On May 22, the two feasted on Bun Cha, a typical Hanoi dish, and Bourdain is now spilling the details on what it was like to eat Vietnamese food with the leader of the free world.
First and foremost: Obama knows his way around a chopstick.
“He handled the sticky, hard to separate noodles that accompany the pork and the broth components of Bun Cha skillfully,” Bourdain wrote on a Li.st post called “Six True Things About Eating Dinner with Obama.” “He even went in for seconds.”
Obama also was one of the “very few guests” on Bourdain’s show who asked the camera crew if they got to eat too. Plus, he took a picture with everyone.
His presence also meant a lot to people who didn’t even get to take a picture with him.
“The reaction among regular people in Hanoi to the fact that the US President chose to eat Bun Cha was beyond all imagining,” Bourdain wrote. “The effect was unbelievable. People were actually crying the next day, describing to me their shock and their pride, the reactions of their neighbors, to this completely unexpected choice of meal — and the venue.”
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United." Affiliated with Georgetown University for over ten years, he shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."