When Anthony Bourdain speaks, people tend to listen. Last week, the loveable curmudgeon of food-media chided parents for raising their kids to be obnoxious foodies—"Nothing could be more annoying or futile," he said—and it was easy to imagine trash bags of artisanal baby food lining the streets of Park Slope, Brooklyn the next morning.
Bourdain never shies away from calling bullshit on overly pretentious food trends, and during a Reddit AMA yesterday, the Parts Unknown host laid into some of the most pernicious viruses to infect the American culinary world: pumpkin spice, juice cleanses, and phony gluten intolerance. Answering dozens of questions from fans, the chef also weighed in on the infamous "Is a hot dog a sandwich?" debate, revealed his all-time favorite comfort food, and dished on what fans might expect from the upcoming season of Parts Unknown. Here are a some of the biggest revelations from the Q&A.
Bourdain really, really hates pumpkin spice lattes and gluten-free fanatics.
“I would like to see the pumpkin spice craze drowned in its own blood. Quickly. Juice–I don’t understand the juice cleanse. I mean, if you’ve ever had a colonoscopy, the doctor gives you something that will cleanse you right quick, so I don’t really understand juice cleanses. I believe celiac disease is a very serious ailment, and if you’re diagnosed with it, I’m pleased that there are now gluten-free options, but these people who are treating gluten as, you know, an equivalent of Al Qaeda are worrying to me.”
And please, for the love of God, stop using the word “artisanal” around Tony.
“Also, overuse of the word ‘artisanal.’ You know, an artisanal potato chip? What does that mean other than it's an expensive potato chip? Oh, I'm also no big fan of the judgmental barista and beer nerds. I mean, I like a good craft, but don't make me feel bad about my beer choices. You know what kind of beer I like? I like cold beer.”
He still turns to the fast-food fried chicken for his guilty pleasures.
“I have an unholy and guilty attraction to fast-food macaroni and cheese. During the morning I get these horrendous cravings for Popeye's mac and cheese, and, uh, I will often disguise myself to try to slip into Popeyes. Or in a pinch, I will even go to the Colonel. There, I admit it.”
The chef finally weighs in on whether or not the hot dog is, in fact, a sandwich.
“No. I don't think it's a sandwich. I don't think a hamburger is a sandwich either. The fact that it's in between bread--the bread is a delivery system, a ballistic delivery system. It is not a classic sandwich, in my view. I mean, if you were to talk into any vendor of fine hot dogs, and ask for a hot dog sandwich, they would probably report you to the FBI. As they should.”
Bourdain rides hard for Waffle House now.
“It is a strange and exotic wonderland to me. I really have yet to explore it fully. I was obviously thoroughly taken by it and cannot wait to go back. In fact, I have a secret urge, as a lot of my chef friends do, their secret urge is that they want cook at Waffle House. Just for a day to see if they can hack it because it's a tough gig.”
Stop offering Tony shots of liquor; he doesn’t party like that anymore.
“If I took every offer of a shot or other substance that fans offer to me, I wouldn't have made it to 2008, much less to this year. So chances are, to be perfectly honest, you wouldn't see me at a bar. If you were to offer me a shot, I would probably politely decline. I know people offer those things with the best intentions but I'm a dad now.”
Eating Nashville Hot Chicken was one of the most terrifying experience of Bourdain’s life.
“Every day in the DRC—the Democratic Not-So-Democratic Republic of the Congo—there were many tense moments. Libya, post-Benghazi, was again, many concerning moments where we sort of had to take regular meetings among the crew and decide for ourselves whether we would make a run for the airport or continue shooting. Beirut, 2006, got a little dodgy. And immediately after eating Nashville Hot Chicken, that was truly, truly terrifying. And if you're considering going to Nashville, by the way, please notice that Nashvillians themselves don't eat the extra-hot fried chicken. They know better. Unless you've got three or four days to spend in a bathroom, I really advise against that.”
Bourdain will never, ever turn down a home-cooked meal.
“I think it's my duty as a guest to always accept when my host is offering a good thing. When people are expressing themselves by what they offer, I feel it's my duty to if necessary take one for the team. It's what I call a ‘grandma rule’; I may not like grandma's turkey, but I'm in grandma's house, I'm gonna eat it. And I'm gonna smile and say I like it. I think that's just good manners.”
Tony may be getting a Donald Trump-style makeover for the new season of “Parts Unknown."
“I'm not afraid to look like an idiot on TV; it happens a lot. We don't have hair or makeup, for instance. It would be interesting to show up on a show with like a Trumpian Cheeto tan. Actually, I should try that.”