On Tuesday, news broke that Anthony Bourdain was dining with President Barack Obama at a small restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam, filming a scene for his CNN travel show, Parts Unknown. The pair sat on low, plastic stools and ate bún chả, a local dish of grilled pork and noodles. By now, the dust has settled from the initial media frenzy, and Bourdain has had time to reflect on an interview that’s sure to be a career highlight for the chef.
On Thursday, Bourdain took to the li.st app to expound on his biggest takeaways from the experience. Describing the president as an “Asiaphile” and chopsticks aficionado, Bourdain painted a vivid portrait of the welcome Obama received in the country this week.
“The reaction among regular people in Hanoi to the fact that the US President chose to eat Bun Cha was beyond all imagining,” Bourdain wrote. “The effect was unbelievable. People were actually crying the next day, describing to me their shock and their pride, the reactions of their neighbors, to this completely unexpected choice of meal—and the venue.”
According to Bourdain, Obama treated the evening like a “night off”—despite having his predictably intense Secret Service detail in tow—and was generous with the show’s camera crew.
“He was among the very few guests on my show who ever asked the camera crew if they got to eat too,” Bourdain wrote. “And he made a point of taking a picture with all of them when we were done.”
“I believe he enjoyed that beer,” he added.
[via Grub Street]