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Aug 25, 2008 03:53 PM

Bourdain - Egypt - last one of the season!

Love this show, but sure wish they could throw together a few more episodes. According to the Travel website, they are already filming next season. There is a summary show next week that has bloopers, etc., but it won't the same.

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  1. typical Bourdain being a jackass. Insist on not seeing the pyramid and then bitch and moan for 20 minutes about it. The whole segment on the boat is a waste of time. The lamb marinated in garlic, onions, cumin, chili pepper and black pepper looks really good. The berber idiots wasting gas and polluting the air by driving in the desert for no good reason is bad. The pigeon looks tasty. Eating ducks boiled and then deep fried doesn't look tasty. My conclusion - don't go to Egypt for the food.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Ericandblueboy

      Having just spent 5 weeks in Egypt for the 2nd summer in a row, I would concur that going to Egypt for the food is not the best idea. One of the best things we have there that wasn't mentioned is fiteer, a kind of pancake that is sometimes served savory and sometimes sweet. The one thing I would say that is great about food in Egypt is that everything is essentially organically grown, and that the fruits and vegetables are wonderful. I don't agree that Bourdain wass being a jackass, but he should have gone to the pyramids! And our boatride on the Nile was my son's favorite afternoon ever! And they weren't Berber, they were Bedouin. The Berbers are, I believe, in Morocco. Mo

      1. re: Ericandblueboy

        You could tell he was not going to like this trip from his blog. Too bad the season ended so badly - but perhaps he kept the worst one till the end, drop it off while we're still swooning on the food porn from Japan and Spain.

        1. re: Ericandblueboy

          Is driving to vacation or sight seeing a waste of gas and pollution by your definition? What about flying just to visit some place for no reason but to vacation there?

          1. re: Ericandblueboy

            "typical Bourdain being a jackass."

            and here i thought i was the only one who thought this

            i love the places he goes and the people and the food

            it is just him that irks me

            ya he is cool and he hammers you over the head with it so much that he becomes UNcool

            i cringe and sometimes have to turn off the sound.

          2. ericandblueboy and roxlet, lol! i just told my husband about the same thing. with rare exception, the food looked like crap, and the environment was so dirty and unattractive.

            plus, since i'm a female, i guess i'd have to eat at home only. what a society!

            12 Replies
            1. re: alkapal

              This episode was better than I thought it was going to be.

              1. re: alkapal

                I thought the food looked fantastic. Having lived in the middle east it brought back some good memories. I wouldn't judge food or a place for that matter by how it looks on TV.

                1. re: alkapal

                  No, that's totally wrong. Females are in every restaurant in Cairo. However, there are some very traditional cafes that tend to cater to men only. It would be completely possible to go to one of those cafes as a woman, but I don't think that you would feel comfortable. Arabs from the Persian Gulf states and Saudi Arabia come to Egypt for vacation not only because it is cooler in Egypt (!) in the summer than in their countries, but also because the society is more liberal and secular than in their countries even though it is a Muslim state. The food was not crap at all, and virtually every type of food you'd like to eat is available in Cairo. We ate at a Korean restaurant (filled with Korean ex-pats, by the by), several sushi restaurants, a decent Chinese restaurant, several good Indian restaurants to say nothing of many, many Italian places, great Lebanese places, and an unbelievably good Thai. Cairo is a very cosmopolitan city, but it is a Third World city with serious economic and political problems. Despite this, the people are some of the nicest I have ever met, and we were welcomed and greeted warmly wherever we went.

                  alkapal -- I would have to assume that you have never done any travel in 3rd word countries, which is why you thought that the environment was "dirty and unattractive." Maybe so, but Cairo is a vibrant and lively city -- and one of the few in the Muslim Middle East (maybe the only) where being a female does not subject you to harassment.

                  1. re: roxlet

                    well roxlet, i have traveled in morocco, tunisia, and malaysia. does that count to bring me out of your "yokel" concept?

                    1. re: alkapal

                      Egypt is not much different than Morocco, so maybe you think that Morocco was "dirty and unattractive"! I didn't, and I don't feel that way about Egypt, and I certainly wouldn't let a TV show affect my perception of the relative cleanliness and beauty of a country.

                      1. re: roxlet

                        come on. you can't see if it is dirty from a tv show?

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Actually, Cairo is one of the cleanest cities that I have ever been to. Everything is re-used and there is very little waste since the poorest inhabitants scavenge everything. There are always people on the highway sweeping the dust that encroaches from the near-by Sahara. So, no. There are things I didn't like about Cairo (the incessant honking of horns, for example), but being dirty wasn't one of them.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            Have you ever seen parts of New York, Balitmore, Philly on TV? Every city has dirty parts.

                            Cairo is one of the oldest cities in the world not like the US where every thing was built much much more recently.

                            Compared to some of the newer cities in places like Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai, most cities in the US are down right filthy.

                            1. re: oarnura

                              You're right about that, oarnura. I'm a native NYer, & at times I am upset at how dirty things can be. There is something so very authentic about Egypt. When we visited the pyramids at Giza last year and the step pyramids this year, we were overtaken with a sense of just how ancient the civilization is and there is an undeniable feeling of being insignificant in the larger scheme of things. The thing that Anthony Bourdain couldn't have know is just how un-crowded both these places were. Perhaps it is the sheer size of the pyramids at Giza, but I was easily able to get photos that did not have other people in them. Sure, there were hucksters intent on separating you from some cash, but last year I was struck by how generous our Egyptian friend -- who is much less affluent that we -- was with everyone. His comment? "They are all so very poor." Actually, I had to admire some of these guys -- when I started speaking Italian, they were right with me! But Cairo is old. Very, very impressively old!

                              1. re: roxlet

                                Yeah most of those structures were older than Christianity is today before Christ was even born. Think about that for a second. They are 1200 years older than Moses. Those structures and cities are over 4500 years old. They are still there today. In contrast go to Jersey City or Detroit, filthy!

                                To see something that has withstood and seen empires and religions come and go must be very humbling. I really want to visit Egypt and Bourdain made me want to do it more.

                                The scene where he goes to someone's house for food and the beauty of the simple joy on the faces of the children was very moving. I doubt you would ever find that in the US anywhere.

                              2. re: oarnura

                                Add to that list: Miami, Atlanta, and areas where people don't notice as much because no one walks/cycles and everyone in a car. So while in car they throw their garbage out the window or leave in the parking lot to be blown around.
                                Don't even get me started on people who leave paper coffee cups on retail (clothing, book, houseware) store shelves.

                            2. re: roxlet

                              "I certainly wouldn't let a TV show affect my perception of the relative cleanliness and beauty of a country."

                              Amen to that! Tis a pity if anyone is so easily swayed. I had similar doubts about India before I visited. Thank goodness that didn't prevent me from going. It was one of those trips of a lifetime that I will remember till my dying day.

                      2. Intrestingly enough, I actually preferred this episode to the last bunch. Yes, I enjoyed the food porn parts of Tokyo and Spain as much as any other hound, but I found this one a bit deeper. I think that most anyone can go and eat great food in places like those, but what makes AB unique is that when presented with a situation like Egypt, he was able to show the mundane (fool (sp?)) and the totally awesome (whole goat in the ground) while also portraying the cultural context. It didn't make me want to hop on the next plane over (hi, singapore episode), but I found it held my attention better and was more interesting than watching a dude make chocolate eggs or super fancy cocktails.

                        1. i was so disappointed by this episode - we're planning a trip to egypt soon and i was hoping to get some good tips. bourdain seemed so bored the entire trip!

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: patz

                            i felt as if he were in some existential funk. do you recall his voice-over comments after his conversation with the bedouins after their goat feast -- about whether five days in the desert would change one forever? whether it would clear everything? tony said something to the effect that it would/could not happen for him....

                            is he thinking about his emphysema, and mortality perhaps?

                            1. re: alkapal

                              I recall he liked the whole desert experience and that he didn't have 5 days to spend and doubted if it could happen to a person like him.

                              His voice-over is just him being a smart ass pretending he is doing certain things just to please his producers. He did the same thing in Florida.

                              1. re: oarnura

                                I agree about the desert experience. He was happy there - he wasn't being negative at all, just that he could not do it (stay for 5 days to clear himself).

                                But I don't believe that his snarkyness is done for the effect - I don't believe he does much of anything for the sake of the show. Tony's a lousy actor, even with voice-overs. If he genuinely likes and enjoys something, you can tell - his snarkyness is low, and his reverence is up a notch. That's certainly what was going on in Japan and Spain. Here, in Cairo, he had respect for the ancientness, but not for the touristiness. He really didn't enjoy Cairo - he liked the food well enough, but it just wasn't coming across with that high level of respect and importance he's seen elsewhere - so his snarkyness was higher and reverence lower. He reads like an open book - I don't think that he could pretend and hide things, even if he wanted to. Isn't that why we like him so much?

                                If you read his blog on this show, you'll verify that he really wasn't that happy with Cairo - he liked the desert much better.


                                1. re: applehome

                                  i just read the blog - it was clear from the show that he wasn't happy with cairo, now i understand a bit more why.
                                  i don't think he was saying that he was unable to stay for 5 days, he was saying that even (or just) 5 days wouldn't change him

                                  1. re: patz

                                    I read the blog, and the part about having a police escort. When you, as an American, are in any sort of group, you have a police escort assigned to you in Egypt. We were in a group for 2 or our 4 weeks there last year and had a police escort, who was a lovely guy (He looked like an Egyptian version of Mr Incredible). Egypt is the 2nd largest recipient of foreign aid from the US (after Israel), and the Egyptian government decided after 9/11 to make sure that American groups are protected to make sure nothing happens that would make the US rethink its commitment to Egypt. The few times we encountered anything this year, our guide just told the police that we were Canadians, and we were able to go without an escort.

                                    1. re: roxlet

                                      i'll be posting for egypt recs soon, i hope to hear some of yours!

                                      1. re: patz

                                        I think you'll find a couple of things on the middle east board...

                          2. I love his shows and this one bored me a little since I could tell he was not so into it. Also, I had an issue with them showing how to kill an animal "in the right direction" and then skin it and cook it. I think they could have left that part out.

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: taboo

                              why's that? I didnt even know that muslims did that and I found it to be very interesting

                              1. re: taboo

                                That doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I'm glad that they show things like this. Meat comes from animals, not from the supermarket, cleaned, skinned and wrapped in cellophane. While I'm not a vegetarian in the very least, when I see things like this, it reminds me that my meatballs I had for lunch actually came from a cow (even though it seems so obvious, people have a tendency to forget that as most of us are so far removed from our food sources). It helps me to be more mindful of my choices of meat.

                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                  Miss Needle - I agree - the first time I went to Morocco and saw a chicken being killed right in front of me, it made me view the pre-wrapped, skinless, boneless chicken in the supermarket in a completely different light

                                  1. re: patz

                                    The butcher shops in Cairo have flayed animals in their windows that have their tails still on. When I remarked on this, I was told it was because donkey meat had been sold as veal or lamb. This was to help you to know what meat you were buying. So, no pre-packaged meats except in the western style supermarkets.

                                    1. re: roxlet

                                      FYI - A polarizing filter for your camera would knock out the glare you see in windows. If you do a lot of shooting through windows or water, it's a good accessory to have.

                                      1. re: applehome

                                        It's just a little point and shoot. Years ago I had a SLR with all the bells and whistles. Now I just deal with the glare and trade off having a small pocket-sized camera!

                                        1. re: roxlet

                                          Some pockets have threaded lenses so you can still use filters - a polarizing filter is a good one to just keep handy, not for artsy-fartsy stuff, but just for these kinds of snapshots. A digital with a screen is as good as a slr for turning the filter to get the clearest shot.

                                          1. re: applehome

                                            Thanks for the tip, but sadly mine doesn't have a threaded lens. Maybe I'll look for that on my next camera!

                                  2. re: Miss Needle

                                    Couldn't agree more Miss Needle.

                                    I happened to like the episode. Whether one likes the food being profiled or not it is indigenous to the country and that's what it's about.

                                    I also like the background music. Never get enough good oud licks.

                                  3. re: taboo

                                    was it the slaughtering of the meat or the halal process that you thought should have been left out? don't other bourdain episodes show animals being killed?

                                    1. re: patz

                                      I do not have an issue with the fact that it was killed and that they ate it, I guess dragging the animal over, laying it down and killing it on tv just bothered me. I do eat meat, but I could NEVER watch an animal being killed and blood drained from it. Living in NYC.....we do not get much of that here.

                                    2. re: taboo

                                      While I certainly don't subscribe to their religious beliefs, I must say that everyone who consumes meat should see where it comes from, I grew up on a farm, raising and slaughtering almost all of our meat, and was taught that that piece of meat is something to appreciate, and that an animal gave its life for your meal,sadly very few people in society see that today, even veggies represent someones hard work to make it to your plate.

                                      1. re: taboo

                                        Except for the presence of the TV camera, that was central to their culture. Bedouins support themselves by raising goats, sheep, and camels. That method of slaughter is part of their religious practice. To me, scenes like that are one of the things that make the show so interesting.

                                        I wish Bourdain had gone into a little more detail. I couldn't imagine out how those guys could make a living in the desert, and had to read up on it afterwards.