Bourdain’s Field Notes

HANOI, September 2016—We started talking internally about the possibility of shooting a scene with the president of the United States a long way out—nearly a year before it actually happened.

Some people at the White House had reached out and hinted at the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we might find a time and a place where the two of us could sit down to a meal together. These discussions were, out of necessity, very closely held until the very last minute.
CNN didn’t know.

The producers, even the camera guys who were to shoot the scene, were not told until the day before.

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Travel like Bourdain

Vietnam: It grabs you and doesn’t let you go. Once you love it, you love it forever.


Bánh cuốn: Rice roll, stuffed with minced pork and wood ear mushrooms.

Bia hơi: Draft beer and the roadside venues that serve it.

Hạ Long: “Where the dragon descends into the sea”—the name of the bay Bourdain visits; one of Vietnam’s most popular destinations.

Know Before You Go

The number of rock formations in Hạ Long Bay—1,969—brings good luck, according to Bourdain’s oldest friend in Vietnam and his former Foreign Affairs Ministry minder, Dinh Hoang Linh. “Six is for fortune, and nine is for forever—so fortune forever” he told Bourdain.

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