Sometimes stuff just piles up on the DVR. Some shows are recorded with the best of intentions but are never viewed. Others I finally get to over a lazy weekend afternoon, realizing that I probably should’ve watched it when it first aired because of the quality of television that it represents.
That’s how I found myself finally sitting down yesterday to watch the episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown where he goes to Punjab in India. I was waiting dutifully for the season premiere of Orphan Black on BBCA and was wondering how to pass the time when I realized I had yet to watch the premiere of Season 3 of Bourdain’s show on CNN, which aired last Sunday.
I’ve always enjoyed Anthony Bourdain’s shows but never made a habit of them. I do know that before I travel anywhere, it’s good to know if Anthony Bourdain had gone there first in No Reservations and use his episode as a guide. Before I went to Istanbul, one piece of advice that I got more than once was to watch the episode of No Reservations that takes place in Istanbul, which turned out to not only provide good information on excellent restaurants (DURUMZADE!! *Homer Simpson Drool*), but made me even more excited for my upcoming trip.
Parts Unknown on CNN is different than No Reservations because it doesn’t just focus on the food, but also on the culture of the people around him and the politics of the land as well.
In the episode of Punjab. Bourdain talked about the Partition, which split up the region of Punjab into India and Pakistan when the border was arbitrarily drawn up in the 40s. People who spoke the same language and had the same culture where now a part of two different countries.
I think this is the first time where I’ve really seen the topic of partition covered in the fashion that it had on Parts Unknown. I don’t think this event and the incredible amount of bloodshed it caused is widely known outside of its people and yet Bourdain brought up this topic because really, how can you talk about Punjab and its history without talking about the partition. And now I’m sure, through this particular episode, a lot more people know about it.
That’s the cool thing about Anthony Bourdain and Parts Unknown. Even though Bourdain isn’t really described as a journalist, he really has a way with showing a region and its people not through the lens of the other, but as themselves. I even learned something from this episode – had no idea that in the Golden Temple in Amritsar, that volunteers spend 16 hours a day cooking and cleaning to provide a free meal to anyone who wants it, whether Sikh or not. This happens every day.
I need to make sure I make Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown consistently this season. I know I’ll end up coming away with knowing more about places that I normally would while leading the sedentary life I do. Looking forward to it.
The first two seasons of Parts Unknown are now on Netflix. Definitely check out the first episode of Season 2, which takes place in Jerusalem. Great episode.
Also, check out my blog post on doing a food tour in Istanbul! The food really is quite awesome there.