The second episode of Parts Unknown’s final season takes Anthony Bourdain and his friend José Andrés on a trip to Asturias, Spain, Andrés’s hometown. This episode is the first to air without Bourdain’s full narration, as production was not finished when the chef, author, and television host died in France on June 8. Andrés supplies some sound bites, and audio clips from sequences Bourdain filmed for this episode are used to tie the story together. But the episode still feels quiet and eerie, like something’s missing. Of course, something — someone — is missing.
Despite the change in narration, Bourdain and Andrés’s trip together looks like a rollicking good time. They are obviously old friends, and conversations and jokes come easy between the two. The episode opens in a central plaza, where several tables of guests are dining on a pea stew, grilled steaks with cheese, and more. They drink cider, which is the ubiquitous beverage throughout this hour of television, which is poured by waiters from a bottle raised overhead to a glass held at thigh level. The remainder of the episode illustrates how Asturias is a place where things don’t come easy. Tony and Jose make a five-hour trek to a remote village for lunch of fabada, a white bean and sausage stew. Fishermen scale ocean cliffs to pluck gooseneck barnacles. Cheesemongers age their products inside dank caves in undisclosed locations. As Andrés says, “nothing is plentiful here.”
Without Bourdain to guide viewers through the episode as a narrator, the people and places that come on screen are not identified. He and Andrés play a bowling-type game that is not announced by name. He dines with local musician Pablo Und Destruktion, who is not properly introduced, at an unnamed restaurant and learns about the history of the labor movement and bloody class war.
After this episode, there are only three more new installments of the series that were shot on location. Here are some of the best quotable moments from Parts Unknown: Asturias.
Bourdain, on Andrés’s transcendance beyond celebrity chefdom: “I came here with a good friend, a great chef. He’s a complicated man. Nobody understands him but his woman. And I’m not talking about John Shaft — shut your mouth. I’m talking about José Andrés, the only chef in the history of America ever to be sued by a sitting president. I’m so proud of him.”
Andrés, on taking a five-hour hike for a lunch of bean stew: “It’s worth it, it’s worth the walk. I mean, you show all of us it’s worth it going to the end of the world for the right food, and for the right stories.”
Andrés, on the hard work that goes into dining in his homeland: “Asturias is, to a degree it’s a land of plenty, but to a degree it’s not. It’s not what you want when you want it, it’s when the land wants to give it to you — the river, the mountains, the sea. You have to respect the land first. Maybe then, the land wants to give you something back. In Asturias, many of the restaurants you’re going to go to, you’re going to get that feeling. There’s something beyond just the plate you have in front of you. It is the understanding of the happiness that hardship gives you.”
Andrés, describing the amazing quality of local blue cheese: “Look at this, it’s almost like green-blue-ish. It’s almost like the sky and the grass are touching each other right on the cheese. I mean, and you know one thing, it’s full of penicillin, man. Nobody ever gets sick if you really eat these cheeses.”
Bourdain’s response to this claim: “Well, I feel my syphilis clearing up.”
Andrés, in a heartbreaking moment, on his friendship with Bourdain: “You know, Tony is Tony. It’s easy to love Tony. He seems like he doesn’t care about anything but himself, but then you can see it. He’s the most caring person I’ve ever met. That’s why I’m happy and proud to call him a friend.”
Bourdain, waxing poetically on the local salmon, and then on Asturias itself as Andrés eggs him on: “It’s everything you told me. The fat’s somehow ethereally suspended between the skin, flesh, and bone. You bite into it and just a flood of flavor explodes into your brain. Jose, this is an enchanting country, and in fact this region of the country is the most extraordinary place I can think of. The mountains, the sea, it’s amazing.”
For more details on Bourdain and Andrés’s trip to Asturias, plus essays and dining guides, head over to Explore Parts Unknown.
Correction: October 1, 2018, 2:10 p.m. This article was corrected to reflect that fabada is made with white beans, not peas.
• Asturias [Explore Parts Unknown]
• All Parts Unknown Coverage [E]