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Media Love and Hate for the FS July 26, 2006

Posted by KG in FS Life.

Everyone’s favorite chef-turned-author-turned-cable TV celebrity chatted on El WaPo today about his experience in Beirut. He was there filming an episode No Reservations when the bombing started, which apparently didn’t interrupt his boozing (though it most likely did have an affect on his carousing).

In the chat, Bourdain seriously skewers the State Department, Embassy Beirut, and by extension the Foreign Service for their handling of the evacuation. He also is highly laudatory of the US Marines and their treatment of the AmCits being moved to Cyprus and points onward.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I’m a big Bourdain fan. He’s a jerk, a blowhard, harshly honest, rarely politically correct, and basically my favorite type of TV personality. He’s also a talented travel writer, with a knack for describing sartorial experiences in tight, pithy prose. But (without getting too far into the details) I feel his statements on the State Department are a bit unfair, or at least ill-informed. Of course, he wouldn’t be Bourdain if he had candy coated his experience, and it was high time that he said something that left the proverbial bad taste in my mouth. Please note that I can’t decry or defend the actions of Embassy Beirut — not only because I’m unwilling to on this blog, but also because I am not there and do not know the details of the situation.

In contrast, as Catherine and MC have pointed out, NPR is airing a series of vignettes on life as a member of the Foreign Service. Its interesting listening for those curious about this crazy life. No dispatches yet on what coordinating an evacuation actually entails, but perhaps they can add that as a bookend once the Beirut situation calms down enough to allow for reflection.



1. Prince Roy at-large - July 27, 2006

i always found the guy to be something of a jackass. that’s just based on his tv shows about what he supposedly knows best: good food. really, the last thing the gastronome world needs is another ny chef going around the world offering us that so-called ‘ny edge’. in his case, it’s cheesy tank tops, affected earring, repulsive cahin-smoking cigarettes (i honestly wouldn’t let him near my kitchen), and superficial, often downright stupid observations about the food and cultures he visits, particularly east asia.

he may be 100% spot on about what’s going on in beirut, i have no idea.

2. Prince Roy at-large - July 27, 2006

btw, i don’t get what you mean, imo he is an awful writer. i couldn’t re-rack his book fast enough.

3. KG - July 27, 2006

Really? I like his writing. Its very spare, but I tend to gravitate towards that kind of style. He’s definitely a jackass — but as stated, I have a total weakness flaming jerks, at least when it comes to writers.

The one thing I don’t know is enough about the places he’s visited, especially east Asia. But his description of being an itinerant cook in “Kitchen Confidential” and his write up of his experience at the French Laundry in “A Cook’s Tour” are, IMHO, two of the best pieces I’ve read about the food world.

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