Center Cut

How have I gone all this time without marrying reading Anthony Bourdain? I learned all kinds of things from Medium Raw! Bourdain loathes Alice Waters, and carries a bit of a Ruth Reichl grudge. He loves Mario Batali (in spite of his orange Crocs and the fact he hangs out with Gwyneth Paltrow) and is besties with Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin. He married an Italian named Ottavia and he dumped his heroin addiction. I just want to hang out with the guy.

Actually, I do hang out with that guy, in many forms. I like underdogs. Not just because I like a good story, I literally, usually like underdogs as people. I’ve never been much a fan of rich kids, or church kids, or perfect little principal’s kids. But, if you’re the rebel child of the principal, you’re okay with me. I tend to have more respect for people when they’ve had some experiences, dragged themselves out of shit-holes they probably created themselves (because we all do that sometimes) and then triumphed over their issues, setbacks, and deepest fears.

I don’t want to hear about your car, your travels, or your new shoes unless you’re also willing to – eventually – talk about heartbreak or if your dad made you feel like a nobody. I want to know if your mom was a drunk. Did you hate yourself in high school? Have you been abused in a relationship? The victim of a hate crime? Does Joni Mitchell, even after all these years, crack you open till you ooze longing when you hear her sing the words, “I could drink a case of you?”

This is why we should eat together, drink wine together, smoke cigarettes together, for god’s sake. It makes the world so much less scary, our fragile selves so much more tolerable.

Eating together is beautiful because it’s often messy. Your mom is not likely a three-Michelin-star chef, but I bet she comforts you with her pot roast. I bet you feel loved when you visit home on Thanksgiving and the same old stuffing recipe lands on your plate. I bet you roll your eyes and smirk internally when that one relative starts berating you for your political views.

It’ll never be perfect. But, it’s good to know that some things are stable; that there are still places you can go for nourishment when the world and her ways leave you frayed around the edges.

Go, you little underdog. Go home for Thanksgiving. Wherever that is. Whatever that means. Be with the people who make you, you, and make home, home. Eat too much. Have some wine. Get a little messy. Find out why that mess is important to you – to humanity. Share your table, your heart, your time. Fuck up, and then fix it. Anthony Bourdain would be proud.

If you learn anything though, learn this: we’re all a little raw in the center.

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Jen Cartier misses Chico! However, she has taken to the great beyond (er...The Bay Area) to be some kind of chocolate maven while simultaneously figuring out how the hell to navigate her long-ass work commute, and still kick ass at raising three munchkins, loving one soon-to-be husband, and keeping one rascally Brittany Spaniel in the damned yard. She loves Nutella, red wine, and American Spirits. She takes her dog along on runs to wear him out (sometimes he shits in someone else's yard - bonus!) and also to balance her own general consumption of all the fine tasty things life offers, ciggys included. Follow her blog at riceflourmemoirs.com