Lion of the Blogosphere

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

with 19 comments

I watched the first three episodes on Netflix. (And there’s some good news here, Netflix has extended the series and it will not disappear from Netflix on Saturday as originally scheduled!)

Bourdain’s goal appears to be to go to places where tourists would never go. Not normal tourists, and not even SWPL hipster tourists. Bourdain is a genial fellow who’s fun to watch, and he happily eats anything put in front of him and finds something good to say about it, which separates him from SWPLs. Bourdain eats all sorts of fried fatty foods that SWPLs think would cause them to get a heart attack in seconds.

There was only one scene where I think that he didn’t happily eat something. In a tiny Indian village in the very northeast tip of Columbia, he’s served a breakfast of fried goat intestines and goat hearts, and I didn’t actually see him put a piece of intestine or heart into his mouth, and he didn’t say how delicious it was like he normally does, even though his travelling companion heartily enjoyed the breakfast.

In the second episode, he visits Koreatown in Los Angeles. Here’s a place that’s easily accessible to American tourists, but no tourist would ever go there, thus it’s still a part unknown. It’s a really ugly place, full of cheap restaurants in ugly strip malls serving Korean food seldom eaten by white people. And a Sizzler. A Korean artist takes him to the Sizzler. I believe the point of the meal was that the Sizzler was for Koreans the first taste of American food, and Koreans loved the all-you-can eat salad bar because Koreans are cheap. Anthony Bourdain had no problem eating cheap chain-restaurant food that a SWPL would never dare put in his mouth.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Television

19 Responses

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  1. His older show on the Travel Channel, No Reservations, was much better. Bourdain is more fun and relaxed on the old show. The CNN show tries to be more serious.


    June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

  2. Everyone has their list of favorite Bourdain episodes. My recs:

    1) No Reservations: Lebanon — His most famous episode. Trapped in Beirut during the 2006 Israeli bombing.

    2) Parts Unknown: Congo. “Shithole” does not begin to describe the pathetic state of the Congo.

    3) Any Spain or Vietnam or Japan episode — AB’s favorite countries.

    4) The “local” episodes: New Jersey, Bronx, Queens, Disappearing Manhattan

    5) Montana — Good Lord, Montana is beautiful.


    Bourdain had four separate TV shows: Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, The Layover, and Parts Unknown. Not all episodes of all shows are available.

    AB hid the fact that he was Jewish until late in his career, the “Jerusalem” episode, probably so he could move easily through Muslim countries.


    June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

  3. I think the natives sometimes trolled Bourdain, by feeding him stuff they don’t normally eat. That sounds likely in the India situation.

    Dave Pinsen

    June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

  4. Parts Unknown is entertaining and Bourdain seems genuine and decent, but I still can’t get past him killing himself when he has an eleven year old.
    You can’t abandon your child like that, and I don’t care how depressed he was. He had millions to spend on alleviating whatever depression he had, and there are many people with lives far worse than his who stick it out and survive.
    He chickened out.


    June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

    • You’re assuming that was his eleven year old. We can’t do that in light of recent events.


      June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

  5. One of the core tenants of SWPLdom is to partake in prole pursuits, but only for ironic amusement. That is why Bourdain ate at the Sizzler. It means that he has bohemian street cred. When I lived in SoCal in my younger years the trendy thing for hipsters and SWPLs was to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon beer in dive bars. Some of them even sang karaoke in Koreatown, believe it or not. I always had contempt for these people because I knew that all they were doing is making fun of working class people in an underhanded way.


    June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

    • You’ve just nailed one of the things that irritates me most about liberals — arrogance and condescension. They’re consumed with their own sense of superiority and desire to denigrate others. Feynman doesn’t mention liberals but talks about people who this. (


      June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

  6. goat organs wrapped in goat fat is actually a well know delicacy in rural america, too…it’s called cabrito in west texas…delicious

    active pewter

    June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

  7. I would say that going to Sizzler would qualify as “counter-signalling.” i.e. your typical SWPL avoids chain restaurants in order to signal his superior social status. Bourdain goes to Sizzler in order to signal that he is so high status, he doesn’t even need to avoid chain restaurants.


    June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

  8. “he’s served a breakfast of fried goat intestines and goat hearts”

    Hearts, intestines and other organs used to be fairly common. It was only in the last few decades with large scale commercial farming that such things became unusual. Now, everyone wants muscle and the organs seem strange.

    When I was growing up we raised some animals. We never ate the intestines but did eat some of the other organs. I still eat the giblets if they come with a whole chicken. And I go out of my way not to waste anything from the animals I hunt. If I don’t eat it then my dogs will. Wasting food is immoral.


    June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

    • And when I was a kid, my grandparents used to serve me tongue.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

      • Tongue is tasty.

        Larry, San Francisco

        June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

      • Beef tongue is one of the best cuts if prepared right. I always eat deer tongue. Best done in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Otherwise, it can be tough.


        June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

      • Tongue is what’s known anatomically as skeletal muscle; its structure and composition are the same as all the other cuts of muscle meat we’re used to eating. It’s not organ meat. Cardiac muscle is not quite the same, having some cellular differences from skeletal muscle.

        Incidentally, on the subject of organ meat, it’s impossible to get authentic haggis in the USA, because in 1971 the USDA banned the sale of sheep lungs, an essential ingredient, for human consumption.


        June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

  9. Not entirely true about koreatown. Although i don’t believe it is a big destination for tourists visiting los angeles, it has definitely become an increasingly hipster neighorhood for those priced out of the nearby silverlake and echo park neighborhoods. Hipsters are furthermore known to enjoy the 24 hour korean spas (there is a scene in a Girls episode that features shoshanna socializing at a similarly styled spa in Japan, being of the hipster milieu myself i interpreted this as a nod to hipsters’ general fascination with oriental spas) and the late night, all you can eat korean BBQ restaurants, which are really not in any way intimidating and which i would personally count as among the top 5 meals of my life.

    A hipster would not be caught dead in a sizzler, however, that much of the episode was a genuine window into the prole korean immigrant in los angeles experience.


    June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

  10. AB was most often of the philosophy that when poor people give you the best they have, you eat it and show appreciation. One exception to the rule was an episode in (I think) Mexico, where an old crone makes him iguana stew. He tried it and make it clear that he thought it tasted like ass.


    June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

  11. One of his best episodes is from Charleston, SC. He raves about the Waffle House. I’m a southern man so I get it. His appreciation seemed genuine.


    June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

  12. After his death, the left was Tweeting praises of him for his pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel statements. I had never heard about that before, but I don’t know much about him.

    June 13, 2018 at EDT pm

  13. The Korean-American artist Bourdain goes to Sizzler with has an interesting story in his own right.

    He had been a graffiti artist of some renown and was asked to paint the interiors of the first Facebook headquarters in Silicon Valley, when the company was almost unknown. He was given a choice of cash payment or stock, but was advised by the guy who hired him to take the stock, which wound up being worth around 200 million dollars.

    No more starving artist.

    ice hole

    June 14, 2018 at EDT am

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