"Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown": Congo
- Dan McCabe is the American filmmaker joining Bourdain on his trip - his documentary is called "This Is Congo." (Find out more information about it here.) From the site: "The film begins deep in the remote mountainous regions of Eastern Congo, where immense resource wealth lies just beneath the jungle floor. Hidden away from view there is a violent scramble to extract these valuable resources at any cost. We meet miners of the raw materials who are also civilian victims of the wars."
From McCabe's bio: "He began his freelance career by documenting gang and prison related issues in Honduras, moving on to projects such as Kenya's post-election violence, resource based conflict in Eastern DRC, Haiti's 2010 earthquake aftermath and HIV in South Africa's slum Khayelitsha. Currently McCabe covers tribal conflict in Kenya's lawless north on the Sudan and Somalia borders, and conflict resource issues in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo."
- Bourdain goes to Kisangani, formerly known as Stanleyville. Here's a detailed look at the crisis in Stanleyville during the 1960s. Some background: "The city was established in 1883 by Europeans and was known first as Falls Station and then as Stanleyville (for Sir Henry Morton Stanley). It has been the major centre of the northern Congo since the late 1800s." - From CNN's obituary of Mobutu in 1997: "After the vast colony with significant mineral wealth gained independence in 1960, Mobutu, a journalist by training, was named army chief of staff and later commander-in-chief.
"In 1965, Mobutu seized power with the backing of the military and tacit support of Western countries, who saw him as a bulwark against communist expansion in Africa. He established a one-party state, banning all other political organizations but his own.
"Over the next three decades, Mobutu led one of the most enduring regimes in Africa -- and, said his critics, one of the most dictatorial and corrupt.
"Despite the country's obvious natural resources, including copper, gold and diamonds, much of Zaire's population continued to sink further into poverty. But Mobutu, known for his trademark leopard-skin hat, amassed a personal fortune estimated to be as much as $5 billion, with homes in Switzerland and France."
- Here's some background on the formerly Belgian Institute: "The definitive failure of the colonial agricultural policy occurred in 1933 upon initiative of Leopold III, then Duke of Brabant. After trips to Congo and Dutch India he would be allowed to call himself "field expert". The system of obligatory cultivation was abolished and the organisation of the so-called "chefferies" or chief posts was acknowledged. Shortly afterwards, the Institut National pour l'Etude Agronomique du Congo Belge (INÉAC) or National Institute for agronomy in Belgian Congo became the successor of REPCO. This new institution with a clear scientific character would play a crucial role in the supply of rubber and palm oil during the Second World War."
"Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown": Peru
- This is far from the first time Anthony Bourdain has visited Peru. He wrote about some of his previous trips in a blog on CNN.com: "I bounced around Lima, exploring the ever-changing, ever more exciting food scene -- from the more cutting edge fine dining restaurants, to the funkiest but most delicious traditional cevicherias. I've had many Pisco sours, huffed up mountains light-headed from altitude sickness, my cheeks stuffed with coca leaves. I've eaten guinea pig in Cuzco. Explored the jungle of Amazonia. Drank chicha with yucca farmers. I took ayahuasca in the middle of the night with a curandero, putted up river in a wobbly boat with imaginary bats screeching in my brain, lights that probably weren't there dancing in front of my eyes.
"I have looked out over Machu Picchu at dawn -- one of the most extraordinary experiences one can have in this life -- watched millions of cutter ants strip a forest floor clean, made friends, learned something about the world and about myself."
- The drink called Pisco is explored in an Eatocracy blog: "Long a fixture in liquor cabinets and bars in Peru and Chile, pisco is popping up in the United States amid an obsession with craft cocktails. From January to July 2011, export sales of the South American grape brandy grew to $2.3 million, up 139% over the same period in 2010, fueled by increased sales in the United States.
"As pisco's popularity grows in the United States, its country of appellation remains a topic of dispute in South America. Pisco grapes are grown in Chile and Peru, and both Andean nations have adopted it as a national spirit. The dispute has played out in numerous decrees and regulations from both countries, with Peru claiming the historic upper hand and boasting a commitment to making it the old-fashioned way. The International Organisation of Vine and Wine has urged the two countries to make nice and work together toward a common solution."
- Chistopher Curtin is a chef and owner of "Eclat Chocolate." From his company's site: "He set out from Madison, Wisconsin to the House of le Companion du Devoir, the premier guild for Pastry Chefs in France. It was here that he worked alongside the best journeyman pastry chefs in Europe and became the first American to be awarded the honor of German Master Pastry Chef and Chocolatier in Cologne, Germany.
"Now in the realm of the world's top chocolate makers, Christopher continued to learn from the masters, honing his skills in the finest chocolate houses of Belgium, Switzerland, France, Germany, and Japan, and sharing in the greatest of secrets and techniques."
- The Maranon River in Peru "carves a deep canyon between Andean ranges...It combines with the Ucayali River below Nauta to form the Amazon." Find out more here: "The Maranon River is one of the most important water sources in Peru and a key Amazon tributary." - So, what is that extremely rare white cacao that Bourdain and his crew were in search of? Here's some background on it: "White beans...produce a more mellow-tasting, less acidic chocolate." And: "Chocolate made from 100 percent white beans is extremely expensive. (When roasted the beans turn brown and they are unrelated to 'white chocolate.')" One of the possible reasons for why it has formed specifically in that region of Peru is the climate that is both "tropical and arid" due to its close proximity to the Equator.
"Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown": Libya
- Michel Cousins is a British journalist who was raised in Libya and worked in the Middle East for most of his career. He co-founded the "Libya Herald" in 2012 -- it is based in Tripoli. Here's the site for the online newspaper, and you can find it on Facebook here. -- Twitter was crucial in the Libya Revolution of 2011, for several reasons: "In a country where public dissent is rare, plans for Thursday's protests were being circulated by anonymous activists on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter." Here's more about the use of social media during the Libya Revolution, where "Libyan rebels learned from the successes in Tunisia and Egypt. One of the most important lessons: Get the message beyond your own borders." -- The Misrata War Museum is just one of many in Libya to commemorate the victor over Moammar Gadhafi and memorialize those lost in the fight. The Washington Post wrote about the museum last year: "Crammed between bomb-blasted apartment blocks is a makeshift museum of last year's war and its spoils, its contents filling a former computer center, and spilling out of the building to the sidewalk and the street.
"Captured tanks are crowded near a sculpture of a golden fist crushing an American airplane -- among the items looted from Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli. Nearby, towering over visitors, a graffiti-covered metal eagle taken from a brigade headquarters clutches an effigy of the longtime autocrat in its oversized talons."
Time magazine wrote about the experience of visiting the museum: "here are rows of rockets, missiles, and tanks; clothing and furniture hauled away from Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli; photographs of the rebels' gruesome injuries; official documents detailing regime corruption; and the portraits of all 1,215 of the city's martyrs." -- As is documented in the episode, Italian culture has had a major effect on Libya. Italy took control of Libya in the early 20th century, but the history of Italy in the region goes back far longer. One of the biggest influences is in the food. Some of the specific areas of culinary influence can be seen in the use of pasta, tomatoes, olive oil and onions.
"Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown": Tangier
-- William Burroughs is a famous author and artist who popularized the Beat Generation. His most famous book, "Naked Lunch," was published in 1959. Wrote The New York Times: "'Naked Lunch,' first published in Paris, and later by Grove Press in New York, was hailed as a masterly definition of what was hip, although the critics were not sure how to define the definition." From a biography in The Guardian: "William S. Burroughs was born on February 5, 1914, in St. Louis. In work and in life Burroughs expressed a lifelong subversion of the morality, politics and economics of modern America. ... By the time of his death he was widely recognized as one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th century." -- Cherie Nutting was a key part of Paul Bowles' life. Here's her bio on his official website: "The photographer Cherie Nutting first visited Paul Bowles at home in Tangier in 1986, having corresponded several times with him in 1985. When Nutting arrived in Tangier, Morocco, they soon became friends, with daily visits and lengthy talks. In 1999, Paul Bowles collaborated with Nutting on a book of photographs." Nutting married Bachir Attar, featured in this episode, in 1989, and became his manager as well. They later split amicably. -- A profile about Christopher Gibbs in The New York Times explained a bit about what he does and who he is: "An inveterate collector, antiques dealer, bibliophile and provenance fetishist ... a leading proponent of that elusive brand of anti-decoration, high-bohemian taste favored by self-confident Englishmen, a look based on well-worn grandeur, disarming charm and unexpected contrasts." Gibbs is originally from England, but now lives in Tangier. Here's his website. -- That's a little about the history of Tangier -- now what can you expect? From CNN Travel: "Cafes are the key place to socialize, for Moroccan men at least. They gather to drink sweet mint tea and watch people as they go about their affairs.
"The northern port city of Tangier has a history of literary bohemianism and illicit goings-on, thanks to its status as an International Zone from 1923 to 1956."
The New York Times profiled Tangier a few years ago. "For a few decades, Tangier was a playground for the wealthy and the literary-minded, but by the 1980s it was crumbling and dismal."
But now, "This was a city with direction. On its outskirts, huge apartment blocks were going up, financed by Qatari investment firms."
"Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown": Canada
-- So, a meal featuring beaver. Here's the backstory, from "Parts Unknown" director of photography Jeremy Leach: "After shooting the beaver trapping scene we went back to the trapper's house for some good ol' fashioned beaver stew. (Delicious! Tasted just like beef stew, disconcertingly large bones though.)
"After the food scene, we were treated to a shot of what was described as homemade moonshine made with masticated beaver castor sac. For the uninitiated, the castor sac is located near the anal gland of the beaver. Castoreum (the liquid inside the castor sac), in combination with urine, is used for scent-marking. Anal glands, urine, scent-marking, how could this go poorly? It was much like drinking wet fur doused in Drakkar. During this ceremonial post-beaver trapping rite-of-passage, I learned that the beaver castor sac is actually quite valuable in that the castoreum is a common additive in high-end perfumes. Hence the Chanel No. 5 aftertaste that lasted ALL DAY."
-- "It's purely emotional. There's nothing rational about it," says Fred Morin, of traveling Canada by rail. Some background, from the VIA Rail website: "VIA Rail Canada operates the national passenger rail service on behalf of the government of Canada. An independent Crown Corporation established in 1977, the company provides Canadians with safe, efficient and environmentally responsible public transportation." -- Some details on "Pastagate" from the CBC: "Quebec's language watchdog is backtracking after demanding a chic Montreal Italian restaurant change its menu because Italian words such as "pasta" were too predominant.
"The Office Québécois de la langue Française (OQLF) said it may have been overzealous in its attempt to promote French language in public places."
It became a big story. The result? "The head of Quebec's French language watchdog has resigned following a series of embarrassing controversies," wrote Canada's National Post at the time. -- Joe Beef and Liverpool House -- two restaurants Bourdain visited during his trip to Canada. Here's the Joe Beef description: "Old Montreal restaurant classics in the heart of Little Burgundy. An homage to Charles 'Joe-Beef' McKiernan, 19th century innkeeper and Montreal working class hero. A drunken crawl away from the Historic Atwater market. Steaks and seafood."
And Liverpool House: "Seaside cottage charm and bustling oyster counter. Sexy Old World wines, and crazy fresh market food. A great clubhouse feel. Perfect for gin-tonic fueled evenings with relatives, friends, lovers and/or Peter Hoffer."
If you want to learn more about Joe Beef, well, you could buy the book. "Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown": Colombia
- When Anthony Bourdain was in Colombia shooting this episode, he sent a tweet to his friend that caused a lot of controversy. He wrote about it on our CNN.com/Bourdain blog: "I tweeted a photo of myself standing under a shade tree surrounded by young Colombian military recruits.
"My old friend and 'Top Chef' colleague Tom Colicchio tweeted right back: 'Too soon' -- connecting the appearance of machine guns with the then-recent Newtown massacre.
"I tweeted back that 'this is what it looks like in FARC country.' "
The tweet reverberated on the ground in Colombia. "Our fixers and drivers were very, very unhappy -- in the uncomfortable position of being closely associated with someone (me) who was (for the next couple of days, anyway) widely thought to be a FARC sympathizer," writes Bourdain. "Things bled into the print media, and it was a tough couple of days."
Ultimately, concluded Bourdain, "As I should well have known, the struggle between the FARC, the cartels and various right-wing militias has been deeply felt by nearly every Colombian family."
-- Hector Abad's latest book, which he mentions in the episode, can be found here. From a "Daily Beast" interview, the background on the book: "He was 28, and had just returned from starting a family in Italy, when his father was shot dead in August 1987. He returned to Italy for fear of his own life, before settling here again in the early 1990s. The memoir, he says, was the only one of his books he had to write, and it took almost 20 years." -- From Ondatropica's website: "This project, which is supported by the British Council, exists to explore and expand the tropical sound of Colombia in its rawest form and to marry it with the cool sound of London. The immediate result is not just a new recording -- to be released within the next few months -- but a hot band." -- So, do you like goat? From our Eatocracy blog, here are some more details about the meal you see Bourdain eating: friche: "In this traditional breakfast dish - generally served right next to the slaughter yard for maximum freshness - goat offal like heart, intestines and tripe is cooked in salted water, then fried with onions, seasoned with lemon and chiles and served with arepas for a sturdy start to the day. Some preparations also include salted goat blood."
For most of us, likely parts unknown indeed.
-- That cazuela de mariscos Bourdain is enjoying by the ocean? Here's what's in it, courtesy of Eatocracy: "Shrimp, clams, lobster and conch in a potato-thickened broth. It's served with lemon, coconut rice, plantain, hot sauce." "Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown": Koreatown
-- The L.A. riots in 1992 had a major effect on Koreatown. "During the six days that the riots raged, hundreds of businesses, many of them owned by Korean immigrants, were torched in the violence that followed the acquittal of the four LAPD officers who beat Rodney King. Whole blocks of Koreatown went up in flames that night," wrote NPR. "Korean businesses suffered disproportionately, a casualty of terrible black-Korean relations. Many buildings burned to the ground as their owners waited in vain for assistance from authorities, while some businesses were saved by volunteer gunmen who took aim at looters to scare them away."
Here's a New York Times story from 1992 about the riots. -- Here's Estevan Oriol's bio on his website: "Estevan Oriol started his career in entertainment as a bouncer at hip-hop clubs before moving on to tour manage acts Cypress Hill and House of Pain. During that time he became passionate about photography and began documenting his life on the road. When he returned home, his reputation afforded him unlimited access to photograph gang members and celebrities alike. His work has been featured in Complex, FHM, GQ, Vibe, Rolling Stone, and dozens more. Oriol has directed music videos for Eminem, Cypress Hill, Blink 182 and others. His recent photography book, 'LA Woman,' captures the beauty and danger of the subject in a lush hardbound edition a decade in the making." -- So what is "Han"? Here's how the Los Angeles Times describes it: "as amorphous a notion as love or hate: intensely personal, yet carried around collectively, a national torch, a badge of suffering tempered by a sense of resiliency." Still confused? Well here's more from Korea Times: "The idea that some injustice has been done to oneself. The injustice could be inflicted on the Korean people by a foreign power, on employees by their employer, on citizens by their government, on a daughter-in-law by her mother-in-law, on a wife by her husband, on a poor person by his rich neighbor - anything that is perpetrated on a person or a group that is permanently imprinted as injustice or unfairness." -- Korean food is a growing marketplace - worldwide (from London to Australia). And it's coming right from Korea, too: "The trend is facilitated by homegrown restaurant chains that are increasingly flexing their muscle to conquer what gourmets call "hubs of international cuisine" such as New York, London and Paris. Several companies have already set up sales networks in more than 60 countries and are trying to cement their presence by establishing manufacturing bases there." "Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown": Myanmar
-- U Thiha Saw is the editor-in-chief of Open News, a weekly news journal that he founded in 2008, as well as editor-in-chief of the Myanmar Dana Business Magazine. He is also vice president of the Myanmar Journalists Association.
-- Ma Thanegi is "a painter, contributing editor at the Myanmar Times and editor of the travel magazine Enchanting Myanmar." She previously served as a personal assistant to political leader Aung San Suu Kyi. When Suu Kyi was put under house arrest, Thanegi was sent to prison. After she was released, she criticized Suu Kyi as well as the democracy movement as a whole. She responded in an interview in 2008: "I know I am not a traitor or a turncoat. I came into the political movement because I wanted to do good for the people. My loyalty lies with the people."
-- Philippe Lajaunie is the owner of Brasserie Les Halles, which has two locations in New York City. Lajaunie was Anthony Bourdain's boss when he was a chef at Les Halles, before Bourdain became a TV star.
Bourdain later wrote the "Les Halles Cookbook," on which he collaborated with Lajaunie. Bourdain now serves as chef-at-large of Les Halles. In addition to being the owner of several restaurants, Lajaunie also is the founder and CEO of several companies ranging from tech to hospitality.
-- Here's how San Zarni Bo was described in a recent profile in The Irrawaddy: "The affable soothsayer and former political prisoner, who was awarded the prestigious International Man of the Year award in Astrology and Palmistry by the International Biographical Centre in Cambridge, UK, in 1997." As for predictions, he says Aung San Suu Kyi will become president of Myanmar next year.
-- The shot of the workers in the field wasn't easy to get, mainly because the workers had that day off. Director of photography Morgan Fallon explains: "We got up super early and drove a couple hours in the dark until we figured we were in rice paddies. When we got there, still in the dark, we found out from some people on the road that it was a holiday and that no one would be working in the fields.
"In the distance we heard music, so we drove down a dirt road towards the sound and ended up at a monastery with huge speakers blaring Burmese festival music. We explained to the head monk who we were, what we were trying to do and the issue we had run up against. He disappeared into the early dawn and returned in 15 minutes with about a dozen field workers.
"It turns out that he had gone to the local factory and explained our situation and that they had volunteered to come out and work the fields so that we could get our shots. They didn't want money or anything else from us, they simply jumped in to help. We got amazing footage, some of which made it into the show open as well as the episode. After, the monks invited us to the celebration, fed us and allowed us to shoot the whole thing. They also asked for nothing in return, though we made a modest contribution to the monastery as a token of respect."
- Here's a little information on the city of Bagan (formerly called Pagan) from AncientBagan.com: "Bagan is a plain in the middle of Myanmar, covering a tract of country measuring about 16 square miles along the east bank of the Ayeyarwaddy. The monuments, which are now in all stages of decay, were erected mostly from the 11th to 13th centuries A.D., when Bagan was the seat of the Myanmar dynasty. Tradition carried by the local chronicles has it that a long line of 55 kings ruled over this kingdom during the 12 centuries." There are thousands of temples and pagodas there. More information about the various temples can be found here.