Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations – A Review

Posted on July 7, 2008. Filed under: Reviews |

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations

Chef and best selling author Anthony Bourdain prepares to take us on another tasty romp around the world in the Travel Channel’s newest season of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations beginning July 7th at 10 p.m . If any of the previous seasons are any indication, this season will once again please the culinary curiosity in us all. Unlike some travel food shows Chef Bourdain takes great pains to roam off of the beaten path to discover a country’s or a region’s native dishes and along the way does what he can to take part in the indigenous culture’s traditions.

Bourdain narrates his journeys with wit and reverence. In each episode he takes the time to explain an abbreviated version of the area’s history casting light on how the local food developed into its current cuisine. Avoiding the tourist traps, Bourdain lives up to the Travel Channel motto “Be a traveler, not a tourist” and dines in such diverse places as the African Savannah, local pubs and the occasional fine dining restaurant. Along the way he has a “fixer” in tow to guide him to the right spots which more often than not includes little mom and pop joints and the ubiquitous hole in the wall. Every so often he is even invited to take part in a normal family dinner which can be as small as the average nuclear family to as large as an entire village/community.

As we are shown the world through the eyes of this adventurous chef, it’s hard not to notice how deeply ingrained food is in a culture. With a McDonald’s or a Burger King only a couple of miles in either direction from most people, we have a tendency to sacrifice the importance of the meaning of a meal for convenience. No Reservations reintroduces us to the importance of food in society. For much of the world a meal serves not just to nourish us, the meal ministers to people as they draw together as a family or community to sit and talk about the day or about important past/current events.

As I watch I can’t help but draw a correlation between how the world celebrates its diverse cuisines and the communion table. As a church, we draw together as a family to celebrate and remember an important event in our collective history. In communion we are joined by all of our church family around the world; past, present and future. In No Reservations, we see how love is put into each dish and that same love is dispersed to all who partake in it, much the same way as the love God has for each one of us is commemorated and diffused into each one of us as we participate in our various communion rites.

In summation, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations presents us with a world that we may have forgotten; a world where food is more than a meal but is the heart and soul of a culture. As Bourdain continues his travels to exotic locals and the dive right around the corner perhaps we can get in touch with the importance of the shared meal again and maybe it will help us to approach the communion table with a renewed body, mind and spirit.

*As a side note, I would like to say that if you can find it on TV or maybe pick up the second season on DVD, please watch the Beirut episode. While the No Reservations crew was in Lebanon a couple of Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Hezbollah sparking a wave of Israeli attacks and Lebanese counterattacks. The crew was able to catch on film the celebration of children in the streets upon hearing the news of the captured soldiers, the nervousness and trepidation of guides who’s family whereabouts were unknown, the partying of Lebanese young folks as they try to ignore the small war happening around them, even the dramatic bombing of the Beirut airport. It’s a fascinating look into people’s reactions to fear and strife and also peers into the hearts of a people who are surrounded by violence.

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