Return to Transcripts main page
ANTHONY BOURDAIN PARTS UNKNOWN
Parts Unknown: Tangier, Morocco
Aired February 16, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST: I've always wanted to get as far away as possible from the place that I was born. Far both geographically and spiritually. To leave it behind.
BOURDAIN: Tangier, it's Morocco. But from 1923 through 1956, it was loosely governed by the major powers, in international zone. For years, it seemed, everything was permitted, nothing was forbidden. At the northern tip of Africa, a short ferry hop from Spain, Tangier was a magnet for writers, (INAUDIBLE) band, spies, and artists.
If you were a bad boy of your time, if you liked drugs, the kind of sex that was frowned upon at home, and an affordable lifestyle set against an exotic background, Tangier was for you.
Matisse, Genest, William Burroughs. Many have come this way, staying a while or hanging around, but no one stayed longer or became more associated with Tangier than the novelist and composer Paul Bowles. In works like "The Sheltering Sky" he created a romantic vision of Tangier that persists even today. A dream that has become almost inseparable in the minds of many from reality.
I'm here to find that dream city. The place Burroughs referred to as "Interzone."
Tangier, like I said was a city of ex-pats -- people with pasts, people who simply didn't like where they were and crave somewhere and something else.
The Grand Socco is the gateway to the Medina where you could find the Kasbah, which means fortress, by the way. The Port of Tangier is to the east, and right in the middle of it all, the Petit Socco. What Uncle Bill Burroughs called the last spot, the meeting place, the switchboard of Tangier.
Reasons for settling in Tangier diverge, but everyone sooner or later, since the beginning of memory, comes to Cafe Tingis. Jonathan Dawson came to this city over 20 years ago as a journalist and he never left. He lives a live not too distant from Burroughs' fantasy. Taking tea at 4:00 every day, served by his manservant. He may not have a gazelle, but a pet rooster will do. And every day he makes the rounds of the cafes, seeing all the old faces, ending up sooner or later here.
(On camera): So this is the Petit Socco? JONATHAN DAWSON: This is Petit Socco. Yes. This socco existed in Venetian times, it existed in Roman times, it existed in the Portuguese times. The English were here for 22 years, then the international city until 1956, now it's conflicting the problem. This is very historic square. Very historic.
BOURDAIN: As a writer, I've noticed everybody who comes here to do an article does the same article.
DAWSON: It's so damn boring. They all do Paul Bowles and the beat generation and there are lots of other stories in the block apart from that. But everyone likes the beats, Bill Burroughs, and all that stuff, and Tennessee Williams, and they were all here.
DAWSON: But that's a small part of Moroccan history. That's a 15- year page. There was a life before that and a life after that. You're here.
BOURDAIN: Yes. It was inevitable. Let's pretend that those guys never came. What is -- what is this place?
DAWSON: Well, the reality is, if you can read the Paul Bowles story you can live it. And people do come here and try and live it, but they don't stay very long.
DAWSON: They smoke a little dope, and they'd go to a cheap hotel and they go home with bedbugs.
DAWSON: That's another life story.
BOURDAIN: And a great story.
DAWSON: And a great story.
BOURDAIN: But I mean, the attitude here is different than other parts of Morocco. I think they have a higher tolerance of tradition of bad or outrageous behavior.
DAWSON: They have a high tolerance of mad people, you know? But the Moroccans essentially are very tolerant people. They quite like madness as well. They kind of celebrate that a bit, you know?
BOURDAIN: How Moroccan is Tangier?
DAWSON: It's a Moroccan city with a European outlook. You know, you can stand up on the boulevard, you can see Spain and Gibraltar, so you're going to see all sorts of people passing through but it's a very Moroccan city. I'm 62 years old. I didn't know international days which finished in 1956, but at that time I think Europeans may have outnumbered Moroccans in the center of this city. It's not the case now, there's very few Europeans actually living here full time.
BOURDAIN: The notion of living a life apart, of being somewhere else, there are those who like that feeling. I like that feeling. And then there are those who may live apart, they may live somewhere else, but they're not entirely comfortable. It's the -- the difference annoys them or is a burden.
DAWSON: It did, and it frustrates them. Some people have to leave home to find their home. I'm one of those people. Whereas I didn't feel at home in the country I was born in at all. But up here I feel OK. I feel very, very happy here.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): There is indeed something special about this place. Burroughs described the native corridor of Tangier as a maze of sunless twisting streets filled with blind alleys. Its smell was particularly notable to him, including a mix of hashish, seared meat, and sewage.
Tangier, before anything else, is essentially a port city, with all the things that traditionally come with port cities. It's situated at the choke point between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The Moroccan Coast is a rich fishing ground, and a lot of people make their living from the sea.
On shore they use a method call senhal fishing, where weighted nets basically drag fish across the bottom of the sea. Some of that fish, the good stuff, anyway, ends up here. The Saveur de Poisson, or Restaurant Populare or Popeye's. The place has got a lot of names, but locals and ex-pats alike who've been coming here for years say it's got some of the best Tagine in town.
Mohamed Belhadj, the owner and head chef in some of the nearby Rif mountains. And he sources a lot of his stuff, his produce and his greens from there. And he's real proud of them. The dark room of the place is dedicated to sorting and drying various herbs which he blends into a secret mix he claims has all sorts of healthful and boner- inspiring benefits.
If every dish I've been told over the years is going to make me strong worked, I'd have a permanent pup tent going on down there, so I take all that with a grain of salt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . Hi.
BOURDAIN (on camera): Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you?
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Belhadj's son Hassan delivers the food. It all starts with fresh olives. They're in season now. And roasted walnuts. Some warm, very good bread. Oh yes, and you get this stuff. Everybody gets it. A pulpy puree of figs, raisins, strawberries and full of Mohamed's potent herbs and spices, of course.
MOHAMED BELHADJ, OWNER: All night, it cooks.
BOURDAIN: Yes, yes, yes, I get it. It's supposed to make me more manly. You know what? I'm eating. Let's not talk about that, OK, sunshine? What is a Tagine anyway? It's a traditional Moroccan stew that can include vegetables, meat or fish. Tonight, baby shark, calamari and monkfish, with fresh mountain spinach. Slowly cooked over charcoal in the classic clay pot that gives it its name, the Tagine's dome top. It's supposed to force the condensation back into the dish and keep it moist and tender.
(On camera): It's delicious. I think it's -- with these greens and the aromatics and herbs, I have no idea what they are. I've never had anything like that. The Tangier version of farm to table.
Wow, what is that? Thank you.
(Voice-over): And a whole turbo, brushed with olive oil, salt and pepper and some coriander, then grilled perfectly over the coals. Cuddled up next to the fish, tiny shark kebabs. Cute.
(On camera): Wow, spectacular. It's good value. All of this for 20 bucks? We actually did a pretty good on Mr. Fish. That will teach you.
He's freaking me out now. It's like that guy with, you know, you're tripping, and he goes like this to you?
(Voice-over): For dessert, strawberries, pine nuts and honey. Like the whole meal, it's eccentric and delicious.
(On camera): Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're welcome.
BOURDAIN: I haven't had so much fruits and nuts since Altaban. I told Mick, I said, Mick, this is a bad crowd. Back of the shop, but he's like, man, we can't disappoint the fans.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): "In Tangier, I lived in one room in the native quarter. I have not taken a bath in a year nor changed my clothes or removed them, except to stick a needle every hour in the fibrous gray wooden flesh of terminal addiction. I never cleaned or dusted the room. Empty ampoule boxes and garbage piled up to the ceiling. Life and water long since turned off for nonpayment.
I did absolutely nothing. I could look at the end of my shoes for eight hours. I was only roused to action when the hourglass of junk ran out."
The words of William Seward Burroughs, one of my heroes. He came to Tangier in 1953, shortly after shooting his wife to death in a drunken accident in Mexico City. He was a heroin addict, a homosexual and an inspiration to those proto-hipsters who became known as the beast. Burroughs, however, was not a hipster. There was nothing beatnik about him.
He was a somewhat stuffy, well-dressed St. Louis son of a good family gone wrong. He was also to my mind the greatest writer of the whole damn bunch.
On the road, you can have it. His classic "Naked Lunch" was written here. A nonlinear, dark, dry humored searingly critical and satirical and profane masterpiece. Burroughs was apparently high for much of the process, on heroin or a locally valuable opiate called Eukodol. And of course the daily staple in many of these parts, hashish, kief, and Majoon.
Hashish is the concentrated THC-rich resin of the cannabis plant, as well as varying amounts of its flowers and leaves that had been separated from the buds and compressed into sheet or brick-like form. Kief, a more local and indigenous product, is the part of the plant containing only the strongest concentration of psychoactive ingredients. Majoon is a confection made from kief, fruits, nuts, chocolate and honey.
I was, of course, fascinated by this product since reading about it and inquired of some local contacts, who shall necessarily go unnamed.
How was it made? This is what I wanted to know.
They were kind enough to demonstrate. Kief is first chopped into fine granules and then slowly added to melted butter and chocolate over a low heat to toast it and release the psychotropic goodies within. While the binder element of the majoon is slow-cooking in the plan, combination of spices are blended with cashews, almonds, walnuts and dried fruit. This will be the framework to suspend the THC-laden goodness in the next step.
The cannabis-laced butter chocolate is added along with plenty of honey to bind together all the ingredients. Then mix. Last, you roll the entirety of the mixture into a ball and either refrigerate or dig right in.
Of course, network standards and practices prohibit me from even tasting this delicious and reportedly mind-altering treat. I'm guessing, anyway. So until I see Christiane and Wolf doing bong riffs in "THE SITUATION ROOM," I will of course abide by these rules because that's the kind of guy I am.
There is one particular cafe in the heart of the Kasbah that has drawn in foreign dignitaries, rock stars, aristocrats and artists since it opened its doors in 1943. Cafe Baba. Sweet mint tea in a thick slow- moving haze of smoke. It smells like my dorm room 1972.
(On camera): Good evening, hello.
GEORGE BAJALIA: I'm George.
BOURDAIN (Voice-over): This is George Bajalia and Zaneb Benjalum (ph).
(On camera): Thank you for having me.
BAJALIA: Yes. And welcome to Cafe Baba.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): I should say right now, I have no direct knowledge or awareness of either George or Zaneb smoking any illegal substances nor do I have any contemporary news recollection at this time of me doing anything untoward in their presence because that would be, like, wrong, dude.
George is here on a Fulbright scholarship and Zaneb is an artist from (INAUDIBLE). Others in the room, however, well, don't give me that innocent look, you young punks. I know somebody in here is smoking reefer.
(On camera): So how stoned are people here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can ask, just ask.
BOURDAIN: You know, you're not getting totally ripped here?
BAJALIA: No. It's a functional part of daily life. For a long time, the rest of the country and the government didn't really like Tangier a whole lot. It was seedy. There were these foreigners who came here and --
BAJALIA: He likes Tangier.
BOURDAIN: He likes.
BAJALIA: Yes. It makes money.
BOURDAIN: He sees it as a future economic super power, as I understand it. He's talking condos, boutique, hotels. Is that good or bad?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For Moroccans, it's work.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But of course ex-pats want to keep Tangier like they know it before.
BAJALIA: I mean, this cafe is very similar to the way it was, but there's a TV right there.
BOURDAIN: Flat screen.
BAJALIA: And that's why people -- a lot of people come here. They come to watch soccer games.
BOURDAIN: You can well imagine the American guy who's lived in Tangier for 30 years. OK? He comes in and there's a flat screen TV on the wall, he's like, what the --
BAJALIA: Yes, what?
BOURDAIN: You've ruined the authenticity and the integrity, but the Moroccan guy at the next table is like, wait a minute, wait a minute, asshole, do you have a flat screen TV at home? I want one, too. What's wrong with that?
BAJALIA: Yes. There are people here who probably have never heard of (INAUDIBLE).
BAJALIA: If you only follow that, there's no progression, there's no progress, there's no change.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): The thing about Cafe Baba is just sitting here, taking in the atmosphere, you begin to appreciate the place.
BAJALIA: There's something different is happening here.
BOURDAIN: Contact high, whoa, I'm hungry. Wait until the Spanish tortilla dude across the street opens for business.
This is Abdelileh. He specializes in making one thing and he makes it well. An omelet. Well, it's actually more like a Spanish tortilla but like stonier. The potatoes are boiled, diced, they're mixed with beaten eggs and cooked in a cast iron skillet. Yes, the eggs, the eggman, I am me and we are you, and where is my omelet, dude, because I am hungry?
BAJALIA: One, two, three?
BOURDAIN: Abdelileh is just waiting for you right when you come stumbling out of Cafe Baba. Coincidence or not? You be the judge.
BAJALIA: Ketchup and mayonnaise. Everything.
BOURDAIN: Ketchup and mayonnaise? Sure, why not. Condiment options I would be hard pressed to turn down at this precise moment anyway.
(On camera): Dude, that's awesome. I'll have 12 more.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Paul Bowles lived in Tangier for over 50 years, and Sherry Nutting was part of his inner circle through the end of his life. She was his friend, record keeper of sorts, and photographer.
(On camera): You arrived when?
SHERRY NUTTING: I came in the '70s, but I went down to Marrakesh. Then in '86, I wrote a letter to Paul Bowles and said I had to meet him and take his picture. And he wrote back and he said, come and visit. Well, I never left.
BOURDAIN (on camera): Like a lot of people came here to live that dream, or to live that life. Has the reality come to resemble his perception of the reality or --
NUTTING: The Tangier that I see is Paul Bowles. And I still feel it. I still feel it. You can still find the magic.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): The market or souk in Tangier is one of the best in all Morocco. The food stalls and vendors are still pretty impressive. Wander the markets long enough and you're sure to stumble across the unexpected. Whose? Sure. How about a lancet? Here nothing goes to waste. Charbroiled to crispy burnt perfection the meat is scraped off and served on a crunchy lunch bread.
Not so adventurous, the Grant Socco's indoor market offers a variety of smoked, cured and fresh meat.
(On camera): Smells good in here. The stuff looks good. I've heard this cheese is amazing.
NUTTING: It's good. Yes.
BOURDAIN: Could I have one?
(Voice-over): A Berber favorite, fresh goat cheese wrapped in palm leaves.
NUTTING: Yes, they're beautiful, aren't they?
BOURDAIN: It's good.
(Voice-over): A little cheese, a little flatbread, the perfect Moroccan breakfast to go. We're headed to the Jabala foothills of the Rif mountain range, about 85 kilometers south of Tangier, to a place called Jajouka. The village is home to the people of the al-Sharif tribe, which loosely translated means the saintly people.
Jajouka is also home to one of Morocco's better-known musicians, Bachir Attar. Jazz and rock and roll musicians have traveled from all over the world to Jajouka to meet this guy. Bachir is part of a lineage of master musicians, all from this small mountain village.
Famously dubbed as a 4,000-year-old rock band by William Burroughs, Bashir, his son and these musicians maintain one of the oldest still living musical traditions on earth.
We're invited for dinner. It's family style, of course, beginning with bray wine, like a kefta pocket. Hand-formed envelopes of dough filled with seasoned beef, baked until golden, then crisped in oil.
(On camera): I'm good for now -- well, one more. Here we go.
(Voice-over): The main event, Tagine of chicken.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome, Tony.
BOURDAIN: Thank you. Just gorgeous.
(Voice-over): First, chopped onions, garlic, parsley and turmeric are blended with olive oil. The bird is generously coated and stuffed then after simmering in a touch of olive oil and water, the chicken is fried until crispy, served with roasted almonds and olives, paprika and ginger. Nice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It smells the food.
BOURDAIN: Like anywhere else in the Arab world, eating with your hands, always the right one, is proper dining etiquette.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is special spinach of Jajouka.
BOURDAIN (on camera): These are wild spinach. It grows in the mountains?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Vocalized chopped mountain spinach. Garlic, cilantro, hot and black peppers, finished with lemon and olive oil.
(On camera): That's delicious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The greatest taste for food in the world, man.
BOURDAIN: I love good food. This is good.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): After dinner some fruit, some mint tea, and let the music begin. For centuries, the master musician of Jajouka have been the musical choice of the royal families of Morocco, excused by the country's rulers from manual labor to devote themselves to musical training.
The powerful style of Sufi transmusic has inspired many music seekers, including, most notably perhaps, Paul Bowles, who wrote about them and recorded them, and spread the word.
Brian Jones was here and recorded "The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka" with these musicians. The word spread, and the master musicians have ended up being featured on albums by Maceo Parker, Ornette Coleman, and the Rolling Stones.
For years, if you were a rock god, you had to come here, dig the crazy percussion and strings and pipes that took you to another place. It's intricate, hypnotic, beautiful. And if you're in the right frame of mind, mesmerizing.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Anyone who comes to Tangier inevitably ends up lost in the old part of the city. The Medina is just what you want it to be. The ancient world residing just next to and around the new one. You can walk around inside the movie in your head, play the bogie character you never were, all against an all too willing, all too genuine backdrop.
Ordinarily just about the last thing in the world I'd be interested in doing is antiquing, but buried in the network of twisting narrow streets of the old city is Boutique Majid, owned and operated and personally curated by this man, Abedelmajid Rais El Fenni, and he's one interesting guy.
(On camera): Thank you.
ABEDELMAJID RAIS EL FENNI, BOUTIQUE MAJID: Come in.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): When he was a little kid back in the '60s, Majid left his hometown of Fez and came here, where he'd earned a few dirham a night emptying ashtrays at the wild and extravagant parties being thrown here by wealthy ex-pats. He saw what these people would buy for themselves and how they decorate their homes. And he started to look around for himself, scoring, then reselling art and antiques.
It became something of an obsession. Now his artifacts from Morocco and all across northern Africa are bought by collectors from all over the world. Carpets, antiques, wood carvings, jewelry, and old doors.
(On camera): Wow, these are incredibly beautiful.
MAJID: Tell me about that. Amber, coral, shells. These used to be currency in Tangier.
BOURDAIN: How old is this?
MAJID: This is early '20s, late '19s. The amber is millions of years old.
BOURDAIN: How much are you selling this piece for?
MAJID: By weight.
BOURDAIN: By weight.
MAJID: Yes, it's quite heavy. This one, 429 grams, so it comes like 42,000 dirhams.
BOURDAIN: So that's how much in dollars?
MAJID: Like almost $5,000.
BOURDAIN: Above $5,000.
BOURDAIN: Should we look at another floor?
MAJID: Oh, yes, follow me. There's a nice collection of things from the Sahara.
BOURDAIN: So you travel a lot?
MAJID: Not like you.
BOURDAIN: Oh, this is for pounding (INAUDIBLE).
MAJID: Yes, this is from the Gon tribe from Mali.
BOURDAIN: How much will this sell for?
MAJID: Around $300.
BOURDAIN: Really? For this? That's very reasonable.
BOURDAIN: I'll be buying that. That's going to be an old friend.
MAJID: Also memory.
BOURDAIN: And a memory.
MAJID: Of Tangier.
BOURDAIN: Of Tangier as well.
(Voice-over): Majid suggests lunch at Andalus, a local's only place nearby.
(On camera): As a Moroccaner, so many Westerners who come to Tangier come with a romantic notion of the Tangier they read about in books. Do people have a realistic expectation when they come here? Are they looking for Morocco? Are they looking for phantasm?
MAJID: It is a phantasm. It is when you get here, you know Morocco, you feel that you are in Morocco, but you're not. There's a lot of Mediterranean touch to this town. And also the history, people hear stories about Tangier that was -- like when I first came in the '60s, everybody said to me you came late. Tangier war.
BOURDAIN: It's -- right.
MAJID: Now I'm saying the same thing this young -- they come and they saw wow, I said.
BOURDAIN: What was better about those days?
MAJID: Well, for me at that time I was young, and it was the boom of hippies, and it was a destination, you know, Cafe Baba, you meet Bob Dylan, you go in and catch -- the parties was going on. I miss these kind of parties. People would fly from everywhere to the party, and they make the whole town move. Blue and white party, white and gold party, hat party, you know, it's amazing.
You see people coming in with amazing hats, like a cage with a bird, extravagant hats, you know. They put so much energy and time into these parties, you know? Look at -- BOURDAIN: Now that looks good.
(Voice-over): Tomatoes brushed with local olive oil, garlic and coriander. Liver kebabs, beef liver to be exact, grilled over charcoal.
(On camera): That looks very nice.
(Voice-over): For fish, a bit of swordfish and some orange roughy.
(On camera): That is just beautiful.
MAJID: How do you like the tomato?
BOURDAIN: The swordfish is amazing.
BOURDAIN: So how else have things changed?
MAJID: You saw how many tourists there was today?
BOURDAIN: They were in a hurry.
MAJID: If they come to the shop, even try to avoid you eye contact. If you get my eye contact, I'm going to rip you off --
BOURDAIN: Or make you buy something that they don't want?
MAJID: I don't know. I don't know. They have this --
BOURDAIN: Do they buy?
MAJID: They don't even say hello.
BOURDAIN: They don't buy.
MAJID: Of course. We call them penguins. They have short hands that doesn't get to the pockets. No, I'm just kidding.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): When Tangier was Interzone back in the day, it seemed to some I'm sure as if the ex-pats outnumbered the locals. That was never true, but you certainly could live a life apart, make your own world within the existing one. Reinvent yourself and live entirely within a universe of your own creation.
Far from the Grand Socco is a 14-acre estate owned by Christopher Gibbs, a well-known dealer of antiques and longtime ex-pat. Today he's having a garden party.
Who's coming? Jonathan, you know. Maggie Dean is from Scotland. She's been living here for more than a decade. GP (INAUDIBLE), a Frenchman who has his hand on a lot of businesses, including a cafe in the Kasbah. Years living in Tangier unknown. Bianca Hamre (ph), an American, she's been here forever, led many lives, I gather, and occasionally translate books from Magrabi to English, and the dashing and mysterious Baron de Corcuera Gandarillas, an artist from Chile who's been living and working in the Kasbah since a hasty exit from Puerto Rico for reasons never fully explained.
On the menu, bastilla, a meat or often pigeon pie as traditional Moroccan as it gets. Today made by Gibbs' full-time cooks, Jamilla and Fatama. In bastilla, the meat on this particular day is chicken, which is slow-cooked in broth and spices, pulled or shredded, and then folded into an egg mixture cooked in a reduced stock from the boil. This is layered with blanched almonds, powdered sugar and cinnamon. And then the whole lot is then wrapped in a (INAUDIBLE), a crepe-like dough. After baking to a golden crispiness, the final touch is a dusting of even more cinnamon and sugar. It's got a sweet savory thing going on, and it's quite tasty.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you get nervous when you go in a room and you touch the light switch and the lights don't come on, you shouldn't be in this country.
BOURDAIN (on camera): What was that first moment when you said, you know, I could live here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm still quite unsure about that. I came here first in 1958. When it was quite different. Everyone wore native dress, but Islam still the throbbing motor of life here. I have a very tender feelings for Morocco and the friendliness and courtesy of the people and its children who -- they say, bonjour, monsieur.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I always feel welcome here. I never consider that this is mine. It's theirs and they have allowed me to live here in a very nice way, and I feel recognition. They know who I am. They know who I am.
BOURDAIN: There is a side-by-side aspect to life here that's very unusual.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very unusual here. It's mostly -- you can do whatever you want if you do it with good manners.
BOURDAIN: But it is sort of a station of the cross for, you know, bad boys of culture. I mean, Rambo, the Stones, Guyson. Burroughs writes about it. He came here to be a writer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a junky before he's a writer.
BOURDAIN: As so many of us were. You want to think of yourself as a writer, you would come here and somehow you were working within a romantic tradition, Burroughs said right up front, to me a writer -- from when I was a little boy, a writer was a guy who lunged around in a smoking jacket or a caftan smoking a hash pipe or an opium pipe in a beautifully anointed house boat littered with sleeping boys.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or girls. (LAUGHTER)
BOURDAIN: To what extent did that world exist and to what extent was that were created by people who showed up with that expectation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since Bill departed, RIP, dear, wonderful, marvelous man, since he's gone, it's been tamed now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is tame.
BOURDAIN: He was --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Genteel now.
BOURDAIN: He was the very opposite of genteel. He was an outlaw.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband knew him very well, and he was selling the yes, Bill, and I said, he said I cured him of being a drug addict. I said how? He said I turned him into an alcoholic.
BOURDAIN: Who smokes hashish at this table, please raise your hand?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the camera on?
BOURDAIN (voice-over): It's my last night in Tangier, and I'm headed out. Most cities in the Islamic world getting a beer can be difficult. Not here. As long as you're outside the Medina, nearly anything goes. Tangier reverts to its libertine past. Here, Western influences become very apparent.
Any night of the week is good nights for young Moroccans to take to the streets of the Ville Nouveau. Othman Noussairi is from a generation of Moroccans far removed from the romantic unseats of the Bowles-Burroughs era. He's invited me out for a casual snack, bocadillas, Spanish-style sandwiches with tuna, veggies, hard-cooked eggs and a healthy wad of mayo, a crispy layer of French fries within the sandwich.
(On camera): This is delicious, by the way. The bread here is very good. You work in magazine, journalist?
OTHMAN NOUSSAIRI, OWNER, URBAN MAGAZINE: I'm not a journalist, but I own an urban magazine here in Tangier. To inform Moroccans, we are living in a place that's pretty special, it's not for any purpose that William Burroughs or Paul Bowles or Henri Matisse, all these people came to Tangier. The city has something which makes it different from other cities. BOURDAIN: Well, what about young artists, young writers, young musicians? Did they come here expecting this romantic Paul Bowles wonderland of the '50s?
NOUSSAIRI: Some were. Some were -- I'm going to say too Bohemian.
BOURDAIN: Too Bohemian.
NOUSSAIRI: Yes. Because they thought that's like, you know, coming and being an artist.
BOURDAIN: Is going to be enough.
NOUSSAIRI: Is going to be enough. Today it's not enough.
BOURDAIN: Right. Yes.
NOUSSAIRI: It's pretty tough for them, and most of them packed their bags.
NOUSSAIRI: Today we have so many investments going on here in Tangier, thanks to our king. Investors are here. Have attracted -- tourists are attracted, but the most important part of it is that we should keep the old parts of the city intact. The Kasbah, the Medina.
BOURDAIN: The Medina.
NOUSSAIRI: That's was hard to do because when you have a European purchasing power coming over here to Tangier --
BOURDAIN: They come, well, like we come. We embrace it. Other people want to come, and then we roll out. Will Tangier's unique character survive?
NOUSSAIRI: I hope so. I really hope so.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Tangier is Morocco. Always was Morocco and recently the country's leadership has embraced it, in all its ill- reputed glory. The days of predatory poets in search of literary inspiration and young flesh are probably over for good. Hippies can just as easily get their bong riffs in Portland or Peoria, but the good stuff, the real good stuff, the sounds and smells and the look of Tangier, but you see and hear when you lean out the window and take it all in, that's here to stay.