Iranian fans reacted with sorrow, shock, irony and conspiracy theories to the death of Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef and TV host.
The host of CNN’s “Parts Unknown”, a television show focused on culinary culture of people around the world, killed himself in a hotel room near Strasbourg, France on Friday, June 8.
Bourdain was one of few American journalists and TV hosts who was very well known and popular among many Iranians, particularly because he dedicated one episode of “Parts Unknown” in their country in 2014 and portrayed Iran in a very different light than it is represented in news.
After returning from Iran, in an interview with CNN he described the country as the “most pro-American place” and wrote on twitter, “never would have guessed that of all the countries in world, my crew and I would be treated so well everywhere, by total strangers in #Iran.”
Since the news about his death broke out, this tweet has been reposted dozens of times by Iranian users of Twitter.
Bourdain’s visit to Iran was also linked to the arrest of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian. The journalist was interviewed for the Iran episode of “Parts Unknown” along with his wife. Rezaian was detained several days later and charged with espionage and later convicted. Trumped up charges of espionage are often used to hold people as bargaining chips. Bourdain wrote several opinion pieces calling for the release of Rezaian. The journalist was later released in the post Nuclear Deal prisoner exchange along with several American prisoners.
Others mourn Bourdain’s death by writing positive messages about him. "If I say that all my life, I liked to live like Anthony Bourdain, I have not lied. Certainly, his shows were the only reason why I love cooking so much," Noah says in a tweet.
By comparing Bourdain’s lifestyle with their own, some Iranians use the occasion to criticize the Iranian regime by pointing at the economic hardship and social restrictions.
“Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain were symbols of life, joy, and fun. They both committed suicide. In Iran our everyday life is full of bad news and frustration.
Why haven't we committed suicide collectively? Maybe we are dead and we don't know yet," Maryam writes.
"I cannot believe it that Anthony Bourdain has committed suicide. Was his depression that severe? If he was in our place, he would have killed himself thousands of times. We are really strong people,” another Iranian Twitter user writes.
"When Anthony Bourdain commits suicide and gets sick and tired of life, how can we continue our life," Morshed asks.
For some Iranians the demise of Bourdain is so surreal that they seize on conspiracy theories and call his death “suspicious”.
"I have seen his shows. I liked them very much. It's a pity! But it is very unlikely that a successful man like him that got to the top from the bottom, kill himself because it is a sign of weakness and it contradicts his personality," an Iranian user named Nazanin writes under a video on Bourdain’s death published by Radio Farda on its Facebook page.
As usual, some Iranians use a humorous language to commemorate their star:
"The most vivid memory I have about him is that whenever I was on diet and turned on the TV, he was eating something exciting. He made me break my diet several times," Mahsa writes in a tweet.