Trust Issues: I Love Anthony Bourdain But

Words by Pelin Keskin

I love Anthony Bourdain.

I really do.

Honestly if I were to meet Anthony Bourdain I’d probably lose my shit and tell him my theory about my alternate life where him and Liam Neeson are my gay white parents (one overprotects, the other overfeeds. So basically like my parents now). 

But I have to be honest with myself and in turn, honest with my fellow Bourdainites; we gas him up because he’s white.

Shit! I know! I’m sorry! But it’s true!

Since….I don’t know….ever, we’ve entrusted the voice of the white man to be true, reasonable, intelligent and factual. They wiped out half the world because they couldn’t wipe their own asses and we still listened to these clowns when they said they’re just here to have a look around.

And we’re still listening though!

We stand up and applaud when dudes like Stephen Colbert says true shit, disregarding the fact that a couple of brown voices have gotten hoarse from saying the same thing for years. Ben Affleck got his fine ass arguing with that one faulty plastic bag of a human being (wussup Bill Maher) which is great and all I just wish I wouldn’t be so surprised and proud.

Our parents would lose it a little when a white dude on TV knew a few words of their language (meanwhile you’re sitting on the couch like ????? because they still roast you for mixing in english words every now and again) so obviously they love seeing the same white dude eating a steamed goats head. They don’t get how his use of the word “interesting” to describe said goats head has a faint hint of sarcasm they’ll never pick up because sarcasm doesn’t translate back well to them. It goes over their heads because it’s aimed at fellow whites as this little in-joke.

"Look at how cultured we are travelling and eating this wild shit lol"


Man, I love Bourdain. I really do. But his white male gaze is such a tired lens that it’s wearing thin, along with my patience. The head chef is white, the sous-chef is the PoC. The head chef is white, his wife is the PoC. The head chef is white, his year abroad is his influence.

Whatever crutch a white guy has used to lean on to level himself up in the food game is proof of the fact that it didn’t come naturally to him and we need to start pointing that out. The shit Tony gets on a plane to find out about is what you’ve been going downstairs to see, on foot, after the summoning call of “dinner’s ready”.

The problem lies in the sorry fact that we don’t seem to trust something until it comes out of a white person’s mouth in the form of regurgitated culture vomit. We ignore the stench of bile coming from it and pretend it’s brand new information. That sense of acknowledgment is enough, it seems. After years of being hated or, at best, ignored, it feels nice. Until you realise that acknowledgment comes with a vested interest in making bank.

Parts “Unknown” have only been unknown because we all seem to be ignoring the guys that do actually know about these parts. I’m sorry to say this but we have got to level up.

Don’t blindly trust a white person with their food recommendations.  Check the kitchen staff and owner before you hit up the new restaurant promising you ‘authentic xyz’ food. If none of them are actually from those parts, don’t go. What? I’m serious! The beauty of the restaurant industry is that there is always somewhere better to go to. If you’re all about “it’s not just looks that count it’s personality too” then I shouldn’t need to explain this to you.

Anyone can get on a plane and travel. Anyone can marry into a culture. Anyone can cook good food. But only a certain kind of person will have grown up in a household that served up that food on a regular.

It’s one thing being proud of heritage, it’s another talking over the white guy when he takes it upon himself to tell you about yours. Our parents didn’t move thousands of miles for us to not evolve past timid overcongratulation of the white gaze. Come on guys.