Before his tragic death, Anthony Bourdain visited many parts of Louisiana, including Lafayette, Eunice, and Breaux Bridge, just this past Mardi Gras season. This Sunday, the Jefferson St. Pub will host a viewing of Anthony Bourdain’s last visit to Cajun Country for his CNN travel show “Parts Unknown.”
The communal viewing was the brainchild of Jessica Goff, a Louisiana transplant by way of Florida. Goff reached out to Social Entertainment Productions the morning news broke of Bourdain’s death.
“Everyone was stunned. Everyone is still pretty stunned,” Goff said in an email. “it was just kind of an ‘OK, what do we do?’ moment. I knew the “Parts Unknown: Cajun Mardi Gras” episode was almost a week away. The world lost a brilliant individual, but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate his career and his time here exploring South Louisiana. So, a public party seemed like a good idea.”
The episode is slated to include the Courir in Mamou, a Crawfish boil, Zydeco shows, and boudin and cracklins from Billy’s in Opelousas. A previous visit featured a traditional boucherie, Bourdain narrating the pig’s journey from shotgun target to menu item.
Like Bourdain was, Goff is a storyteller. She’s worked for myriad regional media outlets over the years.
“He didn't set out to be a journalist, but he sure made a heck of a good one. He wrote what he knew,” said Goff. “The man knew the culinary world from its most humble back kitchen, line cook origins all the way up to the top of the industry. And what he didn't know, he explored. That's what made him a great journalist. His desire to learn more not just about food, but about the culture and people who prepared it taught us so much. And he made it look so cool.”
During his last visit to South Louisiana, Bourdain would don the Courir mask and colorful, tattered clothing the locals wore.
“We know South Louisiana is a culinary destination. The world knows it. But Bourdain came to Acadiana because that is how you explore a region. You don't fly in, don't scoop it off the top of a big city and serve it up as a journey into culinary tradition," said Goff. "You visit the back roads, small towns, the kitchens of families and the restaurants owned by families who have served generations of local folks. Bourdain connected with Acadiana because it was everything he loved. It's rich with history, culture, grease and grit. And it knows how to throw some of the best dinner parties in the world."
The episode is sure to prove bittersweet, but Goff said she hopes the Jefferson St. Pub viewing can honor Bourdain’s work and Acadiana’s exposure and serve as catharsis.
“One thing we do pretty well here is find something to celebrate,” said Goff. “And seeing so many folks and places we know featured in the upcoming Parts Unknown episode is special and worth celebrating. It obviously brings an unexpected, somber significance now that he's gone. But whether it's someone we admired from afar or know in our personal lives, a life cut short should force us to look a little closer at each other.
“A fun, public get-together at a local venue seemed like a good way to say, "Hey, I'm glad you are here." A huge thank you goes to Gus for helping put this on. So, get yourself a plate lunch Sunday afternoon, take a little nap, and then come out that night to watch how Acadiana Mardi Gras'd last February with Mr. Tony.”