Parts Unknown picked up a couple Emmys last night, but the CNN show also aired its season two premiere, set in Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank. In the episode — his very first visit to Israel — host Anthony Bourdain went the Western Wall and the Old City, talked with a member of Palestine's all-women racing team, hung out with London chef/cookbook phenom Yotam Ottolenghi, visited the West Bank, an Aida refugee camp, Gaza, and, of course, ate at local restaurants. He ate falafel, salmon marinated in pomegranate juice, grilled zucchini with fried yogurt sauce, fire-roasted watermelons, and much more. And now, on to The Quotable Bourdain— feel free to add your picks in the comments below.
1: On Israel: "It's easily the most contentious piece of real estate in the world. And there's no hope, none, of ever talking about it without pissing somebody, if not everybody, off."
2: On things that are contentious: "Where does falafel come from? Who makes the best hummus? Is it a fence or a wall?"
3: On being in Israel: "By the end of this hour, I'll be seen by many as a terrorist sympathizer, a Zionist tool, a self-hating Jew, an apologist for American imperialism, an Orientalist, socialist, fascist, CIA agent, and worse. So here goes nothing."
4: On half of his family being Jewish: "I've never been in a synagogue. I don't believe in a higher power. But that doesn't make me any less Jewish, I don't think. These guys sandbagging me into Wailing Wall? They don't seem to think so either."
5: On feeling like he's "masquerading as something he's not": "I'm instinctively hostile to any kind of devotion. Certainty is my enemy, you know, I'm all about doubt, questioning oneself in the nature of reality, constantly."
6: On being Jewish, kind of: "Just because I was raised outside the faith with no particular attachment or loyalty to Israel doesn't mean that plenty of people on this earth don't hate me in principle. I know that."
7: On his first look around: "It's like everybody says: it's pretty, it's awesome, it's urban, sophisticated, hip. Like Southern California, only nicer. Then you see the young draftees on the streets, and you start to get the idea. This is Jerusalem."
8: On Via Dolorosa, the "last trip Jesus did before he was crucified":
Yotam Ottolenghi: "Now we're walking in the steps of Jesus Christ."
AB: "As I so often do."
AB: "Jesus was here, I feel like I should be more... something."
YO: "A little bit more pious?"
AB: "A little bit? It's too late for me."
9: On crowns of thorns available for purchase: "You get your own crown of thorns? In answer to the question 'What Would Jesus Wear?' Oh, no, that's just wrong."
10: On the wall, or the barrier between Israel and the Palestinian West Bank: "On one hand, there's no doubt that the number of suicide bombings fell drastically. On the other, there's this [the wall]."
11: On price tagging: "Intimidating. I mean, you put, what, two targets on my house, I'm moving."
12: Member Betty Saleh on the Speed Sisters, the all-female Palestinian racing team: "Well, a car doesn't know if you're a woman or a man.
13: Saleh on life in Palestine: "You never know what's going to happen in Palestine. One day it's good, and the other day it's just — you never know. It's a crazy country."
14: On the wall: "It's right there for all to see, and it feels like something out of a science fiction film."
15: On the "remarkable number of children" inside the Aida refugee camp: "6000 people of that number, of that number 66% are under the age of 16. I don't care where that is in the world, that's pretty much a recipe for unruly behavior."
16: On heroes: "In America, kids grow up with pop stars, sports players, never a politician. It's unthinkable for a child to look up to a politician or look up to a military figure. Sports or entertainment. Here, kids four or five years old, every day, they're looking at someone who, you know, brought down a plane."
17: On Majda, a restaurant run by a Jewish wife and Muslim husband: "You could almost believe for a minute or two that some kind of peace, some kind of reconciliation meeting of the minds sanity is possible after you visit Majda. [...] It is incredibly beautiful here. I don't know why I didn't expect that."
18: On eating vegetarian food:
AB: "I just had this incredibly delicious meal completely oblivious to the fact that its entirely vegetarian. If any of the vegetarian restaurants in New York served food that tasting anything near this I would actually —"
YO: "Go there?"
AB: "Yeah, maybe. I'd consider it."
19: On Gaza: "Getting in and out of Gaza from Israel is truly one of the most surreal travel experiences you could ever have on earth."
20: Journalist and author Laila El-Haddad on being a native of Gaza: "For me, being from Gaza, being a child of diaspora, I always thought food was a really interesting way to tell the Palestinian story, being able to discover this lost history, this Palestinian past. Plus, the food is really damn good."
21: On hospitality in Gaza: "Many, if not most of these guys are not too sympathetic to my country or my ethnicity, I'm guessing. But there's that hospitality thing. Anywhere you go in the Muslim world, it seems, no matter what: you feed your guests; you do your best to make them feel at home."
22: El-Haddad on the food in Gaza: "It's kind of its own little gastronomical bubble."
23: On getting "a better sensory experience" when eating with your hands: "He says God gave us hands to eat with, not spoons."
24: On reconciling differences: "One can be forgiven for thinking, when you see how similar they are, the two peoples, both of whom cook with pride, eat with passion, love their kids, love the land in which they live or the land they dream of returning to, who live so close, who are locked in such an intimate, if deadly, embrace, might some how, someday, figure out how to live with each other. But that would be very mushy thinking. Those things, in the end, probably don't count for much at all."
25: On the dangers of living near the Gaza Strip: "In some Israeli towns and villages within close proximity of the Gaza Strip, bus stops double as bomb shelters and air raids warn of incoming missiles fired from less than a mile away."
26: On the conflict between the two peoples: "They are all nice, but if you scratch, if you push, they'll all say, 'throw them in the sea.'"