“We need to be grounded in that feeling of being around friends and family… Home. Being home is the idea that goes to the heart of what makes food (neighborhoods) great.
It is an approach to cooking (urban design) that is rooted in respect. Respect for the ingredients (places), respect for tradition. It gives the fancy innovations and clever deconstructions a heart and a soul.“ – Anthony Bourdain, 2008 (Spain – No Reservations)
He said this at the end of an episode when describing why the best restaurants in the world were found in Spain. And it encapsulated succinctly how I see urban design, as noted by my parentheses mixed into his quote above. From the intended designed experiences, ingredients and elements, to the reliance on traditions for innovation.
The above photo of Anthony and President Obama eating noodles and drinking cold beer in Hanoi reminded me of my time living in Korea and Singapore in the ’90s. I traveled everywhere, designed a few interesting places, and surfed some exotic spots. It was wonderful. But when I was feeling too foreign and out of sorts with everyone around me, I would go eat at McDonald’s, seek out ex-pat friends for beers, and sit down to watch any football/basketball/baseball game in order to ground myself.
The places we inhabit should be purposely arranged and cultivated to bring both joy and order to our neighborhood and home. Anthony mentioned that too…
The featured Spanish chief in 2008 said he simply wanted to bring joy and order to his guest’s experiences. And to avoid being boring or too serious, because ultimately, we have to be happy.