SANTA FE, N.M. — Insults dished out by food critic Anthony Bourdain on an episode of CNN’s “Parts Unknown” have stirred up outrage in New Mexico – and now he acknowledges that he was wrong.
In Sunday’s episode, the sharp-tongued chef and writer lashed into the “World Famous” Frito pies sold at Santa Fe’s Five & Dime General Store’s snack bar. The store is a tourist attraction and a mainstay in the city’s historic plaza.
While calling the dish “delicious,” he insisted it was made with canned Hormel Chili and a “day-glow orange cheese-like substance.”
But Bourdain spokeswoman Karen Reynolds told The Associated Press on Monday that the writer was incorrect in his description of the chile used by Santa Fe’s Five & Dime General Store’s snack bar to make the Frito pies.
“He admits that ‘we got it wrong’ about the chili,” Reynolds said in an email. “And we’ll try to correct it for future airings.”
World traveler and foodie Anthony Bourdain came to New Mexico last year for an event at the Kiva Auditorium. While in New Mexico, he found time to film a segment for his CNN show.
In the show, Bourdain drives along old Route 66 and speaks of the famous highway’s different cultures and cornucopia of food, visiting spots in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
He also is shown enjoying some “level 3” green chile and having to “wait it out” while the spicy effects wear off. And he answers the question, “red or green,” with: “I’m green all the way. And New Mexico’s got it best.”
In his criticism of the Frito pie, Bourdain said the local favorite isn’t even a New Mexico meal, but rather a Texas creation. He said New Mexicans should leave the recipe to the Texans.
“New Mexico, you have many wonderful things,” Bourdain said. “I think, let Texas have this one.”
Mike Collins, store manager of the Five & Dime, said Bourdain was “completely wrong” on the store’s Frito pie. He said their version is homemade from chile grown in New Mexico and remains popular.
“I don’t have any idea where he got that from,” Collins said. “I mean, if we’re using canned Hormel Chili, then I’d like to buy stock in that because what we have is good.”
Still, Collins said he and the staff don’t have any ill feelings toward Bourdain. He said during the taping of the visit, Bourdain was a pleasure to be around.
And he said Bourdain clearly enjoyed the pie, something that might not have been clear to everyone.
“Contrary to the impression left by some reports of the show, I, in fact, very much enjoyed my Frito pie in spite of its disturbing weight in the hand. It may have felt like (expletive) but was shockingly tasty,” Bourdain said in a statement on Monday.
If you missed Sunday’s episode, you can still watch it. Go to www.cnn.com and search for “New Mexico.”
Journal assistant arts editor Adrian Gomez and AP writer Russell Contreras contributed to this story.