Tag Archives: Anthony Bordain

Palmer Cafe located in Stanley, Idaho

Hallelujah, Processed Food

photo taken at Sawtooth Fish Hatchery

While pedaling to lower Stanley, Idaho for an omelet, my eyes keep following the Salmon River. Right now, a majority of the Fish and Game salmon are returning to the fish hatchery. This is a remarkable feat because they float all the way to the big wide Pacific Ocean, and then for some reason, they decide to swim all the way back to where they are born in these large cement bathtubs.

A person can identify a fish hatchery salmon from a native salmon because the Fish and Game make sure to exclude the adipose fin from their salmon.

Cruising past the fish hatchery with my eyes still focused on the river, I see a bald eagle sitting on a post. We both happen to be looking at the same stretch of river. I feel bad for it because this week the Fish and Game have stopped stocking the Salmon River with rainbow trout for the season. I suppose it’s time for the eagle to fly south where it’s warm and where the rivers are stocked year round. Taking a closer look at the bald eagle, I notice it has all of its body parts. I don’t think the eagle was hatched by the Fish and Game. I yell at the bird, “Shoo, shoo, fly to Alabama where it’s warm.”

Our eyes meet, but I don’t think the eagle understands. It remains sitting on the post. I suppose we are too different to connect. The eagle has mom and dad eagle parents; I have mom and dad human parents. With so many animals and fish bred in captivity, I bet test-tube babies can commune more naturally with nature, both being conceived in a similar sort of scientifically engineered environment. If I were a test-tube baby, I would want my animal spirit to be a Fish and Game hatched salmon. Like the fish hatchery salmon, when I have lived a full life, I will feel a tug on my heart and crawl to a rest home to die. Like the farm raised salmon in the grocery store, when I die, someone will come along and add some pink to my cheeks so that I may look presentable at my funeral.


I arrive at lower Stanley in time for breakfast. Choosing a restaurant in lower Stanley is easy because it does not have sprawl like upper Stanley. The town has to compete for space with Highway 75 in the middle, mountains to one side, and the Salmon River to the other.

The restaurant I choose, Palmer’s Café, is adjacent to a whitewater rafting company. I notice the person next to me eating pancakes off of disposable breakfast ware. His snow-white fork and knife do not have a smudge. His clean silverware a reminder that my hands are dirty. I get up to use the bathroom.

The men’s room is shared between the café and raft company. On the wall there are pictures of rafters in unsafe floating situations.

I think it odd that a raft company would voluntarily post pictures of possible drownings. The only other time I saw this odd advertising was in Thailand. The cigarette companies have to place a picture showing the consequences of smoking. So while lighting up, you get to admire tubes coming out of someone’s mouth and nose. The person looks like they could have lung cancer. I don’t think this form of advertising has slowed down the smokers or rafters. Teenagers and young adults love to flirt with death in the form of smoke and water filling the lungs.

The bathroom looks as if it hasn’t been cleaned for a while. The smudge of poop on the toilet leads me to this conclusion. To add to my horror, the soap dispenser does not have any soap.

The dirty bathroom reminds me of Anthony Bourdain’s cleanliness comments in Kitchen Confidential:
“I won’t eat in a restaurant with filthy bathrooms. This isn’t a hard call. They let you see the bathrooms. If the restaurant can’t be bothered to replace the puck in the urinal or keep the toilets and floors clean, then just imagine what their refrigeration and work spaces look like. Bathrooms are relatively easy to clean. Kitchens are not. In fact, if you see the chef sitting unshaven at the bar, with a dirty apron on, one finger halfway up his nose, you can assume he’s not handling your food any better behind closed doors. Your waiter looks like he just woke up under a bridge? If management allows him to wander out on the floor looking like that, God knows what they’re doing to your shrimp!”

Despite agreeing with Mr. Bourdain that poop on the toilet seat should raise a red flag, I have already ordered my food and I’m hungry enough to risk an afternoon of being sick. Don’t get me wrong, thoughts of dirty fingers touching my omelet scare me. I calm myself by visualizing latex-gloved fingers cracking eggs, American cheese protected by plastic wrap, beans spooned out of a freshly opened can, and salsa squeezed out of a tube. I can’t believe I’m saying out loud, “Thank god for processed food!”

Here comes my omelet on a paper plate. Oh, fuck. It looks fresh.

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An Afternoon Snack (short film update)

UPDATE: This video will appear on the Travel Channel in the pilot of “What’s Your Trip?” hosted by Anthony Bourdain. It will air Monday, May 21st, 2007 at 8PM and 11PM.

Original music by Brandon Follett, singing with a pig.  Check out his other music projects.  weirdosmusic.com

This video was filmed in the rural, low-income, rice-growing region of Thailand known as Isaan, where few foreign travelers venture. We went there two weeks into our Thailand travels in order to volunteer on an organic farm.

Before traveling to Thailand, a Thai friend in the States warned me about our plans to volunteer on a farm in Prakonchai, Thailand. She wrinkled her nose at the thought, saying that the people of northwestern Thailand talked funny and ate gross food, such as fermented fish. She said this region was like the Texas of Thailand.

For ten days, we stayed near Prakonchai, working on the farm and living with a Canadian man, his Isaan wife, and their two children. Our farm work included cutting rice, raking straw from the rice fields, and scooping up water buffalo manure to mix into compost. Since we don’t speak Thai, we couldn’t tell if the people spoke standard Thai or not, but they do speak their own local language in addition to Thai. The food was good, but it was definitely different from the meals we’d eaten at Thai restaurants in the U.S.

One afternoon, our hosts took us with them to the local market. The fruits and vegetable stalls were piled high with various shapes and colors we’d never seen before. The meat section was fresher, bloodier, and included a lot more animal heads than we were accustomed to seeing. We were also fascinated to see all sorts of fried insects for sale, with the vendors sitting nonchalantly behind their neatly organized displays of fried bugs. Our hosts’ five-year-old daughter loved the tasty snacks and munched her way through a bag of fried insects while her parents did their shopping.

Brandon also purchased a variety bag of bugs and enjoyed their flavor and crunch. He wanted to share his delight on camera, so we filmed “An Afternoon Snack.” The film was made in a moment of pure Follettry.

Special thanks to Stacy McBain for giving the English language the word “Follettry.” How have we managed for so long without it?

brandon-and-bug.jpg