Death usually comes with a jingle. The jingle of a breaking news alert from the BBC, Guardian, Washington Post or Sky News apps on my phone. I’ve not monitored this enough to make a scientifically based assertion, but I sense that the BBC is the quickest at bringing bad tidings. News flashes are almost always bad news. Today, the news was that Anthony Bourdain had died. Tragically, at his own hand. I imagine you would know who Anthony Bourdain is. If not, he’s a chef, a writer and a travel/food show presenter. I’ve never had the pleasure of feasting on a meal served up by the great man, so I cannot speak for the quality of his cooking. But I love his writing. His television shows even more so.
I fit most famous deaths into one of the following categories: ‘He’s still alive?’, ‘Never heard of him’, ‘Nevermind’, ‘Jolly good’ and finally ‘Now that is sad’. I appreciate that ‘Jolly good’ seems a bit harsh, but there just are some people who are…well, you know. Saddam Hussein, for example. I don’t agree with capital punishment, but I found that his departure through the trapdoor was an acceptable exception. Most people fit into the first two categories. But every now and then, a death is announced that makes me feel genuinely sad. Anthony Bourdain fits into the last category.
I love travel shows. It’s the next best thing to travelling itself. I watch loads of them. And Bourdain’s shows were some of the best. Yes, food was a big part of his schtick, but then that is also the case when you travel, no? I’d just watched some of his stuff in Vietnam. He’s had an impact on our itinerary. And he’s one of a super rare breed of personality who I come to like, despite never having met them. He manages to create of bond of friendship, kinship and je ne said pas quoi. I can watch reruns, but I’ll miss the guy. I was looking forward to the new stuff.
I also like him because he’s kind to British cuisine. (You listening Steve?) He has previously stated that his death bed meal would be a very traditional British dish – black pudding with a fried egg on top. Given the manner of his death, I guess he had the option to fulfill that wish. Perhaps he did. Perhaps he had other things on his mind. One way or the other, it’s a sad day. I don’t often photograph food, but in tribute to senor Bourdain, the image above is of a dessert from Raymond Blanc’s flagship restaurant. Given that each mouthful cost more than I earn in a hour, it was worth photographing.
Still. For the rest of us, life goes on. And there is one more category to mention. All deaths, bar one, fit into this category, regardless of whether they’re a ‘Never heard of him’, ‘Nevermind’, or even a ‘Jolly good’. Because, ‘At least David Attenborough is still alive’.