It was 2013, and there I sat in Istanbul International waiting for my third flight of the day. Beaten up from the multiple timezones and airline meals that encompassed my every day at that stage of my life. I lifted my head from a quick nap to see Anthony Bourdain was catching the same flight to Israel. He looked how I felt, and he was disappearing; it seemed into the solace of the empty terminal and cocoon of self. I debated at length in my head if I should introduce myself or let him know how much his writing and storytelling had impacted my adult life, but instead sat quietly. As a weary traveller also, I knew how much the lack of human contact, of playing a part or exerting that human interaction could do to ease the day.
While my entire life was filled with seeing the world having grown-up in Sicily and Germany, I had never explored. As an adult, his work touched a nerve buried in me that had sat dormant for all these years. His lust for exploration, taste, and the emotions only a new place and people can provide inspired me. I began to find joy in not warping something to fit my own expectations. Food, drink, experiences, or even the pure smell of a place fueled that thirst to honestly know a place. It was through watching him explore that I transcended being a simple traveller to an explorer.
When my Wife and I were dating, I was living in Berlin, but quite often doing extended stays in a variety of places. To us to have any hope of meeting with her living in DC, it required “meeting in the middle” which inevitably lead to her seeing somewhere new. She hadn’t seen much of the world, and each trip was a new perspective. It was a beautiful moment to see her appreciate some unique thing I had been so happy to discover. I witnessed her transformation, and those middle trips would inevitably end with us curled up in bed surfing YouTube for our next trip locale. In almost every case the YouTube searches would end with $location+Anthony Bourdain. She began to plan our eating around the beautiful restaurants and cuisines he tasted with and for us.
This started in Turkey, and it only seems appropriate, will end there. The first time Alicia watched his Istanbul episode she became enamoured with a little tucked away Dürüm shop. It was an uninviting place hidden behind the darkness of awnings and short bar stools; staples of an Istanbul sidestreet. Despite venturing out on our own to the more elegant dining the city offered, in the end, we ate there almost every day that holiday. To the point, the restaurateur would smile and chuckle as we ordered the same thing we did yesterday.
Thankfully Anthony Bourdain left us with countless years of travel locations to yearn to visit and taste. His clips will help guide us as they have for the numerous other 30+ countries we have been. I am heartbroken for his Wife and Daughter and the pain of this ordeal and hope the platitudes levelled on him by so many provide some solace in the darkness.
Rest easy, weary traveller and thank you