Skift Take

Viewers are a fly on the wall of Bourdain's visit with an old friend in Spain. Surprisingly, he skips over any questions of Spain's hurting economy and instead focuses on the beauty of a lifestyle that seems rare today.

Anthony Bourdain reveled in the relaxed lifestyle of southern Spain in this week’s episode of Parts Unknown.

Viewers saw Bourdain visit long-time friend, work partner, and Emmy award-winning cinematographer Zach Zamboni during Semana Santa, or Holy Week, in Granada. Zamboni’s fiancé and her family show Bourdain the ordinary, envy-inducing lifestyle that his friend has adopted.

The duo start their delicious, mouth-watering exploration of Andalusia with a bull fight. As if the producers want to pick a fight with animal rights activists, the cameras do not shy away when the matador kills the bull with a single sword thrust. And the scene quickly moves from hurting bull to diced meat in a ready-to-serve stew.

Given the timing of Bourdain’s trip, religious processions fill the streets with pots of smoking incense, pointed hoods, and 300-pound floats. The religious fervor appears to unsettle Bourdain who drinks a beer under the watch of hundreds of photos of Christ decorating a local bar.

Bourdain also explores the gypsy, or gitano, culture that is embedded into Andalusia’s history.

“They dig deep for their material here. It means something,” says Bourdain around a table of Spaniards who just performed a captivating flamenco performance.

The Greatest of Spanish Traditions

Tapas, small plates, are a mainstay of Spanish culture. The best part is that they come free with a glass of wine or beer.

Bourdain is in shock of the economics of the system. He says America is as likely to adopt the Spanish practice of tapas and siestas as he is to owning a “golden unicorn that shits money.”

Bourdain, Zamboni, and his fiancé Fuen take a tapas tour through the crowded streets of Granada tasting bread with tomato and olive oil, Spanish tortilla, mussels steamed in butter and olive oil, and baby pork chops.

The cameras capture the chaos of streets while also portraying the very relaxed, familial atmosphere present throughout the episode.

Maddening Beauty

The most beautiful part of the episode is, hands-down, the Alhambra.

Bourdain describes the Alhambra as “one of the most enchanted, inscrutable, maddeningly beautiful structures every created by man.” And Zamboni explains the history of the palace and fortress.

ZPZ adds graphics on top of a dizzying display of the geometric designs that adorn the Alhambra’s walls and ceiling. The graphics highlight the patterns that would be otherwise be lost on the average viewer.

A Table to Die for

After an one-hour drive to an outdoor barbecue overlooking the Mediterranean sea, Bourdain and Zamboni join Fuen’s family for Easter lunch. The meal is particularly charming given the relationship between Bourdain, Zamboni, and their hosts. And Bourdain does little to hide his envy of his friend’s new life filled with family lunches, glasses full of wine, daily siestas, and Iberico ham.

“When my time comes, I pretty much want to die at a table like this.”

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: anthony bourdain, parts unknown, spain, tv

Photo credit: Anthony Bourdain visit the south of Spain in this week's episode of Parts Unknown on CNN. Parts Unknown / Parts Unknown

Up Next

Loading next stories