Food, Culture, and Anthony Bourdain

As any traveler knows, you can’t experience food without culture and you can’t experience culture without the food! Imagine going to Italy and not trying the pasta or visiting Wisconsin and refusing to sample the cheese. You would have just missed some of the most defining things that make the locals who they are. Why do you travel? Do you want to take a pretty picture to show your friends and family back home or do you want to see a window into the life and customs of where you are visiting? For me, it’s the latter (without forgetting the former!).

I love Anthony Bourdain. I love both The Layover and No Reservations. They really focus on this relationship with culture and food. The perfect example episode that comes to mind from The Layover is where Anthony visits Rome, Italy. After living nearly 7 years in Rome, I feel I have quite an understanding of the food and the culture. During the episode he has several locals describing the do’s and don’t’s of the culture. Talk about spot on. To take a quote from that episode: “Cappuccino is like a coffee that you only drink in the morning. Please don’t drink after 11 a.m. It’s strange and you’re a tourist.” It’s true and, sadly,  I would be embarrassed to have someone from my table order a cappuccino after dinner.

Of course understanding culture is not just about ordering a plate of pasta in Rome or knowing when to order a cappuccino. It takes getting off the beaten path and/or talking to people and maybe going a little outside of your comfort zone. In that same episode, Anthony takes the tram through the city streets. He clearly is not a fan of taking public transportation and even expresses his preference for private cars with a chauffeur, but he knows it would not be a truly Roman experience without doing as a Roman.

I travel because I want to experience new things. I want to experience old things in a new way. I want to experience things again and see if I missed anything the first time. I want to learn and grow and see other ways of doing things. I especially love traveling with my husband and son. We could take the same boat ride and come away with three different experiences and we’d all be eager to share our stories!  I hope I do their stories justice here and I hope to effectively share our cultural experiences while traveling both near and far.

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