Commentary

Jersey/LBI Girl Follows in the Food-Steps of Anthony Bourdain

By VICTORIA METZ | Jun 13, 2018
Source: CNN (left) and Courtesy of Victoria Metz (right) SEAT OF HONOR: Author Victoria Metz makes it a point to have lunch once a summer, when possible, in the very same booth at Kubel’s in Barnegat Light where Anthony Bourdain dined in 2015.

I am a Jersey girl, born and raised. For four generations my family has been coming to Long Beach Island, and I’ve spent a few summers working in the Beach Haven community. About five years ago, after I graduated from college, I moved to Madrid, Spain, and have been there ever since.

One of the people who influenced me to live my life differently when I moved abroad was Anthony Bourdain. My mom and I have been fans of his shows for years. In fact, I bought her his cookbook, Appetites, A Cookbook, for Christmas a couple years ago. I was especially intrigued by the episodes that took place in Spain, hoping that I would have similar experiences when I made my home there.

Bourdain’s approach visiting places all over the world with a focus on food is what encouraged me in my method of exploration in Madrid, throughout Spain and beyond. His approach was to never be a typical tourist and always connect with the locals. It challenged me to go out of my comfort zone, try new things, and take that first step in being a little less shy and introverted. And that’s exactly what I did.

Most of the time I travel on my own, and everywhere I go I try to ask the locals or staff in the bars and restaurants what the typical cuisine is, if there is a drink specific to the region (there almost always is) or for some other recommendations. In many instances these first-step moments have led to longer conversations about the local culture, the differences in Spain versus the United States and what we all have in common. In some cases, this led to long-lasting friendships, and there are quite a few cities in Spain where I know I have friends who will be there when I return.

What I learned is that Spaniards are more than happy to talk about their regional cuisine. I’ve been down south in all parts of Andalucía, up north in Asturias or País Vasco and almost everywhere in between, and while their food and drinks can be quite different, what they have in common is the passion for talking about them. It is a country with such a diverse culinary fare, so to speak. I still have more places to see here, and I don’t intend to change the way I travel.

The experiences I had, like Bourdain’s, were not only about the pleasure of enjoying great food, but also by talking with the people who knew it best. By showing one’s curiosity, you can learn so much beyond what is on the plate in front of you. Anthony Bourdain’s refreshing, intellectual, yet down-to-earth way of traveling and eating delicious food is why I think so many people feel like they lost a friend who welcomed them into his world. He is an inspiration to me as a food lover and independent traveler, and I was devastated to hear of his passing.

My mom told me a few years ago that Bourdain did an episode on the Jersey Shore, and one of the places featured was Kubel’s in Barnegat Light. We decided to make our visit to the other end of the Island extra special. Every summer since then, if I’m home, my mom, sister and I have our tradition of going to the lighthouse and then to Kubel’s for lunch, always ordering their chowder, of course. We go at a time when it’s not so crowded, just so we get to sit in the “Bourdain booth.”

I feel like there was more he had to share with us, but I know he has had an impact that has shaped and will continue to shape the way many people view traveling and connecting with each other through food, culture and so much more.

Cheers to you, Tony.

Victoria Metz is a former summer LBI resident.

 

 

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