Anthony Bourdain, from what I know of him, possessed an insatiable lust for food and travel, a desire for human connection, and the will to share lesser known traditions, cultures and cuisines with the world. He pushed boundaries with himself and his crew, and he brought seemingly far-flung places into contemporary American living rooms. Vietnam, The Congo, Italy.
He made the unfamiliar accessible, and during a time of such vitriolic and xenophobic personality politics, served up an oft-foreign menu to the American populace.
I was also aware that he was in recovery and that he suffered from depression. Thinking about him, in light of his recent death, hurts my soul. My insides hurt for his insides. For his family and for his friends, for inspired chefs and line cooks, for anyone who has ever slurped spaghetti from that hole-in-the-wall trattoria because he recommended it.
This question has been asked many, many times, but of course it bares repeating – How can someone who has brought so much joy, to so many people, be in so much pain?
I can’t understand it. Sure, I can understand the fathoms and depths of my own pain, but to fully understand another’s? Not possible. There are unknowable parts about every human being – those you interact with on a day-to-day basis, sleep next to, work with, dine with, those you see on television, the field or the red carpet.
It’s not responsible to think we can know everything. After all, it took a tanned, toned, white-haired, brash and straight-talking chef to teach me what pho was. So, my request for you, in the coming days, months and years of your hopefully long and blissful lives, is to ask: How are you today? How can I help? What more can I do?
When someone is in that much pain, while there’s the possibility that he or she will ask for help, it’s oftentimes hard to know. I recommend making the first ask.