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Anthony Bourdain: 5 Unexpected Lessons He Taught Us Last Night

Anthony Bourdain, giving a rapt audience a window into making No Reservations.
Anthony Bourdain, giving a rapt audience a window into making No Reservations.
College of the Canyons/Jesse Muñoz

We don't think any stone was left unturned by the end of Anthony Bourdain's speaking engagement last night at Santa Clarita's College of the Canyons.

We know his new "death row" meal (used to be bone marrow, but is now uni atop perfectly cooked sushi rice, preferably on a beach under a palm tree with a beer in his hand). We know how he keeps his 4-year-old daughter from the clutches of fast food's "the king, the clown and the colonel" (by stealing the head of her favorite Barbie doll, dipping it in chocolate and putting it in a McDonald's wrapper). We know the absolute worst thing he's ever eaten (Icelandic shark fermented in its own urine), and we know that working for him usually involves a certain amount of humiliation (such as one producer's accidental reveal that she'd worn her underwear inside out the day Bourdain removed a leech from her ass while filming No Reservations).

Yet none of these things were the most interesting thing we learned from Bourdain, either during his speech or in the chat we had with him beforehand. Here are the five most interesting things Bourdain schooled us on last night:

5. Baja is the new Tuscany.

"Tijuana and Ensenada -- there's some awesome shit going on down there right now." Bourdain told us. "They got tired of waiting for the Americans to come back and just started making really great, really creative food.

"There are people there who have been doing great food for 35 years, and there are a bunch of young chefs who have traveled the world who've come home and decided, 'Let's move Mexican food forward.' It's like Tuscany down there. It's amazing. I was there for eight days and didn't see a single American. Traveled around wine country there -- it's awesome. It's the great undiscovered wonderland. Rolling hills, grape arbors and great chefs cooking very forward, very subtle, very local, very good food.

"They've thought, 'We need to reinvent ourselves. We're not going to be the whorehouse for frat boys anymore.' And something amazing's happening."

4. Why he's so angry at the Food Network

Because food should be simple. You shouldn't need dozens of tools and endless instructions to create it. And moreover, he explained, displaying a photo of Paula Deen licking icing off of Robert Irvine, "She knew full well she had Type 2 diabetes when this photo was taken." Illustrating the contrast, he said, "I smoke on my show, but I don't sell cigarettes."

3. The Grandma rule

How does Bourdain stomach some of the downright nasty food he's given to eat? Particularly when he's in a tribal state, being served unfresh meat covered in "fur, sand or shit" by the decorated chief? (As has happened.)

He abides by the Grandma rule, which states you "should eat what's put on your fucking plate," he says. "That's called fucking manners."

Sure, he has his principles, he says. He knows the difference between pets and food, and as such, he's avoided dog and cat at restaurants that customarily serve them. But when at someone's house, as he often is on No Reservations, if the patriarch offered him a plate of braised puppy heads, he'd like to think he'd say, "Pass the fucking puppy heads."

 

2. How to do drugs on TV

Of course, Travel Channel network policy forbids this, and, sayeth Bourdain, he always abides by network policy.

Meaning, he says that when the cameras are rolling, then does drugs.

Strategies for getting away with this include lying, such as in the scenario above; "framing it out," i.e., doing it out of the shot; eating it, such as on a psychedelic pizza; or masquerading as a police officer and standing next to six tons of burning cocaine.

You know, whatever works.

1. God doesn't exist, but if he did, he would be Jonathan Gold.

When an audience member asked Bourdain what restaurants he recommends in town, he answered simply: "Read Jonathan Gold. Whatever he says, it's God talking."

However, when later asked how he got to this point in his career, Bourdain replied, "My continued success is proof there is no God."


Follow Squid Ink at @LAWeeklyFood and check out our Facebook page. Follow Ali Trachta on Twitter @MySo_CalLife.

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