When we woke up to learn of the loss of Anthony Bourdain a couple weeks ago, I had no words. Like so many folks, I looked to him as a legendary guide of good food, a guru of hidden cuisine + travel, and a celebrator of culture. I felt a mixture of emotions - that the food world had lost a prophet, that success is never an indicator of one's happiness, and how sad it was that his heart was just too heavy to bear it all.
Later that afternoon, my husband simply texted me. "You should throw a wake for Anthony."
Back in 2009, I threw a big wake for Gourmet Magazine as a part of my MFA thesis at Pratt Institute while studying printmaking. We were in Brooklyn and the economy was slipping out from under us. I wanted to bring people together - to cook (everyone made a dish from the last issue), to eat (it was the best potluck ever), and to reflect on food culture and the unknown before us (everyone showed up wearing black!). The result was an participatory art piece, one that I am super proud of and you can see some pics of the Gourmet Wake here (on my very un-updated personal art website).
This time, a wake felt different. This was for a person, not a publication. My husband and I decided to keep things simple. We texted a handful of friends and neighbors and on Thursday, June 14th in our Johnson City, Tn backyard, we broke bread together in Anthony's honor with a fabulous potluck. We consumed a lot of mint juleps and feasted on a mix of kabobs, pimento cheese sandwiches, boiled peanuts, watermelon salad, and apple cake (to name a few). It was humble and delicious. And it just felt like the perfect way to honor AB.
As promised, here is the recipe to my favorite, family apple cake. Don't think about how unhealthy it is. Sometimes, life is just too darn short to worry.
Pol's Apple Cake
1 1/4 c. oil
2 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. self-rising flour
2 medium apples, peeled, cored, + chopped
1 c. shredded coconut
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 tsp. vanilla
- Grease/spray a bundt cake pan + preheat oven to 350.
- Blend eggs, oil, vanilla, + sugar until creamy.
- Add flour little at a time and blend well. Fold in the remaining ingredients.
- Pour into pan + bake for 1hr. Remove from pan after 1 1/2 to 2 hrs. (Or be lazy like me and just use a sheet pan!)
1/2 stick butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. milk
- Mix butter, sugar, + milk in sauce pan. Boil for 3 minutes and pour over cake.