Skift Take

This episode was a quintessential Parts Unknown episode in that it uncovers the parts of a country that most Americans don't know to look for and seamlessly moves between culture, politics and cuisine while educating and entertaining the viewer.

Anthony Bourdain travels to one of his favorite destinations, Mexico, in episode four of CNN’s Part Unknown.

The episode explores the lives of chefs, journalists, boxers, and poets who Bourdain refers to as heroes, the “people who are standing up against overwhelming odds, demanding accountability, demanding change—at great, even horrifying personal cost.”

In a blog post published prior to the episode’s airing on Sunday night, Bourdain writes about his, and our country’s, deep relationship with Mexico. He eloquently remarks how we are both in love with its culture, food and drugs and look down on its drug wars and violence; how we debate immigration laws and decry the loss of American jobs but rely on Mexican workers to run our restaurants, take care of our lawns and watch our children.

In the episode, Bourdain takes a close look at the deeply flawed country where the chasm  between rich and poor is so wide.

Mexico’s Heroes

Bourdain and crew meet with chef Eduardo Garcia at his restaurant Maximo. The chef combines classic French training and traditional Mexican ingredients for distinct delicious dishes.

On the show, Bourdain snacks on a combination of butter, hot peppers and brown butter drizzled over a white fish. 

Afterwards, they head out for street food as seen in the tweet from cinematographer Zach Zamboni:

Bourdain also meets with a decidedly different group of chefs.

These women create meals that have been passed down through generations and made in much the same way.

On the opposite spectrum of Mexico’s world-renowned cuisine, is its world-famous drug wars and related violence. The topic is discussed with Anabel Hernandez, an investigator reporter who wrote Narcoland about the country’s drug cartels.

The section is filmed from an undisclosed location, because Hernandez is the target of death threats and violence due to her book.

Bourdain and production company ZPZ fill the episode to the brim with a diverse set of local characters and change-makers from former boxer and titleholder Jorge Lacierva to Mexican street artists.

“Mexico. Our brother from another mother. A country, with whom, like it or not, we are inexorably, deeply involved, in a close but often uncomfortable embrace. Look at it. It’s beautiful,” Bourdain muses as he shows just how complicated and a beautiful a place it can be.

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Tags: anthony bourdain, mexico, tv

Photo credit: Anthony Bourdain talks about his trip to Mexico for Parts Unknown episode four. Parts Unknown

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