Anthony Bourdain: ¡amante del sánguche chileno!
Anthony Bourdain. Love him or hate him, the man’s a rock star for foodies. The rambling TV chef-and-travel-eater just made his first trip to continental Chile (he visited Easter Island last year) and munched his way through Santiago, Valparaíso and Concón on the coast, and traveled south to Puerto Montt. Chiloé was on his list, but bad weather kept him off the island.
Anthony Bourdain showed up in Chile a week earlier than expected and came armed with a crew well-trained in the art of keeping the press at bay… as far as I can tell, no one got a personal interview, but he was seen out and about and making the rounds of the local picadas.
Proof of his whereabouts first appeared on the front page of the Sunday “Las Ultimas Noticias” that featured him full cover with the headline: “Pillan a chef mundial comiendo lomito palta en Plaza Italia” (World chef caught eating pork and avocado sandwich in Plaza Italia). Slow news day, I guess. Anyone who has ever seen his show knows that he’s not about fancy-schmancy techno-food and that it was only logical that he would find his way to the local sandwich shops!
He did hold a tightly programmed press conference (that started an hour late) for a handful of carefully selected members of the
local media. I managed to jump through the appropriate hoops and get my name on a press pass. His handlers kept pretty strict control of the situation, but he was relaxed and candid… charming even. I hadn’t expected that… Just a down-to-earth kinda guy who honestly seems to know how lucky he is to be in his own boots (nicely-worn brown leather cowboy boots, in fact).
“It doesn’t suck to be me,” he says with a smirk, “I’m a lucky cook who gets to travel around this incredible planet and tell stories in an impressionistic and very personal way.”
When asked about what makes his show a success, he replied:
“The fact that I’m either very happy or really miserable… I have the freedom to tell the truth. I don’t lie. Luckily I wrote an obnoxious book before I got to TV, so nobody expects me to be a diplomat. Most food and travel shows have to say that things are great… but they’re not. I have a privilege that I abuse to look at the camera and say “this sucks!” And on my show I can be drunk, curse, say cruel and totally inappropriate things about Sarah Jessica Parker… We have a parental advisory at the beginning of the show… and I’m very proud of that.”
ON CHILEAN FOOD:
We were asked to submit 2 questions several days ahead of time. The moderator read them in Spanish, and Bourdain responded through a translator:
What did you like best about Chilean food?
Sea urchins (erizos). They were great. And oysters… the oysters are really good here, they’re tiny and cute.
The best meal I had in Chile was at El Hoyo… it was shockingly, shockingly good. I liked the arrollado. That was a highlight. And prieta (blood sausage)… that was fuckin awesome!!
I’m a lomito fan… lomitos are great… but I have mixed emotions about the completo… I can’t decide if it’s really delicious or a war crime.
Was there any Chilean food that you didn’t like?
Piure. (The expression on his face tells it all… clearly not a big fan of this local shellfish loaded with iodine).
What is your opinion of Chilean food overall?
There’s plenty of tradition here… lots of old technique. And with sea urchins, sandwiches as magnificent as the lomito, and wine this good—I’ve had a lot of good wine here—Chile doesn’t have anything to apologize for to anyone.
The fact that Bourdain is fit and lean despite eating just about anything placed in front of him and happily drinking like a fish makes him the envy of any food writer, so what we all really want to know is how the hell he does it!!
Are you one of those guys who only eats when the camera is rolling?
Ha-ha… Nooooo! I love to eat! I do my best to live an unhealthy lifestyle. I take everything my mother told me to do and do just the opposite. But I don’t eat snack food… no Cheetos for me. I don’t eat in front of the TV… And living around food is like growing up with wine… there’s no need to gorge.
And then he adds:
Have you heard that phrase “don’t trust a thin chef” ? Well that’s just the stupidest shit I’ve ever heard in my life. Fat chef? Not workin’ hard enough…
What are your favorite berries? [Weird question, I know, but it's a berry producer who's asking...]
Honestly, I don’t care about sweet stuff. I mean, I like fruit… a perfectly ripe peach is a great thing, but I don’t need it. I like savory. I like salty. I like umami. I could live without fruit. But I like figs… and oh yeah! Grapes! I need grapes… in a glass!!
What would you cook for God? [Another one from left field, but the weirder the question, the better his answer!]
God? You want me to cook for God???? I’m afraid to cook for my wife! Ok. Let’s see… sea urchin with linguini and olive oil… no, wait… boeuf bourguignon … yeah, God loves boeuf bourguignon …no wait… lechón… yeah, I’m sure that God loves pork.
Yeah, I’m a Bourdain fan… gotta love a guy who loves to eat!