The Most Underrated Food, According To Anthony Bourdain

A true icon in the worlds of food and media, Anthony Bourdain was aptly described as "the first rock star of the food world" by the Today show, among others. Bourdain had talent, intelligence, a way with words, and attitude to spare, making a name for himself in New York restaurants in the 1990s. The chef rose to fame with his 2000 tell-all book, "Kitchen Confidential," which spilled the tea on the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll lifestyles of the people preparing the food in some of the country's most esteemed kitchens.

Later, on his shows "No Reservations" and "Parts Unknown," Bourdain was an intrepid traveler, especially when it came to food. While always remaining engrossing and entertaining, he taught his viewers about the cuisines of the world and their "social and political contexts," explains The Counter. "He encouraged us to eat one another's cultural foods, and to understand the lives of those who prepared them," says the site.

In a 2016 Reddit Ask Me Anything, Bourdain was asked about food trends he'd like to see. He responded, in part, "I would like people really to pay more for top-quality Mexican food. I think it's the most undervalued, underappreciated world cuisine with tremendous, tremendous potential." Bourdain went on, "I'm very excited about the possibilities for that cuisine, and I think we should pay more attention to it, learn more about it, and value it more."

Mexican cuisine deserves more respect, Bourdain said

In the Reddit thread, the always-forthright Anthony Bourdain said "it's frankly a racist assumption that Mexican food or Indian food should be cheap," evidently referencing some diners' perception that the cuisines are made with inexpensive ingredients or without extensive effort. For context, the television host once wrote in a blog post that the average American has only experienced the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the cuisine of Mexico. "It is NOT melted cheese over a tortilla chip," he wrote. "It is not simple, or easy." He pointed out, for example, that foods like the sauces of Oaxacan cuisine are highly complex, take days to make, and have a longer history than many dishes from Europe. They require fresh ingredients and no shortcuts.

Throughout his career, Bourdain was vocal about his affinity for Mexican cuisine. In a 2014 CNN interview with Anderson Cooper, he proclaimed his affinity for the "real" food of Mexico, saying, "I love the deep, complex, incredibly subtle flavors of handmade mole sauces of Oaxaca. I love a simple, greasy, sweet taco made with a homemade tortilla by hand by somebody who really cares." 

To appreciate the variations of the country's foods like Bourdain, fans may want to take a cue from another chef: In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Aarón Sánchez set the record straight about Mexican cuisine, clearing up the fact that Tex-Mex is not Mexican — and the country's historic regional cuisines deserve just as much recognition as those from Italy and France.