Parts Unknown has proved itself to be an insightful look at the world of travel and food, where the two intersect, and their very real socioeconomic impacts. Next week is the last season and we’ll be sad to see it end so quickly.
In episode 7 of Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain goes to Peru to find out what’s become of the farmers that helped produce the expensive rare chocolate line that he sold with friend and Le Bernardin chef Eric Ripert.
The duo begin their journey in Lima, which Bourdain describes as “the cultural hub and culinary capital of a country that has exploded in the last decade with scores of world class chefs, cooks, and restaurants.”
Their first stop is the home of Peruvian chef Coque Ossio, whose mother is described as the Julia Child and James Beard of Peru. There’s more food consumed than the show has time to describe, but Bourdain seems like he would be content if he did nothing but feast with Ossio’s family for the remainder of his trip.
The next stop is for the “incredible and uncompromising ceviche” of chef Javier Wong, where the two chefs bond over their love of painfully hot peppers and Peruvian cuisine.
What makes Peruvian cuisine special? Bourdain accredits it to a Chinese influence paired with Amazonia and Andes ingredients.
Bourdain didn’t add his usual commentary via Twitter, but the show’s temporary co-star Eric Ripert picked up the slack:
How is chocolate made?
This week’s history lessons wasn’t about diplomacy or revolution. It was about chocolate and its journey from a Mayan trading canoe off the coast of Honduras to a factory in New England.
After a meal of street meat including beef hearts marinated in garlic, cumin, onion, and vinegar, the duo heads to Chiclayo to prepare for the trek to see the rare chocolate trees that produced their $18 chocolate bars.
With gifts in tow, the pair visits a shaman who blesses both chefs and prepares a mixture to bless the beans. Bourdain is amazingly able to keep a straight face throughout the shamanic exercise, even when soda is spewed on his face.
Bourdain’s mission is to find out about the lives of the locals producing Peruvian fruits, coffee beans, and cacao beans. Also, how his chocolate venture impacted the farmers that made it possible.
ZPZ Productions visualizes the economic breakdown of the chocolate production by breaking off pieces of an actual chocolate bar. The result is insightful and peels back the layers of the business of food, and who benefits where, in the supply chain.
It should be noted that Bourdain and Ripert’s profits were donated to a charity.
So how is the chocolate made? Bordain explains:
“The trees produce pods, you split open the pods and take out the beans, the buy sundries the beans, and roasts them. After roasting, the beans are extracted from their shell and ground up, producing chocolate liquor. Mix this concentration with milk, sugar, coco butter, and you get what we call commercial chocolate.”
Photo credit: Bourdain is given a spiritual bath by a shaman. Parts Unknown / CNN