June 12, 2018
Like almost everyone in the food community, I’ve spent the past few days mourning Tony Bourdain. He wasn’t a close friend, but I’ve known him for at least twenty years and watched, gratefully, as he changed the food landscape. More than anyone, he was the person who persuaded a wide swath of Americans that food is much more important than merely something to eat. He went beyond the delicious to demonstrate that it’s one of the fundamental ways we connect with one another. He made it his mission to prove that food is really about community and politics, about economics, the environment, culture and history.
He mattered, and it’s almost impossible to believe that he’s gone.
I was on Cape Cod when the news arrived, speaking at a charity function for a wonderful institution called We Can dedicated to helping women in transition at difficult points in their lives. We were, of course, talking about food and community. And as I went out, alone, to walk along the beach in the early morning, thinking about Tony, I was glad to be there. I wished there had been someplace Tony could have reached out to when he was in so much pain.
Then I drove to Truro, to a workshop at another wonderful institution, The Castle Hill Center for the Arts. There for a writing workshop, we were all so sad that we dedicated our time to Tony’s work. We began by reading his first seminal piece for the New Yorker, and then some pieces from Gourmet. I especially like this one.
And then, of course, we ate. It seemed appropriate to celebrate Tony’s life with food. Here are a few highlights.
Fried belly clams. There are dozens of places to get them on the Cape. My favorite in Wellfleet is PJ’s. (These are not theirs – I forgot to take that picture. These are from another place down the road, whose name I neglected to write down. But it’s hard to find bad fried clams on the Cape.)
Baked Wellfleet oysters from Terra Luna restaurant – one of the coziest, friendliest restaurants you’ll ever find. They describe their food as “rustic neo-pagan” which seemed just about perfect for that moment.
A plate of homemade salumi from Ceraldi’s – the most ambitious and impressive restaurant in the area. They’re making their own coppa, pancetta, bresaola – and that bagna cauda beneath the radish was really delicious. (As was everything we ate in a long meal, from crisp local oysters with samphire, to locally raised chicken and a rhubarb panna cotta.)
Had more fried clams on the way home. And then, back in Hudson, stopped in at Oak Pizzeria Napoletana for a wood-fired clam pizza. Seemed like a fitting end to this particular journey.
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