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Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Seasons 1-5


Louisa Chu
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Kind of reminds me of the type of shows Keith Floyd used to do for BBC. Irreverent and mocking of the other food/travel shows of the era. Floyd did more actual cooking than AB but I expect they would have had a stellar time if they ever got together...

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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What is entertaining and interesting about Tony is the passion he shows for his subject. He will do just about anything to try something he has heard of such as Absinthe. Anyone that would take a small boat up the river into Cambodia searching for food, is passionette. The bistro that he ate in shows how discrminintaing we(USA) have become about our fellow man. Dogs in restaurants, smoking, fat, alcohol, how simple from our eating establishments and culture where is you even say the word cigar, your are ostracised not to mention attempt to bring a dog to dinner.

Tony's comments are a breath of fresh air to our sanitised programming where the sponsors and censors are afraid to offend any group ethinic or not.

Tony on TV, is Tony in person, he looks, talks and acts exactly the same in person. I suspect that he only has one of those leather jackets and i have never seen him without it. -Dick

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The improptu-ness came off as scripted.    Tony walks into a bar and just so happens to sidle up next to an artisan distiller of Absinthe?  What a conicidence!  My host forgets I am coming into Paris so I have to take a cab?  Not again! 

I saw N/R last night and I totally agree - this aspect of the show was very annoying - all of the "hey, lighten up, leave the guide book at home" talk looks a bit silly when everything is clearly so pre-arranged. We all know that he specifically set off to meet that guy at that bar, so why pretend otherwise? I suppose it's meant to be "fun" but it came off as just being self-consciously "zany" (likewise the cowboy boots comment). I was reminded a little bit too much of the second season of 'A Cooks Tour', which is not a good thing. It's a shame, because there was some good stuff in there (the market segment was great).

Still, I'm looking forward to seeing future episodes - 'A Cooks Tour' was a lot more interesting when Bourdain seemed genuinely out of his comfort zone, and I'm sure the same will be true of this show as well.

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What is entertaining and interesting about Tony is the passion he shows for his subject. He will do just about anything to try something he has heard of such as Absinthe. Anyone that would take a small boat up the river into Cambodia searching for food, is passionette. The bistro that he ate in shows how discrminintaing we(USA) have become about our fellow man. Dogs in restaurants, smoking, fat, alcohol, how simple from our eating establishments and culture where is you even say the word cigar, your are ostracised not to mention attempt to bring a dog to dinner.

Tony's comments are a breath of fresh air to our sanitised programming where the sponsors and censors are afraid to offend any group ethinic or not.

Tony on TV, is Tony in person, he looks, talks and acts exactly the same in person. I suspect that he only has one of those leather jackets and i have never seen him without it. -Dick

I don't think I understand. I would imagine that the same censors and sanitizers that work all the other shows also work this one. Or is it being overlooked?

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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I'm on the "less impressed than I wanted to be" side. The absinthe bit - way too long, staged and campy. Ditto the tunnels (although the wine cellar was way cool). I also loved the "breaks all the rules" bistro at the end - my husband and I just kept saying "you'd never get away with *that* here..."

Definitely worth watching, and I'll keep watching, but I'm interested to see how the show evolves.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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I enjoyed it - not as much as I thought I would, but first episodes are rarely the best of a show's career. I think it was the endless voiceover that got to me. I don't know how to fix that, per se, but for a start, I'd gladly take more direct conversation with the camera. The voiceover made it seem like a more traditional travelogue, while the direct to camera monologues were refreshing and more involving.

My favorite scene was the one at Chez Denise - we ate at the same table last year on our first night in Paris!

Danielle Altshuler Wiley

a.k.a. Foodmomiac

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I don't get the Travel Channel - but I did read the review in the NYT. Just curious - how much of the footage showed Mr. Bourdain getting drunk - being drunk - being hung over - and getting over being hung over? I don't think most people consider stuff like that funny these days - even reviewers from the NYT. I thought Arthur was funny when I first saw it over 20 years ago - but it doesn't seem so funny to me these days. Perhaps that's because I know too many people who are dead/sick from booze/drugs. Or perhaps these are just different times.

As for the chain smoking - that's perhaps the only thing I have in common with Mr. Bourdain. But I wouldn't recommend it to others. And I'm sure most people who like to eat are happy that they can go to most good restaurants in the world and sit next to a "smoke-free me".

And as for dogs in restaurants - I suspect most people don't care for them - but think they're better than sitting next to a drunk or a smoker.

So what did you all learn from this show except that Mr. Bourdain drinks and smokes too much? And that you can bring dogs to a lot of French restaurants? Robyn

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I think the Absinthe thing is getting blown out of proportion on here. The man took the trip so we don't have to, Absinthe, if you can get the real thing, is clearly not an addiction any one of us would chose in this day and age, mostly because of the cost/obscure factor. It's a campy thing to do, you know, fun. On Tony's part, he's even more cool for playing along. There was lots thrown in that segmet was of historical/cultural interest as well. For me it's hilarious. But I like that prodding of our protestant nature, but maybe that is because I think that it's a big part of the reason that WE suck.

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I've been looking forward to this show for a long time, have seen all of the cook's tour shows multiple times.

I decided to watch no reservations last night (Tivo) Much to my dismay this show is not captioned! I just don't understand how a new series on a major cable channel might not be captioned at this time. I checked the web site, the Iceland episode isn't captioned either. I'm deaf so I'm pretty much locked out of this show. Say what you want about the food network, but they caption everything - Cook's tour included.

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I think the Absinthe thing is getting blown out of proportion on here.  The man took the trip so we don't have to, Absinthe, if you can get the real thing, is clearly not an addiction any one of us would chose in this day and age, mostly because of the cost/obscure factor.

The Absinthe expert also tried to point out that most of the tragedy of the "Absinthe Drinkers" was plain alcoholism. Absinthe is very high in alcohol, but because of the sugar and water added to it, it is very easy to drink. Therefore, you drink a lot of it, more than if you were drinking, say, straight whiskey. You drink more, you have more chance of getting addicted and becoming an alcoholic.

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Most of absinthe's bad rep stemmed from the fact that prior to its wide popularity (following its use as a curative during war time), most of France prefered to drink wine. Absinthe marked the first time that large numbers of people switched to cheap--and higher alcohol spirits. In cold, mostly unheated Paris, people preferred spending large amounts of time in relatively warm cafes--and unsurprisingly--now that they were drinking liquor--got noticably drunker faster. And began to enjoy staying that way.

Absinthe was the focus of a concerted smear campaign by the French wine industry who were alarmed by the growing popularity, affordability (and brand loyalty) of the competition.

Did absinthe deserve its notoriety? Frankly, no.

As far as close-captioning of the show:

I'm surprised and dismayed to hear that cc is not offered--and will bring it to the attention of Travel/Discovery. Here's hoping...

abourdain

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Thanks so much!!! Tony, I tried to lip read you, but man, it's tough when you're talking with a cigarette in your mouth (smile)

I'll be on the look out for any change in the captioning status.

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I just finished watching this episode on my DVR. God, I enjoyed it! Of course, anything on Paris and with Bourdain I would probably enjoy. My husband actually watched it and he hates most cooking shows. He was cracking up at the absinthe segment (he has a warped sense of humor though.) :biggrin:

I can't wait for Iceland next week.

--Kelly

Edited by kellycolorado (log)
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>Most of absinthe's bad rep stemmed from the fact that prior to its wide popularity (following its use as a curative during war time), most of France prefered to drink wine. Absinthe marked the first time that large numbers of people switched to cheap--and higher alcohol spirits. In cold, mostly unheated Paris, people preferred spending large amounts of time in relatively warm cafes--and unsurprisingly--now that they were drinking liquor--got noticably drunker faster. And began to enjoy staying that way.

Absinthe was the focus of a concerted smear campaign by the French wine industry who were alarmed by the growing popularity, affordability (and brand loyalty) of the competition.

Did absinthe deserve its notoriety? Frankly, no. <

what he said...

congrats on the first episode!...hope to see it sometime soon...no travel channel on my french cable...

Edited by pierreverte (log)
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I had absinthe once years ago when I was much younger. A cousin of my wife's returned to San Juan from a cruise with a bottle smuggled in from some port where it was not illegal. Or maybe it was purchased on the sly from some seedy pirate in a trasaction that was illegal at the point of purchase for all I knew. I was actually rather surprised to be offered absinthe as these were older and far more establishment middle class types than we were. I must say we didn't find it likely to be habit forming. Perhaps it was unforunate that it was served straight in small doses. Water and sugar might well have improved its reception. A little ritual might have served to endear me as well.

I wonder about the connection to pastis, which is also a sweet herb and licorice alcohol that's mixed with water. Similar to absinthe, it's also a clear liquid that turns milky when mixed with water as it is in France. Somewhere in the back of my mind, in a rather squishy region that has more information than it can readily sort these days, I seem to recall pastis as being a law abiding replacement for absinthe, or absinthe without the wormwood.

The Mediterranean countries of Europe are still largely wine drinkning places, but it seems to me that France has any number of brandies and other eaux-de-vie as well as liquers that are traditional and could have as easily served to get people drunk as fast as absinthe. It's curious that absinthe wasn't quickly replaced by one of them.

It always helps to have a warped sense of humor. Certainly it helps in the case of Tony, but I mean that more generally in life.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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When in New Orleans we stay at Windsor Court. Never have I observed a dog in the hotel restaurant, at Commander's or the Acme Oyster House. I guess I don't frequent the places that allow such things. -Dick

Don't forget service dogs! [Mel Brooks voice] "It's good to be disabled!"

I think the show lets Tony be a lot of people's -- what is it? -- id? The part of you that isn't clamped down under the weight of loving your mother's penis envy, or whatever. He drinks! He smokes! He says "fat chick"! He's Dennis Leary with an apron! And now a passport, a film crew and a bigger production budget! Sacre bleu! The Tony is on the loose! Lock up your dogs and set the children on him! Do not look into his eyes! Or you will soon commit an unnatural act with a baguette! Or be unapologetically hungover!

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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Tony's personality was the only thing that held that show together for me, so I am hoping for more in the next episodes. I expected something less scripted, more spontaneous. Something like the Bravo series "Long Way Round" with Ewan McGregor and his buddy, Charley, traversing Europe, Russia, parts of the former Soviet Union, China, Outer Mongolia, Siberia and Canada on the way to New York whilst riding motorcycles. They ate some of the most interesting and sometimes most disgusting food you could imagine.

For those looking for more from a travel show with lots of food and culture thrown in - that's the series. The extended 10-episode version is airing on Sky TV now. Maybe the Travel Channel folks should take a look at that for inspiration next time.

Long Way Round

"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.

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I had absinthe once years ago when I was much younger. A cousin of my wife's returned to San Juan from a cruise with a bottle smuggled in from some port where it was not illegal. Or maybe it was purchased on the sly from some seedy pirate in a trasaction that was illegal at the point of purchase for all I knew. I was actually rather surprised to be offered absinthe as these were older and far more establishment middle class types than we were. I must say we didn't find it likely to be habit forming. Perhaps it was unforunate that it was served straight in small doses. Water and sugar might well have improved its reception. A little ritual might have served to endear me as well.

I've had it, the real thing, recently. There's very little about it that seems habit forming, beyond it merely being a fairly strong drink. The supposed hallucinatory effects seem to be limited to some very quick visual blurryness. It was fairly pleasant tasting, but that could indeed have been due as much to the sugar we dumped in it as the substance itself.

I've yet to see NR yet, but well... my assumption has always been that this is being intended as "Infotainment". Bourdain doesn't like to be heavy-handed with the Info half of that, but its not like he's going to put something out that's totally vacuous. As has been said by many others, he's definitely depending on people subscribing to the cult of Tony though. That's not a dig. It just means that I think it's pretty apparent that you have to like Tony to "get" what he's doing. Is he copying Dave Attell? I doubt it. Mr. B. has been this person far longer than Attell has been, and he's probably a much more interesting version.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Tony's personality was the only thing that held that show together for me, so I am hoping for more in the next episodes. I expected something less scripted, more spontaneous.  . . . .

I thought Cook's Tour was almost as scripted. No Reservations has a rawer look and feel to it. I accept that as intentional, although it's possible it was a matter of budget. On the whole, I thought it worked, so it doesn't matter. The result is that the pretend is more naturally "pretend this is real." For what it's worth, I actually found that most acceptable. That's episode one. I wouldn't review a restaurant on one meal, but a first meal often determines if I'll make another reservation. Will I cancel any dinner invitation to watch? That's a silly question in this day of home recording technoogy. Let's say I'm very likely to set the VCR.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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just d/l and watched the show and i have to say it was quite over the top!especially the absinth thing, everybody knows that even strong "illegal" absinth has far to little thujon to get you stoned... the bad f/x also were kinda lame.

the second half was considerably better, but it seems that anthony has never made a lot of trips to paris since the REAL cool places ( and i dont mean the DUH´s like laduree etc.) werent covered at all. even though the cote du boeuf joint was kinda cool... so i hope the next episodes go without the "chichi"

cheers

t.

toertchen toertchen

patissier chocolatier cafe

cologne, germany

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Just came home and was able to catch the France and New Jersey episodes on my flight (Thanks United!). Does anyone know if there are transcripts I can read somewhere?

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The first episode in Paris, a smart way to introduce the show, introduce himself to a new audience. What better way than to compare what the French can get away with and what us Americans have sacrificed.

Tony knows Paris, let him run wild- it's a great introduction. I drink, I play, Let me tell you about the history of the Les Halles markets - not much has changed from Old Paris and New Paris. The show looked, smelled and tasted Paris.

Basically it was a refreshing view of the freedom in Paris. If any city in America had to bury thousands of skeletons under the city , do you think that city would have kept the bones still down there? Wandering through the catacombs is eerie and a bit creepy but above all it's cool!

Unpasteurized cheese, blood sausage fresh baked bread at 6am. Yummy to me and envious too, but another way to point out the differences. America was once like this, I remember from my Grandparents who immigrated to Chicago in the mid-20's from the Black Forest, here in Chicago the new immigrants from Germany had the bakeries and the butchers. There are stilll a few but things change.

Congratulations to Tony and Chris and the crew, thanks for an hour episode and look forward to tomorrows show Iceland.

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