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TIME's interview with the traveling chef continues on Time.com, read these extra questions with Anthony Bourdain
I'm astonished at your ability to survive spicy foods. What's your secret? Richard Kirkeeide, Tingwood, Tex.
I think it's just a jaded palate. When you've tasted so much extraordinary food but within the western flavor spectrum, it's really exciting. There's a sadomasochistic dimension to it, a combination of searing hot peppers and the flower peppers that go in a Szechuan hot pot. And you look around and it's not just you, but it's the people from Szechuan as well, sweating flop sweat and holding their stomachs and shoveling this stuff in near agony. And yet you want more immediately.
I just finished Kitchen Confidential. Is that really the norm in that industry? Douglas Vandor, Victoria, B.C.
I wrote about my life. It was very much a product of the times. Doing cocaine in the kitchen during service is something that most reasonably professional operations really frown on these days. 'Twas not always so.
Should politicians who support anti-foie gras laws spend an eternity in the deepest level of hell, or would some other punishment suffice? Sandy Toyen, San Diego
A lesser punishment. They should be punished for being disingenuous, for pandering. I think making them spend six years at Applebee's would be enough.
Are there foods that seem normal in the U.S. that would be taboo in other cultures? Jason Dreier, Green Bay, WI
It really offends me when I hear, "What have you eaten that's weird, strange, bizarre?" For example, Thais have a non-dairy food culture. Show them someone eating cottage cheese or the ranch dressing at the salad bar, and they'd be horrified. Or the size of our food. I mean, you see some 425-pound human being with a Stetson in the Houston airport shoving a Cinnabon into their face, you know, and a 89-pound Thai grandad seeing this just thinks he's in another dimension a really scary one.
How would you compare writing to cooking? Vince Cogan, Redlands, Calif.
Cooking is much harder. Cooking is real work. I don't miss standing in the kitchen 15 or 16 hours a day, but I do miss the satisfaction of sitting at the bar at the end of the shift knowing that I did really well in the kitchen. Even on a really good writing day, no matter how good, you're never really sure whether it was good.
Are you really as arrogant as you seem, or do you do it for the ratings? Laura Bee, Los Angeles
I think like a lot of chefs, I'm actually very shy in the real world. Maybe the hyperbolic nature of my writing and the way I talk comes from my years in the kitchen. It's either "you're fantastic, you saved my ass" or "you are a miserable rat bastard, I want to kill you, go to the funeral and kill anyone who shows up to mourn you." It's a world of absolutes. Emotionally, I'm kind of like that. Yes, I'm arrogant. But I also regularly entertain the possibility, if not the likelihood, that I'm absolutely wrong about everything.
Have you ever refused any food that was offered to you? Vishwajeeth Naik, Bangalore
I try really hard to not send things back. I think it's important to do your best and try to accept whatever if offered with gratitude. That said, everyone has to draw a line. For me, it's the line between meat and pet. It hasn't come up yet, but I'd like to think that, given a choice between violating my deeply held principles about what is adorable and offending my host, that I'd eat the puppy heads.