Sunday, September 23, 2012

Reading Response 3 - "A Cook's Tour"

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.


  1. I think you did a marvelous job of evoking what Bourdain describes right in the beginning of his book: the context of the meal is what makes food memorable, not the food itself. I love the way you describe your "travel companions" and the noodle dish.

    Isn't it great when Bourdain describes plane food in the book? How true that it's only something we'll eat when we're squeezed into a small space for several hours. I admire you for choosing the risky dish!

  2. I can hear you voice in this piece really well! Something about the way you write/talk, for some reason I hear you clear in this piece.
    You've really captured the Bourdain spirit of adventure by opting for the Korean dish. I hope you will share some of your experiences in Korea with the class. I know I would love to hear about your time there. :)