Honoring Anthony Bourdain and his impact on our table


The sad news of Anthony Bourdain’s passing has left the world in shock. In honor of the culinary legend, let one of idea guide your dinner tonight.

Chef, television personality and pop culture icon, Anthony Bourdain has passed away. The news shocked not just the culinary world. While I never met the culinary legend, my family’s dinner tonight will reflect a lesson that I learned from watching Bourdain’s shows and reading his book. Food brings people together rather than divide us.

Whether you liked or disliked Bourdain’s commentary or programming, the theme of many of his shows highlighted how food is universal. Of course, every culture has a different approach to food. Whether it is a flavorful curry or a simple meat and potatoes, the food itself is just a vehicle for something bigger.

(Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for The New Yorker)

Food, when shared around the table, brings people together. People may disagree on flavors, ingredients, preferences and ideals. Still, the table is the place for everyone to gather. The food brings the conversation to the table. We can agree or disagree, but food unites us.

In today’s controversial and difficult world, those precious moments around the table can be the time to reconnect. Of course, people gather together over holiday dinners and special occasions. But, those occasions don’t have to the only gatherings.

Think back to the old school potluck dinners or neighborhood parties. Sure, one neighbor might have brought a horrible gelatin mold, but did anyone ask why she brought that dish. Maybe that dish has a special meaning to her family. What about the tamales that are a recipe handed down through a family? The food can spark a conversation about something more than what is just on the plate.

The gathering table can provide nourishment far beyond the food on the plate. In my house, the nightly dinner is a time to put phones away and talk about the day. While other people may not want to share the three best parts of their day, it can be a time to talk about life. That simple conversation is just as important as the food on the plate.

With the tragic passing of Anthony Bourdain, a difficult topic could be part of the food/table conversation. Depression is a horrible disease. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression or is contemplating suicide, please talk to someone or call the Suicide Prevention Hotline.

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Tonight, I hope that our table will be filled with stories, memories and togetherness. Over the weekend, we might watch episodes of

Parts Unknown

. But, I take with me the simple lesson that food has brought and will continue to bring people into my life. May that togetherness bind us in hope and stop the broadening divide.