I don’t watch Anthony Bourdain’s television programs but I understand the attraction behind them.
Here’s a guy traveling the world to sample bizarre cuisine, satisfying the viewer’s appetite for the exotic and the edible. His narrative is wry, crisp, and authoritative. His locations distant to the point of being surreal. His choices of food—practically supernatural.
But what happens when the show’s over? Does Bourdain head out for a smoke when CNN cuts to commercials featuring McDonald’s cheeseburgers? Is CNN missing a natural follow-on to culinary adventure, ignoring the essential question: What Happens Next? What happens after 60 minutes of gnawing Part Unknown, Part Unknown, Part Unknown?
Enter the next great adventure in culinary tourism: Lou Stoole and his quest for a proper John!
Let’s have cameras follow the hapless Mr. Stoole in search of foreign squatting places, holes in the ground and concrete slabs laid over crawling cesspits. What’s it look like inside a Malawian chim? How narrow is the perch inside your average jetliner? Such great stories about the width of the hole in country x and the height of the throne in country y; the porcelain foot-placement here and the wild sexual graffiti carved into the stalls over there. What about these festival toilets in Glastonbury, UK, as pictured at hostelbookers.com?
My inspiration for toilet tourism began as a gift from my father, a man well-versed in the map of grocery stores throughout New England. Not only could he tell me the precise exit number for a Stop and Shop three states away, he could direct me to the proper aisle should I need a place to rid myself of all the coffee I’d drink on the way to getting there. “Best go down aisle 12, past the detergents, and make a left at the Raid end cap through those swinging double doors. Don’t forget to wash your hands, and grab a cheese sample on your way back out!”
For dramatic, gut-wrenching drama in reality TV, one can do better than watching Anthony Bourdain eat bull penis, boiled fertilized eggs, and maggot fried rice. I’m on the edge of my seat thinking of Lou Stoole clutching his bowels in search of great foreign relief. When it comes to eating, there’s a part of the experience beyond what goes in that interests me most.
If you have an exotic toilet experience to share, feel free to spill it here.