The mystical Body of Bourdain is the mystical body of cooking itself, which is a Eucharist we all participate in everyday to some extent. But Bourdain by making a show if it, creates a ritual that to me is a metaphor of the Catholic Mass, which itself is a metaphor of the Dying and Resurrection of Life the eats life to live. Life must die so life can be born. Life gives itself unto death so that new live can be created. Whether we like that or not, that’s the truth. Most of us in the squeamish West can’t handle that truth. We don’t like to see animals killed for our meal in the village market. We like it all packaged and renamed. We avoid this truth of life that is death. Life and death are ONE. You can’t separate them, but we try.
The mystical Body of Bourdain is the alchemy of the chef who through his magic transmutes the fragmented animal and vegetable parts into a meal that brings unity to the family of man, a communion if you will. Through eating together we find unity together. Our fragmentation is healed through the unity of the Mystical Meal. The master chef is the Sacrificial Priest. His ingredients are what’s given in his region, and through his personal unity of body/mind (his art) he restores unity in his guests or family. Great cooking is magic.
Great food is great taste and great taste is a blend of opposite flavors and textures. Our taste buds instinctively know what is whole and what is not, what is complete and what needs something else.
Bourdain’s mystical adventure is visiting parts unknown in a quest for completion through the experience of taste. He metaphorically captures our own quest for completion and satisfaction in experience. Perhaps when he realized that he could not find completion or peace in his life through new tastes, he decided to really go to parts unknown. (Who knows).
Every moment is the crucible where the old become the new, where the known dies into the unknown and rises as the known. Every moment of the Now is where clear and distinct ideas become ambiguous, and a new Idea is born (or not). In mystical language every moment is the breaking of the body (crucifixion of Christ) and the Resurrection of the Body, both simultaneously. When we know the spontaneous union of opposites, that is the Christ Consciousness (Awareness) that transcends the fragmentation of consciousness in names and forms.
Mystical means transcendent of experience. Experience is fragmented; Transcendence unifies this broken bread into a Single Idea that contains all the fragments. This Single Idea is the Parts Unknown. It is the unknown known.
The modern world is crying out for unity, for its lost center. Scientific materialism makes stuff, but it doesn’t restore our center because it’s flat and we see ourselves as just so many ants crawling on the earth like as if it were a ripe fig. Each ant wants to get as must sweetness before it dies. This is a Wasteland, a Flatland that has been wiped clean like a white board of all the ancient myths that once made us aware of the Tree instead of just the figs. We find our unifying myths in movies and Romances of the Quest for unity, which I see Parts Unknown as metaphorically.
Like Percival of the Arthurian Round Table, Bourdain is questing for the Holy Grail, that meal, that food that will give final satisfaction and end his need to keep searching parts unknown. The Holy Grail (metaphor alert) is the completion of the Quest and the search for meaning. Bourdain’s quest for satisfaction or completion in food is a metaphor for our quest for meaning in the material world. Can we find satisfaction, completion, and the end of the pain of seeking in material form, in the next best thing? Can we find it in time, in parts unknown?