Ode to Bourdain

Photo by David S. Holloway/Courtesy CNN

Anthony Bourdain was my hero. The news of his death in the food world felt like the loss of Jerry Garcia to live music fans – a comparison that Tony would fucking despise. He showed me how to eat from New Orleans to Hanoi to Peoria, Illinois, by tracking down the very best thing, the food that is unique to wherever you are in the world, and enjoying the shit out of it. Talking to the cooks, hearing their stories, learning the recipes. To me it is the greatest way to travel.

He dispensed advice on pretty much everything with definitive authority and we listened, because he was always right. In the spirit of Tony B. and in honor of Curveball, here is my guide for How To Eat At Music Festivals.

  1. Remember to eat food and drink water. This may seem painfully fucking obvious, but indulge me as your resident Jewish Mother for one minute. There’s no better way to ruin a precious festival day than getting dehydrated, sick, and spun, all because you were too busy guzzling drugs and alcohol to have a taco and some gatorade.

  2. While you’re at it, try to eat a vegetable and/or fruit at some point over the course of 72 hours.

  3. Pack snacks, even if you don’t plan on campsite cooking and eating only festival food all weekend. You will need emergency rations at some point.

  4. Now the fun part! Survey the scene… Read the fest guide to find out what vendors will be there, or just go in blind and take a lap. Follow your nose, see what looks good. Before you commit, stand by the vendor and creep on people’s food to see how yummy it looks. If you’re going to take food photos, please do it in good light or don’t bother.

  5. If you find the world’s best pizza, I give you permission to go back again and again, but otherwise EXPLORE! Try new stuff for every meal, you never know what you might find.

  6. Some of the best eats and drinks are on lot, so wander around and make friends. When you see something special, ask questions. The passion for live music and good food are inextricably linked- we just have good taste in everything, what can we say – so you’re going to find endless treats at a Phish fest in particular to be sure.

  7. Be generous with your neighbors and they will return the favor. Preferably park next to a bunch of Vermonters so you can shake down their heady beer stash. If you luck out camping next to us, we’ll be bartering with It’s Ice Cold Brew by @smokingtedsbbq.

  8. Stop by WaterWheel at every show to check out the local nonprofits and throw a buck in the jar. If you’re merching out, you’ll usually score a Ben & Jerry’s pint coupon too! B&J’s always have a presence at the big Phish gatherings so track them down for a free scoop.

  9. Tony was notorious for his virulent hatred of vegetarians, so he’s rolling over in his grave right now, but here you go: don’t eat meat. Or at least not at every meal- it is the sustainable choice for your body and the planet. Gordo is vegetarian and so are many people in the Phish community, so you can expect the crème de la crème of veggie options.

  10. You’re on vacation, so feel free to eat whatever the fuck you want. You don’t have to listen to me – after eating my way through hundreds of festivals, what do I know?

Bourdain touched thousands of people all over the world with his humor, insight, and joie de vivre. He inspired me to share my love of life and obsession with food, forever sending people in the direction of their next best meal. And if I can ever be remembered for that, I will die happy.

 

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