Day 8: Battle Mountain, NV and Bourdain

Well I guess Kim and Trump are in Singapore.   I have two days to put my cards on the table on Trump.   It’s probably a little early in the trip, but there can always be a part II.

This is a big deal to be talking to the head of North Korea.   I can only imagine the deal in the works — what would the US have to give up to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons?   How can you trust either guy?  — one has ordered the killing of dozens if not hundreds of people, including his own half-brother; the other has torn up just about every agreement that has governed the US relationship with other countries (albeit not ones he signed himself).

The disarray with the G-7 is alarming, certainly.   Adding Russia?

But I’ve actually been thinking more about Anthony Bourdain the last two days.   I admired him for so many things — his books were genuinely entertaining; his honesty was disarming.   He seemed to have this tremendous love of people and life.   He had an 11-year old daughter.

I remember how much I connected with his first book, Kitchen Confidential.   I had worked as a busboy / waiter / prep chef in various kitchens when I was in High School and University to earn pocket money.   These were hard environments — a lot of the chefs had served prison time; many of the waiters had dependency issues.   A lot of the drug trade seemed to be trafficked through the restaurant trade.   Food deliveries would arrive, and various people would congregate in the back to close other transactions.   They were always trying to get my fellow busboys to retail their wares in the local high school (we were all cross country runners and as clean as they come).   It was also a hard environment because generally the chefs were trying to go clean, to get really good at something, but the temptations were always close by.   They also had tempers like a Tasmanian Devil.   If I was slow to pick up an order a stream of invective would follow.   If you brought food back that the customer had complained about, “shoot the messenger” seemed to be a genuine possibility.   Bourdain captured this environment and more.

One of the things that impressed me most about Anthony is how he always spent time with the hawkers (street food vendors) in Singapore, not the big restaurants.   He would organize bake-offs against them, and generally he would lose.   The thrill in the eyes of these hawkers when they were photographed “besting” the famous Anthony Bourdain in recipes that they had been cooking probably their whole life told quite a story.   From what I could tell he was immensely popular in the “heartland” of Singapore.   Not easy for a French Chef from New York to do.

I feel deeply for his family but also so many people who had placed their aspirations with his.

Ride Summary.    Straightforward ride from Winnemucca to Battle Mountain — 54.9 miles /  88.3 km.   Our daily challenges are driven by the distance between towns.   Tomorrow is another short day, and then two 100 mile plus days.   Today the last 20 miles or so faced into a tough headwind; oh how I hope we don’t have that on Tuesday/Wednesday.

Weather.   It is actually cold in the desert — 50 degrees Fahrenheit / 8-10 degrees Celsius.   I was fine in the initial 20 miles, but after a 5 mile descent I was pretty chilled.   After that we faced into a wind and I never quite warmed up.   Fortunately we stopped at a sad casino / restaurant at about mile 54 and had a very good lunch, with hot coffee through the meal.   And I thought it would be 100 degrees in the desert.   We’ve been really lucky so far.

Song of the Day.   A week ago George Laing suggested Roll on Down the Highway by Bachman Turner Overdrive.   Since we’re riding directly on I-80, felt appropriate for today.

2 thoughts on “Day 8: Battle Mountain, NV and Bourdain

  1. I’m really sad about Anthony Bourdain, too. He made the world feel a lot closer…which is saying a lot these days.


  2. Anthony Bourdain’s death was a huge blow…and a terrible reminder of how poorly we understand and cope with mental illness. He was such a mensch and beloved by so many, and yet. And yet.

    Charlie, I loved your description of those quagmire kitchens you worked in long ago. Part good food, part cesspool! It’s been gripping to see how the #metoo movement has shined a light on all that, but of course Bourdain was the first to do it (although I don’t remember him being particularly concerned with women’s welfare).

    Now there’s a growing movement, by chefs in recovery, to create peaceful kitchens that are drug- and alcohol-free. Last week, in Portland, I went to a Zero Proof dinner by five of these chefs–every course paired with a specially crafted non-alcohol drink. It was fascinating, and delicious, and the chefs got very emotional talking to the guests about what it meant, that night, to work with colleagues who weren’t wasted halfway through.


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