Monday, September 24, 2012

Reading Response Three

A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain could most definitely be considered rapid fire of food. I found myself flung across continents into all equally bizarre situations with bizarre and new foods. As each page turned a new scent, or a taste lingered for a moment in front of me before being completely lost. I would consider myself a new food fanatic, but I can’t even imagine savoring something as new as lamb’s testicles. I’m just not that brave. Something I do wish is for the time to savor each section of this book; there is just so much to be said! Furthermore, with each story Bourdain told, a memory of mine is triggered, and I find myself traveling on my own cook’s tour.  There are two that stand out the most to me, one is my own travels, and the other is of my boyfriend, Jordan. I will tell you the least serious first.

            My best friend in the world happened to live in Sydney, Australia. So, when said best friend said, “Hey Kate, I’m going to be only 7,000 miles away in Paris,” I went. My mom, her friend Becky, and I flew into London Heathrow only for the two of them to dump me on the Eurostar with my friend Grace. Long story short, she and I ended up in Paris, alone, trying to find her godmother’s apartment in Montmartre. An Australian trying to speak French is even more horrible than an American. Trust me.
Finally, so tired we felt drunk, we ended up on a stone street somewhere in the 18th in front of her godmother, Christine’s, apartment. Christine was originally from England, but had French down to a science, and she made us speak it. When we went out for dinner she made us do the ordering, wine, cheese, and escargot. She was laughing, because we were going to eat snail for the first time. There is a video somewhere in Australia of this occurrence, and I hope Grace can find it so I can post it on here. She and I were half laughing, half disgusted, chewing on snail that tastes mostly like garlic. That’s about as food and travel brave as I get.

On the other hand, the story of the pig, the lamb, the malaria drugs, and the stars reminds me of my boyfriend’s various “tours” of the Middle East. Jordan did three tours with the Marines, two to Iraq, one to Afghanistan. I was constantly reminded of the colorful stories that Jordan shared with me while reading this book.
One, when Jordan was in Iraq he spent time living with Iraqi soldiers while helping them with construction. Jordan said he witnessed the ceremony of killing a goat. They gave the goat his last drink of water, and then there was blood everywhere, they slit the goat’s throat. He describes it in this way that makes it seem so purposeful, perfect in a way. I’m not even sure I know how to describe it.
Secondly, the malaria drugs that Bourdain was taking were definitely the cause for his crazy dreams. Jordan tells me that in Afghanistan they would save malaria drugs for when they wanted to have ridiculous dreams, on purpose. So, there’s that.
Lastly, Jordan says the only redeeming quality of Iraq is that the night sky (like Bourdain describes in Morocco) he says it is absolutely magnificent in the desert. These are places I wish I could experience, if things were different.

            I don’t know how Bourdain finds himself in some of these situations, but I know that I am envious. I would even let someone film me in order to go these places. Yes, I am aware of the soul selling that he describes would not always be enjoyable. But, to run around Russia, get hammered in Vietnam, or go on a new version of a bar/tapas crawl in San Sebastian would be completely worth the hassle. We should see if we can get some money from the school to go on a similar trip. What do you guys think?


  1. I was involved with a Marine who did two tours of Iraq, and he and his battalion were literally starving during their time. People who serve have such difference experiences depending on when and where they're deployed.

    As much as Bourdain makes me long to travel, I'm also wary of the impulse to blindly experience another culture for my own sake. Does anyone else struggle with this? Does Bourdain address this in his writing?

    I love your storytelling, Kate, and I want to hear more! One syntax note: there's an issue with verb tense in which you shift from present to past arbitrarily. It's a good idea to stick to past tense when writing about the past. It gives the writer more freedom to shift in time. The present is a single moment. The past can move and shift in time.

    1. That's interesting. I wonder if they knew each other? Was he based out of Battle Creek? I'm sure he told you about MRE's (meal ready to eat) which is a different side of food I'm glad that I do not know.

      That's true. I think at times Bourdain realizes that he is being a little, would you call it reckless with other peoples' cultures and lives? Isn't it when he's in Vietnam that he starts to hate himself, and wants to actually 'kill' the other white tourists he sees, and he feels like he's somewhere he shouldn't be?

      While I am envious, and I long to have the ability to barrel about the world, I think the difference is that traveling in the manner is something to talk about when you've had too many drinks and you're making plans with your friends. It would be hard to just go without the regard for another culture. Like I said, when I went to France, I had to speak French. I think maybe as I am reading this I am forgetting that it is real life with real implications...maybe because it seems so crazy.

      Thank you for the syntax tip. If you don't mind, I think i'll go back and change it!

  2. You allowed me to have a glimpse into both your and Jordan's lives, which was really neat. Its always interesting how one little thing can bring back a multitude of memories that we wouldn't think would have any connection. It was surprising to hear what Jordan and his comrades used the malaria drugs for, but I guess when the going gets tough and boredom strikes, anything goes.

  3. I love how you described your reading experience as "traveling on my own cook’s tour." and like Kelsey said, giving us a peak at what army life is like. I wish as well, that I could travel like Bourdain does, though I can't say I would be willing to eat a beating cobra heart. Actually, I can definitely say I wouldn't be willing to eat a cobra heart.

    1. But Taylor, the adventure! It'll make you strong?