Former President Barack Obama responded to the news of Anthony Bourdain’s death on Friday by tweeting about a meal they shared in Vietnam back in 2016 for his CNN series “Parts Unknown.”
Obama said Bourdain “taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him.”
“Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.” This is how I’ll remember Tony. He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him. pic.twitter.com/orEXIaEMZM
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 8, 2018
Back in 2016, when the episode aired, Bourdain wrote about his experience eating with the president in an article for CNN. “What can I tell you about what it’s like to sit across from the President of the United States and drink beer from the bottle?” he asked.
For starters, Bourdain said, Obama seemed “very relaxed and at ease. He seemed to enjoy himself sitting on a low plastic stool eating noodles and pork bits with chopsticks.”
Furthermore, Bourdain was impressed that the former president seemed to encourage the chef’s tendency to eat with everyone and everybody.
“When I asked him if it was OK that I get along with Ted Nugent,” Bourdain writes, “who has said many, many deeply offensive and hateful things about him personally, he responded ‘of course’ — that that was exactly the sort of person we SHOULD be talking to: the people who disagree with us.”
During their exchange, the chef and television personality was struck by Obama’s kind nature, and how easy-going he was with the crew. “He put my crew at ease. Was kind to them,” Bourdain continued. “So much so that we were not nervous while we were with him.”
Meanwhile, our current president was more or less lackadaisical and not very elaborative about Anthony Bourdain’s sudden death, only remarking that the tragedy was “very sad” and telling reporters that Bourdain was “quite a character.”
Perhaps the president’s less than enthusiastic response isn’t so surprising, given what Bourdain had previously said about Trump. After Bourdain hosted Obama on his show, somebody asked the chef if he would ever like to eat with Donald Trump.
Bourdain’s answer? “Absolutely f***ing” not. “I would give the same answer that I would have given ten years ago when he was just as loathsome,” Bourdain said.
Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room in France in what news outlets are reporting as an apparent suicide. He was 61 years old.