Skip to main content

The late Anthony Michael Bourdain needs no introduction. He single-handedly inspired a generation of travelers and foodies like me with his indelible charm, tenacious curiosity, and a raw authenticity that forever adjusted the lens through which we consume the world.

I’m paying homage to the New York-born legend by curating uniquely modified excerpts from the unedited transcripts, field notes, and other original content published by CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown in which Bourdain captivated a global audience with his fascinating perspective on life and his grand appreciation for all things travel, food, culture, and history.

This is Anthony Bourdain in his own words. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown Istanbul
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown: Istanbul (Source: CNN)
Introduction by Anthony Bourdain

Modern Turkey was founded in 1923 on the principles of secular, democratic statehood after centuries of empire. It has been the most turbulent year in a decade of Turkey’s political history. Turkey has set a new course, one that many hoped would carry it into the European Union. 

There’s clearly a significant portion of the Turkish population that’s not happy with the policies of the democratically-elected government. But things have changed. They are changing. 

We arrived in Istanbul at a hopeful time. The election results were in and power was shifting away, it appeared, from then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

It’s a sprawling, beautiful city, still, in spite of the unrestrained construction where Europe and Asia meet. There’s no place like it—and for a time, until very recently, it looked like the future. Now, I’m not so sure.

But it is a place well worth visiting, to meet the people, to eat the (terrific) food, to take in the stunning architecture and scenery. Don’t let my gloom and pessimism and general misanthropy stop you.

Sultanahmet, Turkey
Excerpts from the Unedited Transcripts

Bourdain on Turkish oil wrestling
Turkish oil wrestling. A big freaking salad covered with oiled men in leather pants giving each other spirited and prolonged reach-arounds. Oh, geez.

Can we get rights to the Barry White greatest hits record or Diana Ross “Love Hangover,” or is that too obvious? I like to be respectful of ancient tradition, but I mean, the jokes write themselves. And they have, what, there’s, like, ropes inside or handles? Where do I get a pair of those pants? Those are some super freaky pants.

Bourdain on pita
Pita has some similarities (to pizza). I mean, there’s cheese in it. Dough. But it’s more like a calzone maybe. I don’t know. It’s an efficient delivery vehicle for this case ground meat, cheese, and onions, a not-so-little torpedo straight from flavor town, but no, that would be wrong.

Bourdain on meze
Turkish meze is an extremely tasty, very diverse assortment of dishes originating in every corner of the former Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans liked to eat and entertain, and they employed armies of cooks to dazzle them with ever-changing menus, variety being key. Circassian chicken, fava beans, rice with mussels, eggplant, stuffed grape leaves, poached eggs with yogurt, all classic and all delicious. 

Bourdain on the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi or AKP
Walking down Istanbul’s streets, it’s easy to forget or not take seriously the slow but certain change in attitude towards this kind of freedom. The right, for lack of a better term, to party. The AKP is in power because a majority of voters put them there. Their attitudes, for better or worse, reflect the attitudes of a great number of Turks.

Bourdain on Turkey’s future
Democracy is always a fragile thing. Ninety-two years ago modern Turkey was assembled from the fragments of the Ottoman Empire. It always struggled to find a balance between those in power and the consent of its widely-diverse population. 

Since the filming of this episode, Turkey’s newly-elected parliament failed to form a coalition and President Erdogan quickly called for new elections. At the same time, he’s revved up military action against Kurdish opposition forces in both southeastern Turkey and across the border in Kurdish Iran. Many claim that he effectively plunged Turkey into conflict in a bid to take advantage of an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty and improve his party’s chances of success. 

This is not an unreasonable assumption on anyone’s part. Fear works. Fear gets votes. The opposition had hoped that the tide was turning. It remains to be seen if they have any reason to hope.

Original Source

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown - Istanbul
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown: Istanbul (Source: CNN)
Eat Like Bourdain in Istanbul

Akar Lokantasi
Bourdain ate: Işkembe çorbası (tripe soup)

Poyraz Sahil Balik Restaurant
Bourdain ate: Fish and raki

Mutfak Dili Ev Yemekleri
Bourdain ate: Unknown

Bourdain ate: Pide w/ground meat, cheese, and onions

Bourdain ate: Unknown

Original Source

Istanbul Fisherman
Memorable Quotes

“The voice of Istanbul. I’ve had at least 30 names from New Rome to Islambol. Now they say I’m between the East and the West, an identity crisis. I knew theirs.”

“Enough of this nonsense. Take the labels off and just look at me. You won’t need a guide book. Like all cities, I have my own sense of time. I’m a labyrinth of layers that only make sense without a compass. If you’re hesitant, not sure which way to go as you walk about, follow one of my cats. They will lead you to places, introduce you to people, point out secrets they keep even from me. They, more than anyone, are the longest continuing residents of this city.”

“A challenge to those who see the future in my paths, I’m an obstacle for those who see only the future. I see change with the patience of centuries. Look at the silhouette on the bridge on the Golden Horn. Time has not passed me by, it has protected me. I ask of you the same.”

Original Source

Istanbul, Turkey waterfront

Straight gangsta mack, but sometimes I get ridiculous.


All rights reserved, buddy.

WordPress Image Lightbox Plugin