This week’s episode of Parts Unknown, ex-chef and current world traveler Anthony Bourdain’s hit CNN series, takes viewers to Newfoundland, which Bourdain describes as “a part of Canada all its own, with its own distinctive history and culture.”
Specifically, Bourdain and his travel buds — chefs Frederic Morin, David McMillan, and Jeremy Charles, and restaurateur-slash-sommelier Jeremy Bonia — are touring the island of Newfoundland, part of the larger province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s gray and rocky, teeming with excellent seafood and game. Cod and moose are the local favorites. Newfoundland and its inhabitants have long been derided by Canadians from elsewhere as rural, but thanks in part to a rekindled pride in native ingredients, seen on display at Charles and Bonia’s restaurant, that’s changing.
“For a long time, on the mainland of Canada, there was this stereotype of Newfoundlanders as being poor and uneducated, kind of that goofy ‘Newfie’ stereotype,” Dale Jarvis of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Development Office tells Bourdain over a meal of fish and chips. “And over the past 10, 20 years, there’s been a real shift in how the rest of Canada perceives Newfoundland, but I think also as how Newfoundlanders perceive themselves.”
Here, now is a roundup of the most memorable moments, as well as a few more quotes, from Parts Unknown: Newfoundland.
The most outrageous meal: As Bourdain and his crew have done in the past, they strike a high-low balance by enjoying a five-star-type meal during some sort of wilderness excursion. In Newfoundland, they go hunting for moose. And while the hunt proves unsuccessful, the cooking and eating does not. Their menu consists of: raw Beausoleil oysters; moose prepared in a variety of ways; cured ham; jellied foie gras; terrine of wild hare; terrine of pheasant, wild duck, and guinea hen; terrine of wild boar; canned and fresh truffles; wild mushrooms and grilled Scots lovage; and roasted chestnuts, bacon, and pearl onions. It’s something to behold.
The best-looking meal: Bourdain, Morin, and McMillan puddle jump to the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon for some home cooking that they say is tough to find in mainland France these days. Maite Legasse invites them, as well as her friends Hilary Soper and Philippe Jouberi, into her home and serves sea urchin pate, stuffed squid over rice, braised halibut, local cheeses, and an apple-blackberry tart. It’s simple food, but Legasse’s guests are blown away. They demand that she open her own restaurant.
The best fishing scene: Bourdain’s various television series have shown a number of fishing scenes over the years, and the host will be the first to admit they they often end poorly, with a stunt fish being pulled out of the water. Not in Newfoundland. There are plenty of cod biting. “Well, I think that’s the most successful fishing scene I’ve had in many, many years,” he laughs.
The best moment: While Bourdain, Morin, and McMillan are dining on an exceptional meal of local seafood and game at Raymonds, the restaurant operated by Charles and Bonia, a dive crew is plucking fresh scallops out of the Atlantic Ocean. The divers crack the mollusks open and eat them right there on the boat. It doesn’t get fresher than that.
One final Bourdain soundbite: At one low-key meal, Bourdain is introduced to scrunchions, a local snack consisting of crispy fried pork rind or fatback. Considering his love of all things pork, it’s a very Bourdain treat, and his first taste produces a very Bourdain reaction: “Oh, god, oh, I could just sit around in some shit-stained underwear, just sit there in front of a television and eat these all day long.”
For a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this episode, check out the show’s companion site, Explore Parts Unknown.