Anthony Bourdain went to Sicily on Parts Unknown last night, and things did not go well (to put it mildly). It all started when a trip to catch cuttlefish and octopus turned out to be staged with store bought seafood, and went rather rapidly downhill from there. In a blog post entitled, simply, FAILURE, Bourdain writes:
In my case, exhausted, burnt, seasick—I pretty much melted down and spent the rest of my time in country trying to reconstruct my personality from memory...It's a good show, well made. But a personal failure. Like a girl you love but just can't find a way to tell her. The fault is my own—for what kind of idiot could EVER be miserable in Sicily? Me."
In other words, he spent the rest of the disastrous fishing trip day — which also happened to be his birthday, apparently — getting wasted to the point where he admits he doesn't remember the dinner he had that evening. The show did seem to pick up after that, with adventures in grilled horse meat, half wild pork meat, homemade grandma food, and more. Now, on to the Quotable Bourdain — feel free to add your picks in the comments below.
1: On Sicily, as perceived by outsiders: "Now and forever more it will be sort of the Godfather theme park."
2: On previous attempts at Sicily shows: "Somehow, I've never been able to get it right. To tell a story — any story — of Sicily."
3: On his last attempt at a Sicily show: "I've done a show in Palermo before. It was an epic goat rodeo, a failure of humiliating scale."
4: On the octopi he sees while "fishing": "I'm no marine biologist, but I know dead octopus when I see one."
5: On the others on his fishing trip: "Strangely, everyone else pretends to believe the hideous sham unfolding before our eyes, doing their best to ignore the blindingly obvious."
6: On literally finding a bag of store-bought cephalopods on the ocean floor: "Then they gave up and just dumped a whole bag of dead fish into the sea.
7: On realizing the fishing scene was being staged: "For some reason I feel something snap, and I slide quickly into a spiral of near hysterical depression. Is this what it's come to, I'm thinking as another dead squid narrowly misses my head. Back in the same country almost a decade later, and I'm still desperately staging fishing scenes?"
8: On what happened on the fishing trip: "I've never had a nervous breakdown before, but I tell you from the bottom of my heart, something fell apart down there, and it took a long, long time after the end of this damn episode to recover."
9: On what he did while the octopus they "caught" is being prepared: "You'll notice I'm not there. I'm sitting in a nearby cafe pounding one negroni after another in a smoldering, miserable rage."
10: On the fallout from the bad fishing trip: "By the time dinner rolls around, I'm ripped to the _____. Did I mention it's my birthday? I've had three hours of bobbing around on a pitching boat, a couple more hours getting looped, two more hours lying on a sidewalk outside the restaurant while the crew hangs lights, so I'm gone, baby, gone. I don't remember any of this."
11: On where the chef's olives come from: "Apparently, there were these white olives, harvested from some secret tree only Turi knows about. Maybe it's next to his secret fishing hole!"
12: On eating the octopus he "caught": "Oh look, my octopus! I remember personally catching that one. It was a mighty struggle, too."
13: On what he did at the end of the night: "I must have slunk back to bed somehow, collapsed into a sodden, drunken heap of self-loathing. I would have ordinarily turned on the porn channel and maybe loaded up on prescription meds. But there's no TV at the agritourismo."
14: On trying to get the show back on track: "This is what I wanted Sicily to be: something to soothe my shattered soul."
15: On eating grilled horse meat: "Let's put it this way: when my daughter asks me for a pony, I'm bringing her here, pointing at that grill, and saying here's your _____ pony."
16: On pork: "I don't have a tattoo of a pig or anything, but I like 'em fine. And when given the opportunity to shoot one in the brain, or see one shot in the brain so that I may sup on its entrails and other parts, I'm down. That's what's called cheering me up from some manic depression."
17: On what happens to the pig: "BANG. And this pig is like Paulie: you won't see him no more."
18: On the pig's death: "Even with the brain dead, the heart still goes on beating. Kind of like, eh, pick a Kardashian."
19: On taking the fur off the pig: "There's a Kardashian joke there somewhere. Kim gets ready for the big day. It's date night at Khloe's house. Real Housewife gets ready for summer. Grooming tips from Teresa Giudice. I've got a million of them. Let's hope Kanye never has to see this."
20: On his plans for after this episode: "After this, I'm going back to New York, crawling under my bed, and adopting the fetal position for like six weeks."
21: On hanging in there his last night in Sicily: "I may look normal — okay, I don't exactly — but I'm not barking uncontrollably or running around shrieking with my pants wrapped around my head. Which is what my instincts tell me I should be doing."
22: On tourists in Sicily: "Oh look, Michael Corleone got married there! Oh it's so fantastic!"