Remembering Anthony Bourdain and His Disdain for Donald Trump

Anthony Bourdain was never someone to shy away from voicing his opinion on pretty much anything. Bourdain once said that “Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands,” a strong statement about the war criminal who has since been embraced by both sides of the political spectrum.

Bourdain was also fairly outspoken on the subject of current President Donald Trump. With tomorrow being the start of Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, you might remember the time when Bourdain was asked by a TMZ reporter what he would serve were he to cater such a summit, and he responded “hemlock”.

That’s not the only time Bourdain has commented on Trump. After the election, he told Eater he wouldn’t want to dine with Trump, who has a reputation for not exactly being a foodie.

I’m open to sitting down with anyone who’s nice to me. I’ve sat down with everyone from Ted Nugent [to] the former chief of counter-intelligence for the KGB [to] Hezbollah — you know, people who I disagree with on many, if not every fundamental issue. I just find him personally objectionable.

I don’t think he likes food, and from people I know who have had to endure dinner with him, if you enjoy sitting there listening to him talk about himself, you know, great — god bless you. And, you know, the man only eats steak well-done. And if he knows how to use chopsticks, much less [be] able to grasp them with those tiny little nubbins, I’d be shocked.

He has a point, when is the last time you saw Donald Trump eating any kind of food that wasn’t referenced in a Jim Gaffigan routine? And what kind of deviant eats steak well done? I may have political differences with Trump, but I can get past those. Eating overcooked steak, though, that’s just… disrespectful to the cow that had to die for you to ruin its meat.

In a separate interview, when Eater asked him if he voted, he gave this answer, talking about how having been in some of the same circles as Trump made him less than enthusiastic about how he’d be as President.

Yes. No fan of the Clintons am I, by a long shot. But I’m a New Yorker, Donald Trump is a New Yorker. And the New Yorkers I know, we’ve lived with this guy for 30 years. I’ve seen Donald Trump say things one day, and then I saw what he did the next. I’ve seen up close how he does business. Just like if you lived in a small town, you’d get to know the sheriff, the guy who runs the hardware store, the guy who runs the filling station — Trump comes from that era of guys you followed, guys you knew about every day: Trump, Giuliani, Al Sharpton, Curtis Sliwa. I’d see him at Studio 54, for f**k’s sake. I’m not saying I know the guy personally, not like I’d hug him, but I’m saying that as a New Yorker, we pretty much are neighbors. And my many years of living in his orbit have not left me with a favorable impression, let’s put it that way. There’s so many reasons to find the guy troubling. When Scott Baio’s the only guy you can find to show up at your convention, you’re in trouble.

Of course, Bourdain was famous for travelling to foreign places and getting to know the people there, bridging the divide in understanding between us and them. And he did exactly that in a trip to West Virginia to meet with Trump supporters, which he wrote about in April.

The stereotypes about West Virginia, it turns out, are just as cruel, ignorant, misguided, patronizing, and evil as any other. Every meal might have begun with saying grace, but there was nothing hypocritical about it. People do care about each other. Friends, family, and the community are held close. The men and women who come from families of four, five generations of coal mining are not naive about the promises of cynical politicians—or the inevitable future of fossil fuel. Their identities, their aspirations, and their situation are far more complex than one can imagine, and their needs are more immediate.

There’s a reason why so many West Virginians love their birthplace so fiercely and have fought so long and so hard to preserve it. I hope this show gives you all a glimpse.

I am intensely grateful for the kindness, hospitality, and patience the people of West Virginia showed to this ignorant rube from New York City who arrived with so many of the usual preconceptions, only to have them turned on their head.

Trump, for his part, told the White House Press Corps that Bourdain’s death was “very sad” and that Bourdain was “quite a character,” offering condolences to the families of both Bourdain and designer Kate Spade.

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