PLAYBOY: What advice can you give to a man who wants to impress a woman with his cooking?
BOURDAIN: Learn how to cook a fucking omelet. I mean, what nicer thing can you do for somebody than make them breakfast? You look good doing it, and it’s a nice thing to do for somebody you just had sex with. I think it’s good for the world. It’s a good thing all around. It’s easy. If you’re a screaming, fucking asshole a woman would regret sleeping with, then you will probably never be able to make an omelet. The way you make an omelet reveals your character.
PLAYBOY: In your travels have you encountered aphrodisiacal foods?
BOURDAIN: No such thing exists. In Asia I can’t tell you how many times in my life they’ve said, “We have something very special for you,” accompanied by various embarrassing boner-signifying hand motions. No such thing exists.
PLAYBOY: What things have been passed off to you as aphrodisiacs?
BOURDAIN: Anything wriggling, anything with a dick or balls, parts of endangered species, animals still alive. Like you’re supposed to get some towering hard-on right away, go home and impregnate whoever falls into your path. But it’s all a myth.
PLAYBOY: What do you have against vegetarians?
BOURDAIN: They make for bad travelers and bad guests. The notion that before you even set out to go to Thailand, you say, “I’m not interested,” or you’re unwilling to try things that people take so personally and are so proud of and so generous with, I don’t understand that, and I think it’s rude. You’re at Grandma’s house, you eat what Grandma serves you.
PLAYBOY: Apparently you have a special loathing for vegans.
BOURDAIN: I don’t have any understanding of it. Being a vegan is a first-world phenomenon, completely self-indulgent.
PLAYBOY: In restaurants, if you don’t like a dish, do you send it back?
BOURDAIN: Never. I’ll still tip 20 percent and I’ll be polite, but I won’t come back.
PLAYBOY: There’s a controversy about foie gras, which is often made with livers of geese that have been force-fed. Should it be banned?
BOURDAIN: I’ll say this on foie gras: I don’t know any chef who would buy the kind of foie gras that is produced the way they show in those PETA films. No restaurant I know of would buy the product of a stressed-out, terrified, abused goose or duck. That equals bad foie gras. But it’s a straw-man issue to start with, because every duck and goose raised for foie gras in this country, at least that I know of, lives a far more luxurious, happier, better life than any chicken ever killed for the Colonel or Popeye’s, as the PETA people well know. They’re picking on foie gras because it’s French, it’s expensive, most people haven’t had it and it looks ugly in the scary films they show. It’s a French thing, and you know those French.…
PLAYBOY: Do you eat shark fin or fish that are endangered?
BOURDAIN: I won’t eat shark fin. Well, if I find myself at a Chinese banquet where I’m the guest of honor, and it is served to me by a proud Chinese host, okay, I’ll soldier along and I’ll eat. But it’s incredibly cruel. It’s wasteful. They cut the fins off and throw the shark back in. And yeah, I respect those chef friends of mine who have decided they’re going to serve only sustainable fish. There are only so many fish in the sea.
PLAYBOY: What wines do you drink?
BOURDAIN: I don’t care about big and expensive wines anymore. I like rough trade when it comes to wine—whatever the local wine is.
PLAYBOY: What if you’re in a high-end restaurant in New York? What do you order?
BOURDAIN: I like Côtes du Rhône. But generally the wines that give me the most pleasure these days are young, inexpensive and local. I don’t care if you’re talking Paris, I’m not a wine snob. I don’t care if it’s $2 or $2,000. I’m happy.
BOURDAIN: The same with beer. I mean, major American beers taste like piss. Usually I’m not a craft-beer guy. I get a lot of shit from viewers who are like, “I saw you drinking a Heineken.” It’s perfectly good beer. It’s not the best beer in the world by a fucking long shot, but there are better things to do in this world than be a beer nerd. There are some craft brewers I really, really admire, though. I think the Dogfish Head guys are doing God’s work. But even if I usually don’t drink it, I admire somebody who drinks shitty beer. If you can sit there drinking a pitcher of Bud Light all day and be happy, you know what? I’m happy for you.
PLAYBOY: What do you think about the highly caffeinated and alcoholic drinks like Four Loko that have landed some kids in the hospital?
BOURDAIN: Caffeine and liquor together? What’s the fucking problem here? Unless you put teddy bears on the front and say it’s for kids, what’s the problem? Kids shouldn’t be drinking this shit in the first place. I’ll drink my Red Bull and my vodka in separate glasses. Is that the problem? It’s not an issue I care about, honestly, but it’s an indicator of how politically incorrect and how stupid we are that idiots drink this shit in the first place.
PLAYBOY: Do you like Red Bull?
BOURDAIN: It tastes like warm urine, but I drink it regularly. If I’m doing a public speaking gig and I’ve been going from city to city and I’m exhausted and I want to get fucked up enough to sort of feel a little casual and comfortable, back in my dressing room I’ll alternate between Red Bulls and beer, trying to find that perfect zone.
PLAYBOY: Is that combination your buzz of choice these days?
BOURDAIN: Yeah. Well, I’ll smoke weed when I’m on the road.
PLAYBOY: Why only on the road?
BOURDAIN: When I’m in New York, I’m a dad. I’m with my daughter, or I have to be available for her, and I want to keep an active brain. If somebody suddenly calls up and says, “Your daughter needs you,” and I’m in a position to do something about it, I’m not going to be, like, “Oh, dude, wow, what do I do?” If I’m sitting in the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Desert, though, and it’s two in the morning, we’ve finished shooting with a tribe of bedouins and my crew and I want to stagger up a dune and smoke some hash and look at the moon, that’s a nice thing. Who is it hurting?
PLAYBOY: Do you use any other drugs?
BOURDAIN: I’ve kind of burned all my bridges there. I can’t do heroin. I like it, but I can’t do it. I’m an addict and there’s no fucking way.
PLAYBOY: According to many experts on addiction, addicts can’t smoke pot or drink, but you do.
BOURDAIN: Yeah, well, they say you can’t.
PLAYBOY: But you can? What makes you different?
BOURDAIN: Vanity. Vanity and self-regard.