Should we be worried about Anthony Bourdain's mental health? Between globetrotting meals with President Obama, planning a high-stakes New York City food hall, jiu-jitsu training, and getting trapped under cabs for episodes of Inside Amy Schumer, the Parts Unknown host maintains a grueling schedule. While it's hard sometimes to muster sympathy for celebrities — especially those who get to travel two-thirds of the year eating and drinking for a living — at the end of the day, Bourdain is just like anyone else, making his living the way he knows how. So in this episode, the intrepid host travels to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to explore the food and culture of porteños — as well as his psyche.
"Argentina has the distinction of being home to more headshrinkers per capita than anywhere else in the world."
Psychoanalysis is extremely popular in Argentina. According to Bourdain, "Argentina has the distinction of being home to more headshrinkers per capita than anywhere else in the world," meaning that many Argentinians embrace mental health treatment without stigma. This is the central theme of Sunday's episode, which is spliced by not-so-private sessions with Bourdain lying on a couch and unraveling his dreams, fears, and anxieties with a psychoanalyst. These moments take both a humorous and a serious tone. The exercise is obviously for the benefit of the show — and Bourdain's self-deprecating sense of humor is most on display when discussing himself. But it's also a reminder everyone, even entertainers, has their own private struggles.
Bourdain lands in Buenos Aires during January, the height of summer in the southern hemisphere, when many middle class and wealthy porteños leave the city for vacation. Throughout the weeklong trip, the host gorges on Argentinian beef as well as pork and sausages. He shares a meal at a local restaurant, Don Carlitos, with chef/restaurateur Francis Mallmann; explores the disappearing class of career servers; and eats a late-night chorizo sausage sandwich with chef Soledad Nardelli and the kitchen staff from her restaurant Chila. The episode begins and ends as most travel adventures do — with visits to the airport, though in Buenos Aires, watching planes take off and land is a family-friendly outing. Here now are the 31 best lines from Sunday's sojourn:
1. On marveling at the mechanical achievement that is plane flight: "Kind of amazing they work. I still look at a plane and I'm figuring I understand scientifically how they fly, but it doesn't look like it should work."
2. On Francis Mallmann's secluded vacation home in Patagonia: "It's a little anti-social for a guy who's a communicator. You're all over television."
3. On Mallmann: "...Now in middle age, [he] gives delightfully few shits about anyone."
4. On the popularity of psychotherapy in Argentina: "This is the kingdom of doubt."
5. On what has brought him to psychotherapy: "Well, things have been happening. I will find myself in an airport, for instance, and I'll order an airport hamburger. It's an insignificant thing, it's a small thing, it's a hamburger, but it's not a good one. Suddenly I look at the hamburger and I find myself in a spiral of depression that can last for days."
6. On his job: "George Orwell said something that really upset me. He talked about how human beings are essentially tubes into which we shove food. And this is my job. I travel around the world with these people and they turn on the cameras and then for a certain period of time, my job is to shove food into my face."
7. On his recurring dream: "I've had this dream again that I've had for as long as I can remember. I'm stuck in a vast old Victorian hotel with endless rooms and hallways trying to check out, but I can't. I spend a lot of time in hotels, but this one is menacing because I just can't leave it. And then there's another part to this dream, always, where I'm trying to go home but I can't quite remember where that is."
8. On the prevalence of grilled meat: "Meat is king and fire and we shall go hard in honoring the flame."
9. On longing for something green: "After a week or two here, even confirmed carnivores like myself will fall to their knees praying for a vegetable."
10. On what he did during his visit: "Ate a lot of meat. Do you have any vegetables in this country at all?"
11. On feeling out of place: "I feel like Quasimodo the hunchback of Notre Dame — if he stayed in nice hotel suites with high thread count sheets, that would be me. I feel kind of like a freak, and I feel very isolated."
12. On struggling with communication: "I communicate for a living, but I'm terrible with communicating with people I care about. I'm good with my daughter. An eight-year-old is about my level of communication skills, so that works out. But beyond, that I'm really terrible."
13. On post-lunch siestas: "I'm not a country boy — I'm a city boy actually — but I do like naps."
14. On bad tippers: "If you're a cheap tipper, by the way, or rude to your server, you are dead to me. You are lower than whale feces."
15. On being a narcissist: "I tell stories for a living. I write books. I make television. A reasonable person does not believe that you are so interesting that people will watch you on television. I think this is evidence of a narcissistic personality disorder to start with."
16. When asked when he developed this personality trait: "I think before [the show] probably. I think always. So nothing to be done."
17. On watching the Chila crew play soccer after work: "I ain't playin' no soccer. Alcohol and meat in tube form, however, are more familiar to me."
18. On normalizing: "You know, I really love barbecuing on vacation in backyards; I love cooking for my daughter. I like doing really normal mundane things because I never got to do them before."
19. On Argentina's late-night drunk food: "The delicious, delicious choripan is an iconic street food around here for reasons that are immediately obvious once you bite into one."
20. When offered beer with Coke: "No. That's wrong, man. No."
21. On the saying "Never trust a thin chef": "If you're not thin, you're not workin' hard enough."
22. On his fears: "You know, we do a lot of different scenes — mostly meals, or I drive sports cars, jump out of planes — but there are few things that terrify me. Carnivals. I'm afraid of clowns. Horrified. People dancing, crowds."
23. In case you forgot, he hates Carnival: "You know, I've lived a long life without ever going to Carnival in Rio or Mardi Gras. I don't like it. And there's something frightening about crowds, too. What if they all decide to do one thing at the same time. It starts as a party. Five minutes later, it's like Nazi Germany."
24. On being a public figure: "I'm not going to get a lot of sympathy from people, frankly. I mean I have the best job in the world, let's face it. I go anywhere I want, I do what I want. That guy over there loading sausages onto the grill, that's work. This is not so bad. It's alright. I'll make it."
25. On being depressed: "There's the evil cheeseburger, the evil hamburger that sets me off; suddenly, I'm depressed for days. It's like that with the good stuff, too. I have a couple of happy minutes there where I'm thinking life is pretty good."
26. On his therapy session: "My therapy? Oh, I feel all better now. All better."
27. To his psychoanalyst: "What do you think? I mean, is there hope for me?"
28. Reacting to her response: "Oh boy, that doesn't sound promising."
29. On what he was expecting from therapy: "I was kind of hoping for a prescription for morphine."
30. On needing vegetables: "When I get back to New York, I tell you, I'm going to get off that plane [and] I'm going to make myself a big fucking salad."
31. ...but not until New York: "All right. What do you say we get some sausages?"