Alex: Mommy, if Anthony Bourdain came over to dinner at our house, do you think he would like your food?
Me: I think he would, but he might need to go eat some pork belly or lobster fat afterwards.
I actually have a few things I wanted to say to Mr. Bourdain:
After watching No Reservations and Parts Unknown I became a huge fan of you. So I was thrilled when I discovered that you have another show on Netflix. But after I watched five episodes I was a bit disappointed. I was hoping that in The Layover, you would eat, for a change, something other than pork bellies and towers of shellfish. Sometime during one of the episodes (I think the one in Philadelphia) my gut told me that even you, Tony, are not really comfortable and enthusiastic about eating some of these unappetizing, artery-clogging, greasy dishes, but that you ate them anyway to maintain your cool, carnivorous facade. Or perhaps I am projecting.
Tony, I’m not saying you should change your eating and drinking habits. (I wish I had your immune system! If I consumed even half the amount of alcohol and animal products you do, I would be buried by now next to my sister.) But if you make a new show, it would be great to expose and introduce your audience to new dishes. It wouldn’t ruin your reputation if you eat other things than those long, shit-looking sausages and bulls’ testicles.
Come on, Tony, how could you visit the Mecca of healthy food and ignore (was it on purpose?) the excellent vegan restaurants/choices that L.A. offers?! You don’t have to be a sikh or Gwyneth Paltrow’s personal trainer to try vegetarian or vegan food. (If I didn’t already live in Los Angeles, I would love to find out about places like Crossroad Kitchen, Gracias Madre or Sage Vegan Bistro.) Don’t misunderstand me, I love Korean and Vietnamese cuisines, but you already covered those in your previous shows.
Tony, I love your straightforwardness, sincerity, and your sense of humor, but enough with the poor pigs! Give that intelligent animal a break, and maybe your liver too!
I don’t know how you do it. How can you travel all over the world, suffer jet lag, sit for hours on a plane, eat tons of unhealthy food, drink gallons of alcohol, and still manage to stay healthy? You must have God’s own immune system.
I challenge you to make (with me, please!) a show without pork or lobster, or, even better, without animals. (You can use dairy and eggs.) I know you think I’m a crazy, health-obsessed bitch from California. I am probably all that, sometimes, but, just so you know, I grew up in a Moroccan home in Israel, where meat was served every day for lunch. As a child, I ate braised cow tongue and belly buttons, I sucked on chicken neck bone, and begged my mother to make any type of liver for lunch. I think I ate every part of the cow except its brain. Of course, growing up in a Jewish home, we didn’t eat pork or shellfish (although my dad did introduce me to shrimp at a young age.) I was introduced to sashimi as a teenager in the early nineties. Uni was one of my favorites. I also lived a third of my life in New York City, and three years in Spain, the Land of Jamon.
So you see, Tony, I have been places, cooked endless meals, and dined in a kazillion restaurants, but after I discovered how we treat and kill animals, I decided to stop buying meat that wasn’t raised respectfully, without exception. I am still not as strict a vegetarian as I would like to be, but I know it will happen eventually. We don’t have to eat meat every day. I’m sure you don’t. I think it would be incredible if you didn’t encourage people to eat so much meat, or at least stop being so cynical about organic, grass-fed, free-range meat. Nobody will think that you’re any less cool. Maybe even cooler, if such a thing is possible. It would be a good thing to do for our obese society and our sick environment.
Think about it. I’m not saying kale juices and chia puddings – just no piggies, shellfish and sausages.
I’m sure when AB is at home, with his lovely wife and daughter, and no cameras around, he eats greens and plenty of vegetables.
Anyway, after a week in Vegas I came back home with a serious craving to clean, green food. I didn’t eat junk in Vegas but I didn’t eat plenty of vegetables and herbs like I normally do at home.
I used kale, but feel free to use any leafy green you like, such as spinach, collard greens, swiss chard, etc. Same with the basil: replace it with another herb, such as cilantro or parsley. (But don’t be tempted to put in more than a small handful of parsley. Raw parsley, when it’s blended or processed, it has a very strong flavor.) You can also make it with sunflower seeds, or nuts, such as cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, or pine nuts – but before you add them to the food processor, soak them in water for a minimum of ten minutes and drain the water.
- a small bunch of lacinato kale (about 10 leaves) or any kale
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup basil leaves
- 1 medium garlic clove, peeled
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ lemon (optional)
- Chili flakes (optional)
- Soak the kale in water to remove sand or insects for a few minutes. Meanwhile put the pumpkin seeds into a large skillet over medium-low heat or toast them in a toaster oven on 300ºF until they have brownish spots – don't let them burn! Transfer the seeds to a small bowl or plate. Drain the kale and roughly chop it. Preheat the same skillet and add in the chopped kale. Sauté over high heat for 5 minutes. Add water if the water from the kale has dried out completely. Remove from the heat and let cool a bit before you put it into the food processor.
- Wash the basil, dry, and put it in the food processor with the garlic. Add the kale, pumpkin seeds, olive oil and salt, and process into a sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add ¼ cup of the pasta cooking liquid or water. Taste and correct seasoning. Serve over spaghetti, or the pasta of your choice, with squeezed lemon juice and crushed chili. Garnish with basil if you like.