by Gabe Berman – the author of Live Like a Fruit Fly

Soul Food

Anthony Bourdain.  

I used to worry about his health.

Every time I’d serendipitously find that show of his, he’d be eating like a goddamn teenager.

Some sort of third-world meat, followed by more meat, with noodles, beer and sake.  Voiced over deliciously with subtle smugness and a side of self deprecation. And then, of course, a nightcap with old restaurant friends in a place like Okinawa or some other city he seemed to have the keys to.  

 In the morning, as you know, he’d wake up, eat an egg based seafood dish in a market that looked like it was in Blade Runner and after the next commercial, he’d get a new tattoo and then head over to a barbecue where no one knew english but spoke wine well.  

And there I was on the couch, always thinking variations of, “Jeez, how does that bastard stay so thin?  I just hope it doesn’t catch up to this guy.”

But now, none of that matters. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Now, I just hope he enjoyed every morsel and every drop.

It’s sort of the same with my Dad. In our family of four, he’d eat enough for a family of four and I’d plead with him to be more careful with his weight.  I was so scared it would lead him to an early grave and we’d fight about it constantly.  

But here I now sit, late one night in June, the month of my dad’s birth (as well Anthony’s), and I’m just so glad he got so much pleasure from his bagels cut into three slices and his swiss cheese and onion omelettes because it ended up meaning nothing.

Brain cancer doesn’t give a fuck about your diet.  

 Imagine if I could have known how it was all going to end? Imagine if I could just get back the time with him I wasted fighting about food?

But the truth is, I knew how it was going to end.  Not exactly, but I know how it ends for everyone.

Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.  

You’d think that, and that alone, would make us want to be more kind.  More kind to ourselves, more kind to others, and more kind to animals.  But it doesn’t.

We live selfishly, as if we’re all that matters, with almost no love for our neighbors.

And maybe this lack of love we feel in the world, although not self-described on the inside that way because it feels more like an overwhelming, undefined darkness of not-enoughness, pushes us to eventually pull our own plugs. Regardless of how great we seem to have it on the outside.

What does this have to do with my dad dying and how I handled it before, during and after?


Thankfully nothing.  

I was a good son.  

But, as you know if you’ve read my stuff, almost everything gets traced back to my dad nowadays.  

And I know that he knew that I was just looking out for him.

As he did for me.

As we should for each other.  

With that said, it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything so I thank you for trading your time for my words. And, if you’re one of the few reading this right now, I know you have nothing to learn from me about kindness.  I’m sure you’re already there.  So, thank you for that as well.



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8 thoughts on “Soul Food

  1. Teresa on said:

    Hi Gabe,
    It was to see this in my mail.
    Nice post.
    I hope all is well.

  2. Shefali on said:

    Gabe, sure you are a good son to a great father.
    And you are a very kind man with a beautiful heart.

  3. Shefali on said:

    Gabe, sure you are a good son to a great father.
    And you are a very kind man with a beautiful heart.

  4. It is through that journey that we eventually break through our fears to finally love ourselves and then give from that place. But in the meantime our fears drive us and what we feel we unintentionally give out to others.
    Much wisdom is in that journey, and maybe a few too many kilo’s from all that lovely food…but regardless when it is time to go, we have gained much more than when we began, touched so many places in our hearts that it will leave something there forever, especially from those with who we do share our journey ❤

  5. Your post really resonates with me. I loved watching Bourdain’s shows, but always wondered how he could survive that lifestyle. It seemed like he should have every parasite in existence! But it was fascinating to see parts of the world I’ll never be able to see in person.

    I love that you were able to have a good relationship with your father. My father was wonderful to everyone except us, his family. I grew up hating him and being scared to death of him. It has haunted me my entire life. He died two years ago. I sat with him during his final days as he slept from the morphine the hospice nurses gave him to keep him from feeling the pain. I really hope the morphine worked.

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