“There’s a glamour element to [food and travel shows]. ‘Oh, you should be over here, check out these popular spots,'” Radas says. “Tony, he was really able to stay as true to the cultures as he possibly could. That’s a lot different from anything anyone else was doing.”
An episode where Bourdain visited your absolute No. 1, first-round draft pick travel destination would still only be the second-best episode you could watch. The first would be one where he visited your hometown, or at least a place you know deeply and love. You know how your home looks in real life, and you know how other people’s homes look on his shows. So if you were lucky enough to see how your own home looks through the same lens -- with a narrative, with a soundtrack, with someone pointing to the small good things and verbalizing how they are special -- you can arrive, sort of algebraically, at a much closer idea of what other people’s homes are like in real life, too; what the equivalent of this or that would be in your own city. Bourdain, who devoted episodes to the Bronx, New Mexico, Los Angeles’ Koreatown, the Mississippi Delta, Nashville, Miami, Cape Cod, Chicago, coal-country West Virginia -- it goes on -- knew this. It is the very best thing he gave us: not just what it is to see the world, but what it is to be at home.