Last night's episode of No Reservations followed host Anthony Bourdain as he explored the art, music, and food of post-earthquake Port-au-Prince under the looming threat of cholera and an approaching hurricane. It was not your typical episode of No Reservations: it was (at times) difficult to watch, yet important to see, and was surely one of the finest hours of television in recent memory. And it seems to be having the desired effect: the website for JP/HRO, the relief organization featured in the episode, crashed briefly due to the response after the episode.
So, yes, while the one-liners (appropriately) stayed on the respectable side of things — there were no dick jokes as Bourdain warned — we still found him to be eminently quotable in this episode. On to the Quotable Bourdain — feel free to add your picks in the comments below.
1: On even doing a show in Haiti at all: "I worry though, you know, what you say, because here we are, making a show, what are we showing on this show? You know, are we part of the problem?"
2: On staying at the Hotel Oloffson: "And what's a story set in a crumbling, post-earthquake heap of a hotel without a dramatic crisis? A cholera epidemic? Or a hurricane on the way?"
3: On buying out a street food vendor to feed some hungry kids: "What happens is both predictable and a metaphor for what's wrong with so much well-intentioned aid effort around the world. Hungry people anywhere behave like hungry people. When you've got big kids and small kids, young people and old, many of whom haven't had a meal in days, in the real world, outside of the commercial in our heads, people get whacked with a belt."
4: On Haitian fried chicken pies: "If this were outside of my apartment, I'd be hitting this hard every day."
5: On actor Sean Penn watching him eat: "I feel like a carnival geek sometimes."
6: On Penn's work with JPHRO: "I know what you're thinking. You're thinking another Hollywood asshole down here for his closeup then on to the next film, the next cause, the next thing. Not so."
7: On Haitian art: "Everywhere you look there's something fucking beautiful."
8: On a huge metal man sculpture that's at least twice his height: "Too big to fit in my suitcase, alas."
9: On the Haitian tourist industry: "Why is Haiti not a vacation fucking wonderland?"
10: On people cheering the destruction of the Presidential Palace after the earthquake: "In the middle of your possibly imminent death and the destruction of everything you know and love, you could find it in your heart to cheer, well, at least that rat son of a bitch is going down with me."
11: On wrapping up the episode: "Not, I know, the most uplifting show ever. No easy answers here. No happy horseshit soothing assurances to be made about the elections, either. Not if we're going to be honest."