Saturday, January 2, 2010

Anthony Bourdain in Hawaii

If you’re ever preparing for travels around the world, you might want to ask yourself “what would Anthony Bourdain do?” He’s traveled to so many places around this great planet, and while thinking about my imminent trip to Hawaii I remembered that yes, Bourdain has already been there. A quick search on YouTube provided the five parts of his show in Hawaii, and I’ve posted them here for your viewing pleasure. While I won’t make it to most of the destinations featured on the show, it’s always great to get Bourdain’s perspective on a place, with his dry sense of humor and honest thoughts on a location’s culture, food, and people.

In part one of five, Bourdain arrives, purchases a Hawaiian shirt, and shares his thoughts on Jimmy Buffet, remarking “Anywhere I go, anywhere there’s a palm tree or a ski slope, Jimmy Buffet’s been there first…I hear that damn Lost in Margaritaville song in every good bar in the world. He’s personally ruined my life.” Then he tries a puka dog, which I will definitely be checking out as there is a puka dog shop about ten minutes walking distance from my hotel. Bourdain then sits down to a meal at Ono’s Hawaiian Food with a friend.

Part two features the end of the meal at Ono’s, where his friend discusses how Hawaiian food came to be. Then Bourdain meets with some of the greatest chefs in Hawaii who all congregate at the Side Street Inn for a delicious meal. One guest is Alan Wong, a revered chef whose restaurant I am dying to try during my trip. Next it’s on to the North Shore of Oahu, where he meets with surfer Derek Donner. As Donner explains surfing to Bourdain, he remarks “You can gain a lot of knowledge, or you can run for your life.” They also share a meal at the house of Peter Cole, a surfing legend who started surfing at the North Shore in the 1950s and still continues to this day.

In part three they finish up lunch and then Bourdain is off to try some Spam at the Uptown Fountain. In Hawaii Spam is still very popular, and the islands consume up to four million cans of Spam a year. Among the many Spam delicacies are items like Spam sushi, which features Spam and fried rice wrapped in seaweed. According to Bourdain, it’s delicious. Tiki drinks with Don the Beach Comber at La Mariana come next as Bourdain indulges in Mai Tais and Zombies. Then Bourdain is invited to a backyard luau in a working-class neighborhood in Honolulu where he gets to try local, home-made food.

Part four brings Bourdain to the eastern edge of the Big Island of Hawaii, where the most active volcano in the world, Kilauea, has completely destroyed a once thriving neighborhood. Only one man remains—Jack Thompson, who shares a plate lunch with Bourdain at his home. As they look around the desolate landscape, Bourdain dryly asks “No Starbucks here? I was hoping for a mochaccino.”

The final part of the show features Bourdain embracing Hawaiian tourism at its best—the pre-packaged luau. I was glad to see that Bourdain seemed to truly enjoy the whole spectacle as I’m planning to visit one such luau on my final night in Oahu. Enjoy the show!

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