I’m not one to be broken up about celebrity deaths and the like, but Anthony Bourdain’s death made me particularly upset.
“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel — as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them — wherever you go.”
That is, quite literally, what I’m doing, and he’s a figure that helped inspire my decision to spend my summer in this deeply foreign country to me, a country whose language and culture has not been a focus of my academic studies. His passing due to suicide, amplified in its effect on me due to my current traveling situation, begs a lot of questions as to what one is supposed to get out of travel. While traveling may seem like a heavily-external exercise, the effects of it are deeply internal, and, apparently, not a self-evident way to achieve happiness, but a way to simply add a perspective to become, say, more empathetic or thoughtful.
I am no picky eater, yet I have found certain things I have been offered here unappetizing, yet I never decline. The worst that happens is a temporary unpleasant taste in your mouth, while the more likely situation is a taste that is new to you, and pleasant because hey, they wouldn’t be eating it if there wasn’t something good about it. Meanwhile, a rejection of a food without tasting it (for non-medical reasons, of course) is a rejection, however slight, of the culture and lifestyles of those with whom you are embedded. I didn’t come all this way, far from the comforts of my friends, family and bed, to be comfortable. I thought about the philosophy of Bourdain in the week before I read of his death, and I thought about it before I put this bizarre-looking white-translucent dab of fish in my mouth. I just sure hope its the right one.