Nancy takes one of the snails and says, “Oh, these are so wonderful.” She takes one out of its shell and I see how she does it. She takes this little fork and she fishes one of these things out, and it looks strange, you know—like a little black snake or something. She pulls it out and puts it in her mouth—“Oh!”
Here is this beautiful girl. What am I going to do? I can’t chicken out.
So I say, “Oh, they look very good, hee hee.” I’m feeling sick inside. With the little fork I fish the little thing out. I put it in my mouth. I go, “uuushup!” I taste it. Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! It is fantastic! It is fantastic! It is fantastic! It is so good I can’t believe it!
Then I go the other way—I make a total pig of myself. I eat all the snails up so quick—kiwkiwkiwkiwghkiw! I mean, they’re gone!
And then the lesson hit me. I looked around. I saw all these other people—they’ve been doing this all of their lives! They weren’t surprised at snails. And it began to sneak up on me—what other terrible stuff did I learn at home? What other things do I think are awful? Just because it was back in the kitchen that way, you know? I ate the snails.
Late that night, lying in the dormitory room, I felt those snails—you could taste them. There’s an aftertaste. And I began to suspect that night that there was a fantastic, unbelievable world out there. And I was just be-gin-ning to taste it! Just beginning! God knows where it would lead!
ARTSY, WHAT ARTISTS SEE, ANTHONY BOURDAIN
From pure abstraction to almost pure representation.
A representative sampling.
* * * * * *
My Artsy Fartsy is an illustration of the variety of peripatetic experiences
I’ve had in the world of art.
* * * * * *
WHAT ARTISTS SEE
I recently encountered What Artists See When They Look At Art, a book illustrating short, illustrated essays by artists discussing art they especially respond to at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Peripatetic experiences. The comments are often unexpected, yet perceptive. Maybe artsy. The book’s introduction comments: “[The artists] know how to unpack a work not only analytically but also emotionally. They have a way of making it personal. Some of them speak about an epiphany,…”
* * * * * *
In the early morning of June 8, 2018 I was shocked to tears
when I learned that Anthony Bourdain had died.
I’d not known anything about him when, a couple of years ago, I encountered his CNN television series, PARTS UNKNOWN. I became fascinated by this former chef traveling to “unknown” places to indulge in the local cooking while casually conversing about the customs, social issues, and distinctiveness of matters particular to those with whom he was sharing a meal. The meditative cooking-and-travel combo intrigued me with its unusual form and content. It was as though the food ingredients themselves, and how they were prepared into the mix, represented a concoction of that particular culture that was special to it. He seemed a kind of perceptive—not a casual—flaneur, but I didn’t realize the special connection I had to his way of encountering the world, until that morning when I heard the eulogies and commentaries.
The New York Times essayist James Poniewozik wrote (6/8/18, appearing in the 6/10/18 paper edition) in the first and last parts of his elegant tribute:
Anthony Bourdain understood that eating was simply a way of taking the world inside you.
Mr. Bourdain, whose death was announced on Friday, took a lot of the world inside him in his 61 years on Earth, as a chef and a culinary enthusiast. As a TV host, he shared it with his audience. His globe-trotting, globe-eating series were full of wonder, humor and lusty eating pleasure. But above all, they were about people, for whom food is the most intimate form of expression.
…. He presented learning about the world as an obligation and an unbelievable adventure, something we’re ridiculously lucky to be able to do.
More than a travel guide, more than a food host, Mr. Bourdain was an evangelist of the senses. We’re each given a vehicle, the body, to explore the world, and a set of instruments — touch, smell and especially taste — with which to take in information.
It’s painful to know that Anthony Bourdain’s trip has ended. But he left behind one hell of a travelogue.
In PARTS UNKNOWN, the introductory visual of Bourdain’s television series, sets the mind to the strangely cubistic, yet realistic collage of audio and visual assonance to come. The introduction’s vivid red, jagged lines and unexpected effects alert us that we are about to see a travel adventure infused by a quirky and artsy sensibility. Unexpectedly, we’re being taken to parts unknown, to parts we thought we knew, and we’re in for an occasionally wacky but intelligent and informative exploration that is, in its essence, an artistic representation. An artsy form I hadn’t known existed. Such a deep humanity, grabbing me by the scruff of the neck, so that “art” might seem for it a slightly lesser descriptive term.
Through Anthony Bourdain I’ve come to realize that I may
never again be able to receive, process, and write about
the world of art in the same, simple, prosaic way again.
Bourdain and President Obama
discussing food and the world
over beer and noodles in Hanoi.
A recent Internet exchange:
Eugene B Bergmann Bud, thank you for your comment. Bourdain’s death has affected me more than have those of other heroes of mine such as Hemingway, Picasso, Mailer, etc.
Bud Painton You’re welcome, Gene. The fact that this is the way you feel in comparison to the mentioned immortals for whom you held great regard speaks volumes.
Eugene B Bergmann With his extraordinary projection of his humanity, his sensibility, I feel such communion with him–and, with this, in his death, I am reminded so forcefully of my own mortality.