Eliza Going ’18
Assistant Arts Editor
Anthony Bourdain brought his hit show “No Reservations” to Smith College this past Saturday. He said he was “hoping to sample at least four types of pasta and some wacky cake.”
The chef, television personality and best-selling author began the day at Cutter-Ziskind for brunch. “I like the ambiance in here. It’s so … sterile,” Bourdain started off, excited to discuss the white-on-pale-grey color scheme while recalling memories made in hospitals and sad, damp motels.
He sampled some scrambled eggs and coffee he described as “impressively overcooked” before deciding to move on to Northrop-Gillett, one of two vegan/vegetarian dining halls on campus. Northrop-Gillett is particularly known for its comprehensive food labels because sometimes even the best of us forget that cream cheese contains dairy.
Bourdain chose fragrant lentils, barbecue tempeh from last night and crunchy granola for his second brunch, a little flummoxed. “Who makes the menus, and do they get their ideas from ‘Chopped?’” Bourdain seemed to enjoy his fragrant lentils a little less than some of the tie-dyed Smithies surrounding us.
Because we had a few hours to kill between brunch and dinner, Bourdain suggested we try out some of the restaurants in downtown Northampton. We headed over to Banh Mi Saigon, where Bourdain ordered a classic pork banh mi sandwich.
“Vietnam has to be one of the most beautiful, delicious and memorable stops in the history of ‘No Reservations.’ I can’t wait to see what Northampton has to offer.”
Bourdain ate his ham sandwich with some shredded carrots on it with the same intrigue and enthusiasm he’s expressed sampling the cuisine of some of his favorite stops on the show: Philippine balut (a boiled bird embryo straight from the eggshell – a twist on the classic Smith hard-cooked egg), Icelandic fermented shark and good old boardwalk saltwater taffy from his home state Dirty Jerz to name a few.
Heading over to dinner, Bourdain was considerably full from this pit stop, but wanted to try some of the famous Smith dining hall pasta at Cushing-Emerson before the day was over.
In 2015, Smith College was ranked no. 1 out of all higher education institutions in the Northeast for “Largest Quantities of Linguine Served Per Capita.” Then in 2016, Smith was awarded “Most Off-White Cheese Sauce in U.S. Liberal Arts College Dining Halls.”
“I knew I had to check out Smith cuisine as soon as I saw that it won the cheese sauce award in ‘CarboHYDRATE! Magazine,’” said Bourdain, a proud monthly subscriber.
He winced as we walked into Emerson, calling the garbage-y smell “not the most appetizing.” Nevertheless, he seemed in good spirits as he piled a plate high with linguine.
“This sauce is great; from what I can tell, it’s definitely tomato.” If there was ever a mark of a former chef! Nothing gets past Tony.
As he got ready to leave with the camera crew, I snuck him some wacky cake on a napkin for the road, telling him what a pleasure it was to bring him around some of my favorite eateries in the world.
Bourdain thanked me, headed out with his crew and was reportedly seen indulging in a beer and a burrito at Mama Iguana’s around 7:16 p.m.