"I'm here. What's keeping you?" -- Anthony Bourdain in front of Domilise's
More love for Tony's New Orleans episode of No Reservations.
Unlike many shows that have come to New Orleans for "a very special episode", Tony came here, pretty much told it exactly like it is, and did what most of us would have done in his shoes. He showed how we're down, but not out; we're fighting like nobody else in the US has ever had to fight before; we feel abandoned; and we'll make it, with or without anybody's help.
Sinn Fein, baby.
Exactly the message that needed to be sent. Now, I'm a mook and the first thing I always do is tell people "It wasn't the hurricane, it was the criminally designed, constructed and maintained levees and floodwalls". Tony didn't do that, but I really don't think he needed to. That would have probably come across as a bit heavy handed. He got the point across well enough by showing the picture of the rebuilt floodwall that was spray painted "HINDSIGHT", and the next day, the Corps painted over it.
Although, Chris Rose's faux accent kind of made me want to take a shower.
If you're like me, and been kinda negligent with the Wellbutrin, then you were probably tearing up several times. As much as he plays the lofty stereotypical New York curmudgeon, things like the cheesecloth on the lemon and the curly parsley at Antoine's made him as sentimental as a Dan Fogelberg fan on New Year's Eve.
That was beautiful.
Like Tony, I truly appreciate the idea that you can have, in this day and age, a professional waiter. Not some wannabe actor, not a student who doesn't even know the menu, but a professional who has been doing this job for years, and knows everything on the menu, everything in the bar, and every way to prepare the menu. I pray those days are not coming to a close. I pray that there will still be a place for Antoine's and their staff.
He exposed Emeril for what he really is: a chef and restauranteur. Forget the facade you see on the food network -- Emeril belongs in the kitchen. I'm sure that Emeril's people reserved the right to see the final cut of the Emeril segment. You know it. He had to be cussing like a rollergirl, and you know he was talking about as much shit about the food network as Tony does. I bet he's a hell of a hardass in the kitchen, and I'd hate to even wash dishes under him, but he's good at what he does.
Speaking of Rollergirls, you can get the same Big Easy Rollergirls shirt that Tony was wearing here, off the internets.
Tony's right. Emeril, more than anybody else, made the food network. Unfortunately, the food network is more about Poochie and Gatemouth than about cooking nowadays, and that's a shame for people like Emeril and Batali, people who actually know their way around a kitchen.
The Emeril segment had to last a good two hours, and boy, would I like to see an extended director's cut version of the entire episode. For example, the segments with Jacques Leonardi were axed completely. All you saw was the staff in front at the end.
The segment with George the fisherman made me well up as well. Like he said "It's in your blood". It is, or it isn't. I can't live anywhere else -- I've tried. The swamp calls my ass back here, and that swampwater flows through my veins. Tony recognizes that in those of us that stay. We stay because, despite the odds, there is a calling to stay. It's our destiny.
I love how once the boat got underway, George didn't have any nerves in front of the camera. He was at home, on the water. I grew up going out on a boat about every other weekend, and I know that feeling. I hope that there is a world where the solo commercial fisherman can survive.
I pay $16 a pound for Louisiana crawfish tails instead of $4 a pound for Chinese, because they're more than 4 times better. How many people do you know actually read labels in a market? Since the federal flood, I read them all the time. Don't get McCormick's when you can get Rex or Zatarain's. Don't get Emeril's sausage when you can get Savoie's. And don't get Sierra Nevada when you can get Abita. (Yes friends, that's the very definition of self sacrifice for me.)
George is still here, the only one on his block. Robert Green is still here, fighting against all odds. These are my heroes. His nephew sweeps the sidewalk. George mows his neighbors' yards. The guy in the riding mower in No Reservations mows his yard. Even though there's nobody around, the yards get mowed, the sidewalks get swept, and our little corner of New Orleans stays neat and tidy.
That's what we do. That's who we are.
That's what Anthony Bourdain captured.