Bourdain in Beirut

Anthony Bourdain is currently stuck in Lebanon, basically in the middle of a war zone. He and his crew were trying to film an episode of No Reservations when all of this week’s violence erupted as Israel started bombing the shit out of Beirut to retalliate for Hezbollah’s killing 3 Israeli soldiers and kidnapping two others. Tony posted on the eGullet forums right after the runways at Beirut airport were bombed, saying that it didn’t look like they’ll be able to go anywhere anytime soon. Scary shit. Tony is the one truly entertaining food personality on tv. Wry and supremely witty, he’s got a masterful way of ripping into all things lame while still possessing a good enough heart to truly appreciate the important things in life such as family, culture and humanity. For the uninitiated, here are a few nibbles of his wit from recent episodes:

In China, having his ear wax cleaned out in the park:
“There’s something unsettling about having any orifice cleaned out in a public place.”

In Uzbekistan, shopping for a wedding present fitting of local customs:
“I’ll take this and the piss bucket and I’m good to go.”

I don’t remember where he was for this one:
“A convoy of cow and sheeps guts keeps finding its way to our table.”

In Quebec, at a really bizarro place that produces maple syrup, run by a creepy guy who looks like a life size incarnation of an evil garden gnome (this guy left his Wall St. job and worldly possesions to go live in the woods and make maple syrup):
“In my twisted imagination I’m imaging a cult of maple worshipping followers, shallow graves, vats of Kool Aid, hidden meth labs, and a film unit shooting Lumberjack Facials 2 at this very moment, somewhere on this compound.”

And finally, also from the Quebec episode, what I consider the quintessential No Reservations segment; where he dines on freshly killed raw seal with an eskimo family. It was at once fascinating, heart warming and gross; a combination which Tony always seems to bring to each episode:
“The meal starts off like countless others around the world. A few words of thanks for the food before us. But then dear viewers, things take a different tack. “I can’t wait to eat the brain!” There’s laughter, pride, excitement, like a Thanksgiving dinner. Frequent exclamations of “Yay!” and “ooh!” as dad zips open the belly and collects the blood, junior grabs for a rib, grandma cracks open the skull and digs out some brain. And suddenly the room is tearing that thing apart like a meat filled pinata. Every part a treat… At the same time both horror movie and heart warming. A mix of blood splattered butchery and loving nourishment.”

Tony, we hope you and your crew can make it out of Beirut safely and that the experience doesn’t change you. Be safe.

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