Following Anthony Bourdain’s tragic death in 2018, I wanted to revisit the words of a man I consider as one of the best storytellers I have read. While discussing Bourdain with a friend, I realized that there are few of his texts translated into French - I must admit that it would be quite a translation job. As you read it, you can imagine hearing him speak with his authentic attitude, without any detours.
I already miss him, although as a rule, I can’t consider myself as a groupie of any artist. But honestly, Bourdain has always encouraged and influenced me to see cultures differently and be interested in the history behind culinary traditions. While reading his book "A Cook's Tour", I found in these lines a reflection that I often share with people who ask me "What’s the best coffee in the world?”. So I took the liberty of translating a section of the book and transposing my thoughts on the field of coffee.
In search of the perfection
“Of course, I knew already that the best meal in the world, the perfect meal, is rarely the most sophisticated or expensive one. I know how important factors other than technique or rare ingredients can be in the business of making magic happen at a dinner table. Context and memory play roles in all the truly great meals in one’s life. I mean, let’s face it : When you’re eating simple barbecue under a palm tree, and feel sand between your toes, samba music is playing softly in the background, waves are lapping at the shore a few yards off, a gentle breeze is cooling the sweat on the back of your neck at the hair line, and looking across the table, past the column of empty Red Stripes, at the dreamy expression on your companion’s face, you realize you’re probably going to be having sex on clean white hotel sheets, that grilled chicken leg suddenly taste a hell of a lot better.
Let’s play a game, « You’re getting the electric chair tomorrow morning. What are you having for dinner? » The answers are invariably simple ones…”
- Extract from the book « A Cook’s Tour ; In search of the perfect meal » pages 6-7
Is our coffee the best coffee in the world? No. Was the best coffee I have ever had a natural process Ethiopian, infused fresh using the state-of-the-art process in a ratio of 1-16, brewed at 94 degrees? No. (Although I did thoroughly enjoy it…) But does our coffee have the potential of being the best cup of java you’ve ever had on a day you will come to remember as the best day of your life? We certainly hope so. This being said, what’s the best cup of coffee you ever had?