What Anthony Bourdain Taught Us About Exploring Culture Through Food

best anthony bourdain quotes


The world just lost an icon. Anthony Bourdain, the rebel of the culinary world and one of the most influential storytellers of our time, tragically committed suicide at the age of 61. Bourdain inspired young cooks and hungry travelers for nearly two decades with his passionate and open-minded thirst for diving into the unknown. There’s no one else like him.

He’s the person who inspired me to eat tripe sandwiches in the Mercado Central of Florence and pig knuckle in Berlin. He gave our travel editor Libby Ryan the guts to drink a shot of rakija before hiking up a mountain in Montenegro.

Bourdain was an ever-present example for how to do the job of telling stories from around the world — and do it well. His rough optimism and openness is a model for all of us telling stories about food and travel. He made it seem possible (and necessary) to travel with compassion, and we’re so grateful for the lessons he left us to use as we keep exploring, eating and experiencing the world. Below are some of our favorite Bourdain quotes.

1. About Risk

“Good food and good eating are about risk.”

2. About Scars

“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

3. About Enjoying Life

“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

4. About Indulging

“To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.”

5. About Trying New Things

“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonald’s? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”

6. About Mistakes

“An ounce of sauce covers a multitude of sins.”

7. About Roughing It

“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel — as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them — wherever you go.”

8. About Community

“You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.”

9. About Movement

“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”

10. About Travel

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

11. About Legacy

“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”

Swirled Travel Editor Libby Ryan contributed to this story.


9 Weird Facts You Didn’t Know About Anthony Bourdain 

Here’s Anthony Bourdain’s Favorite Restaurant

10 Quotes That Will Inspire You To Save Money For Your Next Trip