Anthony Bourdain left behind a legacy of the most extraordinary travel shows ever seen on TV.
Over the past 12 months, many people will have made it through lockdown on a diet of the iconic food writer's hit documentaries, living their lives vicariously through his experiences.
But Bourdain's daring and the show's genuine moments of danger sometimes make the destinations seem inaccessible to all but the most devil-may-care traveller. The sights, smells and tastes of Parts Unknown and No Reservations feel more like pipe dreams than potential holiday plans.
However, thanks to a new posthumous publication, following in Bourdain's footsteps is actually easier than ever.
New Anthony Bourdain book – "World Travel: An Irreverent Guide"
Created in collaboration with Bourdain's long-time "lieutenant" Laurie Woolever, World Travel: An Irreverent Guide is unlike any other Bourdain book out there.
On the contrary to classics such as Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour, his new book is, at first glance, deceptively practical. The guide is a carefully curated patchwork of Bourdain's insights and reflections on some of his favourite destinations, peppered with genuinely useful information.
Readers can simultaneously reminisce about Bourdain's torture of Eric Ripert with Sichuan peppers and also note down the price of a taxi to central Chengdu.
Unusually for Bourdain, World Travel is a studied and practical handbook to some of the most exciting destinations on Earth. For this reason, it is essential reading for anyone working on their own personal Parts Unknown-inspired travel plans.
Travelling with World Travel
Objectively speaking, World Travel is far from the most comprehensive travel guide you'll ever read. There are no in-depth hotel reviews, no useful phrases and the bare minimum on how to actually get to your desired destination.
Instead, the book is a reflection of how Bourdain himself actually travelled – instinctive, spontaneous and erratic. More important than a five-star rating is how a place made him feel.
For instance, Boudain's opinion of Buenos Aires ("it's got sort of a mournful, sad, sweet quality that I like") has nothing to do with local amenities.
These less tangible qualities are central to what made his TV shows so enjoyable. More often than not, it was his ability to discover something extraordinary in the ordinary that made Bourdain such a star.
Despite this, Bourdainophiles will find a lot to get excited about. For the first time, some of his show's most iconic destinations now have actual names and addresses.
There are even suggestions on what to order to get the most out of your experience. This makes the book a must-buy for anyone planning a Parts Unknown pilgrimage.
Bourdain was painfully aware that his shows were only ever a showcase for his own opinions and experiences. As he said in the last piece of narration he ever recorded, "Who gets to tell the stories?... The answer, for better or worse...is, 'I do'."
If you want to experience his stories like never before, World Travel is the only guide you'll ever need.
While it might not be a template for finding your own precious destinations, it is undoubtedly the ultimate way to better experience and understand the places Bourdain himself adored.