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November 04, 2010

So This is What Real People Sound Like

Congratulations to Mike P., who you may know from future guest spots on No Reservations or interviews on various foodie blogs, if he ever bothers to turn on a computer again. Mike's essay "Late Nights" recently brought home the motherload of all prizes: personal props from globetrotting savant Anthony Bourdain, who likely read, nodded to, and rubber stamped the piece as winner of the Medium Raw essay contest while boarding up his windows with some 2x4s and singing "Here She Comes Now" in Haiti. It's a short, humbling piece about the point of good food and one--as an entrant in the contest myself--I couldn't be happier won. As I read through the submissions over the past few weeks, they all seemed to fall into one of a handful of buckets: something unintelligibly foodie, the answer "why do anything anything well? because you can/we're blessed/why not?/you deserve it!," and here are some swear words I think Tony Bourdain would like. Late Nights--one of the shortest entries at only 300-some-odd words--was nestled in among those masses and, from reading it, I couldn't help but wonder where the hell Mike found out about this contest in the first place. Which is what made it so wonderfully genuine and, well, Bourdain. For all its sentiment (and, honestly, how can you not be sentimental when trying to answer a question like "why cook well?"), the essay had one thing more than any of the other nearly 2,000 entries did: honesty. In short, he loves his wife and his wife loves him. And so cooking obviously takes on a much larger meaning. Feeding is what Mike was talking about, and you can't help but think of a young Bourdain when reading this. That's why we like things like fried bologna, chicken tikka, pot roast, tamales, or, in Mike's case, rice and chicken. We don't eat these things--we're fed them. So Mike, if your routes ever take you through Chicago, get in touch. I'd love to pour you a beer. Go read his essay here. Or, better yet, wait a few months. It's coming out in paperback soon.

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