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Jan 6, 2009 12:03 PM

Bourdain in Mexico

I'm surprised I didn't see anything on the board about the No Reservations season premier.
I enjoyed the episode, maybe not a classic but solid and a great start. The food looked fantastic and I enjoyed Carlos' story. The dolls hanging from the tree brought some freakiness to the table.
Any thoughts on the bullfight? I attended one in Tijuana and my reaction was almost identical to Tony's. It seems incredibly cruel while watching it but the bulls do end up as food and from the bull's perspective I think it would be better to go out in a blaze of glory than a slaughterhouse.
I think it would be tough for meat eaters to oppose it on moral grounds.

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  1. Of course Tony would go to a bullfight...

    I missed the show (fortunately?) but thanks for the heads up. I had completely forgotten that the season would be starting in January.

    1. The dolls were indeed creepy.

      It was a good episode. The food all looked good -- especially the blue corn tortilla filled with squash blossoms and cheese.

      I've also seen a bullfight before. I had my qualms about it before but decided to experience it to see what it was about before coming up with any judgments about it. I wasn't too surprised they showed the "cleaned-up" version of the bullfight on this show. There was a lot of editing -- didn't show the bull being dragged away. Even when they showed the bull with those "pins" in him, it was shown from the vantage that you weren't able to see any of the blood. They didn't show the ultimate killing. They talked about the ritual and history behind it, but I don't think the viewer really gets the whole sense of a bullfight from what they showed on TV. I don't want to get into the whole morality of it because this topic has the potential to get really ugly on this board, but let's just say it's not my cup of tea.

      1. Yes, the problem about showing the bullfight as they did, is one gets a sense of the beauty and ritual of the matador's moves, but not the ugliness/negativity of the killing -- it was too clean to give a realistic view and so possibly better not shown at all. Despite Tony's voiced reservations, the segment still tended to glorify the event.

        The dolls creeped me out very much, but it was a very interesting and darkly fascinating bit of hispanic surrealism.

        The food looked incredible.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Joan Kureczka

          Sanitized bullfight indeed. No bandarillas. No picadors. No matador coming in for the kill. Only the implication that the horses are dragging the bull out of the arena, but no view of the dead bull itself.

          Ironic, since so many TV dramas are awash in (fake) blood and (fake) gore -- to say nothing of graphic news footage of wounded people in the whatever part of the world is exploding in violence.

          1. re: Joan Kureczka

            they probably don't want to lose any animal rights activist types as viewers. I haven't watched it yet, but have it recorded

            1. re: kirinraj

              Please, it has nothing to do with animal rights, it's a food show on the Travel Channel and meant to be entertaining. They have routinely cut away from every instance of animal slaughter in Bourdain's shows in the past, cutting back to the butchery (which ostensibly has informational value). The difference here is more distinct, he wasn't about to eat the bull, it was presented as a bit of local flavor.

              In a past episode he was presented with a staged cockfight where the chickens weren't all that interested in fighting. I'm confident that if they actually engaged in fighting he would have edited out the bloodhsed.

              1. re: ferret

                I once went to a legal cockfight in Guadalajara. They served beer and food. I had a bowl of chicken soup. I figured it was made from the previous night's losers, so nice and fresh. You bet with the people around you - I won a lot of pesos from a guy with an eye patch.
                A bullfight would be way too gory for me.

                1. re: Veggo

                  They had bullfights in the Houston Astrodome in the '60s. The bull wasn't killed, it was illegal. The matador ceremoniously "killed" the bull. I was only about 12 at the time, but I remember really enjoying them. They had a very good burger in the Dome back then, and later on, excellent deli sandwiches at Oiler and Astros games. The food at the two new venues are subpar, I've quit eating them, and eat a good meal before I go, so I'm not hungry and don't have to eat the crap they pass off as food.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    Thank you for the laugh... and for finishing it off with a well sharp pun.

                2. re: kirinraj

                  Remember the seal "hunt" and the resulting family meal from the Quebec episode? Methinks needling animal lovers (or "the bunny people" as Julia Child called us), is just as delectable as fois gras to Mr. Bourdain. I avert my eyes during these bits but keep my ears open for the accompanying wit.

                  1. re: MplsM ary

                    I just saw it last night, so now I know what it was like. I agree with you guys. I was just trying to rationalize. I don't have a problem with it, but see how others could.

              2. He didn't have a blog entry about it - people are leaving comments about the new Mexico show at the end of his last entry which was about pig segments being edited out of moslem countries, Sri Lanka, and another trip to Vietnam. I can't wait to see his next Vietnam show. He gets into food deeper and richer with return visits, and this Mexico show was no exception. While Carlos' family visit was wonderful, the highlight has to be that breakfast place - Fonda Margarita. Who do we have to kill to get a place like that to open up around here? The bull fight was irrelevant, except that it is part of the culture. I agree that if they were going to show it, they should have shown it more honestly - including the kill.

                1 Reply
                1. re: applehome

                  I actually got a reccomendation for Fonda Margarita by the Chef of Laja in Baja California and realized on return that this was the place the Bourdain went to. Needless to say the food was mind etchingly delicious - one of the best places we ate in DF. Actually everywhere we ate has left me forever spoiled.

                2. I thought it was one of the most tastiest shows I have ever seen him do. My god that breakfast place, the blue corn tortillas with squash blossoms, the tamales, the tacos al pastor, and the mole ...I was dying towards the end ):

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bitsubeats

                    Agreed. We've only seen half of it so far but I was dying. The food looked unbelievable and even that may be an understatement.

                    The more you drink, the more and better free food they bring. I could really get into a concept like that.