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Reservation: Israel?

The movement to send Anthony Bourdain

Marc Tracy
July 27, 2011
Anthony Bourdain last year.(Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
Anthony Bourdain last year.(Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

A quick count reveals that chef-turned-writer-turned-TV-host Anthony Bourdain has visited and filmed episodes of his Travel Channel show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations in more than 50 countries on six continents. (A sizable chunk of his episodes are devoted to exploring the culinary foodways of these United States, with a sizable chunk of those devoted to the Tristate Area.) Thailand? Sure. India? A couple of times. Paris? For the first and 100th episodes. Buffalo? I have personally watched Bourdain eat that upstate town’s eponymous wings. (My pick for favorite Bourdain episode? The Russia one is great, loony fun; the Rust Belt one, with those wings and with him eating Lake Trout in Balmer with Snoop from The Wire, is incredible. But I’d have to pick the original New York City one, in which he and Eric Ripert grab some late-night bone marrow at the East Village’s very own Prune. Anyway.)

Where has Bourdain never been—or at least, where has his show never filmed an episode? Israel. Los Angeles Jewish Journal editor-in-chief and food blogger Rob Eshman wants that to change: he first called on “Tony” to visit the Holy Land in March (Eshman notes that Bourdain’s first episode from Beirut, which was filming right as the 2006 war began and quickly turned to coverage of those events, was nominated for an Emmy), and more recently we’ve come across this Facebook page, “Send Anthony Bourdain to Israel.” If you scour it, you’ll find that I’ve “liked” it.

Bourdain was apparently at best a par chef, but he is an outstanding personality (and writer; Kitchen Confidential is excellent). He can be trusted to illuminate pretty much all the places he visits with insight and fairness (a stop in the West Bank during an Israel show would be appropriate) and without ever losing his grasp on the importance of fun and the centrality of food.The Holy Land is a logical next stop. You just know he’s going to go nuts over shakshuka.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.