Anthony Bourdain’s Emmy-winning Parts Unknown returned to CNN on Sunday night for season four.
Bourdain and the Zero Point Zero crew selected Shanghai as their destination — an over-the-top, extravagant city with enough food stalls and menu items to get the audience drooling and hooked for the following seven episodes.
We’ve been watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown since season one. See all of our episode summaries here.
Who He Meets
Bourdain spends the majority of his time with young Shanghainese — students, reporters, entrepreneurs — that will play a significant role in shaping the supercity into the future. They talk about the rise of China in global culture, the mindset of their peers, and how youth is the same in many places around the world.
For example, a young English teacher tells Bourdain about how House of Cards is one of the most popular shows among young Chinese and how smartphones, although with their benefits, also isolate their users by making them less likely to communicate with peers.
Bourdain also meets with some of Shanghai’s most distinguished residents.
A professor from Jiao Tong University talks about the rise of China’s manufacturing economy noting, “The difficulty is that the technology is so advanced that we don’t really need that many people.”
In a very different meal, one of Shanghai’s wealthier residents treats Bourdain to French oysters settled in champagne instead of salt water and his own case inside the man’s wine cellar.
What He Eats
As usual, the local dishes Bourdain samples range from simple street food to extravagant multi-course meals. He pens a love letter to small dumplings filled with ground pork and shrimp, folded 20 times a piece, and Shanghai-style pork chops. He snacks on small fish poached first in rice wine and soy then friend in ginger, garlic and oil.
Bourdain gives viewers an overall sense of what Shanghai cuisine mostly consists of, which is dark-colored foods “heavily inflicted with soy, sugar and salt.”
In closing, Bourdain and one of his local contacts crash a traditional wedding and indulge in all the dishes fit for a celebration.
A Growing Community
Parts Unknown‘s community is large and growing as evidence by the activity on Twitter during any episode. ZPZ and CNN have also tapped into the fan base by creating additional content including photos, a live blog or list of locations visited to supplement each show.
Bourdain also dedicated himself to his audience by live tweeting all episodes when he is home in the United States.
— Ottavia Bourdain (@OttaviaBourdain) September 29, 2014