Bruce Chatwin considered movement the indispensable feature of the human species. Sedentary natures killed through asphyxiation; a refusal to move suggested an acceptance of death. Walking he considered a virtue; tourism the ultimate sin. For the late Anthony Bourdain, a chef turned walker and explorer, no dish was odd enough or peculiar to be avoided or exiled by palate.
Bourdain was certainly of similar inclination to Chatwin – in some respects.
If I’m an advocate of anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.
Foods and rites may well be seen as communal acts for the new to be initiated into. But a modern world obsessed with nutritional counters, diet and concerns makes adventurism, quite literally in some cases, hard to stomach. But the wiry Bourdain seemed to have a cast iron stomach, a body impregnable to that various kitchens he sampled. The only thing he would not have eaten, he once quipped, was a cheese burger from Johnny Rockets.
The world of eating and dining can also be hierarchical and exclusive, pegged against an inverse relationship between diminishing returns on a plate and the amount that is splashed out at the till. Common dining remains in a titanic struggle with the elite nibblers who would surely die of starvation in the name of impressions and appearances. While…