Anthony Bourdain's Most Unforgettable Thanksgivings

Three unforgettable Thanksgivings, depicted by Anthony Bourdain. Illustration © Anthony Bourdain/Photo © Ben Alsop
By Anthony Bourdain Posted November 04, 2014

Tapping into his awesome imagination and real-life exploits, F&W’s illustrator-in-residence, Anthony Bourdain, sketches three of his most memorable Thanksgivings.

Tapping into his awesome imagination and real-life exploits, F&W’s illustrator-in-residence, Anthony Bourdain, sketches (from left to right) three of his unforgettable Thanksgivings.

1. Los Angeles, late 1970s
I like to imagine this Thanksgiving dinner scene that never actually happened: Jim Harrison, the legendary gourmand, poet and author of The Raw and the Cooked, struggles to carve a turkey before a hungry Orson Welles and Federico Fellini devour it. Jim certainly did dine with the two men, describing it as the only time in his life that both his dinner companions wore capes. In versions of the story that I’ve heard, the meal was massive, much fine Côte du Rhône was poured and the conversation was epic.

2. St. Martin, sometime in the 1990s
I was in between jobs when I foolishly agreed (for patriotic reasons) to cook Thanksgiving dinner for a huge crowd of drunken expats from Australia, England, Ireland and South Africa at a bar called The Dinghy Dock. The day of the event, the power went out on the French side of the island, leaving me in an awkward position as the ovens I’d planned on using were all electric. A neighboring charter boat company let me borrow the kitchen galleys on several of their yachts. I ferried turkeys by dinghy to each galley, cooking one bird per vessel, repeating my circuit to baste as needed. Worked out well in the end. Good times.

3. San Francisco, 1974
In 1974, the brilliant chef Jeremiah Tower prepared a Thanksgiving dinner for James Beard that was inspired by Thomas Jefferson. By all accounts, Beard was charmed by Tower and delighted by the meal. But as an unapologetic spokesperson for the Green Giant frozen-foods company, Beard was—I believe—haunted by his unholy alliance with the Jolly Green Giant throughout the feast.

Related: Anthony Bourdain's Grilling Icons
An Illustrator's Affordable Holiday Table
San Francisco Chef Recipes

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