"I have the palate of a 5-year-old," the CNN host says.
Anderson Cooper is sentimental.
Whether traveling around the world or ordering at a restaurant, Cooper reverts to comfort and memory.
“I have the palate of a five-year-old. I order off the kids menu at hotels,” he jokes in an interview with Travel + Leisure.
Cooper had just finished dining with Anthony Bourdain at Heidelberg, a German restaurant on New York City’s Upper East Side. The menu was not for kids.
The two CNN hosts sat behind giant boot-shaped steins of pilsner, eating pickled herring, various sausages, and liver dumplings — tame in comparison to previous meals. “Anthony likes to torment me,” Cooper laughed. “I’ve eaten the aorta of a heart and all sorts of French blood things, like pudding and sausage and stuff. But this was pretty straightforward.”
For the past few years, Bourdain and Cooper have met at a New York City restaurant to sample foods (often to Cooper’s horror) and discuss the locations in each new season of Bourdain’s series, “Parts Unknown.”
Because of his annual meals with Bourdain, one of the world’s most adventurous eaters, Cooper said he’s “a little more willing to try new things.”
Bourdain’s influence also extends to Cooper’s travel plans. “I’ve actually traveled to a bunch of places because he’s been there,” Cooper told T+L. “Like Tangiers. I went after seeing his episode. It was funny because I was there and I ran into people that he had had on his show.”
Although Cooper doesn’t have much free time to travel. Between his nightly news show on CNN, “60 Minutes,” and “AC2,” a traveling talk show with Andy Cohen, he has only one weekend off per month. (That weekend is lowkey, generally spent at his home in Connecticut.) But when he does travel, he’s “a creature of habit.”
“I tend to go to the same places over and over again,” Cooper explained. “I go to Rome a lot. I go to Africa a lot.”
Cooper holds Africa particularly dear. At 17, he left high school and rode in a truck across sub-saharan Africa (the lead-up to which he self-effacingly refers to as “a long, boring story,” by the way). In the years since, he has returned numerous times to the continent. He cites seeing mountain gorillas in Rwanda and diving with great white sharks off the coast of Cape Town as two of his most memorable travel experiences.
He returns often to his seaside house in Trancoso, Brazil (he wrote about it for Travel + Leisure in 2015) — a place he is trying to convince Bourdain to visit. “My town is this really unique little place so I’m always trying to get him to go there,” Cooper said.
Asked where he plans on traveling next, Cooper mentions Luang Prabang, Easter Island or the Galapagos — although it’s impossible for him to say for certain where he’ll end up next.
“I’m hugely disorganized and because of my schedule, I can’t plan things very far in advance because, inevitably, it will change,” Cooper said. “So I’m always last minute thinking ‘okay, I’d like to go to Laos next week.’ I don’t have time to call a travel agent or anything. It’s all last minute.”
During those last minutes, Cooper said he will “always look at Travel + Leisure, their website to look at all the articles they’ve had on Laos and recommendations, places to stay.” Although, it’s unlikely Cooper is browsing for restaurant recommendations. No matter where he goes, “you can’t go wrong with peanut butter and jelly.”
Anderson Cooper’s interviews with Anthony Bourdain will air on Anderson Cooper 360 every Friday night, beginning April 27.