Tony Vinh


Hearts Unknown.


This was a scene from the episode he did in Austin. That, however, is not me sitting next to him. I wish I would’ve been lucky enough to have shared a meal with him. Especially Texas barbecue. But despite being a Mexican woman with shorter, fatter fingers, this person looked very much like me. She even had on the same Royals cap I was wearing as I watched the episode. Every time I see this pic in my feed, I like to think that was me. I’ve even lied to myself by now to believe that was me. And why not? We all felt like we were eating right there with him each time, didn’t we?

That’s why this is a hard one to swallow, no pun intended. It’s weird to have a special place in your heart for a complete stranger. But at the same time, we knew him all too well. He wrote so bluntly yet poetically, and he spoke so honestly and personally that it felt like we each knew him intimately. It’s like we lost a dear, close, old friend today. You know, the one who was fun and adventurous and dragged us out to have drinks and do shit we didn’t want to or would’ve ever imagined doing, but had no regrets and was secretly glad we did it by night’s end.

He dared all of us to be more adventurous. He certainly dared me to be more adventurous in my eating, travels, and even my writing. It was because of his love of Vietnam, not mine, that made me want to go visit my native land for the first time last year. I really had no desire otherwise because it seemed like a scary place from all the war stories and heartache my parents and relatives shared with me growing up. But I fell in love with it, too, thanks to him. I reconnected with my history and identity because of him.

His books and shows really did widen my perspective of life, food, culture, politics and people, as well as my respect for those things. If he taught us anything, it was definitely that. To respect one another, where we all come from, and all we’re attached to. Thank you for that much needed lesson, sir. Thank you for everything.

Here’s to you, @anthonybourdain. RIP, dammit. 🖤