His willingness to try foods unknown or unusual for most viewers (an adventurous streak for which he was best known) was part of the rich serving that was each visit. In Johannesburg, he sampled futu, a popular cornmeal porridge, and roasted elandthe world’s largest antelope species. Zanzibar served up mandazi, Swahili donuts, and bhajias, lentil fritters. And while in Dakar, he opted for, among other things, thiéboudienne—Senegal’s national dish of rice and fish.

Bourdain never ate alone and often chose locals as his dinner companions, peppering them with questions. Their answers helped him and viewers understand local culture better. Tunji Andrews, a Lagos-based economist, was one of Bourdain’s meal dates last October when Parts Unknown visited Lagos. Sitting outside a Lagos buka—street-side canteens for local foodAndrews and Bourdain discussed the entrepreneurial spirit of Lagos, Africa’s largest city, and home to 21 million people. As always though, Bourdain was equally interested his mealpounded yam and egusi, a popular local stewand preferred to enjoy it how most locals wouldAndrews says. “While I was being proper using cutlery, he washed his hands and dug in Naija style.”

Bourdain took viewers around the world to places he went, showing people’s humanity in a original and compelling way. In his shows, Africa wasn’t a stereotype, a place defined by conflict and poverty. Instead, it was defined by something refreshingly simple: good people, and good food.

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