Anthony Bourdain: More than just a celebrity chef

As a child I was always enthralled by cooking and cooking shows. My grandfather was the head chef while he served in World War II; and he brought his love of cooking home with him. Cooking was never a ‘woman’s job’. It was an art that was enjoyed because food was something that we enjoyed. As I grew up the the bevy of cooking shows started to build up on TV and I loved them all. My TV time in the 80s was mostly made up of reruns of Julia Child, Justin Wilson’s cajun inspired cooking shows on PBS, and Great 145px-Food_Network_New_LogoChefs of America/Great Chefs of the World. This continued throughout the 90s when my family got a big satellite dish in the backyard which coincidently was the time that the Food Network started broadcasting. The introduction of shows from Bobby Flay and Mario Batali also brought Emeril Lagasse and Rachel Ray. I was in love with cooking and was one step away from going to culinary school. I won’t divulge you with the real reason that I didn’t go to culinary school (I’ll just say that the closest one was about 6 hours from my home and I had a girlfriend…so…you do the math).

I went on to college and continued to enjoy cooking in my spare time. My roommate and I would invite friends over and always enjoyed cooking for them. This trend continued into my 20s after graduating from college. It was about that time that a new cooking show trend started. The ‘traveling’ show that highlighted not only food but the chef/host of the show eloquently spoke to you. It was like a well written essay that centered around some of the most interesting people and places in the world. I became obsessed with Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain. Anthony Bourdain’s panache and deft writing ability amplified the sometimes unremarkable places he visited.

Anthony_Bourdain_at_Maxwell_Food_Centre,_Singapore_-_20060324Anthony Bourdain had shot to Pop Culture fame in 2000 when his best-selling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly exposed the rest of the world to the dirty underbelly of the culinary world; where he candidly wrote about his drug use among other tantalizing topics. I remember his face first becoming relevant in the culinary world when he started appearing on the Food Network in 2002 on his show A Cook’s Tour. Then three years later his superstar status skyrocketed when his hit Emmy award winning TV show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations started on the Travel Channel. He jumped to CNN in 2013 with a new show called Parts Unknown which is where we would find him traveling the world for 250 days a year. The show is in its 11th season and it was in France, where he was working on and filming and episode of his show, where they found him dead in his motel room this morning. It was reported this morning that he was found by his best friend and fellow celebrity chef Eric Ripert, who was there filming with him. He had died of an apparent suicide by hanging.

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The Anthony Bourdain that I watched on TV was and is unapologetic. His insight,eloquent words and delightful descriptions brought a poignant beauty into the world. He was one of my idols. I can recall many episodes of his TV shows that have left me in tears. The bitter slap of reality that he hit us with is real. It was never evident by watching his shows that he was suicidal; but most of the time it never is. If you are in the US and need someone to talk to you can contact the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Test Line by texting HOME to 741741. Those of you from the UK can call the Samaritans at 116123.

Anthony Bourdain’s eloquent and sometimes crass descriptions have impacted me. I will pray for the ones he left behind: his loved ones and especially his friend Eric Ripert. Anthony’s extraordinary storytelling on his TV shows brought the world into our homes and not only that but he inspired us to go out and visit those places. Anthony Bourdain I hope that you have found peace. Know that your words have always inspired us; but leaving us with an ellipses instead of a period has impacted us immensely. You will be greatly missed.


Images: 

Anthony Bourdain at Maxwell Food Centre in Singapore by Cheryl/miss bake-a-lot. – Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thebakerwhocooks/117114719/., CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1459812

Anthony Bourdain receiving his Peabody for “Parts Unknown” attributed to the Peabody Awards – Anthony Bourdain, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51812465

Food Network logo by and attributed to the Food Network – http://www.foodnetwork.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25239626

 

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Thor’s Thursday Tour: Duke’s BBQ in Orangeburg, SC

img_3796There is nothing that is inherently elegant about a BBQ restaurant in the South. You won’t normally find a Roasted Pigeon with a Warm Foie Gras Sorbet like you would from the Villa Crespi in Orta, Italy. You won’t find fresh out of the water Langoustines as you would at Bjorn Frantzen in Stockholm, Sweden. You won’t find a $130 Waygu Tomahawk steak like you would at the EDGE restaurant in Colorado. You also won’t find the $115 Red’s Porterhouse at Halls Chophouse in Charleston, South Carolina; but if you travel an hour and 20 minutes Northwest to Orangeburg, South Carolina you will find a place that is worth its weight in gold to anyone who steps through the sticker-laden glass doors. You’ll find that that drive has led you to a place that lays out Southern comfort food at its finest. You’ll find the sweet and sultry taste of their Southern style pulled pork BBQ matched with their South Carolina style sauce, fried chicken, delicious BBQ chicken, fried livers and gizzards, all the fixins’ that you can imagine, and most importantly the img_3799hash and rice. The hash was something that I was unsure of when I was first introduced to Dukes BBQ but it is essentially somewhere between a soup and a stew. Despite the taste and texture being different than anything you’ve ever had; over some fluffy white rice it is absolutely delicious. Besides the meat selections you’ll find the Southern comfort food fixins’ on their all-you-can-eat buffet. Delicious macaroni n’ cheese, baked beans, collards, fried okra, fried potatoes, green beans, lima beans, rutabagas, yams, and almost anything that Southern part of your soul desires. The cold bar features homemade banana pudding, macaroni salad, pickled beets, potato salad, slaw and an assortment of pickles. Now pickles may seem like an odd pairing for fried chicken but just trust me; I’ve been down this road before.

Dukes BBQ is a South Carolina staple. After the Dukes recipe came from the Baltzingers who had Carolina BBQ in the mid 20th century, after Dovie Dukes married into the Baltzinger family. Dovie gave the recipe to all of his brothers and sisters, but it was his brother Earl who opened the first Dukes restaurant in 1946 outside of Orangeburg but later moved it into town. My last visit was to this location but all 7 of Earl’s brothers and sisters opened up Dukes restaurants. You won’t find one within a 30 mile radius of their kinfolks restaurant because that was the deal originally set forth by the family. As the years flew by, their children and extended family opened up restaurants and there are currently 14 locations across the state to enjoy the best Southern comfort food that South Carolina has to offer.

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Their award winning restaurant has been picked by Southern Living magazine as one of the best BBQ restaurants in the nation, been given Trip Advisors Award of Excellence, was picked as best BBQ Restaurant and best buffet by countless magazines and organizations and has an accolade from this blogger who says that its the best BBQ restaurant in the state of South Carolina. You won’t be disappointed in the ambiance or the old fashion Southern recipes that are always prepared on site. So grab your jacket, pack up your kids, call your friends, and go experience down home, Southern comfort food at its finest. I’ll meet you there.

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Anything but pedestrian

It may not take a genius to sit in quiet contemplation while staring at a body of water; but you may be one for taking that time to do so. I think that Nigerian-American writer Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu said it best when she said that she, “go(es) to the ocean to calm down, to reconnect with the creator, to just be happy.” Ever since I can remember, I have had a love affair with the ocean. I would surf the waves when I was a teenager and the older that I get, the more I love just staring at the endless waves, cascading on the sandy shore. Being from Eastern North Carolina definitely has its perks because in my opinion, the beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. But the beaches are not the only place that has been a place of quiet contemplation.

I have mentioned before that my parents house was built 50 yards from a creek that is a tributary to the Northeast Cape Fear River. This creek connected to another small tributary that flows from a wetland area south. These tributaries met behind my parents house and the smaller tributary had a small waterfall. Over the banks of the small creek lied a huge fallen oak tree. I would sit with my back against this tree for hours listening to the sounds of the waterfall and watching a beautiful aspect of nature. There was nothing pedestrian about the situation. The sensory overload was anything but lackluster. This spot in the middle of a wooded area was my secret oasis; my serenity. I would grow older and hurricanes would tame the landscape as they saw fit. Water erodes. Trees fall down and rot. The spot does not look the same anymore but there are other spots that I frequent to try to find a break from the mundane.

On the banks of the Hollands Shelter Creek (a tributary of the Northeast Cape Fear River) sits Hollands Shelter Creek Restaurant. My family took me there when I was a kid and now that I have a kid of my own; we enjoy taking him. Daniel has always been fascinated with the river that flows by the seafood restaurant, so it seems only logical that his favorite place to go is to sit on the dock on the river, eat some ice cream and hopefully spot an alligator.

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Life Hack: Relief for Gout and Arthritis

The_gout_james_gillrayAll of the male members of my family have been riddled with the gout since I can remember. My grandfather used to get it in his knee and my dad would get it in his big toe on his right foot. As for me, my flare ups come in three toes on my left foot and in my ankle on the spot where I broke it many years ago. If you have never had experienced the gout or don’t know what it is; the gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis and the attacks typically pop up within a twelve hour period. The gout is caused by an elevated level of uric acid in the blood which causes the uric acid to crystalize inside of joints, tendons and surrounding tissue. This pain is literally as bad as it sounds and 1-2% of the Western population has had or will experience the gout during their life. Medicines (anti-inflammatory drugs, colchicine, and steroids) have been used to lower uric acid levels in recent years and even a change in your diet can help reduce uric acid levels; but food only accounts for 60% of the outbreaks that will happen to a person suffering from gout.

Regretfully the gout medications are expensive and I had to give up my prescription to Uloric (a prescription gout medication) because even with my deductible, the price had risen to well over $150 per month. I could of course order the pills from Canada at a lower price but I would still be spending around $65 a month for 30 pills. So I looked into the world of natural cures and with help from The Vitamin Shoppe, I found a life hack that is quite literally improving my quality of life. In my research, I found that coffee, vitamin C and low fat dairy products help reduce the risk of a gout outbreak while the consumption of alcohol, soft drinks, red meat and seafood increases the risk. Some key ingredients that work to reduce uric acid levels and help with inflammation are Cherry juice, turmeric and ginger. Along with drinking Pineapple Juice (pineapples are a great source of vitamin C and have anti-inflammatory properties), I created a concoction that isn’t the greatest tasting thing in the world…but I can guarantee you that it works for us. The Dynamic Health company actually has created a Tart Cherry, Turmeric, and Ginger Tonic that is available at The Vitamin Shoppe. I simply take the suggested dose of tonic and add in my preferred level of Pineapple Juice and there you have it: The Deflator (get it…cause gout and arthritis form inflammation…anyways).

tonic and juiceI woke up the first morning after taking it and my pain had subsided overnight. It was still tender but I was at least 90% better. I am still taking the mixture days later and am actually feeling better. My wife heard me talking about how good I felt and how that I was able to move the joints in my big toe like I had not been able to in years; and she was curious if it would work for her arthritis in her back. Well she took it and the next morning she woke up for the first time in years without pain.  Daniel, my son plays full contact football and his back was strained the other day…we gave him some of the tonic and he woke up feeling great. I can’t guarantee that this will work for you because I am not a doctor…but I can guarantee that it has worked/is working for my family. I want to tell everyone that I can about what appears to be a miracle cure for us.

braggsI will also be reintroducing Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar into my every day routine. It is very good for the treatment of gout because the apple cider vinegar moves the pH scale towards alkalinity and therefore, reduced the gout symptoms. I just take it straight like a shot of whiskey but you can dilute it in a cup of warm water or mix 2 tbsp of it with honey.

These suggestions are completely up to you but I could not urge you any harder to please at least try these remedies if you suffer from the gout or arthritis.

 


Images:

The Gout by James Gillray. Published May 14th 1799. Via copy at [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3796712

Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, Fair Use.

Waiting for Fermentation

I live in Rose Hill, NC; which is home to the largest winery in the South. Seriously. In my small town, we have an award winning winery that produces one of Martha Stewart’s favorite wines. I think that we as residents take for granted the scope of how big that the winery actually is. I think that we as consumers and residents as a whole don’t think about the items that we use. Let’s just take for instance, the wine that is produced around the world (sparkling wine, table wine, vermouth, white wine, red wine, whatever)…I don’t really think any of us think about the steps that it takes to get the grape hanging on the vine to the bottle that sits on the grocery store shelf.

According to the Wine Institute’s Preliminary research, United States residents alone consume an average of 949 million gallons of wine per year which equates to a total of 2.94 gallons of wine per resident; and with an average of 3.3 pounds of grapes going in to the creation of one bottle of wine, I can understand why I see so many fields of grapevines. The Duplin Winery has a tank capacity of over 1.7 million gallons of wine and sells over 450,000 cases of wine per year. The sweet cloying of wine lies thick in the air and the ambrosial aroma sticks to your skin as you walk among the towering tanks that house the wine whose creators are waiting for the cold fermentation process to produce a proper result.

The grapevines that I pass on a daily basis yield grapes that are used in the creation of a luscious liquid that is delivered to thirsty patrons around the world. The grape’s juice is squeezed from the fruit and transferred to the tanks whose behemoth bellies house the sweet muscadine juice until a time that the aluminum leviathan creatures will entrust its created bestowal upon the bottlers. The wine-makers carefully monitor the process and from the ‘terminus a quo’ of the spheroidal fruits to the transfiguration of the a delicious wine. The journey of the berry’s menial genesis into something so complex amazes me but with science a little bit of love…anything can happen.

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Structures of Fengshui

Golden Dragon

Most Americans and the select inhabitants of larger cities from around the world have seen the quintessential ‘Chinese takeout/buffet’. Most of us have one or two in our towns or in our neighborhoods. If you live in a larger city, you probably can smell the soy sauce laced smoke bellowing from exhaust pipes because it is more than likely within walking distance of your apartment. We walk in and order the chicken wings or that shrimp fried rice that you’ve been craving. You grab the soy sauce packets that end up littering your counter at your house and relish at the sound of the crack as you pull your chop sticks apart. But what about the facade? What about the mass-produced mock-Asian architecture that adorns the walls of our local Chinese restaurant? Do we notice the 6 foot high foo dog statue that wards off evil spirits from the Imperial Chinese Buffet? What about the elegant golden dragon that slinks his way up the colossal columns that adorn the entrance way?

Is our stomach so harmonized to the MSG laced food that an an invisible fengshui-esque force metaphorically draws us auspiciously to the food sitting in the pans that sit just above the water boiling beneath the buffet; or is it the seasoned wok being tolled back and forth over the flowering flame that is stir frying seasoned meats and vegetables that draws us in? Are we so caught up with our lives that even the architectural structure that was meticulously nominated by many a worried owner is now inconsequential to busy bystanders? Sadly it’s not just the adorned Chinese buffets that we miss. We truly are a generation that has forgotten to stop and smell the roses; or elevate our eyes to find the most minute bit of beauty in the Asian architecture outside of the local Chinese buffet.

A new Grainy Orange Drink

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If you were a child of the 80s, you will remember that Metamucil commercial where the guy takes a spoon full of the orange flavored granules and mixes it until it looks like the delicious drink that it ‘should’ be. Well there was a time that I guess that I missed seeing that commercial.

I remember being in love with Tang and Country Time lemonade when I was a kid. I would take spoon fulls of mix them in the tap water at my grandparent’s house on the hot summer days that I would spend with them. One summer in my youth, I remember seeing a new type of ‘orange flavored’ granule on the counter of my grandparent’s kitchen. I got out my favorite octagonal shaped glass, filled it with tap water and began to mix in the new orange flavored granule. It wasn’t as delicious as Tang but when you are thirsty, it wasn’t that bad. I must have left a small amount of residue on the counter after I had created my mixture because she immediately became inquisitive. She asked my cousin, who said that I had made the mess but the mess was not what was on my grandmother’s mind.

She asked how many spoonfuls that I had used and I reluctantly answered, ‘two’. She walks over to the phone to call my mother at work and I hear a chuckle from my mom on the other end a stern ‘it ain’t going to be funny to him in a little while’. I thought I was about to get a spanking due to using this new orange drink without permission but boy was I wrong. I realized what my grandmother meant by ‘I’d know in a little while and I will spare you any details of the pain and bathroom agony that ensued for the rest of the day. All I know is that it will still be a cold day in Hell before I drink Metamucil…or a really constipated day in hell rather.

via Daily Prompt: Grainy


Images: Metamucil advertisement Photo Source is the National Cancer Institute and company of ownership is copyright owner, fair use.