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SF food festival invites Bourdain

SANTA FE, N.M. — “On behalf of all of us at Five & Dime General Stores, we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to our loyal customers (and the Journal North!), for your rabid support of our World Famous Frito Pie. Your words have truly been heard around the globe in more than 250 newspapers, television shows, and other media outlets – some of which are collected on our web site.

We also admire the willingness of Anthony Bourdain to quickly correct his erroneous description of our ingredients, and hope he will return soon to share another guilty pleasure with all of us.”

Please come back, Anthony Bourdain.

That’s the message to television’s most famous foodie from the new FUZE.SW Food and Folklore Festival, scheduled to take place at the Museum of International Folk Art and other locations around Santa Fe from Nov. 8-10.

The festival organizers say they’ve invited Bourdain to participate in a panel discussion about Frito pie as part of the event.

The discussion, titled “New Mexico’s Favorite Indulgence,” was scheduled well before Bourdain provoked outrage and made headlines in New Mexico and around the world with his muddled comments about the famous version of Frito pie served at the Five & Dime store on the Plaza.

On last week’s edition of his “Parts Unknown” CNN series, Bourdain called the dish of New Mexico red chile served over Fritos still in the bag “delicious,” but claimed the chile was canned, said the cheese on top was “a day-glow orange cheese-like substance” and committed the sin of asserting that Frito pie was invented in Texas, not New Mexico.

Bourdain quickly admitted when challenged that he was wrong about the canned chile (which has always been made in the store; Bourdain didn’t address the fact the Five & Dime also uses real cheddar cheese).

Bourdain even expanded on his judgment of the pie’s flavor, saying that he found the Five & Dime’s standby “shockingly tasty.”

FUZE.SW, a project of the Folk Art Market, issued a news release Friday saying it has added Earl Potter, co-owner of the Five & Dime, to the festival Frito pie panel, joining an all-star group of writers and food people.

But Bourdain hadn’t responded to his invite, which was issued early last week.

‘Crazy’ reaction

In an interview Friday, Five & Dime co-owner Earl Potter said the reaction to the controversy that Bourdain stirred up “has just been crazy.”

“We’ve had calls from people all over the world,” he said.

Contrary to causing any damage to the Five & Dime’s reputation, the Bourdain incident rallied support and attention for the Plaza business that has been “wonderful,” Potter added.

The headline for the story in England’s Daily Mail, now posted on the Five & Dime’s website, was: ” ‘It was shockingly tasty!’: Anthony Bourdain apologizes to angry New Mexicans after ridiculing famous Frito pie.”

“People on the street come up to me and they think that it hurt us,” Potter said. “It has not hurt us at all. The response been really great.”

He added that Bourdain spent two hours in the store filming his Frito pie segment.

And Potter isn’t holding any grudges.

“I really think his heart was in the right place,” Potter said.