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In ‘parts unknown’ – Daily Leader

To ‘parts unknown’

Published Wednesday, June 12, 2024 at 12:30 PM

On June 8, 2018, celebrity chef, author and television host Anthony Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room in eastern France, in what authorities ruled a suicide. He was 61 years old.

He was working on an episode of his popular show “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” in Strasbourg, with his friend and frequent collaborator Eric Ripert. Ripert became concerned when Bourdain missed dinner and then breakfast. He later found his friend dead, suicide by hanging, in his room at the Le Chambard hotel. The suicide appeared to have been impulsive and the autopsy showed no signs of violence or the presence of narcotics.

Although I never met him, never interviewed him, and never caught a glimpse of him in person, I liked Bourdain. I loved his journalistic approach to storytelling. I loved his seemingly carefree attitude towards dealing with worries, his willingness and eagerness to try new foods, meet new people, learn new things, travel to new places and adapt to whatever life throws at him also brought.

One of my dream holidays would have been to spend a day or three with Anthony in a country I didn’t know, getting to know the culture and the people and – although I can be quite picky – trying foods I wouldn’t normally try.

I remember an episode of ‘No Reservations’ – his first popular series – in which he and the film crew with him were invited by a boy to eat iguana with his family. The mother did not understand English, so the crew spoke openly without fear of offending her. Smiling and nodding, Bourdain talked about how horrible the smell was, and continued to smile even as he ate some of it, then turned to the camera to say it was one of the most disgusting things he had ever eaten.

But he did not refuse the food offered to him. He said that when people offered you their own food, especially in their own home, they were telling you that they cared about you, loved you, accepted you, and wanted you to enjoy what they liked. Or at least the best they had to offer.

So Anthony smiled and chewed away.

He was no saint. But I liked him anyway.

I was stunned to hear of his death, and deeply saddened to hear the circumstances. Not another suicide, not another person giving up the gift of life, not now, not him.

Being a Christian, I have often prayed that God would refer someone to Anthony to share the gospel with him, and that he would also become a believer. As a follower of Jesus, I believe He is the only way to have eternal life, and to have peace and joy here and now. If you don’t want that for other people, you are incredibly selfish and hateful.

His mother was Jewish and his father French Catholic, but neither practiced their religion.

In 2010 he wrote about his upbringing: ‘I had no need for love or attention. My parents loved me. Neither of them drank too much. Nobody has beaten me. God was never mentioned, so I wasn’t bothered by the church or any idea of ​​sin or damnation.”

According to Jewish law, Bourdain was technically “Jewish,” but he wrote, “I have never been to a synagogue. I don’t believe in a higher power. But that doesn’t make me any less Jewish, I don’t think.”

I don’t know if his beliefs changed before his death. I don’t know if he was calling on a God he had not previously acknowledged just before he committed suicide. Don’t know. I hope so.

Now, six years later, when I remember my favorite celebrity chef, I still hope Anthony Bourdain knew Jesus before he stepped into “parts unknown.”