What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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A Cook’s Tour
by Anthony Bourdain

Field-Tested by Michael Surtees

in Edmonton, Alberta

While growing up on the prairies of Canada, I was the pickiest of eaters. Still to this day, the idea of condiments causes me great discomfort. Back then, if the food wasn’t beef or chicken, it was almost disqualified from my personal menu. By the time I had made it to University, I was slowly expanding my eating pallette, but there were still plenty of times when I would fall back on the classic staples of the food I knew.

One day, while walking through a book shop, I was drawn to A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain. I think the combination of being in a time when I wanted to expand my taste, while enjoying a writer who didn’t hold back any punches, was a lethal combination for me. Almost immediately after reading about the travels and adventures he was having while eating, it became apparent that I wanted to be in the same mindset. He was eating weird stuff in far off places and having a great time doing it. It wasn’t so much about the restaurant he was in, but the unwavering attitude that he could try anything. On a more subtle note, his attitude, for me, was that if you’re going to live, live well and have some fun while doing it. He also wasn’t going to take crap from anyone. Actually, he was always appreciative of the preparation and showed gratitude. Now that I think about it, he was complaining more about the TV network and the constraints that were being placed on him.

Because Anthony is a cook, he can write about his food experiences from a real perspective, rather than from someone who understands food from the sidelines. He knows what’s good and what isn’t without hiding any pretension. His writing is an equal combination of bad-assness, shock appeal, and appreciation from his paying years of dues in becoming a chef. That’s expressed in every adventure that he writes about his travels.

On a subconscious level, I’d like to think I’m following that same path when I observe something interesting, design-wise, that eventually finds its way on to my blog. His conversational approach has always stuck with me as much as throwing caution to the wind when I explore food options. Now when I see something that I’m not likely to see again, I go after it. There’s too much to enjoy and so little time, and through Anthony’s book, I discovered that.

Michael Surtees publishes the daily blog DesignNotes in which he tries to see life filtered through design as opposed to placing design on a pedestal. When Michael is not talking about design, he’s the design director of Daylife. Originally from Canada, he now resides in New York.

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