Anthony Bourdain doesn’t hide his feelings about Spain in tonight’s episode of No Reservations. He considers it “the culinary jackpot — the best place in the Western world to eat.” At one point he achieves bliss at a San Sebastián pub: “A jarring flood of endorphins, then brain overload, and for a second, a blinding light.” And that wasn’t just the sangria talking, because on his blog today, Bourdain mopes about being stuck in boring ol’ New York.
Why can’t I have that? How come I gotta go halfway across the earth — to like, Singapore, or Hong Kong (or Spain), for instance, to really get MY culinary jollies these days? [Albert Adria] is on a magic carpet ride in his own town and I’m like a full-bloom junkie, the honeymoon period over, needing a higher and higher dosage to get off in MY home town of New York! Why?
The sad fact is, we’ll never — and I mean NEVER have it so good as in Spain. It’s not like we don’t have great restaurants in Manhattan — and will surely have many more. And certainly, we can get many of the same ingredients jetted over (more or less — if at a steep price). No. It’s attitudinal. You can faithfully reproduce the look of a Spanish tapas bar in New York City. You can stock it with all the best, most authentic ingredients, just-jerked from the rivers, streams, soil and seas of Spain. You can staff the joint with the best cooks, dragooned off the streets of the parta vieja. And you’ll still never be close to the real thing. Because what your tapas bar needs — really needs — is three or four or eight OTHER tapas bars (or casual Spanish eateries within walking distance).
Bourdain probably didn’t see Vicky Cristina Barcelona, or he’d think twice about overly romanticizing his trip to Spain. There’s no denying the country has incredible food, but keep in mind, this is a guy who admitted he had never even been to Queens until he visited Ali’s Kabab Café for No Reservations — perhaps some of New York’s “attitudinal” deficiency is his own? Or is it really impossible for an old-timer to achieve this sort of enthusiasm for his hometown eats?
Envy [Anthony Bourdain’s Blog]