Maybe “proud” would be an exaggeration, but I think Anthony Bourdain would at least take some satisfaction that his food series “No Reservations” has had an impact on our little army of six. From the comfort of our home in Chicago, we loved watching him on cable TV venturing to foreign lands, fearlessly sampling food and drink from exotic locales around the world. From fine restaurants in Singapore to curbside food vendors eeking out an existence on the streets of Ho Chi Min City, Bourdain’s culinary adventures were something we never thought we would get to experience first hand.
But here we are, 5 months and 9 countries later living the dream. For our children who have been raised to try everything and have a diverse palate (our ten-year old wanted sushi for her birthday dinner when she was six), Europe was the easy adventure. What’s not to like about lunches in parts of southern Switzerland not far from where the slow food movement has its roots? The most adventurous dish we tried in Europe was tripe (cow’s stomach), which is an Italian delicacy in Florence (although having tried it, I’m not quite sure why).
But now that we’re in SE Asia, the real adventure has begun. We’ve been here a month, and have slowly shed our fears of eating out of street stalls and places with questionable looking facilities. In Bangkok we started cautiously, eating almost entirely at real restaurants, not trusting anything uncooked, and questioning the water quality everywhere. Starting our first week in Southeast Asia making more trips than planned to unfamiliar bathrooms was not an experience we wanted to lead off with.
In Bali, we became more adventurous and ate at warungs whose kitchen and toilet facilities would have absolutely zero chance of passing any inspection in Europe or America. The food didn’t always appeal to our palates, but it was usually fairly tasty. Now in Yogyakarta and thanks to our trusted tour guide, Charlotte, we’ve eaten delicious dishes from chicken sate to fried duck from food stalls we really didn’t have the courage to consider before…and the food (and prices) have been great! We each went through some “digestive adjustments” before arriving in Yogya, and now that we’ve shed our reservations about what we can eat, we’re living the Bourdain lifestyle. We still use common sense when choosing what and where we eat, but our confidence as street food consumers is growing by the day.