The conditions in Antarctica are brutal, but as Anthony Bourdain finds on the newest episode of Parts Unknown, the people who choose to live there manage to eat well and have a good time while conducting some very important work. In a teaser for this installment of the hit CNN travel show, Bourdain remarks: “It’s the only continent I haven’t visited. It’s the last continent on earth, where a tightly knit community of seekers, heavy equipment operators, cooks, and scientists gather to explore the art of pure science, looking for something called facts — remember them?”
Bourdain takes a helicopter ride over the world’s largest active volcano, and he visits a colony of Adele penguins, but the majority of this episode focuses on the people who inhabit the McMurdo Station, a United States-run scientific research facility. The sun sets exactly once per year here, in March, for five months. The rest of time, the McMurdo team members live in constant daylight — conditions which can play tricks on your brain, as Bourdain discovers.
McMurdo has three watering holes, and some cafeterias where cooks prepare feasts using mostly frozen or canned goods. Fresh food items — or “freshies” as they’re called at the station — are in short supply, but the kitchen crews know how to keep things interesting. During his visit to Antarctica, Bourdain eats barbecued pork tenderloin, marinated shrimp, homemade bread, edamame salads, roasted vegetables, and a hearty stew. Bourdain discovers that the McMurdo community also loves a good party.
In his field notes for the show, Tony reflects on this unique opportunity: “Rarely, if ever, has an episode of Parts Unknown so descriptively lived up to its title. Antarctica is the last un-fucked-up place on Earth. Chances are you can’t go there. Certainly not the way we did.”
The Antarctica episode of Parts Unknown airs this Sunday, June 4 on CNN at 9 p.m. Check out more notes from the filming of this episode, plus travel guides and essays about life at McMurdo on Explore Parts Unknown. And stay tuned for a recap of the best Quotable Bourdain moments immediately following the show on Sunday night.