The One Country Where Anthony Bourdain Refused to Film an Episode

The famous chef said he wanted to shoot an episode of Parts Unknown in Afghanistan—so what could he possibly have been afraid of?

Anthony BourdainPhoto: stock_photo_world/Shutterstock

Why Anthony Bourdain was terrified of Switzerland

The late Anthony Bourdain was world-famous for breaking down barriers to other countries’ cuisines, showing the world why you shouldn’t fear the unfamiliar. He rarely shied away from any crazy food choices (he once ate a still-beating cobra heart in Vietnam), but he did refuse to visit one surprising country.

No, Bourdain wasn’t afraid of political turmoil or unsanitary conditions. He was scared of Switzerland.

That’s right, Bourdain had a “morbid fear” of a country famous for peace, chocolate and cheese. “I must have had some terrible childhood experience while watching The Sound of Music that I blocked out,” he told Conan O’Brien on Conan. “Even alpine vistas, like snow-capped peaks or Lake Geneva, or cuckoo clocks or those hats with the feathers—even the cheese; it’s scary to me.”

Like with any irrational fear, Bourdain couldn’t put his finger on what it was that freaked him out about the Swiss, but yodelling did spike his anxiety even more. “You just feel that in your marrow,” he said. “I mean, it’s horrifying.”

And the fear was real: Over years of shooting culinary adventures on TV, Switzerland remained conspicuously missing from his travel checklist, even though he gladly shot in Lebanon, Senegal, and Trinidad.

Switzerland wasn’t the only thing Anthony Bourdain was scared of though. He revealed on the app that he had a few other (more common) fears: clowns, mimes, karaoke and rats. He also had a handful of foods he wouldn’t touch: cat, dog, potentially contaminated salad, and airplane food. Of course, most of us stay away from those too.

Learn 13 ways Anthony Bourdain changed the way the world eats.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest