The guy made being an ally just look easy, and fun. Our destination was Acetaia Pedroni, a traditional balsamic-vinegar producer in Modena that also runs a tavern where you can have lunch. It was roughly 15 minutes into our drive from Parma when our G. Against all odds, we finally did find the house … more than two hours late for our reservation, and after the tavern had closed.
We walked in anyway, drenched, hungry, and defeated. We figured we could at least buy a bottle of vinegar. The family patriarch, who clearly was happy to be done with work for the week and just wanted to get on with his Sunday, nevertheless greeted us and listened as we plead our case.
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An-tone-ee Bourdainnnn? Then he smiled, and brought us back into the tavern. By the time we were done, the rain had cleared and the family happily gave us directions to our next hotel. Yes, we had found this place — eventually — because of Bourdain, and our day, if not our whole trip, was better because of it. I went to college in Charleston, South Carolina, so the city holds a special place in my heart.
Yet, the typical portrayal often involves lovely Southern homes, kitschy Civil War reenactments, and carriage tours throughout downtown — the superficial side reserved for tourists. As the alt-weekly Charleston City Paper noted at the time, Bourdain was guilty of only showing off the touristy side of the town in an episode of his previous show, No Reservations.
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But he more than made up for that during this visit. Amid an episode stocked with hefty plates of fried fish and Cuban sandwiches, plus a bonus appearance from Questlove, Anthony Bourdain sits down for a meal with Iggy Pop. Of course, the pair are notable survivors of the hardest of hard livin.
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For once, it seems like Bourdain is stumped, and he ask Iggy what thrills he still has, given all the drugs and swashbuckling. Bourdain is rightfully praised for championing marginalized communities and sharing their full humanity, particularly as his career progressed, and some of my favorite episodes put that empathy and generosity into sharp relief. Like when he went to Greek islands including Crete, where he drinks too much raki the local moonshine , eats meat cooked over fire, and shoots a shotgun.
This is what I remembered most from the episode, even if it was motivated by the supposed benefits of the Cretan diet. Listening, learning, and treating the people with respect.
He was worried. To assuage his concerns, Bourdain did what he always did on his trips — he made the most of it. He ate flan cooked in a cut-down beer can, he tried Cuban sushi! Something is coming. It will come, from out there, but also from within Cuba. Everybody knows, everybody can feel it, it smells like freedom. But will it be victory?
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It took 14 seasons of TV for Bourdain to devote an episode to the Bronx, the borough just north of where he lived in uptown Manhattan. The episode centers on the people of the Bronx, ones who have made it great, but whom the mainstream infrequently give opportunities to share their stories. While in a Jamaican dive, he listens to Desus Nice talk about getting stopped and frisked 15 times in one summer. Bourdain manages to both raise long-standing historical injustices against the borough — one with a Hispanic majority and the lowest percentage of whites of any in New York City — while showing all the beautiful things that have come out of it.
Clicking through the channels, I saw this white man perched on a rickety plastic stool, enthusiastically slurping up pho with chopsticks. Here was a Westerner, in Vietnam, who was deeply respectful and enthusiastic about Asian food.
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Choosing one episode is hard, though. I was discussing his impact with my Asian-American friends and we threw out his travels to Hong Kong, Japan, Myanmar, and Singapore as other favorites.
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Here was someone who actually spotlighted Asian culture, which remains a rarity in the American media landscape. He understood its value and meaning, and made us feel like we were a part of the pop-culture conversation. Bourdain shared traditions and gave others a chance to have their voices heard. How low impact could it be?
And it took a long, long time after this damn episode to recover. I would have ordinarily turned on the porn channel and loaded up on prescription meds. His character is supposed to be exuberant and life-loving, given to singing opera in the kitchen in a way that in the real world would mark him out as a hyperactive, condescending prat. When the entire staff gather round, laughing and coo-ing as he sings, it reminded me of John Hannah obsessively doing the Monty Python parrot sketch in Sliding Doors.
It's supposed to be absolutely adorable. In real life, behaving like this would get you hit over the head with a length of pipe. As for the supporting cast, Patricia Clarkson is on cruise-control as the restaurant's proprietor who sort of stabs Kate in the back by planning to over-promote Nick. Then there's a very odd and completely pointless character who is Kate's neighbour Sean Brian F O'Byrne : a nice, divorced Irish guy with kids and a crush on Kate.
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He has been inserted into the script, I suspect, to target the female audience demographic who feel they would never stand a chance with handsome Aaron but might with Brian. The statuesque and starry Zeta-Jones is in any case wasting her time with material like this. She is born to play one role and one role only: it would be in the film version forthcoming from someone, somewhere, surely of Tom Bower's book Conrad and Lady Black. She would play the sexy journalist Barbara Amiel, married to the doomed Canadian tycoon - who would of course be played by Michael Douglas.
Until that script arrives, it's just films like this. Which should be sent back to the kitchen. Topics Film. Romance films Comedy films Catherine Zeta-Jones reviews.