Living life between the barrel staves in Bourbon Country

Real Time blogging during “No Reservations – Montana” tonight at 10pm EDT


You can bury me on Deadwood Mountain
By my brother Wild Bill and sister Calamity Jane
Don’t bring me no flowers
Just a six gun smokin
Put me eight feet down
When you bury me

“Deadwood Mountain” by Big & Rich

It became painfully obvious last week that the whole real time blogging while watching a TV show idea might be wearing thin. The Jimmy Buffett inspired “Here We Are” post drew more viewers than the Thailand show blog, which would have told a more intelligent or perceptive writer a thing or two. However, with only 3 more episodes left in the summer season after tonight, I have decided to see the enterprise through until the bitter, painful, discombobulated end. More on that later.

The latest edition of Travel and Leisure magazine arrived in the mail this week (the”Food and Travel Issue”!). A section on the current contributors lists foods they could – and could not – live without , along with other tidbits about the writers.  “Shrimp and prawns”, quips one, “because I’d go into anaphylatic shock” – fascinating reading, really.  In response to being asked what his riskiest food request was, one writer replied “rice wine infused with cobra heart, in Hanoi”. Now I’m sorry, but the hardback copy of A Cook’s Tour was published in 2001, with the Food Network TV show appearing around the same time. Eight years later who, in their right mind, thinks they are going to gain any street cred revisiting the episode that, let’s be honest, made Bourdain a TV star. It smacks of culinary “me too-ism”. What Kitchen Confidential did for him as a writer, the slurping down of a still beating cobra heart (“makes you strong!”) rocketed Anthony Bourdain into the consciousness of countless TV viewers and paved the way for an ever increading assault of bizarre food shows and the likes of Anthony Zimmern. I’m prepared, on a whole and in spite of things, to forgive Tony for this. What makes the magazine author’s comment even more incredible is his article revolves around a “Chef’s Night Out” with six top New York culinary icons, including Bourdain himself (formerly of Brasserie Les Halles), David Chang (Momofuku Ko), Daniel Boulud (Daniel) and Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin). Personally, I could handle the cobra heart, but I’d be more intimidated ordering fish in front of Eric “The Ripper”.


The picture above is from the NR facebook page – I saw it and couldn’t help but have a Lonesome Dove flashback. The book is one of the true American classics.  If you’ve read the novel, you know the scene that comes to mind.  Maybe the writer from Travel and Leisure can journey to Montana next time and dine on a little water moccassin. 

 9:55pm EDT

No Reservations – The Drinking Game

For every “Brokeback Mountain” or “Gunsmoke” reference (don’t ask why I picked those two, I just did), take a drink!

10:10pm EDT

A soft spoken Montana rancher, sitting around the breakfast table, eating heartily, still wearing his cowboy hat.  I defy you to look at that man and not respect him.  He, to steal a phrase from the Army, works harder before 8am than most of us work all day.  This is NOT an episode for vegetarians.  Steak and Rocky Mountain Oysters (more popularly known in these parts as lamb fries) – this has some friends of mine on the West Coast and in the Northeast feeling positively quesy.  Personally, I love it.

 10:20pm EDT

From 22 bars and a couple of whorehouses to 25 churches, numerous art galleries and 7 bars – some call it progress.  I’m not sure what I call it, but Livingston, Montana has obviously changed over the years.  I’d probably like it now.  I know I would have liked it then.  That the landscape attracts artists is no surprise.  I mean just look at the place. 

10:35pm EDT

Artisinal pastie – it just sounds wrong, but looks so good, and served with a shot Bushmills (at least it wasn’t Jack Daniels).   Even the cooks were on the sauce. 

I’ve always had a problem with fly-fishing.  It just seems elitist to me.  I’ve never met a poor fly fisherman, and that is really my problem with it.  Some years ago a friend of mine was part of a group that donated fishing poles and tackle boxes to the local library in Georgetown.  Kids could, in addition to checking out books, check out a pole, head down to the banks of the Elkhorn Creek which snakes it’s way through Scott County, KY and spend a leisurely afternoon fishing.  Fly-fishing, on the other hand, flys in the face (no pun intended) of the “I’m going to teach my young son to fish” school that I grew up around in the upper South.  Our goal was always to stay out of the water.

10:45pm EDT

The solace of empty places.  It’s locations like Montana that really gave birth to the “eat local” philosophy.  Out there, you have no other choice.  The chef as the new cowboys.  It’s an analogy that I really like and want to believe in.

10:55pm EDT

Nature through a 30 foot window in a great room.  A scary proposition, but one all too familiar to me, growing up among the greatest horse farms in the world.  The home of multiple Kentucky Derby winners is now the largest shopping mall in the central part of the state.  You can still see the thoroughbred graveyard from the Wal-mart parking lot.  I despise the place.  It probably feels just as sickening to look out at this site as it would that Montana valley being slowly subdivided by barbed wire.  There is a segment of society that professes to love nature, but only if it’s controlled, unobtrusive and not too close as to become bothersome.  These are the people who should never be allowed outside of the city.    And they should never, ever, be invited to dinner at Jim Harrison’s homes.  But then again, I don’t think they ever would be.

Larry McMurty opens his novel Lonesome Dove with a quote from T. K. Whipple’s Study Out The Land.  It is, I think, an appropriate way to end here tonight as well.  Cue the Aaron Copeland music.

All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us.  Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside.  We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers.  What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.




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