Parts Unknown

Remembering Anthony Bourdain

Sunday nights will never be the same.

By Judi Gallagher June 13, 2018

Anthony Bourdain

Image: Shutterstock

Sunday nights will never be the same now that Anthony Bourdain has died.

Where do we go from here? Every week, we invited the chef, author and television host into our living rooms. We learned about people, politics and community via steaming bowls of noodles and cold beers. We bonded over the human experience.

Bourdain was our culinary poet laureate. We traveled with him on Sundays on Parts Unknown. As part of my personal ritual, I would jump into my pajamas with a sip of wine or a plate of cheese by my side. Through Bourdain I, too, could experience the glamour and grit of both faraway places and cities close to home. 

Anthony Bourdain with former President Barack Obama in Hanoi on Parts Unknown.

But it wasn't all poetry. Though we celebrated each bite Bourdain took, perhaps we should not have turned our eyes away from the heavy drinking of someone in recovery from addiction; someone who openly struggled with his demons. 

There's a history of suicide in my own family. My grandfather died by suicide, as did two of his sons, and his third son—my father—attempted to kill himself several times. Depression is dark, painful and confusing. But now is the time to speak out—to share a meal with someone at risk, to talk to a family member who struggles to understand, to openly discuss mental health issues. I didn't know about my grandfather's and uncles' suicides until I was 26 years old and a new parent. "How could my mother not tell us?" I wondered at the time.

Well, most likely because my family simply didn't discuss topics like that. All I knew was that my father went for a "rest" in the hospital every summer while my mother loved on her children and summoned her strength by eating steaming bowls of mashed potatoes with gravy in the hospital cafeteria while my siblings and I, unaware of what was actually going on, gathered around her. 

Even at that young age, I understood the power of sharing a bowl of warm, comforting food with another person. And while suicide is so hard to make sense of, we must all find a reserve of compassion in us for those struggling with mental illness. The day Bourdain died, I sat down with a dear chef friend to roast a chicken and bake a cake. I needed to do something, and stirring a pan gravy and sifting flour seemed so logical. We ate together, talked about our sadness and reflected on a life ended too soon. The world wasn't ready to say good-bye to Anthony Bourdain. The families of suicide victims never are.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at (800) 273-TALK (8255), or the Suicide Crisis Line, at (800) 784-2433, or text 741741.

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