Anthony Bourdain Showed Us How To Bond Over Food. We Should Take His Lesson To Heart

Anthony Bourdain Showed Us How To Bond Over Food. We Should Take His Lesson To Heart

There is something humanizing about putting aside differences, if only for a moment, to discuss how good biscuits taste.

Anthony Bourdain fully believed that food was one of life’s great pleasures. He also believed food was the answer to bridging vast differences between people. In 2011, Marc Maron interviewed Bourdain on his “WTF” podcast, and the topic of bonding over a meal became a centerpiece. Bourdain mentioned how he’d been able to find commonalities with new friends in the most unexpected places, all over the world, through the simple common interest of enjoying food.

He suggested that if it were so easy for him to form a bond with people who shared wildly different values in other countries, it should be something that is practiced here in the states between the Left and Right. Bourdain, a life-long, self-proclaimed “Lefty Democrat” found that he could easily find commonalities with other Americans that held conservative beliefs, because they could always find at least some common ground in food and drink.

Bourdain was truthful about himself to a fault, but he did not like dissent at the dinner table. He operated by the “Grandma Rule” — even if you hate the food, and Grandma says something you deeply disagree with — you smile, you eat, and you kiss your grandma and say “thank you” when you leave. He wanted to know people’s favorite foods, where they liked to go out drinking, and what their mothers used to cook for them. If the conversation would eventually shift towards something a bit murkier, and disagreements occurred, the shared meal established a mutual interest, and volatility over unshared political values was dissolved.

This is the greatest lesson that Anthony Bourdain has left us with — the simple fact that everyone likes a good meal, and even if two people like food, but can agree on nothing else, they can still share a meal, a couple beers, and have a good time. There is something humanizing about putting aside differences, if only for a moment, to discuss how good biscuits taste.

In establishing even this small area of common ground, defensiveness and fear can be muted, and a real conversation on differing values can occur. Points can be made calmly, and rationally. Both parties can listen to each other, and even be open to some of the ideas they might here.

For most of us, it can feel like fighting a battle on a daily basis as we defend our beliefs. We can feel threatened by an opinion that is particularly contrarian to our own, and angry when things don’t go the way we had hoped. The internet is particularly hostile ground, and none of us are our best selves when limited to 140 characters. People aren’t bound by a sense of decorum when they type hurtful words to each other in the anonymity of the internet.

At a table, however, with the simple joy of a good meal, civility can be restored. Once you sit down with someone, talk about your favorite childhood foods, and the way your dad taught you to cook a steak, would you be able to look at the person across from you and rip into their morals and values without entertaining the idea of kindness and camaraderie? Though it may be unrealistic to hope that everyone who politically disagrees with each other in the United States will be able to sit down to a good, home-cooked meal, and talk about our favorite neighborhood restaurants, it’s at least a reminder that we can find common ground.


The suicides this week of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are shocking and devastating for fans of the work they created over the years. Spade’s life and suicide resonate with women who loved her designs and products – her daughter was 13. http://vlt.tc/3azw

Bourdain was a creative genius who had gotten his life together after being a screw-up and an addict in his younger years. In a recent People interview, he had talked openly about the responsibility of living for his 11 year old daughter. http://vlt.tc/3b19 But in neither case was that bond enough to prevent these two outwardly successful creative people from hanging themselves.


Why is It? Thoughts on Society and Anthony Bourdaine’s Suicide

Posted: 09 Jun 2018 10:38 AM PDT

My Saturday morning moment of pause to reflect on society,  friendship,  and the suicide of Anthony Bourdain.  

Why is It? 

{commentary by Abyssum}

Why is it modern man so superficially judges one another?  Based on attractiveness, fitness,  and socio-economic status?   It has always been so,  but never before in such global, epidemic proportions.   When Victorian,  19th Century,  British elite picked each other to pieces about who was most fit to marry or invite to their banquet,  they now look humble and unprejudiced compared to contemporary Westerners.   If Jane Austen were alive today,  she could make a killing writing satire about modern social cliques, or she may find today’s insanity beyond words.

For me,  I never much fitted into social cliques here in Oklahoma.  Providence placed me in the awkward position of being a religiously conservative and traditionalist Catholic,  in terms of religion and culture,  a white European/European-American masculine man,  an idealist and introvert by temperament, and of a lower economic background.  Just about every personal trait contemporary culture hates as an enemy of progress.  Imagine being in those categories,  surrounded, in your work place no less, by at-heart pagan liberals,  evangelical Protestants in background and disposition,  and almost the most uneducated people in the US (Oklahoma is 48th in the nation for education).   If you’re reading this,  odds are you can relate.

Why is It? 

Why is it sincere, authentic, sustained,  and virtuous friendship,  in all its varieties and forms, is today practically dead and obsolete?   Poets have always waxed and waned about how good friendship is precious when you find it,  but I’m as certain real,  natural,  genuine friendship today is as uncommon as it was once common just a few decades ago.

For me,  I was far more fortunate having good,  loyal,  sustained friendships throughout my formative years,  than in adulthood.   And in my observation,  that seems to hold true for many men.   When CS Lewis wrote about the modern problem of friendship in particular for modern men,  in his book The Four Loves,  it seemed even more a prognostication of the de-evolution of modern friendship now, than a diagnosis for his own time.

And, Why is It? 

Why is it Anthony Bourdain, internationally renowned food critic, two days ago hung himself to death in a Paris hotel room?
And likewise,  why is the media response to eulogize a man who just murdered himself?   Who was an unashamed, professed hedonist and drug addict {in his early life}?

CNN painted him as an object of admiration, and his suicide as incidental to the fact he is now gone.  Meanwhile,  the Netflix TV show,  “13 Reasons Why,” which critics say is actually encouraging suicide,  remains at the top of their list of most viewed shows.

I have Netflix,  and I’ve appreciated Bourdaine’s food shows, but his marriage,  family,  friendships,  wealth,  and status in the end was not enough for him.

My impression is that suicide in all its forms and reasons is becoming increasingly a politically correct topic, because modern man is finding fewer reasons to value human life.   Before, we had to tolerate a suicide, and provide a normal,  public burial full of eulogy.   But now, my sense is we are being pressured to ACCEPT self-termination of one’s life as moral.  I expect that euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide will eventually become a universal,  constitutional right.

May Anthony rest in peace,  and may God have mercy on his soul.


Despite the sun still being in the sky,  and electrical lighting,  we live in a Dark Age.  The Christian social order,  and even the most basic natural law,  common sensical level of human society has been inverted,  destroyed,  thrown away,  and incinerated,  but replaced with an artificial,  materialist, godless,  collectivism, the momentum of which is leading to more world war, totalitarianism,  and desolation.

We have only one hope.   If you follow this blog,  you have discovered what this “one hope” is {the Son, not the sun}.

Pax vobiscum,  and have a restful weekend.  Thus ends my Saturday morning musing.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

The deaths this week of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain (see below) focused the media once again on explanations for America’s rising suicide rates. The short answer is: nobody knows. The more nuanced long answer is: nobody knows for sure. But something is driving it. Here are a few paragraphs from the New York Times which suggest that suicide is becoming culturally more acceptable:

The rise of suicide turns a dark mirror on modern American society: its racing, fractured culture; its flimsy mental health system; and the desperation of so many individual souls, hidden behind the waves of smiling social media photos and cute emoticons.

Some experts fear that suicide is simply becoming more acceptable. “It’s a hard idea to test, but it’s possible that a cultural script may be developing among some segments of our population,” said Julie Phillips, a sociologist at Rutgers.

Prohibitions are apparently loosening in some quarters, she said. Particularly among younger people, Dr. Phillips said, “We are seeing somewhat more tolerant attitudes toward suicide.”

In surveys, younger respondents are more likely than older ones “to believe we have the right to die under certain circumstances, like incurable disease, bankruptcy, or being tired of living,” she said.

If this is the case, why, O why, is there a movement for assisted suicide? Yes, it’s hard to prove, but it makes sense: if assisted suicide is a triumph of compassion and autonomy, how can unassisted suicide possibly be a tragedy?


About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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