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AB No reservations [Finland episode]

  • r

Tonight was the worst! The beginning with the blood letting massage nauseating me.. There was really nothing on the show that would show an attraction to the country. The food was strange. Really a bad show in my opinion. It showed that the people were all the same. Bad show!

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  1. I once heard Jim Carrey say he went through a phase where he would go on stage and purposefully try to antagonize the audience. It was part of his attempt to get over fear of the audience. I think this is what AB is doing. It's working. I no longer tune in.


    7 Replies
    1. re: JuniorBalloon

      I'd also like to offer a different perspective from the OP. I agree this episode may not be a favorite. But there's a great deal of affection for the food and the Finnish people.

      And lots of humor. Obvious humor, but dry, mordant humor as well.

      Look how endearingly the show portrayed the great home cooking with the Finnish "grandmother" -- that scene is chock-full of affection.

      The same is true for the visit to the rockabilly gypsy bar -- full of affection for the gypsies, their dress, music and food.The reindeer restaurant scene had snide humor, but the food was well-received and beautifully presented.

      The episode starts off showing off the contrasts in the Finnish culture -- the harsh dark winter of Finland best enjoyed *inside* a kitschy brightly colored Polynesian tiki bar.

      The last scene is probably the funniest. Bourdain and Finland's version of Joey Ramone, bassist Sammy Yaffa, visit Bar Moska, owned by the famous Finnish film director Aki Kaurismaki.

      Aki explains: "We opened the Corona bar in Helsinki, and it was so popular there was no room for me and my wife. So we decided to open a Soviet bar where nobody came. Day-old sandwiches. Flat beer. Lousy service. Leonid Brezhnev speeches."

      I laughed. It's not everybody's type of humor, but it was funny to me.

      My take is that not every NR episode is supposed to be about cuisine we like or even an attractive culture. Especially if the cuisine or culture is one we don't know. Sure, this episode had -- with Bourdain's expected badass humor -- the scenes with the dirty sauna, the bloody cupping, and the beat-up cars racing on a "mirror ice" racetrack. Fun in Finland!

      I liken this episode to the one about Cleveland. Many thought it was a criticism of the Cleveland's urban decline but I saw tremendous affection towards the local food, the Germanic local butchers, the Cleveland people and AB's rock star sidekick -- in this case, the real Joey Ramone.

      You may not have liked the Finland episode (watch it again if you like to mine the sarcastic humor), but there's no denying how very sweet and appreciative Anthony Bourdain was of the Finnish people and their food.

      1. re: maria lorraine

        Agree. Loved that last scene in the Soviet bar, especially the day-old sandwiches and flat beer comment.

        1. re: linguafood

          Yes, that was a good example of Finnish humor!

        2. re: maria lorraine

          Oh wow, Sammy Yaffa was on? He's one of the nicest, coolest rockers around. I have to see it just for this and to see what all the fuss is about. And what's up with the anti-Scandi sentiment Sandylc? I know the food isn't usually as tantalizing as some but some mighty fine cities up there.

          1. re: maria lorraine

            that was marky ramone. joey's dead.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              I concur. And the spread of noshes at the Lappi restaurant looked awesome. Does reindeer taste like elk?

          2. It would be nice if the subject and/or text made it clear that this was the Finland episode.

            I find that his segments based on some local musician or radio host are less interesting.

            1. As much of an AB fan as I am, I also have to say that there was nothing in this show that I found interesting or redeeming of poor Finland. Boo, Anthony.

              1. I haven't seen it yet, but I had a feeling it would be bad. I love the show, but the Scandinavia episodes have always been blah.

                2 Replies
                  1. That blood-letting thing is called "cupping."


                    And as for the food being strange ... not to someone in Finland, it isn't. I suspect that the same could be said of many of the things we eat in the United States.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Just Visiting

                      Finland was my least favorite episode. The blood letting or "cupping" was gross. He should have gone ahead and done a colonic flush while he was at it.

                    2. After I read your post and made a comment (about cupping), I happened to catch the show again. I guess the issue is expectations. If you go into this expecting a travel-focused show that "would show an attraction to the country" you are going to be let down. This is not Samantha Brown. I mean, Bourdain's been doing this for a while now. He has been truly reverent about some countries - Vietnam, Cambodia, Ghana, to name a few. But reverent or irreverent, he's not there to do a standard-issue travelogue. Further, if you watched the intro, you'd know that he went there in response to a Facebook campaign started by a guy in Finland. Not because he wanted to show why Finland was such a great destination. Why he chose to go in winter, I don't know. But the point is that Bourdain has always done impressionistic shows and this one was no exception. He isn't working for the Helsinki Tourism Bureau.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Just Visiting

                        Who cares why he went there? The episode sucked. I'm sure there're plenty of exciting things to do and eat there, he just fumbled it. Oh yeah, the Cambodia show sucked too. I don't need history lessons from that putz.

                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                          I liked the Cambodia show and while you may not need a history lesson from a "putz" or a Rhodes scholar, some people probably do. Others may need a reminder of what happened over there.


                          1. re: Worldwide Diner

                            You don't like bourdain in general, so I guess every episode sucks for you

                          2. re: Just Visiting

                            I agree completely with Just Visiting. He likes to highlight the truth of the country, not just the 'garden spots' that most travel shows shine on. I loved the fact that he found someone's mother's cooking to sample, and how he did so :)

                          3. This must have been one of the worst shows. His non stop drinking is getting boring. His Istanbul and Paris shows in the previous seasons were the best. It feels like, his team is getting lazy and they don't want to make any effort in certain shows.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: mrsjoujou

                              I have not seen this episode since I mostly stopped watching Bourdain's program (AB is of course Alton Brown,. Bourdain has never been known by his initials). I would doubt that this episode could be much worse than the one where Bourdain visited and was hosted by a Russian instead of a Ukrainian.

                              1. re: John E.

                                I definitely wouldn't fault Bourdain on that. Exactly how many bilingual competent "fixers" do you think are around that can really add to the show? Particularly ones who are television producers & broadcasters in their native country? Zamir has many viable contacts in Eastern Europe, & I don't fault Travel Channel for taking advantage of that. They hit a gold mine on that one. Russia, the Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Romania, etc. - all were informative & fun episodes which Zamir definitely made possible. And his few forays on the U.S. shows were mostly fun as well.

                                Personal opinions are personal opinions, but faulting Travel Channel for using Russian Zamir as a fixture for the Ukraine show is simply political sour grapes.

                                1. re: Bacardi1

                                  You saw different programs than I did. If you think Zamir in the Romanian episode was good, you really don't know good programming. He got drunk and laid on his back on a picnic table for at least 1/2 the episode. The Ukrainian show was abysmal. They could have done so much more with it. (By the way, I have been to Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine. Moldova is sandwiched in between the larger countries).

                                  1. re: Bacardi1

                                    I think Zamir may end up with his own show. I'd watch it!

                              2. He went back to Finland? I pity the fool...

                                1. Aweful episode. Would have no interest in visiting Finland after that.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: saeyedoc

                                    Actually, I'd be more interested in visiting Finland just to see how much good stuff Bourdain missed or decided not to bother exploring or showing. Honestly, I'd never believe any country could be as sad as the way AB portrayed this one.

                                    1. re: Bacardi1

                                      What did you think of AZ's Finland episode (Bizarre Foods)? There have also been Finish segments on New Scandinavian Cooking (CreateTV).

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        I don't care much for Andrew Zimmern, so rarely catch his show, & don't get "CreateTV" that I know of, so haven't seen "New Scandinavian Cooking" either.

                                        1. re: Bacardi1

                                          New Scandinavian Cooking is on PBS in my area -

                                          1. re: sandylc

                                            Thanks! I'll have to see if it's on our roster here. I love the PBS cooking shows, but have yet to see that one in our our lineup.

                                  2. Is every show supposed to display mouthwatering cuisine? Is his show designed to make you want to go the places he's visited? I've never had that impression.

                                    I don't look at his show as anything more than entertainment with a hint of culture commentary.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: FoodChic

                                      I have not seen the show but people need to remember 2 things.

                                      First of all, he says up front that he's not doing a "Travel" show. He tries to show what life is like for the people who live there. It's not about getting you to visit. It's about residing there.

                                      Secondly, they aren't all gonna be great. He's only as good as the material and even with that, some times you just can't articulate things. It happens. It can be really difficult if you're heart isn't in it. Which I suspect may be part of the problem here.


                                      1. re: Davwud

                                        The first Bourdain episode I ever caught was the Iceland episode. Definitely NOT for enticing people to visit there! Again, filmed in the winter, with fermented shark and Bennevin. But still, very interesting and entertaining to me. When I travel, I prefer the less-traveled path. The street food, the whole-in-the-wall places. He seems to, as well.

                                    2. Been to Finland several times to visit spouse's family. No one in the family practices "cupping" anymore, so not sure how representative that is of the culture now. Saunas, however, are a huge part of being Finnish and ordinary people take them quite often. AB really didn't explore much of the country. Filming in winter also did not portray it in it's best light. Summer with the midnight sun and fresh produce from the extra long days is magical. I was disappointed by the show, but think it fit with AB's dark humor.

                                      1. Anthony Bourdain's prerogative is to be subjective--which he is. He seems to like some places and disdain others; it's all a matter of opinion--in this case his. I suspect he "isn't into Finland." I don't think he's ever been to Poland or Germany (except Berlin)--in fact in the Berlin episode he said he didn't like German cooking due to certain ideas he harbors about it (which are somewhat ignorant). All in all food tastes are totally subjective.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Wawsanham

                                          It's everybody's prerogative to be subjective. I find myself tiring of his. Last night when he went to monkey beach to rant about monkeys lack of erectile dysfunction, there was so little content I turned it off and went to sleep. Fresh fish and oh look cold beer. Yay! It occurred to me later that perhaps something went wrong, someone didn't show and they didn't have time to fix it. Or perhaps he has gotten so lazy he doesn't care about content.

                                          1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                            You missed some fanfreakintastic looking food if you've turned off the Penang episode. Were that we had food vendors and street food like that available where I live.

                                            Fuck the monkeys, though. They are evil.

                                            1. re: linguafood

                                              I have read that Anthony Bourdain loves "Laksa" and has definite opinions on what "Laksa" is. I don't know so am asking - is his opinion limited to Penang Assam Laksa (what he had in Penang) and which he simply called "Laksa"? Is he aware there are many different types of laksa with different spicing and condiments, ranging across the entire SE Asian region and between types of communities and ethnicities? (I haven't read his books)

                                              Here's a useful CH thread that pulls together some commentary on some different kinds of laksa and the closely related curry noodles: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/839207

                                              1. re: huiray

                                                I have no idea. It looked like a noodle soup-y kinda dish. Tasty.

                                                But I'm not interested enough to learn about all and every variety. I'm sure they're all great, and if I ever make it back to SE Asia, I'll be sure to try my share.

                                        2. I will be skipping the Finland episode. Thought the Baja one was great. Found myself craving one of seafood tostadas for days.

                                          1. I have to say--No Reservations is one heck of a show. Either it is a total hit or a complete miss. My favorite episodes were Brittany (I want my seafood tower), Paris, and Cajun Country. I also loved Amsterdam and London. I'm not too fond of the tropical episodes--but to each his own. Ii thought the one on Chernobyl was the absolute worst.

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: jarona

                                              My husband and I still dream of that Seafood Tower! :)

                                              1. re: GreenDragon

                                                We are contemplating a cruise that stops in Ensenada just so we can eat from the seafood tostada cart he visited in Baja.

                                                1. re: Philly Ray

                                                  Do it! Ensenada is a great food city . You can probably also book a day tour into the Valle de Guadelupe wine country.

                                                2. re: GreenDragon

                                                  Wasn't that a great episode? And that Seafood Tower!! In fact, I'll be making hubby his own "Seafood Tower" (sort of) on Sunday for Fathers Day. A seaside restaurant we used to frequent a long time ago used to call it a "SPLAT" ("S"teamed shellfish "PLA"tter for "T"wo), consisting of a large platter with one large split steamed lobster surrounded by steamed soft & hard-shell clams, mussels, & shrimp. Obviously not the same as the Brittany deal, but impressive & delicious just the same. And any leftovers (leftovers?) are perfect added to a white or red sauce to serve over pasta, or in a seafood soup/chowder/salad. Nothing goes to waste.

                                                  1. re: Bacardi1

                                                    Leftovers? What leftovers???! :) Actually, since hubbie and I both had gastric surgery, we can only eat about 4-6 ounces at a time. SO there are always leftovers. But that just means we get four meals out of one :)

                                                3. re: jarona

                                                  Sorry - but apart from the NO reconstruction parts the rest of the Cajun Country episode was b-o-r-i-n-g to me and much of the food I thought looked pretty unattractive - especially some of those big pots of stewing brown goo in that cookout segment. Perhaps for the same reason I severely dislike things like etouffee on rice - it just looks like a mud pie to me.

                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                    i have eaten dirt and mud, although i was very young and my memory may fail me: etouffee does not taste like mud.

                                                    1. re: ritabwh

                                                      Oh, I know it doesn't; it just *looks* like one. :-D

                                                  2. re: jarona

                                                    I loved Brittany! Such amazing food, and an amazing region.

                                                  3. I have been to Finland and I think he missed a great opportunity to show that Helsinki and other cities can be quite beautiful in winter and he did not show the unusual diversity of food that is available based on local fauna and the history of Finland.

                                                    I know he is not doing a typical travel/food show but with the exception of visiting the family and having dinner (which was the best part of the show) the show was not a great representation of Finland.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: DeLobstah

                                                      got to look to shows sponsored by Scandinavian tourist board and airlines to the great representation ... :)

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        I guess no one here likes the Monty Python song: Finland, Finland, Finland has it all.