Betrayal, thy name is Bourdain.

Okay, I owe Tony Bourdain a good bit of karmatic equity.  The banter in those Treme kitchen scenes didn’t exactly write itself, after all.

So I am pretty much trying to say yes to my boy when he calls me and says he’s subbing for Mr. Morgan on CNN and he wants me to guest on a segment with David Carr of the NYT.  I don’t do the talking-head cable shtick often, especially not on complicated issue-talk because the format is too cramped to progress a real discussion.  I’m up for a little nonsense if I have a show that I’m trying to pitch, or if it’s some wordy, hour-long PBS thing where the asides can have asides, but otherwise, no.  And this is quick and dirty.  And I’ve got nothing on air to plug at the moment, and nothing recently published.  But still, it’s Bourdain.  I owe the guy.  And, at the end of the email, noting that the other half of his show is all-foodie talk, he writes: “And cronuts!”Talk about burying the lede.

So, okay, if I’m gonna get to shovel in a cronut or two, then game on.  I’m on the morning Acela up to New York, and I’m on time to the green room.  No complaints as they pancake my Baltimore tan in the make-up room, or when they run the damn mike up the back of my shirt.  Tony wants me to do facts-and-figures foil on the drug war while he and Dave Carr crack wise about their now-legendary journeys through the great diaspora of addiction?  Okay, I’ll be their straight man.  He wants to nail down the intricacies of national security issues and civil liberties with a few, flip minutes at the end, I’ll do my best, though I knew I was on a fool’s errand when PRISM and phone metadata were conflated in the first question.  We’re not going to sort that mess in the next two minutes, but no matter, because I’m a well-pimped pro turning a trick here.  In four and a half minutes, when we clear this set, I will embrace New York’s great dessert provocation of the moment.  Speak of the devil, as Coleridge said, and his horns appear, right?  Right?

Well, let it be known that Dave Carr and I were escorted off-stage a couple hours ago, after the taping, only to be handed  a wet-wipe each for the makeup.

“Where are the cronuts?” asked the redoubtable Mr. Carr.

“The problem is we think we only have enough for the audience,” he was told.

Me?  I’m from Baltimore.  I’m used to coming to New York and having this happen.  So I manage little more than a pout at this point. Mr. Carr, however, relentless Timesman that he is, puts up the good fight:  “My agent negotiated a cronut.  I say this with all sincerity:  I am here for the cronut.”

“Me, too,” I echo pathetically.

“Let me see what I can do,” offers the most sympathetic handler.

“A cronut was part of this deal,” Mr. Carr says to me, firmly.  “I don’t do this except for the cronut.”

“He used an exclamation point,” I offer, remembering Tony Bourdain’s email.

The comment doesn’t quite track and Mr. Carr assesses me for the simpering out-of-towner I am, a chump who has clearly bounced his way in through the Lincoln Tunnel on a turnip cart.  Eventually, the handler comes back with what is perhaps a quarter of a cronut on a plate, cut in half.  Mr. Carr allows that I can have the second piece, even though I have done little to secure such.  We partake and the plate is bare-ass naked a second or two later. Then we depart, even more bitter and misshapen a pair of beings as this world had otherwise rendered us.  But now, on the Acela riding south, I find my voice finally in these words, as my hands drift across the keyboard and I think of  all the slings and arrows, neglects and denials that I have endured in six decades of  life, going back even to my earliest and most savage moments on grade-school playgrounds and in nursery playpens, and I do declare in full view of the entire world:

Tony Bourdain, you lying sonofabitch, you owe me a motherfucking cronut.


  • Hey, David, and anyone else still reading: if you still want a free(ish) cronut, you could always go to The Cronut Project and give big. Or maybe you would be the lucky one to get a cheaper free(ish) cronut.

    You have until tomorrow, and what have you got to lose?

    • Alas, having one small bite of one small cronut, I feel ill-equipped to speak to this universe. I am a mushroom in this matter; kept in the dark and fed shit.

      • Sorry if this followup may come across as banal, but what character from The Wire would most likely eat a cronut? Or if cronuts were around when you were writing the show, would an incident like that with Mr. Bourdain have any effect, perhaps subconsciously, on the show’s story lines or dialogue?

        • If you put a plate of them by the coffeemaker in the Homicide Unit, they’d be gone in four minutes.

  • So I went to Dominique Ansel last time I was in New York. No cro-love. Damn. But I still love Bourdain. Can’t help myself. I grew up in Silver Spring. I lived in Baltimore for many years. Gilbert Sandler is a dear friend and mentor. Parallel lives? Except for the I’m a girl part.

      • An “explanation point” is what has just been poked into your churlish ass by David Simon, “Ben.” Or whatever your real name is.

  • So another day, another story and here we are, still Cronut-less. And yet the media continues to focus on such superficial topics as Egypt, Syria, climate change, affordable healthcare . . . The Cronut doesn’t travel well? Bitch, please. Buy the Cronut a first-class ticket on the Acela and it will be at Penn Station within two hours and 12 minutes, having enjoyed all the free alcohol it wants. Tony Bourdain is to the Cronut as Clifford Irving was to Howard Hughes. More specifically, he is to the Cronut what Irving was to the biography of Howard Hughes: He’s never going to produce it, never had any intention of doing so.

    • You know what this is? The anti-cronut Lame Stream Media. I bet if you were MrsDavidKoch, Fox News would be all over this story.

  • Sister Carrie was promised a Cronut on the train to Chicago and we all know how that ended.

    Bourdain is at Port Authority right now, waiting for the next bus from Iowa, with a big box of Cronuts. The very Cronuts you were promised. Dewey-eyed young things who once yearned to go to Columbia’s j-school are arriving in the city every hour, eager to tweet about food.

    Move over, Cronut. You are so over. As is western civilization.

  • You are owed Le Bernadin. It’s pretty simple- we both know I’m right. That said, Antonio has never made a show about The Bay. They’ve all whiffed. Zimmern came closest, but … Kent Island was so lovely last night under that Oriole just past Full Moon over da Bay!!!

  • friendships have been forever rent, duels arranged, treaties shredded and wars declared for less than this. a man – a New Yorker, no less – does not promise a cronut with a lightness of heart. a man should not renege and maintain clearness of conscience.

  • I hear there is a cronut cook-off shaping up in conjunction with the Austin Film Festival in October. There will be watermelon cronuts, black bean cronuts, fried cronuts, cronuts in chipotle sauce. It’s going to be fabulous. You must come and bring Bourdain. I don’t think the Gourds have a gig that weekend. They might be there. They like cronuts.

  • Look, they COULD have given you a cronut as a contractor for your appearance, but you first would have had to do the paperwork, and that includes the processing fee for fingerprints. You KNOW that would have been the requirement, right? Much better to be an un-served volunteer than pay $151 for a damned stinking cronut. They’re not that good.

  • It’s New York, right? Don’t they have an intern they could send out to go buy boxes of cronuts within 5 minutes? I’m thinking they were intentionally trying to keep the the king of pastry away from you so that in your rage you would inadvertently promote their show on your blog. Clever.

  • The Cronut is over. It is now being served under the name “Rownut” at Baltimore’s Rowhouse restaurant. That’s all you need to know. David Simon, like Dorothy Gale, traveled far and partnered up with some strange guys, only to discover that what he wanted was always right there at home.

    • Never will be over. Simon and Carr are newspaper guys at the cellular level. Unmet promises of free food at a venue leave marks that will not fade 🙂

      • Actually, and this is in earnest — I never grabbed so much as a french fry when I was a working journalist. Even in cop bars, if someone bought me a beer I was careful to buy the next round or more so as to ensure that I could say that I never had the slightest indebtedness to any source or potential source. Once, during a city election, when South Baltimore’s late, lamented Harry McGuirk left me high and dry and hungry at his campaign headquarters, more than an hour late for a press conference, I nearly broke, grabbing a celery stick. I was about to drag it through the onion dip when Sandy Banisky, a Sun veteran, slapped it out of my hand. “That,” she said, horrified, “is Harry McGuirk’s celery.”

        Now, however, I am an unaffiliated whore of the entertainment industry. Hollywood has no ethic worth defending.

        • Mostly kidding. My only association was with sports writers when I worked in a college athletic department. Small time program and hungry writers. Hard to get them to come to our stuff since there were pro teams eight miles away and big time schools. Our brilliant SID provided a break room with pizza or sandwiches (generally) away from the hospitality room for boosters. More like Hollywood than a news beat. Squeaky clean program. Twenty plus years ago.

    • No. But it wasn’t a dream. It was a place. And you – and you – and you – and you were there.

      Baltimore, where all trends go to die.

  • Though we love Mr. Bourdain with all of our hearts, every establishment in Baltimore shall deny him even a crumb of a Berger cookie until reparations are made. The only dessert he will be served in B-more forthwith will be one of those ACE OF CAKES dealies with six inches of colored fondant (all apologies to Duff G.)

  • Scorned women may be the fury of hell, but New York seems to be gathering innumerable dejected cronut seekers. I certainly hope that the flakey goodness passes your lips soon. Might Monsieur Bourdain be obliged to wait in line, purchase the confection, and then proceed to mail (or drive) it to you?

    • Hi Steven,
      I have been following some of your back and forth with David on one other post (Banality of evil..) and you mention you are on Twitter. Are you @stevenzzhou? I think thats you but there are (unsuprpisingly) a few Steven Zhous on Twitter so I thought I would confirm. Thanks.

  • I don’t ever want you for an enemy. Even over a cronut. Especially over a cronut. And I didn’t even know what a cronut was before reading this piece.

  • Well, I know what a cronut is now. That’s for damn sure!

    Speaking of food: David, have you been to Woodberry Kitchen? If so, is it any good?

    I’ve still be meaning to go to Faidley Seafood. I haven’t been to Lexington Market since I was a kid–when Hausner’s was still around.

  • A cronut is a donut-like croissant. I love how the piece ends:”I think of all the slings and arrows, neglects and denials that I have endured in six decades of life, going back even to my earliest and most savage moments on grade-school playgrounds and in nursery playpens.” Especially the Hamlet line.

  • I am Franco-American, I love croissants and I love donuts, but I just have to say I am appalled at the very concept of a cronut. Mr Simon, I am so disappointed by this flagrant lack of taste.

  • For once, I have one over you Simon – for I had a *whole* cronut just last week. Sure, you have over me that you created the greatest American television show ever and I have not created a single television show, but let’s just say that makes us even.

  • Sometimes you really need to read the small print, even if it isn’t hidden away. To be fair, it was only stated that Cronuts would be there, which is hardly a promise that anyone – since even the number of Cronuts isn’t mentioned – would get one.

    Still, I feel your pain: when you sell your soul for a bite to eat and work for a morsel of bread even the finest work can be over-shadowed by a culinary mishap.

  • I thought your segment was really good (especially the snowden section, that was the most level headed discusion I have seen on it). But I would love to see your drug war argument with someone providing a counter point. At times it feels like you are preaching to the choir in your speechesm

  • ” Mr. Carr assesses me for the simpering out-of-towner I am, a chump who has clearly bounced his way in through the Lincoln Tunnel on a turnip cart. ”

    Brilliant! Take a bow…

  • “The problem is we think we only have enough for the audience.”

    Guess Mr Bourdain is considered a member of the audience then. He’s a joke. His whole macho gonzo food thing is really tedious. They better send you a box of Cronuts tout suite like.. Great blog btw. Really really great. Thanks for doing it.

      • Fair enough. He’s probably a solid guy and a good friend. I’m just saying that his whole “look, I’m eating DOG” form of orientalism he has based his TV career on is pretty tedious. And now he’s denying you Cronuts!

        • >his whole “look, I’m eating DOG” form of orientalism he has based his TV career on is pretty tedious

          It sounds like you’re confusing Tony for a certain Andrew Zimmern, my friend.

          Bourdain and Zimmern are friends, or at least Travel Channel chums, if anything, but Zimmern is most certainly the one with the persisting shtick you described.

          • Yeah, I have to say that beginning with “Kitchen Confidential” and continuing through his remarkable food-travel-culture shows, Tony’s stuff is first-rate.

            • First-rate all the way! I get a smile on my face when he comes on the screen. Seems some are still envious of him doing what he loves and we love what he’s doing.

          • I’m not confusing Anthony Bourdain with Andrew Zimmern thank you very much. A.B. is guilty of the same.

            To his credit he has gotten better over the years. There’s less of the boring “man, am I cool or what, not only did I eat worm tacos, but I’m smoking and drinking too, on teevee!” HST wanna-be persona than there used to be.

            I’m very interested food history and unique cultural traditions, but I still prefer, say, Eat Not This Flesh or Unmentionable Cuisine to any of A.B.’s clumsy prose and self-aggrandizing TV programming. These books, while a lot older, are more accurate, and doesn’t involve the sweeping cultural generalizations Bourdain is guilty of in pretty much every episode/chapter. Mr Bourdain doesn’t have half of the writing skills that you can find in great food writers like Olney or Trilling either. First rate? Maybe not even second rate.

            I guess on some level I’m happy to disagree with David SImon on something, he was batting 1.000 there for a while…

        • Saw Bourdain speak last year and he explained his philosophies on food as a form of cultural exchange beautifully. I really don’t think he eats what Americans would consider “exotic” food b/c he wants to show he’s bad-ass or whatever. He wants to understand and respect other cultures. If they eat dog, he eats dog.

          I can’t sum up a 2-hour talk in a paragraph but his attitude touches my heart, really.

    • “The problem is we think we only have enough for the audience.”

      The unspoken part of that sentence is “because the writers/stagehands/interns got to them.”

    • “The journey is part of the experience – an expression of the seriousness of one’s intent. One doesn’t take the A train to Mecca.” – Bourdain

      In this case, I’m pretty sure the A(cela) train to NYC qualifies you for a fuckin’ pastry.

    • Mr. Carr tweeted a few minutes ago that:

      “Word from heqtrs that #cronut delivery was made to my home. @Bourdain and @piersmorganlive not only stand-up folk, they deliver.”

      I hope they didn’t forget you, David.

  • LOL

    What a frigg’n set up to a “reel them in” punch line……

    Here I was – in great awe of the professionalism and prose with the seamless run together of the words “as my hands drift across the keyboard and I think of all the slings and arrows, neglects and denials that I have endured in six decades of life”

    I’m looking forward to a dynamic coming into the fore that might prove evidentiary your friend is now the enemy for pulling you to “the show”

    and BAM – you call out the betrayal for the Mo Fo Cronut…


  • Jesus, Tony is out of control. Give him some celebrity and the next thing you know he’s breaking promises. Big ones. Food is fucking serious. He must be stopped before people get hurt.

  • Ooooh it has been a long week – thank you so much for this 5pm giggle. Iam not really laughing at you – though I kind of am.

    Having taken the Acela from Baltimore to NYC on many occasions (not a pretty ride) I would have been beside myself at having to make the return trip after being denied a Cronut. I would have pitched a hissy fit and snatched Bourdain’s Cronut out his hand mid-bite. Or I would have cried. Seriously, don’t tempt someone with promises of something like a Cronut and fail to deliver.

    All in all I think you handled it really well.

    And Bourdain now OWES you. Huge. Like a box of Cronuts.

    • I love the train from DC/Baltimore to Penn Station. Like other urban rail lines, the graffiti makes for a fascinating trip – although the European “artwork” seems more like … art.

  • Just wanted to apologize to you Mr. Simon and to Mr. Carr that you were denied a cronut today. However, I would also like to note that if you had stayed an extra 5 minutes and had not left so hurriedly in your bitter huff you would have been able to pop your cherry-jelly-and cream cheese filled pastry experience because Mr. Bourdain did not finish eating his own cronut.

    Impatience is a bitch, ain’t it?

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