“[Anthony] Bourdain doesn’t concern himself about whether the food is too much for his ‘tummy’—as [Megan Ogilvie gripes—he explores and situates the cuisine within Trinidad’s history: doubles, roti, fish, kibbeh, pastelles, souse, callaloo, crab and dumplings… the delicious and unique list goes on.”
The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by senior lecturer and barrister Dr Emir Crowne, BA, LLB, LLM, LLM, PhD, LEC:
Last night CNN aired the much-awaited episode of Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Parts Unknown’, filmed in Trinidad. He explored the pan yard, the river lime, the Bayshore elite, drug trafficking, the 1990 coup and calinda (stick fighting). It was an honest, if brief, insight into our culture.
He calls indentured servitude “slavery by another name.” A shocking revelation and ego bruise to some, refreshing honesty to the rest of us.
His dinner with the Sabga-Aboud’s will upset Trinidadians for about three days; but then we’ll get hungry.
In each instance, he seamlessly connected those interviews and experiences with food. Unlike the Toronto Star’s Megan Ogilvie, and her culturally inept examination of chicken roti, Bourdain understands that food is intimately connected to culture.
Bourdain doesn’t concern himself about whether the food is too much for his “tummy”—as Ogilvie gripes—he explores and situates the cuisine within Trinidad’s history: doubles, roti, fish, kibbeh, pastelles, souse, callaloo, crab and dumplings… the delicious and unique list goes on.
Sometimes it takes an outsider to remind us that we have more in common than we think. For too long we have been divided along racial and even religious lines. And we allowed it to happen. Bourdain—and the social media reaction to Ogilvie’s roti-gate—remind us that food unites us. It is part of a common (albeit recent) cultural heritage, that we can, and should, use to rebuild and unite a fragmented society.