The Real Reason Anthony Bourdain Refused To Film In Switzerland

Before TV channels and streaming services were completely saturated with colorful, sensational chef shows, there was Anthony Bourdain, showing us the world one country at a time through its food. Bourdain famously traveled to unexpected corners of the world — Laos, Uruguay, Armenia — countries that don't receive the same clout as Italy or France, but, as Bourdain shows us, offer intricate, profound, and mouthwatering culinary traditions and innovations.

Turkey, Iran, Nigeria — the list goes on. At South by Southwest in 2016, two years before his death, he spoke to attendants about the warmth he received in Iran and the difficulties filming in Libya beneath Gaddafi's regime, (via Condé Nast Traveler).

For either of Bourdain's shows, Switzerland could have been a viable (and certainly scenic) filming spot. The country is famously neutral when it comes to politics, and strangely enough, it's wedged between France and Italy — two countries Bourdain visited numerous times (via C&C). But when it came to Switzerland, Bourdain drew the line. Why?

A very strange fear

Bourdain made no effort to hide the answer: in an interview with Conan O'Brien, he explains that he always had a morbid fear of Switzerland (via Taste of Home). "Even like Alpine vistas, like snow-capped peaks, with, like Lake Geneva, or cuckoo clocks or those hats with the feathers," Bourdain told a perplexed O'Brien. "Even the cheese." The yodeling didn't help reduce his fears, apparently. "You just feel that in your marrow," Bourdain said. "I mean, it's horrifying." "That's a very strange fear," O'Brien replied amid a chuckling audience.

Bourdain was famous for avoiding a few things: airplane food, for example, and, for a while, ordering fish on Mondays (via Bon Appétit). Swiss cheese, chocolate, and perhaps those doe-eyed cows with the bells hung around their neck were apparently also on the list.

The Swiss subject was never broached again: not in the public eye, anyway. Shortly before his death, Bourdain also told  of his desires to film an episode in Afghanistan, despite continuing conflict in the country. And when President Barack Obama made a historic visit to Vietnam amid lasting political tensions, Bourdain was already there, waiting for him in Hanoi to share a $6 dinner of noodles and beer (via Vox). Today, it's obvious that Bourdain is far more famous for the things he chose not to avoid.