Around middle school, my class started using National Geographic for reading material and all sorts of class projects and discussions. This is what got me addicted. I saw all of these amazing pictures of places that seemed to come right out of a storybook and come to find out, these landscapes and people actually existed.
Because of this amazing publication my dream job was to become a photographer for National Geographic. I thought that if I could master the art of photography then I too would be able to capture the magic that this world has to offer. That dream has gone down the drain since I realized that I do not have the amazing talent needed for the job, but Anthony Bourdain has sparked a new flame in my heart. He may possibly have a more amazing job then the photographers. He gets paid to travel around the world tasting food in search of the perfect meal. Can you find anything better than that? I can’t.
To me, food is the essence of culture. It is what brings people together. There is a bonding experience when people come together over a shared meal. Bourdain is able to have countless experiences with the people he meets along his journey. When I was headed to South Korea, I was lucky enough to sit by a college student on her way back to China for summer break and an elementary kid visiting his grandparents in Korea for a few weeks. Both had taken this flight before and knew the routine, which was comforting to a 15-year-old on not only her first transcontinental flight, but also my first flight alone. We received a few meals on the 14 hour-long flight and I was already ready to get the full Korean cultural experience. Having a choice between some sort of turkey meal and a Korean dish, I opted for the second. I had absolutely no idea what to do when the flight attendant brought me a steaming bowl of noodles covered in bean sprouts, carrots, shallots, and beef. Accompanying this, she also handed me a packet of red sauce and chopsticks. I also got asked if I would like a fork which I quickly accepted thinking I was too far in over my head already and I hadn’t even gotten to my destination. Thankfully, my two new friends were more than willing to help me out. With my fork in hand – the chopsticks were just not even an option at this point, being too overwhelming – I ended up devouring my meal.
When ever I think back to that flight, I don’t remember the cramped legs, or multiple movies watched or even how I’m sure I went crazy for a moment or two thinking I would never get off that plane. No, I remember the laughs of my companions as I ate my pizza pocket snack, spilling the red sauce all over my tray table, or how I could handle the heat of that little, seemingly innocent packet of red sauce I doused my noodles in.
Who wouldn’t want to have these experiences all over the world with all sorts of people? I know I would not mind that at all.