Season nine of CNN’s Parts Unknown comes to an end tonight as your fantasy BFF and food hall visionary Anthony Bourdain treks to Portugal — specifically the northern port city of Porto. It’s one of the first places Bourdain ever shot a television show, and he hasn’t returned here since 2001.
The episode opens with a rather dreary scene of a poncho-clad Bourdain in a boat caught in a rainstorm, and it’s all uphill from there as he gets sexually harassed by women working in a fish market, attends a pig slaughter, learns how to make a dish of eel cooked in its own blood, and drinks his fair share of port. (Diehard Bourdain fans may recognize one of his sidekicks from this episode: Jose Meirelles, who was Bourdain’s boss when he worked as executive chef of Manhattan French restaurant Les Halles.)
The host also gets familiar with saudade — a Portuguese word for “joyful sadness” that is a common theme running throughout its culture — and explores Portugal’s relationship with the ocean, feasting on an impressive spread of seafood that includes everything from uni to barnacles (yes, they’re edible).
Here now, the 10 best lines from Parts Unknown in Porto, Portugal:
1. Bourdain on what he learned from his first trip to Portugal: “Back in the beginning, fresh out of the kitchen, when I first went out in the world trying to figure out how to make television, I came to Northern Portugal. Little did I know what I would find. Up until then, for 30 years spent working in kitchens, meat had come wrapped in plastic. I’d order it in boxes. I had never seen an animal die because I was making dinner.”
2. Bourdain on a Portuguese delicacy of tripe stew: “What do you do when left with nothing but guts and hooves and odd bits? Figure out how to transform that into delicious, delicious things, of course.”
3. Bourdain on his general distaste for shooting wine scenes: “I don’t usually do wine scenes. No matter how good the wine, on camera it’s just colored liquid going into a glass. Wine nerds usually bore me. Don’t talk abut your damn wine, drink it.”
4. Bourdain on documenting his penchant for fine Portuguese cheeses: “Unlike wine, cheese porn is easy, just like shooting actual porn. Start with an establishing shot, move in for a close, cut away to a reaction — money! Works every time.”
5. Bourdain on how the country’s proximity to the ocean affects its culture: “Portugal has got a lot of coastline and a lot of history with the sea. It’s a close relationship, one that’s imprinted deep into the national character — the songs, the poetry, the state of mind.”
6. Bourdain on his attraction to a local bar food favorite consisting of fresh pork sausage, cheese, and spicy sauce on toasted bread: “Those of you who know me even a little bit are familiar with my unholy attraction to the mutant hot dog.”
7. Bourdain musing on the glories of fish baked inside a salt crust: “Nobody knows who first salt-baked a fish. Maybe it was Jesus. Scale and gut your fish, in this case a sea bass, insert lemon and onion, then pack it in salt and bake. Light the whole thing on fire tableside and break open. The salt acts as a protective crust, sealing in all the moisture and flavor.”
8. Bourdain defending a grisly scene involving the slaughter of a pig: “Contrary to what some may say, I do not enjoy seeing the death of any living thing. I do not promote animal cruelty. But I think people should know where meat comes from, and knowing, they should feel free to decide what they do from there.”
9. On the Porto specialty of francesinha, a decadent sandwich layering ham, linguica, and steak with plenty of melted cheese and a spicy beer sauce: “Meat, cheese, fat, bread: It’s the immortal combination.”
10. Bourdain’s final reflections on his return to Portugal: “Everything old is new again? Maybe not. I’d come close sometimes to believing that nothing actually ever changes, that we are trapped in our destiny, hurtling or limping or being dragged towards the inevitable. That saudade refers not to a long-lost place but a long-lost time when we were all young and innocent.”