By Anthony Bourdain on August 22, 2009 1:03 PM
The Lonely Planet Guide, discussing what happens if you are lost on a trail in the Darien bluntly describes you as “a goner.” But on a wing and a prayer, brave Diane ventured out into the wild, hoping to find the spot and call New York so that at least by the time we got back to Panama City, somebody would be on the way with replacement cameras. The outcome of this foolhardy mission was uncertain at best. The return, against the current, difficult. This after having just returned from humping a pack up and down mountains and across slimy log bridges for four hours. But off she went.
When I look back on my life and career from some sputum stained hospital bed or while waiting for them to pry me from the wreckage of a car …or in the final seconds of consciousness after I slump to the ground while waiting on line for my fruit cup at Century Village, I’ll look back on the Montana show with no small amount of pride. I will smile and be proud that I had the honor, the privilege, the sheer joy of having Jim Harrison on NO RESERVATIONS. Jim is one of America’s greatest authors, poets, screenwriters—a gourmand of legendary reputation and a personality so big it’s barely contained by the landscape. I’ll be grateful that a painting by the awesome Russell Chatham now hangs on my wall. That fishing guide, wilderness cook, jack-of-all trades Dan Lahren showed me around. And that I got to spend many happy hours drinking at one of the world’s finest saloons, The Murray Bar.
Turns out they eat real well in Livingston, Montana, one of the world’s truly great towns in one of its most beautiful places. Seems like everybody’s got a freezer full of antelope liver. Livingston’s 2nd Street Bistro serves a meal on a par with any great city—often with better ingredients—and you’re just as likely to see a cowboy foraging for fresh morels as an ex-hippie in a pick-up with a gun rack.
When you see idiots on TV talking about the “real America,” they’re both talking about the Paradise Valley—and not understanding it at all. Livingston confounds any attempt to stereotype the West.