The first thing I noticed was the cinematography. It’s exquisite. I don’t know how much input Bourdain had on the aesthetic of the show, but the low-key, high vibrancy, tightly focused, fearlessly gritty style is incredibly striking.
Secondly, I found Bourdain to be supremely likable. He was thoughtful and interested in people. He allowed the show be about others, other cultures, other culinary traditions.
Without hesitation he would try foods that make me uncomfortable to look at. He asked some tough questions, but with respect.
This morning I’m watching the Jerusalem episode, and there’s a moment where he’s walking to the Damascus gate and he (a non-religious man) jokingly tells the chef he’s walking with that “Well, it’s too late for me” and my brain shifted context to his suicide. My breath caught.
I know that several of my friends were tremendous fans of Bourdain. I don’t usually get emotional over celebrities, and I know I’m late to the party on this one, but I’m grieving with you today. I think the world is lessened by his exit. We need more people who are willing to go far outside their comfort zones and be vulnerable and kind beyond their own demographics. I hope I’m getting there in my own small way, too.