I’m finally back with my continuation of the monstrous task that is recapping the best moments from Travel Channel’s groundbreaking program, Anthony Bourdain No Reservations. If you missed it, my piece on Season 1 is here. The Final Tour of the Emmy Award winning food/travel/culture phenomenon is in full swing and The Travel Channel has been compiling their own “Best Of” list. You can go look the videos here.
Enough of the small talk, let’s get on with it!
Episode 3: Peru
My best friend just got back from a highly enlightened journey to Machu Picchu, Peru. My girlfriend often speaks of the country and culture in a manner of which you’d think she lived there for a time, but has not. All three, Bourdain included, have something in common: they’ve all partaken in the “medicine” known as Ayahuasca (pronounced ayawaska). Personally, my knee jerk reaction to such stories of herbal intake and then inward enlightenment would be something along the lines of me rolling my eyes and using the term “fucking” and “hippies”, probably right next to each other. But then I saw this episode and if ever there was a character or personality on TV I’d relate to (besides Larry David) it’d be Anthony Bourdain… And damn, the fucker meets with a local Shaman, does some inward exploration and partakes in the medicine! I guess it’s time for some inward exploration of my own. Eh, who am I kidding!?
Among other things he also does in this episodes is fish for piranha. I guess one has to do a certain amount of drugs to get in the water with those evil little creatures. Oh and did I mention the liquor that’s fermented with villager spit? Yeah….
Episode 5: Sweden
Mr. Bourdain begins the episode with a nod to Ingmar Bergman. That, in itself, is enough of a reason to include this episode in my “Best Of” list. That being said, in this episode he also riffs on Abba, tall blondes, the meaning of “Lagom”, visits Ikea’s nemesis and of course partakes in some tasty looking meatballs. Oh yeah, and there’s apparently such a thing as reindeer sorbet…
Episode 7: Osaka, Japan
By far, one of the best episodes from Season 2, Tony’s trip to Osaka is one to be remembered. I can go on and on about the highlights of this episode but honestly, the whole thing is a highlight. Originally presented in an episode with his trip to China, Bourdain takes a detour away from most of the cliche things Americans think of Japan and explores everything Osaka. Oh yeah, and food is fucking everywhere!
I’ll admit, I’ve never been out of the country. Hell, I JUST got my first ever passport. And in the likely case I’ll ever get over my anxiety regarding flying and be able to travel anywhere in the world, Osaka would be damn near the top of my list.
And if this hasn’t gotten you interested yet, there’s Japanese Baseball and some crazy Japanese comedy show celebrities in this episode as well. But mind you, that just scratches the surface…
Episode 8: US/Mexico Border
Anthony Bourdain visits the area around the Texas and Mexico borders in this episode. We must remember, it was 2006 when this was shot and George W. Bush was attempting to crack down on illegal immigration in this country. The areas he visits here are ones affects (or not so much) by the giant border fence being constructed. He rides his motorcycle into a small town bar (where I’d actually love to hang out) and takes us to Mexico to teach us how nachos were actually invented and why.
And this clip needs to be watched, if not for any other reason for the reference to El Mariachi.
Episode 13: Decoding Ferran Adria
The first time I ever got to view this 1 hour special episode was not while watching the rest of this Season. For some reason, this special was unavailable for viewing on Netflix and I was unaware of it until a friend of mine let me borrow the DVD. If you’re familiar with Anthony Bourdain, you’re probably familiar with the restaurant El Bulli and its chef Ferran Adria. He tends to talk a lot about the chef and for good reason! Well thankfully he was finally able to visit El Bulli (before it closed) and bring this hour of television to us. If you can get a copy of this Special, it’s an hour well worth your time.
Episode 14: Anthony Bourdain in Beirut
Pretty much any fan I talk to about the second season of No Reservations will all agree that this episode is the most memorable of that year. Nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Programming in 2007, this 1 hour special documents the week that Bourdain and his four person crew were stuck in Beirut after the 2006 Lebanon War seemed to just happen while they were there filming what was to be just one more episode of the show.
Taken from a 2006 Washington Post piece about the experience and how it’ll air on TV, Anthony Bourdain said “We’re trying to figure some way to show how beautiful and hopeful Beirut was before the bombing, how terrible a thing it is that happened, what we’ve lost, the pride and hopefulness and optimism that was smashed. The surprising tenderness and sensitivity of the Marines who evacuated us. We’re struggling with a way to tell that story without it being about me or about us. It will not be a regular episode of No Reservations.”
Trust me, this was definitely not a regular episode of No Reservations. I think this episode was the first turning point for the show, putting both The Travel Channel and Anthony Bourdain on the map (so to speak).
Well that’s my list of favorite episodes and moments from Season 2. Be sure to check out full episodes of Anthony Bourdain No Reservations on Netflix Instant and Hulu.com. For further details and tidbits, take a trip over to Travel Channel’s site to read Anthony Bourdain’s blog.
Stay tuned for my Season 3 recap which shall feature Harvey Pekar, drinking Guinness in Ireland, fighting with The Jackie Chan Stunt Team and the long awaited return of Zamir Gotta.
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