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Anthony Bourdain ‘Parts Unknown’ in Antarctica: The Most Memorable Lines

Tony’s never visited a place quite like this before

Bourdain filming at Lake Hoare station
CNN/Parts Unknown

Anthony Bourdain’s Antarctic adventure features a helicopter ride over an active volcano, a beach party at the foot of a glacier, and an afternoon spent among a colony of Adele penguins. But this episode mostly focuses on the scientists who live in extreme conditions at the bottom of the world. As Tony finds, despite the brutal weather and limited access to fresh vegetables, the people at the McMurdo Station and its satellites across Antarctica have formed a tightly knit community. Some people visit McMurdo and decide to keep going back as much as they can.

[Bourdain at the South Pole]
[CNN/Parts Unknown]

Bourdain spends a lot of the episode talking with this crew, learning all about their work and how they’ve built a life for themselves near the South Pole. Tony remarks: “At a time when science is held in open contempt... when painfully acquired data is actually being deleted from computers if it conflicts with preconceived policies, these guys are looking at some deep stuff.”

This episode of Parts Unknown features breathtaking footage of Antarctica’s mountains and valleys, and surreal shots of Bourdain trudging through the land on foot and gliding over the ice in a chopper. Bourdain and the Zero Point Zero crew have never filmed an episode quite like this one before. Here are the 12 best lines from this most unusual episode of Parts Unknown:

1. Bourdain on arriving at McMurdo Station: “It ain’t pretty. It looks like a mining camp. But look closely, and you do notice things, like the total absence of litter — not a single cigarette butt. It’s one of the most carefully regulated communities on the planet. And it is a community — a tightly knit, highly organized, very odd subculture of just under a thousand people in summer, and 150 in winter, all working toward the same thing in this most remote, barren, yet stunningly beautiful continent.”

2. Bourdain on the conditions at McMurdo: “It takes a special breed of hard-ass to not just make it down here, but like it. You got to be tough.”

3. Bourdain on daily life at McMurdo: “It feels like dorm life at college. Bathrooms are communal, everybody rotates housekeeping duties, and everybody shuffles off at designated hours to the galley, where the cooks do the very best they can given the infrequent delivery of what are called with longing tones around here freshies, or anything not frozen, canned, or prepared.”

4. Bourdain on the remote camp at Lake Hoare: “It is, however, most legendary for this woman: Rae Spain, the camp’s manager, who’s been coming to Lake Hoare for 19 seasons. Said to be the best cook on the continent — this in an environment where so-called freshies, the rare fresh vegetable, is spoken [of] in hushed tones of near fetishistic appreciation. Staying over at Lake Hoare is a rare privilege enjoyed by few.”

5. Bourdain on Spain’s cooking: “Life here most definitely has its advantages. Rae and her staff seem always to be making something delicious. Homemade bread, scones, muffins appear throughout the day. Tonight it’s barbecued pork tenderloin, grilled mahi sticks, and shrimp marinated in chile sauce. Homemade sourdough bread. A roasted beet salad. What cannot be fresh is nonetheless delicious.”

6. Bourdain reflecting on the work of the Lake Haore team: “The beginning of the 20th century, when scientists and explorers were national heroes, there was a hunger for knowledge and discovery. [It’s] not a good climate for facts that we live in today... There are plenty of people out there who believe The Flintstones is pretty much an accurate portrayal of history. “

7. Bourdain’s advice to the Lake Haore crew: “You guys just need better press. You are gathering data that will potentially save the world from flesh-eating, anal-seeking algae... You need a giant nematode to rampage through West Virginia or some shit like that. Then everyone will be extremely interested in what you’re doing.”

8. Bourdain on the research possibilities of Antarctica: “No one’s looking for frozen Nazi cyborgs? They’re here somewhere, I’m sure of it.”

9. Bourdain on the cold air in Antarctica: “I can tell you, it scorches the lungs and creeps through your heavy outerwear.”

10. Bourdain on the South Pole: “It really is the ass-end of the world.”

11. Bourdain on the humungous supply ship that arrives at McMurdo: “It’s like a giant human — food goes in, shit goes out.”

12. Bourdain on the work of the Antarctic scientists: “There is a curiosity in everyone who comes here. It’s a continent of travels, of seekers, united in the continuation of exploration, learning, the search for greater understand, the pursuit of pure knowledge.”

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