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Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Seasons 1-5


Louisa Chu
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It would surely be easier and often more palatable--and even interesting--had we lied--meaning cobbled together a lot of B-Roll of food close-ups, splice in plenty of beauty shots of pretty vistas, monuments etc. and added a gushing voice over extolling the delights of the subject country, complete with a well-researched litany of historical facts. There's plenty to be said for that kind of approach. It's safer, certainly fairer to the country--and more reliably "interesting" to the majority.

It's also what everybody else does--and what I DON'T and WON'T do.

And I for one would like to thank you that. If I wanted BS and relentless perk and positive PR-especially when not merited, I could have part of my brain removed and watch Retchel Ray on "$40 A Day" or the even worse "Tasty Travels".

It's the snark I look foreward to, and the fact that in any given episode you are not going to take the easy road with the pretty pictures and prozac laced voice over. If you hated it and thought it sucked it's all out there- and when you do gush about something being great it's real and not just a show for the camera. I may not always agree, I might wonder if all the alcohol has effected your judgement but I never think you said it because someone was dangling a check in front of you or because it would bring your Q rating up.

P.S. DVD's- we need DVD's!

Edited by Gigi4808 (log)
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I do understand your point about rich material etc.

I like all the episodes including Iceland, which gave me the most belly laughs I ever had and yet it also gave you an idea of how people live there and some other interesting people and characters. I know when I travel to Pakistan it is emotional, scenic, and every moment every scene is a national geographic opportunity. I don't get that if I go to lots other places. So I guess when all the other episodes have been so interesting your expectations go up. And that was a compliment incidently. I do look forward to the future programs especially India.

Thank you, Melinda

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Heh, unlike Rachael Ray who can always be counted on to be perky, upbeat, brain dead, annoying, bland, and superficial. Yuck.

Recent episodes I've had time to watch:

Iceland #2: Ugh, I really didn't want to watch that again.

Extras: Some bits were kind of interesting - like the flying Elvi - but I felt like I'd already seen most of it.

Florida: Good (frog hunting, Key West, African "deli"), so-so (South Beach bars), and not so good (whining around the hotel).

Japan and China: Good to Great. A different, refreshing take on Japan. And China was all new to me - based on my images of it formed by media stories, I expected it to be heavily polluted, crowded, infected with SARS, polluted with junked US computers, swamped by Three Gorges Dam, primitive, etc. China looks like an interesting place. Enjoyed the show quite a bit.

Edited by johnsmith45678 (log)
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Travelling independent of a tour group, cruise ship and preset packages automatically makes it your own experience. Weather conditions, expectations realistic or otherwise, tourist traps, high season crowds, holidays that shut down shops and transportation, aggressive touts and illness all make travelling a crap shoot. I guarantee that you will not get the same experience returning to a favorite place. We have been to over 100 countries and have done it on our own. Riding rickety buses sitting next to chickens and (un)friendly locals and eating crap or fantastic food does affect one's impressions of a place. Expensive cities on a budget can suck as you are forced to avoid pleasures that would enrich your experience. (I bet Ramsey's is terrific but a good fish and chips is tasty too.) Sharing travel tales provides an insight to the place and the person. Watching these shows brings back memories of our trips and frankly, Tony's take is pretty spot on.

What disease did cured ham actually have?

Megan sandwich: White bread, Miracle Whip and Italian submarine dressing. {Megan is 4 y.o.}

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My absolute favorite part of the entire season was in the Japan show--the Osaka baseball fans--and I've got no idea why. The joie of it all, I reckon.

"I'm not looking at the panties, I'm looking at the vegetables!" --RJZ
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I have to say, I have really enjoyed all the shows. Each have their own merit. My husband rarely watches TV, but after walking in whilst I was watching the Japan episode, has been hooked ever since and is pissed off that I never told him about the show before......a big thing as the usual comment is "What crap are you watching now?'

I am very interested in seeing the episode in Puerto Rico. I have been living in Puerto Rico for 7 years now, after living the rest of my life in Ireland, so it'll be good to see where this show visits and to see it from Antony's perspective.

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The show--at its best--can ultimatelyonly hope to be about me, me, me and what happened to me--and how I felt about things. I couldn't/wouldn't do it any other way.

I leave that to the professionals.

Coming soon: Puerto Rico..The Tex Mex border..2 India Shows..Korea..and Indonesia..

I find your sense of humor, edited or not, very refreshing. But, I have to ask...

was there nothing else that sounded good on the menu? You ate a hog ankle. For crying out loud, you could have done that here in Indiana.

I liked the hat. It was a signature piece! Now everyone is going to want one.

(onward through the fog...no reservations is good tv!)

cowpati

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Finally, with all due respect, that was crocheting, not knitting.  The Martha Stewart Convention laid it out quite clearly:  Swedes crochet, Norwegians knit, Danes embroider, and Fins tat.

Thanks for mentioning that - every time it was called "knitting" I was yelling at the TV "no no no! It's CROCHETING!"

And they had a good crochet technique, too. (I don't, I'm self-taught.)

The meatballs looked good, though.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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That was some good Tony this week, not great food porn, just good, but hey, he was in Sweden, fu-ged-aboud-it. I bet those No Reservations people could make a show in North Dakota that everybody on here would watch. I think this was a bit too close to Quebec and the seal, a Quebec2? Last week we saw Grill Bitch, what's this, teaching! And she looked, well, actually quite attractive. Well, quick, throw Tony the life Equator, or was it preserver. . .

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Though always dismayed when people are disappointed by a particular episode, one of the things I'm proudest of about NO RESERVATIONS is that each week differs in mood, tone (and to whatever extent possible) content--as well as degree of "success" or "failure" in capturing a place or a culture. It's a show with noticable--often violent-- mood swings, practically schizophrenic at times.

Coming soon: Puerto Rico..The Tex Mex border..2 India Shows..Korea..and Indonesia..

This isn't the Samantha Brown Show. And thank god.

Edgy is good. Schizophrenic is good. Change and risk are good. These are good shows. Safe is stale and bland. Bland is bad. Gorgeous photography is good. (Review by Dr. Seuss)

Does anyone remember when Joni Mitchell turned her back on pop and started experimenting with jazz? That's when I started buying all her albums without listening to them first; I knew she'd be doing something interesting. That's how I feel about this show. It's challenging in a way most TV is not.

Please, please, please, keep the mood swings. We already have the Teletubbies.

Regarding potential locations: how about Patagonia? Chile? South Africa? (Someone other than Colin Cowie needs to do South Africa.)

"She would of been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

--Flannery O'Connor, "A Good Man is Hard to Find"

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Coming soon: Puerto Rico..The Tex Mex border..2 India Shows..Korea..and Indonesia..

Are all of these shows filmed yet? Or are your handlers still taking suggestions for where to go in any of these countries?

They've all been filmed. Puerto Rico is the next episode to air and if my memory serves me it's Tex Mex then one of the India episodes after that.

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They've all been filmed.  Puerto Rico is the next episode to air and if my memory serves me it's Tex Mex then one of the India episodes after that.

Thanks, rose_ayn. It's great to have something to look forward to on Monday nights again. And let us know in advance if Adrian Ferran is going to have a tailgate party at El Bulli. (what with the limited space in the restaurant and all)

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That was some good Tony this week, not great food porn, just good, but hey, he was in Sweden, fu-ged-aboud-it.  I bet those No Reservations people could make a show in North Dakota that everybody on here would watch.  I think this was a bit too close to Quebec and the seal, a Quebec2?  Last week we saw Grill Bitch, what's this, teaching!  And she looked, well, actually quite attractive.  Well, quick, throw Tony the life Equator, or was it preserver. . .

Who is Grill Bitch?

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That was some good Tony this week, not great food porn, just good, but hey, he was in Sweden, fu-ged-aboud-it.  I bet those No Reservations people could make a show in North Dakota that everybody on here would watch.  I think this was a bit too close to Quebec and the seal, a Quebec2?  Last week we saw Grill Bitch, what's this, teaching!  And she looked, well, actually quite attractive.  Well, quick, throw Tony the life Equator, or was it preserver. . .

Who is Grill Bitch?

Beth Aretsky, Tony's former Chef Grillardin at Les Halles. Tony immortalized her in his book Kitchen Confidential. "Grill Bitch" is how she refers to herself. She even uses it on her business cards.

Edited by rcianci (log)
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That was some good Tony this week, not great food porn, just good, but hey, he was in Sweden, fu-ged-aboud-it.  I bet those No Reservations people could make a show in North Dakota that everybody on here would watch.  I think this was a bit too close to Quebec and the seal, a Quebec2?  Last week we saw Grill Bitch, what's this, teaching!  And she looked, well, actually quite attractive.  Well, quick, throw Tony the life Equator, or was it preserver. . .

Who is Grill Bitch?

http://www.straight.com/content.cfm?id=6305

This is a fun read. Highlights of the day, including the 'grill bitch' quote.

Edited by cowpati (log)
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Though always dismayed when people are disappointed by a particular episode, one of the things I'm proudest of about NO RESERVATIONS is that each week differs in mood, tone (and to whatever extent possible) content--as well as degree of "success" or "failure" in capturing a place or a culture. It's a show with noticable--often violent-- mood swings, practically schizophrenic at times. There are numerous examples of places or countries that I clearly--no matter how deserving the subject--I just didn't "get" or do justice to.  The end result of a shooting period in say..Iceland--is entirely dependent on a number of factors, both entirely subjective (Was I in a good mood? Was I tired? Was I cranky? Did I just not connect on a personal level with the people I met during my limited time in country?Did I bring some prejudice or off-camera peronal business to the experience?) to external (Was our fixer not so dynamic? Was the weather bad? Were we just not lucky? Did the reindeer not cooperate...

Perhaps it helps when a country is "smoking friendly" :wink: ?

gallery_13301_251_25594.jpg

I found it very refreshing that smokers aren't pariahs in Japan. Robyn

P.S. This is a picture of one of several hundred street vendors at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Osaka in mid-April.

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I heard a rumor that I am trying to confirm that Bourdain will appear at the 2006 Charlotte Shout festival in Charlotte, NC in September. Anyone out there know where I can confirm this?

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I personally enjoyed the Sweden episode. I've been to Sweden a few times in both winter and summer. Given the limits of television, I thought it was a reasonable reflection of the Swedish people and of some of food there. I also thought it was funny, as most of the shows are.

Aside from the general entertainment value, what I really enjoy about this show is that Tony and crew seem to make an effort to show what people really eat and how they live in the places they visit. I like a good high-end restaurant experience as much as anyone but when I travel (vicariously in this case) I try to experience authentic homestyle cooking when I'm there. Sometimes that food is boring - so be it.

Rob

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Point of minor arcane interest:

While I did not, unfortunately, get to shoot Chris, I DID in fact save our Lavu. The fucking fire went out and the little gas heater malfunctioned, spewing carbon monoxide and smoke--but no heat. I woke up in a way below zero freezing tent, nearly numb--and by using my lighter and igniting my production schedule and some local currency as kindling--was able to restart a wood fire. Chris, Jerry and Todd, of course, were perfectly content to doze and fart their way into semi-conscious hypothermia..

You DIDN'T get to shoot Chris?!! After all that shooting safety you had to undergo in Scotland, bagging the bunnies? You wuz robbed, Nino. Considering Chris has got you on a horsey - yet again - in the PR promos (and no doubt fishing for something . . . somewhere . . . Oh, God, the ennui . . . the hopeless . . . the despair . . . it seems a little buskshot, at least, would have been in order. :biggrin:
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Hey!  I just got a fax here at the office offering my organization the opportunity to have Tony Bourdain as a "sharp, edgy," speaker at one of our events! 

I wish....

Do it!

I have a tape of Tony, along with Michael Ruhlman and Courtney Febbroriello, from a panel at the '04 IACP International Conference. He's extemporaneously funny :biggrin: , and most likely just as interesting under any circumstances.

SB (wonders how "sharp" difers from "edgy"?) :wink:

Ingrid, Tony actually does a fair amount of corporate stuff - he's speaking in Boston to a bunch of suits about "leadership" in August - looking at what I have seen of his embryonic speaking schedule (roycecarlton.com), he speaks at a lot of other things outside of SOBE (South Beach Food & Wine Festival), the Starchefs gig in September, and the Bermuda food fest in October. If you can persuade the pencil pushers in your firm to book him, DO IT! A lot of best things are either pretty expensive or only open to the industry. Good luck!
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Sicily for instance--which I loved but where everything seemed to go wrong

I loved the Sicily show! Just goes to show you that it is not just your prejudice, likes and dislikes that come to play when the show is aired. Ours too. I love everything Italian and am particualry fond of Sicily and it's Arab influences. So, maybe things did go wrong there, but I watched this show when it ran and when it re-ran and it is one of my favorites...close second is probably Montreal although China was fantastic too... :smile:

Food Man, I'm with you on the Sicily episode. Although I personally would have liked to have seen more reindeer and Sami from the Sweden episode, it's obvious that Tony & Crew were all on the edge of hypothermia - and who knows? Maybe the reindeer weren't cooperating. Not everyone has a way with ungulates.

I thought Sicily was a riot - the Fellini subtexting and black & white snips cracked me up. Even the fact that Tony went AWOL on Pantelleria and shook the anziani (old men) down for their bocci ball money was pretty funny. Sometimes his best moments ARE when he's truly had enough. And Iceland, too - where a lot of other things went wrong - turned out to be pretty funny, too. OK, so the arctic char segment never saw the light of (the regular programming) day - but the blizzard spent in the cave? The mud tub at the spa? (Tony, not so innocently: "What's a glute?!") It's the everyman quality, trapped by the horror of occasionally being backed into doing a TV-like thing and coupled with a situation that, production-wise, has just gone south, that makes NR so watchable. That, and watching Tony change over the years, as every country teaches himself different about it - and himself.

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Uzbekistan - Interesting, enlightening of a different culture, also hysterical mainly because it seemed Anthony’s friend usually got him in these uncomfortable and embarrassing situations. He certainly had his way with tony and that massage that no else had. Oouch I can still hear that cracking noise. And how about the wedding where he was pushed into dancing even though he didn’t want to. Or how about those organ meats sweating in the hot sun. I hope there were plenty of antibiotics and perhaps typhoid shot before the trip. It was good storytelling and held your attention also with all the conflict going on. Too bad it seemed that the host seemed to suffer quite a bit here.

Iceland- I think it was classic like a good Seinfeld episode. It was edited and narrated very well and it showed a slice of life that was different that what you would expect. And what was introduced was a bunch of memorable characters. Of course there were some uncomfortable moments in here as well, a complete massage and a bath of mud by a woman who looked like she could bench press a small house. Yet the best part was the festival where it looked like a bad wedding that few attended and the wonderful and perfectly revolting meats that one can only gag at the contents, texture the smell. Unfortunately it looks like there was some more suffering by the host.

Vietnam- Of course you can see the love behind this show. Just everything worked here. Lots of twists and turns and you can’t go wrong with such an interesting and beautiful location. But there was one uncomfortable dance scene that made this a familiar theme of embarrassment to the host but funny none the less.

Miami- was colorful lots of variety and interesting mix of characters. I loved that crusty Alligator man and how he mixed the meat with his hands and practically burned the house down in the kitchen. Very good mix to hold your interest.

Quebec- Interesting, disturbing but in a enlightening sort of way. It did on one hand remind me of night of the living dead but it really is an eye opener as to what we do too. This was very good work and brave. And there was a little bit of suffering with the quantity of duck so conflict and embarrassment works again too.

Sweden- Sorry, but what happened? I still think this episode was Flat and uneventful. It spent a long time in search of Abba and boring repetitive themes and just blandness. I guess conflict was missing here. And how about those embarrassing moments? And no Swedish massage with Abba music in the background? Lol And yet still I rather watch this than any other travel/food programs.

Puerto Rico- Entertaining and colorful and interesting side trips. And I remember seeing the Pig cheeks in a london show too, pork is certainly a favorite.

Maybe Anthony can consider a payback episode from all the suffering of prior shows. lol

Melinda

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