I watched “Roadrunner” on a flight back from NY last week. It reminded me how much I enjoyed everything about Anthony Bourdain, and how much I miss his authentic voice. It reminded me that he once waxed so compellingly about a tiny town in Uruguay and its iconoclastic seaside restaurant that I went there a few weeks later just to see it for myself (he was right, btw).
He didn’t only understand travel, food, and people, but he was also a master storyteller. He understood what former British spy and prolific novelist, David Cornwell (aka John le Carré), once said about storytelling, “It’s a principle of mine to come to a story as late as possible, and to tell it as fast as you can.”
While I was in NY to attend a client’s IPO bellringing ceremony, I had a chance to dine with their board members. I learned a lot listening to their leadership experiences. One of the directors, a well-regarded tech executive in Silicon Valley and quite a storyteller herself, said something that seemed to largely pass unnoticed, but I immediately emailed it to myself. “The most important part of governing doesn’t happen at board meetings; it happens at the dinner the night before.” She’s right.
And dining is the key to my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. I like it for four reasons: (1) there are no gifts; (2) there are no pretenses; (3) you can wear whatever you want (within reason); and (4) it’s usually the best versions of friends and family. We tried to make Thanksgiving a “thing” when I was a kid in the UK, but it didn’t really work. It was missing… Americana. The parade, the football games, and the familiar aromas.
Food has a way of bringing the best out of people, and Bourdain knew it.
“For a moment, or a second, the pinched expressions of the cynical, world-weary, throat-cutting, miserable bastards we’ve all had to become disappears, when we’re confronted with something as simple as a plate of food.”