Bour­dain Brouhaha

Northern Pen - - Front page -

Well, the pots are long since washed and put away, the cam­eras packed up and the edit­ing suite is busy with other work. Chef and broad­caster An­thony Bour­dain has trav­elled to other parts un­known, and we’ve proven, once again, that there’s no gift horse we won’t look in the mouth.

Two week­ends ago, CNN broad­cast An­thony Bour­dain’s “Parts Un­known” episode on New­found­land. His show has been run­ning since 2013, has won five Em­mys, and is seen by hun­dreds of thou­sands of view­ers.

Sounds like a great chance to show­case some of the tourism strengths of this place out to an in­cred­i­bly broad au­di­ence, right?

Here’s the way Bour­dain set the piece up in his on­line Field Notes: “Ev­ery once in a while on ‘Parts Un­known,’ I proudly and joy­ously em­bark on a bro-tas­tic bro-ca­tion, a largely all-male ad­ven­ture in fine din­ing and ex­ces­sive drink­ing, all too of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by an un­suc­cess­ful at­tempt at hunt­ing wild game or fish­ing. And if one is to ven­ture into the wild with two gentle­men of the world, few could be bet­ter com­pan­ions in, say, the wilds of New­found­land than noted chefs, restau­ra­teurs, bons vi­vants, and racon­teurs: Dave McMil­lan and Fred Morin of Mon­tréal’s won­der­ful restau­rant Joe Beef. OK, so they are not, them­selves, New­found­lan­ders — they hail proudly from Québec. But they are en­thu­si­as­tic lovers of Canada, true pa­tri­ots, and ad­vo­cates for the unique cul­ture of New­found­land, the glo­ries of its nat­u­ral world, and its ex­cit­ing culi­nary scene in par­tic­u­lar.

“Get ready for a look at a place that is still, if not a part un­known, then cer­tainly a part un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated.”

But no good deed goes un­pun­ished.

Be­fore the pro­gram even aired, a small riot of so­cial me­dia com­plaints arose over a tweet pro­mot­ing the show that used the word “New­fie.” The tweet was taken down, apolo­gies were ex­tended for the fail­ure to rec­og­nize that the term has di­vided ac­cep­tance here, but in some ways, the die was cast.

Then, the show ar­rived.

Some peo­ple in this prov­ince liked it; some liked it a lot.

Oth­ers, well, they started a chain of on­line com­plaints. Bour­dain had mis­pro­nounced “New­found­land.” Oh no: he vis­ited St-Pierre. Worse, he brought two Quebec chefs here.

We won’t re­peat the tone of the of­fen­sive tweets peo­ple of­fered up about that choice, but suf­fice to say, if the com­plain­ers had both­ered to fully watch the show or to read how the whole project came to­gether, they might have un­der­stood why the chefs were here.

The com­plaints were broad enough to be­come their own me­dia event. Both the Globe and Mail and the Na­tional Post cov­ered the spat, lead­ing Bour­dain to dis­miss the cov­er­age as “more click­bait.”

But it is a bit of a pro­vin­cial tra­di­tion: com­plain about be­ing mis­un­der­stood, then find some­thing to at­tack.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

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