Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bourdain Gets All PC about the South

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 1:03 PM

Did you see the South Carolina edition of No Reservations last night?

Anthony Bourdain and his crew filmed the episode last spring, and it finally aired on Monday night. In it was all the things we were promised — a cocktail party with the Lee Brothers, an oyster roast, a visit to Sweatman's, Gullah food, Jestine's, Hominy Grill, a Civil War reenactment, and a fox hunt.

In certain segments, namely the Hominy Grill lunch and the reenactment, the dude seemed wholly uncomfortable. What was it about Southerners that put him on edge? Perhaps the blessing before the meal at Jestine's? The two Bourdain dined with at the tourists' favorite meat-and-three restaurant were billed as "local food writers." As far as I can recall, Tim Driggers and Aida Rogers write about restaurants for the Sandlapper magazine. Does that even qualify as food writing? I have to say, though, it was a pretty hilarious segment — Driggers was bizarre: he said a prayer; he brought his Stooges and Ramones records, and he said crap like, "Gabba Gabba Gabba" (or some shit, I can't remember verbatim). And Aida looked mortified when he suggested they say a blessing. Cutie pie Cary Ann Hearst waited on their table and sold them the yummy Coca-Cola cake.

Matt and Ted Lee did an admirable job showing Bourdain around, although we balked at my house when we saw the teaser for the oyster segment and they were DRINKING CHAMPAGNE AT AN OYSTER ROAST!!! My husband called bullshit instantaneously, screaming curses and invective.

Being a fan of the Lee boys, I calmed him down, promising him that Matt and Ted would definitely cop to it being a conceit. Everyone knows you don't drink champagne at an oyster roast (even if bubbly does go well). Sure enough, when Matt popped the cork and poured it into the mason jars, he admitted that you'd traditionally be drinking beer at a real oyster roast. Whew. Thanks for redeeming yourself, Matt. You almost lost me there.

The Gullah segment was my favorite, when Bourdain dined at Gullah Grub on Frogmore stew with the Green family of St. Helena Island. That felt authentic and unforced. (Click here for an article about it by, of all people, Tim Driggers that appeared in, of all places, the Sandlapper!) The Civil War stuff was just weird, and even though he made a few jabs about reenactors being somewhere on the nerd continuum between stamp collectors and Trekkies, he really refrained from ridiculing their pasttime, much to my disappointment.

See Bourdain's behind-the-scenes pics here.

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