Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
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This week’s musings come from my colleague Linda Poon:
Anthony Bourdain would have turned 62 this week. This was a man who had inspired a whole generation of hungry travelers; wherever he went, he had a way with locals. Growing up, my brothers and I regarded him as the worldly, badass uncle we wished we had had.
I got the notification telling me about his death just as my plane touched ground in San Francisco. I had been in Seoul for two weeks. It was a trip of firsts: first overseas assignment; first time being in a place where I didn’t speak the language. Unconsciously, perhaps, I followed Bourdain’s lead in Korea—eating with locals to understand the nuances of that rich culture. Along with the sizzling strips of mackerel and colorful bowls of bibimbap, I took in the social dynamics that played out around the table: The hospitality, as one friend laid out the utensils for the rest of the table; the show of respect, as the youngest person poured drinks for everyone else; the cultural pride, as my new friends taught me how to properly wrap pork belly inside a piece of fresh lettuce.
Looking back, I realized how much I'd learned from Bourdain just by watching him. To experience a new place as a traveler, and not merely a tourist, is about more than consuming. It’s about listening and learning.
Has a meal (or a series of meals) changed your relationship with a place? If so, tell me about it at email@example.com.
What we’ve been writing:
Other stories from us: Who counts? A beautifully illustrated history of the U.S. Census. ¤ “The defining characteristic of the straw is the emptiness inside it. This is the stuff of tragedy, and America.” ¤ What was life like in the 1960s in Averagetown, USA? ¤ D.C.’s new memorial honoring Native-American veterans is “unlike anything else that’s currently on the National Mall.”¤ The gay pride parade, coming to a small town near you. ¤ Searching for community in Songdo, South Korea. ¤ The biggest thrill of America’s boutique fitness craze is “the feeling that you’re in control of that journey of transformation—and by extension, maybe your life! Maybe even the world!” ¤ Say hello to the snake catchers of Madurai. ¤
What we’ve been taking in:
“Long after the accepted date of extinction, Tasmanians kept reporting that they’d seen the animal.” (New Yorker) ¤ A woman from Saudi Arabia raps in celebration of being able to drive. (Indy) ¤ “I was among the crowd when the “God of Football” (as most Indian papers piously anointed Messi) came to earth in Kolkata.” (Roads & Kingdoms) ¤ The super-selective cuisine of the world’s most remote food destination. (New Yorker) ¤ “The smell though, was sweet and pleasant, a blend of chewing gum and new clothes. ‘That was the smell of America and I liked it.’”(Narratively) ¤ A motorcycle journey to four Syrian borders. (Granta) ¤
Over and out,