN, which could be described as a food travelogue with a whole lot of soul and attitude.
The “Mexico” episode that aired on Sunday night coincided with Cinco de Mayo celebrations around the U.S., a fact that wasn’t lost on many who appreciated Bourdain’s POV, also expressed in a Tumbler post titled “Under the Volcano”:
Americans love Mexican food. We consume nachos, tacos, burritos, tortas, enchiladas, tamales and anything resembling Mexican in enormous quantities. We love Mexican beverages, happily knocking back huge amounts of tequila, mezcal and Mexican beer every year. We love Mexican people—as we sure employ a lot of them. Despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes towards immigration, we demand that Mexicans cook a large percentage of the food we eat, grow the ingredients we need to make that food, clean our houses, mow our lawns, wash our dishes, look after our children. As any chef will tell you, our entire service economy—the restaurant business as we know it—in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers.
And that was just the intro. Bourdain went on to delve into Mexican drugs, crime, and America’s uneasy relationship with “our brother from another mother” on our southern border.
But in this particularly close to home episode you’ll also find a great warmhearted celebration of Mexican cuisine and the heroes who against all odds have elevated it to new heights in their native land.
Food for thought, for sure.
— Bob Townsend, AJC Food and More blog.