Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations: Mozambique Is a Downer
|Tony Bourdain feasts on goat (but no rat) at a village celebration.|
Some people may say it's pretty darn impossible to not make a depressing show in Mozambique. After all, this country's history includes centuries of slavery, followed by decades of colonialism under the thumb of Portugal. There was a period of communism, followed by a civil war, before the young country could begin to heal. But what we learn by travel is that there is beauty in every culture, despite (or maybe because of) the incredible hardships its people might have endured.
Not that there weren't moments of hope and enlightenment in the one-hour season opener that aired last evening. There was the requisite goat slaughter for a child's birthday celebration (which was tempered by a shot of their daily dinner menu -- rats on a skewer), as well an interesting moment when an older white couple mused about how they used to take family vacations in Mozambique before the country was ravaged by decades of war.
For every time Tony eats a beachside meal of peri peri chicken or marvels at a giant prawn the size of a toddler, we also get a scene in which locals, clearly still scarred, relive the moments when local military or rebel forces came to massacre their townsfolk. The former Grand Hotel in the capital city of Maputo is now a skeleton filled with almost 3,000 homeless people seeking shelter in its ruins, without electricity, sanitary facilities, or water. This scene is too much for even our intrepid explorer. Tony rips the mike pack off his body, calling it a day.
True, showing the grittier side of travel to other countries is what makes No Reservations compelling television. But the beauty of Bourdain's narrative is that he can find the irony in a situation. He knows the difference between mocking and holding a mirror on a subject.
In fact, Bourdain's wit and snarkiness came out in a scene that was left on the cutting-room floor (which can be found on the No Reservations site).