WOW! You are just finding out about Tony? He has been a fav of mine for a couple of years. He along with Andrew Zimmern make for some very enjoyable TV viewing. They actual did one show together, meeting in New York, and visiting a number of “hole in the wall places.” And you are correct with your Bridget comment. A sexed-up Travel Channel food show just doesn’t do it. I saw that show once for about 5 minutes and moved on.
After watching Man Vs. Food on the Travel Channel, I started browsing that channel to see when it was on. I stumbled up another show that I instantly like, No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain might have one of the best jobs in the world. He travels the world (on The Travel Channel’s dime), eats, and reviews. That’s it. I mean isn’t that all a guy looks to do in life…travel, eat good food, and talk about nothing?!
Having been in and out of Asia a dozen times over the past couple years, it’s great to see the places he goes to. While he did do a couple of cities in the states that I know of (Baltimore and Detroit), the show is geared to more exotic travel destinations. This makes sense because, after all, it’s the Travel Channel. Bourdain has been to Bangkok, Seoul, Japan, Indonesia, and the list goes on. Some of the foods I recognize, having spent time in Korea and Thailand. One thing I enjoy about the show is that he doesn’t necessarily go to 5-star restaurants. He often finds these hole in the wall places, often recommended from friends or word of mouth. These are the best types of eateries—the mom and pop stores that have a seating capacity of ten (at most) featuring handmade, homecooked meals.
As for exotic food, I would put Bear Grylls first followed by Bourdain. While Bourdain has never gutted a snake, pissed in it, then drank that after letting it fester, he does try things that are insane. In Korea, he had fried pig intestine. According to him, he said that nothing goes to waste, and that outside of our country, most people are fine with eating cat, dog, horse, etc. I mean this looked gross and just the sound of it made me cringe. He ate it and I would posit that it tasted like fried foie gras. Let’s just put it this way, the next time I’m in Korea I will not be trying intestine, off a street vendor no less!
But these daring challenges, which is what I like to call them, makes the show appealing. I’ve been fortunate to travel all over the world and when I do, I pack beef jerky, cup-o-noodles, cliff bars, and Gatorade in powder form. All Bourdain does is pack a change of clothes and his passport. I think the show also helps broaden our horizons. While it is okay to believe that we are still the most powerful nation in the world, we are a bit timid when it comes to taking risks. You can’t compare food to world politics but it is kind of a reflection of our society.
If nothing else, the show makes for an entertaining half to one hour of entertainment. If you love traveling or watch the Travel Channel already, then you definitely know about this show. The Travel Channel is not a ratings juggernaut but I would bet that No Reservations brings in better ratings than Bridget’s Most Exotic Beaches.