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No Reservations-Saudi Arabia

Phaedrus Jul 22, 2008 05:21 AM

Well, the opening shots from the 1300 audition tapes were hilarious. I think any one of the four would have been good, I leaned towards the Thai fighter wanting to go to Thailand.

The Saudi Arabia episode was much more about the travel and the cultural rather than ther culinary, whioch was fine with me. It definitely changed my world view a bit about the country, even though a good friend had been living there for years and keep telling me what nonsense my American sensibility is when it comes to Saudi Arabia.

I think the scene with the Saudis romping through the desert in their SUVs because gas was below $1 a gallon looked like fun, although I was seething a little bit because that was something that we can't afford to do any more.

The whole cooked camel was something different. I am glad he decided not to show us a slaughtering the baby camel scene, smart man. The lizard scene was pretty hilarious. The whole discussion about their treatment of women was interesting. The discussion about the abaya made a lot of sense, especially when coupled with the producer's blog about her feelings when she compared the way she felt about the issue. BUT, when you couple that with the facts of the legislative precedent in Saudi Arabia, the original explanation seem to be so much soft peddling.

  1. j
    jayelare May 23, 2010 04:36 PM

    am i the only one that notices the beer in the final scene?!?!?!?!?
    there is what looks like something similar to a stella next to tony and RIGHT ON CAMERA one of the guys takes a drink from what looks like the same "beer?"... Also, there are what look like some budwiser cans mixed in with the soft drink cans.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jayelare
      roxlet May 27, 2010 07:20 AM

      I am in Cairo, and alcohol-free beer is extremely popular here. They have Heinekin Free, and the Free part doesn't refer to the calories!

    2. Davwud Jul 26, 2008 09:30 PM

      I haven't seen the episode yet but I think he took a lot of heat for the seal part of the Quebec show.

      DT

      http://davwudsfoodcourt.blogspot.com

      1. rockandroller1 Jul 25, 2008 09:09 AM

        I thought it was interesting, but I wish instead of having him eat things she's never eaten before, she would have taken him to places she normally, usually eats. It's not really showing him what life is "really like" in SA if you only take him to weird, exotic locations and do things and consume food that you never have before.

        I also found her discussions about the abaya to sound like someone who has been brainwashed. Riiight, it's the men who have to be sequestered because they are ill-mannered boors. The doors on the fast food booth were positively creepy and this would never be a destination for me.

        It was interesting, but was one of the only NR episodes I can remember coming away thinking "Wow, I certainly never want to go there."

        3 Replies
        1. re: rockandroller1
          Miss Needle Jul 25, 2008 09:37 AM

          "I wish instead of having him eat things she's never eaten before, she would have taken him to places she normally, usually eats. It's not really showing him what life is "really like" in SA if you only take him to weird, exotic locations and do things and consume food that you never have before."

          I understand what you're saying, but I don't think AB generally portrays what people normally eat at the countries he visits. For example, live octopus in Korea -- that's not a typical meal. While he's not Zimmern, there is a bit of a "Bizarre Eats" slants to his show. I think Bourdain has the reputation of eating the "exotic," and Danya was showing what she thought Bourdain was looking for.

          I thought the doors on the fast food booth were kind of cool. I probably have a dirty mind, but I'm thinking there's some interesting action could go on behind those doors. There's a Korean restaurant in NYC where you can pull down the shades if you want some privacy. I never did so, but I found it amusing.

          Well, as I said in my post above, it's really not high on my list of countries to visit. That's why I like to watch this show to experience it vicariously through Bourdain.

          1. re: rockandroller1
            j
            jeanki Jul 25, 2008 09:44 AM

            But wasn't the part with the fast food chicken place a 'non-exotic' thing? That seemed like a typical Saudi family place to eat.

            1. re: jeanki
              rockandroller1 Jul 28, 2008 10:44 AM

              Yes, and that was (for me) one of the more interesting bits. since that's what the majority of people are really doing - going to the mall, eating fast food chicken, it was interesting to me to see how it differs or what's interesting about the way they do it. For example, the wild and colorful clothes on display and danya saying that's something they might wear to an all-girls party, or the door on the booth. To me, this is much more an interesting example of SA life than sitting around with several people getting ready to try something that nobody at the table has tried before. "Exotic for exotic's sake" is just not that appealing to me. It's as touristy and annoying as taking him to "dracula's" castle in Romania.

          2. j
            Joan Kureczka Jul 25, 2008 05:59 AM

            The right choice of the four, I think -- just because so little is really known about Saudi Arabia by average Americans (me included). But I've watched the full videos of the other finalists on the NR site. The Buffalo one is great and hysterical -- and definitely the best produced (it captures the NR style brilliantly). As I'm originally from Western NY, Nelson also picked the iconic bar/fast foods: Anchor Bar wings, Ted's hot dogs, and beef on weck (from Ulrich's, a place in downtown Buffalo I don't know). Can't wait for the promised episode that goes there, probably next season.

            1. h
              HarryK Jul 22, 2008 03:54 PM

              That show demonstrated something that is so easy to forget sometimes in the face of politics and in the face of adversity. People are people.

              I remember seeing one of those rare "real" documentaries in the mid-80s before the wall came down and Russia and the US just building enough nukes to destroy the Earth 80 times over, and then 102 times over, etc .... And you'd see the Russian people for who they were, buying our music, wanting their Sasson jeans, posters on their walls of the same rock stars and movies stars on the walls of US teens. Going up to read the latest issue of Prada tacked up in a square and say how they would read Prada they way we read the National Enquirer, for amusement, that few if any believed anything written in it.

              And that was great to see something akin to that on No Reservations. As for food, yeah, awesome fish! And Tony likes the Saudi "KFC", who would have guessed? And the woman was funny, try this, have you ate it? No. LOL. Loved the end with the family life and them allowing the camera to see everyone in normal clothing too. Lots of laughter in the household. Good times.

              1 Reply
              1. re: HarryK
                a
                AMFM Jul 22, 2008 06:25 PM

                totally agree about the people are people reminder. it was lovely for that. and everyone likes some version of fried chicken! :)

              2. Miss Needle Jul 22, 2008 10:33 AM

                I think it was my favorite episode of the season. It was funny to see some clips of some of the misfits in the beginning. I'm wondering if any of them are on this board? I would have also liked to see the muay thai fighter in Thailand but was rooting for Saudi Arabia because it's not really that high on my list of countries to visit, and would love to see some footage. You're right about the nonsense American sensibility towards Saudia Arabia is. I know N. Americans who either live or have lived in countries that do not have a good relationship with America. What they tell me is very different from what is portrayed in the media. Some people naively believe that media is objective (kind of like how some people really believe that there's no slant in shows like The Next Food Network Star or Top Chef).

                I would have loved to try the camel. I'm in no hurry to try lizard, but will have a bite if it's presented in front of me all hacked up. Sorry -- don't think I can munch on a whole lizard. The fish looked gorgeous, but am not the largest fan of fish from warmer waters. I'd still eat it though. The garb -- interesting. I wonder if we'll be seeing Bourdain walk around the streets of NYC in his abaya on the muggier days. He may start a trend.
                As somebody who only wears skirts and dresses in the summer, I can definitely say that it's a lot cooler.

                After seeing that show, it's still not on my must-do list. But I'm glad to have seen a small glimpse of the country.

                1. JalamaMama Jul 22, 2008 08:08 AM

                  I was thrilled to hear, and finally see the Saudi Arabia show!

                  I am not a fan of the Middle East, for many reasons, but on the flipside...I have a daughter who by the time she was 17 (she is 22 now), was fluent in Arabic-and is facinated by the Middle East- she is currently in Iraq, and has toured the entire region several times over- including a year in Egypt her jr yr of college.....I DVR'D this episode for her xmas visit.

                  On to the show....I could have done without the 1300 contestants viewing- or at least we didn't need 15 minutes of it.

                  Loved that the lady lived in the US, and hadn't eatten most of the food they were touring for, and that she herself found some of it gross- the truth was refreshing!! But kudos to her for eatting the lizard, and for being honest about her feelings etc.

                  I LOVED that Tony was honest too, mentioned the hijackers being from SA, that he didn't really understand many of the customs/laws/treatment of women etc., but that it was his turn to open his mind and let the desert speak to him- KUDOS. I only hope that if I ever get the chance to visit the Middle East, that I am able to do the same!

                  The pizza looked really good!!!!! Gooey couscous with cilantro and tomato is what it looked like to me- with a whole wheat crust. The fried bits of offal also looked good. The camel- well....I'd try it too. I agree it wasn't so much about the food as it was about being there.

                  I loved seeing the ladies dressed real time in their own home, the laughter at mealtime- Tony seemed to make it just fine wothout the booze- but bet he had a stiff one as soon as he could.

                  And the snorkeldiving and the fish- WOW!!!!!! Who would have thought? The lady and her underwater cover- I had seen a write up sometime ago about a lady making good money selling swimwear for ladies who cover head to toe- jees that would make swimming suck- but what a catch they made- and for Tony to say it was the first time they didn't have to use "stunt fish" to make the shot- double WOW!

                  Excellent episode, if just for the enlightenment on my part. Look forward to more exciting shows!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: JalamaMama
                    f
                    fara Jul 27, 2008 09:35 PM

                    i've only been in a few "middle-eastern" countries, but i hardly think it's fair to lump them all together as such. it's like saying you're not a fan of "africa" or "asia." or "North America" which includes Mexico, all of Central America and Canada. this attitude is strange considering how much your daughter must know about this region.

                    1. re: fara
                      JalamaMama Jul 28, 2008 10:10 AM

                      In admitting that I am not a fan of the Middle East- it was a way to help understand my enjoyment of the show. I wasn't fishing for explaination of my feelings- but if you want them- my true feelings are: I do not understand the way of life in most Middle Eastern countries, nor do I really care to learn. I could care less. I realize Turkey and Iran are both lumped in the Middle Eastern region, but couldn't be farther apart.

                      I do not understand the religion, the treatment of peoples, the homo fears, the dress, the need to live in the 7th century, amoung other things- and I am intitled to that opinion despite my daughters intrest.

                      I am proud of my daughter and her travels, and her desires to help others. That I should pick up her ideals is another.

                      To each his own my friend. Again- I loved the show for the truth it told- lady wants Tony to see her Country- one she doesn't even live because the opputunities are few for people like her- a woman with a dream.

                      1. re: JalamaMama
                        s
                        Scortch Jul 28, 2008 10:55 AM

                        "I do not understand the religion, the treatment of peoples, the homo fears, the dress, the need to live in the 7th century, amoung other things"

                        Not to start an argument or anything, but could the reason for you lack of comprehension possibly be a decision NOT to try to understand? It seems as though you lack of understanding is due to ignorance which is due to your unwillingness to learn as a result of your lack of understanding.

                        I think it is just this sort of thing that made AB choose Saudi Arabia in the first place. With the exception of "the need to live in the 7th century" -patently untrue, BTW- all those statements could be lobbed at the US in a different way.

                        I'm glad that the show allowed me to learn some things I hadn't known and opened my eyes even more to a culture that i disagree with in many ways, and yet is a way of life for so many people whom I deeply respect as human beings.

                        And to keep this Chowhoundly on topic, the food looked awesome!

                        1. re: Scortch
                          JalamaMama Jul 28, 2008 01:49 PM

                          And if you read my original post- I said the exact same thing.

                  2. lanersg Jul 22, 2008 07:29 AM

                    The fish that they caught looked incredible. I was disappointed that they didn't show it prepared. I also would have liked to have found out how she got her position as the only female director in the country allowed to make films without a man in the company. .

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: lanersg
                      BamiaWruz Sep 28, 2008 01:12 PM

                      Yes the fish is AMAZING, the green fish I think is parrot fish and it's one of the fish I purchased in Yemen from the fish market, it was yummy.
                      Gorgeous fish!

                    2. viperlush Jul 22, 2008 07:12 AM

                      "Camel the new white meat". I can't remember what it is called, but that pizza like dish that they were eating looked really good.

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