It was a rare meeting of two roving, curious minds when Anthony Bourdain and Barack Obama sat down over bún chả and beer in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The former president used the memorable meal to pay tribute to Bourdain, who was found dead in a hotel room near Strasbourg, France, on Friday. The celebrity chef, TV host, and writer reportedly died by suicide. He was 61.
The Obama segment, which aired in 2016 on CNN's Parts Unknown, was representative of Bourdain's inimitable storytelling style. He didn't "interview" people, not even the president. He just sat down and talked to them.
"[T]hough I may admire him, I wasn't going to be a platform for discussion of a particular foreign policy agenda," Bourdain wrote in an account of the meal. "I can tell you that Barack Obama was, in spite of having had a high-ranking leader of the Taliban whacked in Pakistan a few days previous, very relaxed and at ease. He seemed to enjoy himself sitting on a low plastic stool eating noodles and pork bits with chopsticks." They talked street food, travel, and their children while eating bún chả, a grilled pork and rice noodle dish, and drinking cold beer.
"'Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer,'" Obama wrote on Twitter. "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."
“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
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