The latest installment of Parts Unknown, roaming former chef Anthony Bourdain’s hit CNN series, takes viewers to Uruguay, a laid-back country that might be too laid back, if some locals on camera are to be believed.
Bourdain travels around the cities of Montevideo (the country’s capital) and Santa Lucia and the island of Jose Ignacio with Ignacio “Nacho” Mattos, the chef and restaurateur who operates Cafe Alto Paradiso, Estela, and Flora Bar in New York City. Mattos is a native of Uruguay, but he returns home only for a short visit every few years. The country has progressive social norms: marijuana, abortion, and marriage equality have all been legal for some time; there is universal health care; and college education is free. But Mattos, having lived in New York for many years, seems to find the Uruguayan pace of life to be too slow, something Bourdain cannot understand.
“I love this city, I love this country,” Bourdain gushes to Mattos at a table in a small bar. “I mean, there’s a vibe here that just is unlike any other place on the continent. It’s the opposite of New York, in a lot of ways. People aren’t pushy. You know in New York, everybody’s sort of hungry and pushing and moving.”
Read on for a roundup of the most memorable moments, as well as a few more quotes, from Parts Unknown: Uruguay.
The most outrageous meal: The unofficial national sandwich can be found at Bar Arocena in the Carrasco neighborhood, and it’s a doozy. The chivito is composed of steak, ham, bacon, cheese, hard-boiled egg, mayonnaise, and various garnishes. Bourdain calls it a “terror-inspiring heap of protein.”
The best-looking meal: In Montevideo’s Old City neighborhood, Bourdain and Mattos visit Jacinto, which is owned by chef Lucia Soria, who worked with Mattos under big-time Argentinian chef Francis Mallman early in her career. The group dines on Spanish- and Italian-inspired dishes that include gnocchi with mushrooms and pumpkin; prawns with avocado, apple, and wasabi; and beef tartare with quail egg.
The best quote about weed: Remember, recreational weed is legal in Uruguay, so Bourdain is allowed to toke up on camera. “Proceed to smoke weed,” the host narrates. “It’s cool, everybody’s doing it. Somebody call the elven Jeff Sessions. He’ll shit himself.”
Most Anthony Bourdain quote: Uruguay, famous for meat cooked over fire, may be a perfect country for Tony B., who is famously hostile toward trendy health foods. “What’s on the menu tonight? Got some quinoa? I’m into some quinoa,” Bourdain tells Mattos sarcastically while they smoke a joint. “I don’t even know what it is. I don’t know that I’ve ever had it. It’s like, I used to really like kale. I used to love kale, but now I don’t want to eat it because they’re making smoothies out of that shit.”
The best moment: Toward the end of the episode, Bourdain, Mattos, and a friend procure their dinner from a drive-thru restaurant. But they aren’t munching on fast-food burgers; they order skirt steak, ribeye, fries, blood sausage, and beer. Like a true drive-thru, payment is taken and food is received at separate windows.
One final Bourdain soundbite: Speaking of blood sausage, this food might be Bourdain’s final form. “This is what it’s all about for me, man,” he says. “Every great culture does this. It’s moist. Look, when they kill me, that’s the way I want to go. Keep the heart beating, pump the blood into a bucket, let the village women come and make sausage.”
For a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this episode, check out the show’s companion site, Explore Parts Unknown.