Perhaps the Hanoi, Vietnam, restaurant where U.S. President Barack Obama and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain recently dined was serving olive branches. The two seemingly strange bedfellows sat down Monday night, local time, over Southeast Asian delicacies and were expected to discuss Obama's views on various aspects of the country — especially the food — but there's a good chance the conversation delved into the political arena.
The culinary connoisseur, who has had some choice words concerning the president's leadership abilities, told Politico in 2012 he felt Obama left much to be desired after being elected to the White House. The president has been “a disappointment to me personally for someone I admired," Bourdain said at the time. "I was very happy when he was elected president. I certainly voted for him, and I was very happy when he was elected. I wish he’d get angry." (For the record, Bourdain is apparently an equal opportunity critic. During the same Politico interview, he called Donald Trump a "blowhard.")
While it is unclear if Obama ever heard that comment, let alone responded to it, it seemed the two let bygones be bygones, at least judging from a tweet by Bourdain, which showed the president was apparently a cheap date. Obama was in Vietnam to solidify political relations with the country's government, but he also took the time to munch on some bun cha — a local delicacy of grilled pork and noodle — for an appearance on "Parts Unknown," Bourdain's food travel show on CNN.
Obama's visit to Vietnam resulted in the U.S. lifting a 50-year-old ban on selling arms to the country, a nod to the governmental progress the Vietnamese political leadership has achieved over the years. It was also meant to confront the regional territorial turmoil about the disputed islands in the South China Sea, to which several countries, including China, have claimed sovereign rights.
Obama has been on somewhat of a global farewell tour during his final term in office, including a visit to Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Germany. But before the "Parts Unknown" taping, he made time to appear on another show to promote awareness of global warming. The president was featured in December on NBC's reality show "Running Wild With Bear Grylls" during a taping in Alaska, a state he wrote bears the hallmarks of "the impacts of climate change."
Up next on Obama's farewell tour is Hiroshima, Japan, where, like in Vietnam, he is expected to address past U.S. military intervention. In the former, U.S. involvement in WWII led to the first atomic bomb attack in history.