Terrible Weekend

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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  • greg says:

    good column, and with good dining to help digest the grief.

  • Patti says:

    Ruth, thank you so much for your email today. I have only been a fan of Anthony Bourdain’s, but I really have been saddened and upset since I heard the news of his death. I have read all of his books, and seen all of his shows. I even own a lot of his shows on DVD, and watch them over and over again for enjoyment and food inspiration. He felt like my funny, snarky, and wise friend – even though I never met him. He was just so vibrant and alive – it really is hard to believe that he is gone. Thank you for helping us all to cope and process this profound loss. I truly hope that if anyone who is reading this is hurting, that they reach out for help. Peace, Patti

  • Gerlinde says:

    Thank you foe helping us with grief of loosing Antony Bourdain . He was such an interesting character and shared his demoes with all of us. May he rest in peace. The oysters look great. I have to check out those interesting workshops.

  • Gerlinde says:

    Oh my god, I just saw all the mistakes I made. Please remove both comments. Thank you.


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