August 20, 2006

Anthony-bourdainAnthony Bourdain is the kind of travel writer that Hunter S. Thompson would have been had he started up in the restaurant industry. He drinks too much, smokes too much and is unapologetic for his caustic nature. His non-fiction book, Kitchen Confidential, will forever change your notion of eating out (including ordering fish for Sunday brunch--just don't do it). His Gonzo style has morphed into testing culinary boundaries around the world. On his show "No Reservations" airing Mondays on the Travel Channel, Bourdain is more likely to eat the still-beating heart of a snake in Cambodia than to be found at any one of the hundreds of tourist traps masquerading as "authentic" along the Mekong Delta.

For Bourdain, food is the great equalizer. It's hard to hate someone with whom you've broken bread. The local dishes lend insight into the character and psyche of a country. Sharing a table humanizes and demystifies those who are exotic to our way of thinking.

Tonight, "No Reservations" will be airing an episode that shows Bourdain traveling to Beirut, Lebanon just in time to witness the first bombings by Israel. Trapped in a war zone, he listens to the resignation of the locals and reserves most of his scorn for the US Embassy.

For a food and travel lover like me, No Reservations is Must-See TV anyway. But to get some images and impressions of the conflict in Lebanon unlike anything you're going to see on mainstream media, this is the episode to watch.

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