On last night's season three finale episode of Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain travelled to the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia and its capital city of Salvador. On his Tumblr, Bourdain described the region as "mystical, magical, incredibly colorful" and the episode certainly shows it. Bourdain hangs out with local fishermen and artists, goes to a crowded street party, and even hosts his own party on a boat.
Bourdain gets adventurous with his food, eating potentially poisonous blowfish, melted cheese on a stick from a beach vendor, and a street food that he says puts novices at risk for "time on the porcelain bus." He also explores the history of Afro-Brazilian culture and cuisine in the region, as well as some of the similarities Brazilian cuisine has with other world cuisines. "Any time you get Chinese, Brazilians, and Italians all agreeing on something, it's pretty clear it's a really good idea." Bourdain also drinks caipirinhas throughout the episode. Many, many caipirinhas. Now, on to the Quotable Bourdain — feel free to add your picks in the comments below.
1: On Bahia: "In Bahia, you find yourself in the heart of the heart of Brazil, where the magic comes from. If you want to get there, just follow the sound of the drums. This is Salvador De Bahia, city of three million people. First capital of Brazil. The wellspring for everything African and spicy, where things seem to just sway and move constantly."
2: On caipirinhas: "What's magical about this cocktail is the first taste, it's like I don't know, man, it's a little too something. Then like that second sip, it's like oh, that's kind of good. Then the third sip, it's where are my pants."
3: On what to eat with caipirinhas: "Fortunately, food in these parts tends to be, shall we say, hearty. For instance, a delightful meal of fried meat with plenty of absorbent starch product like farofa, the perfect accompaniment to many, many caipirinhas."
4: On meat in Salvador: "It's a tough town for vegetarians."
5: On over-ordering: "People are staring at me. They're saying 'Look at it, the even hump of an American, how much he's eating.'"
6: On the neighborhood Pelourinho: "It's almost always a party, a series of parties actually."
7: On free drinks: "Alcohol, of unknown origin, dispensed from atop of the head of a stranger? Mama always said that was a good idea."
8: On the atmosphere of Pelourinho: "It really does seem that everybody is moving to some mysterious, unknowable pulse, some unheard throb that moves people to constantly touch each other, stroke hips, necks, limbs."
9: On the history of Bahia and Pelourinho: "It is useful to know that of over 12 million Africans dragged, ripped, and kidnapped from their homelands, nearly 5 million ended up in Brazil, 1.5 million of them in Bahia alone. Pelourinho became the locus of a vast infrastructure of plantations and the slave trade that powered them, making this city in northeastern Brazil the most opulent in the New World."
10: On the transformation of the Pelourinho neighborhood: "Cheap rent for longtime locals or shiny new art galleries and hipster cafes? We know which way the current of history runs."
11: On the dangers of eating blowfish: "I like wandering through markets as much as the next guy, but what I really like are neurotoxins ... Some hysterical ninnies will tell you the tetrodotoxin toxin present in the blowfish is 1200 times more potent than cyanide. And they'll tell you how if it's consumed you'll remain conscious while your muscles gradually become paralyzed and death like a slow-moving freight train looms closer and closer, and whatever you do, just make sure you cut out that liver. I say, 'Bullshit.'"
12: On the spicy blowfish preparation: "I can't feel my legs. Is that a bad thing?"
13: On the city of Salvador and the World Cup: "I've been told thousands of prostitutes are studying tourist-appropriate languages in preparation, so probably a lot of people are going to get laid, a lot of people are going to get robbed, a lot of people are going to get laid and robbed."
14: On the fishermen of Bahia: "Fishing anywhere is hard and the way these guys do it, particularly hard. Mostly hand lines from small boats. Just look at these hands."
15: On eating fish face: "Oh that's, you'll pardon the expression, some good head."
16: On drinking at the beach: "Ah, the caipirinha man. This indispensable icon of Brazilian beach culture is known to start with fresh lime. Muddle and mash with more lime juice, sugar, ice. The magic ingredient? Cachaça. That's basically the distilled liquor of the sugar cane. Shaken, not stirred, and you got yourself one of the world's truly great cocktails. The utility beverage good for any time of day and any social occasion."
17: On beach foods: "They have these toasted cheese sticks here. Awesome ... If there's anything better than cheese, it's semi-melted cheese."
18: On the street food acarajé: "Behold: a paste, a batter, a falafel-like wad of smushed up black eyed peas, seasoned with ground dried shrimp and onions, deep fried to crispy and golden in some chili-spiked dende oil. Already, if you're a rookie, you're guaranteed some quality time on the porcelain bus real soon."
19: On Afro-Brazilian cuisine: "Afro-Brazilian cuisine is the result of many many years of cooks experimenting with African and Portuguese dishes, combined with local ingredients like seafood, chilis, and coconut milk."
20: On living the good life: "If, say, you found yourself in Brazil, and had the chance to hire a boat, head for the beach with a bunch of new friends, bring along a skilled mixologist, expertly trained the fine arts of caipirinha-making, why wouldn't you?"
21: More on the caipirinha: "This alone is an argument for the greatness of this country."
22: On imagining the inner monologues of barbecued shrimp: "Please Morrissey, don't eat me. Look in your heart, don't eat me."
23: On eating crabs: "Any time you get Chinese, Brazilians, and Italians all agreeing on something, it's pretty clear it's a really good idea. Everybody agrees that this complicated-looking creature with all its troublesome shells is worth the work."
24: On crab shells: "When people started demanding boneless stuff, like chicken without a bone, or crab meat without the actual crab, or lazy lobster, that was the beginning of the erosion of our society as we know it. If you're not willing to work for a payoff like this, how do you expect us to fight Al-Qaeda?"