Anthony Bourdain No Reservations in Portugal: Tony Needs to Meet Cannibals

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The Travel Channel
Drink up...but watch for the pits!
I've never been to Portugal, but my favorite aunt Mae used to travel there frequently.  Every week I received a little care package in the mail. Sometimes a doll with what seemed like 100 layers of petticoats and skirts, sometimes a small bracelet. Then she "took" a towel from the Lisbon Hilton or something and was "detained" at the airport. Something about not being welcome in the country again made her turn her sights to Orlando after that for winter vacations. 

Tony's been to Portugal before, and also to countries once occupied by the Portuguese (like Mozambique -- which keeps on haunting me). But he's never been to the capital of Lisbon. Pan to our man on a little tram speeding through the narrow streets. Jump to Tony dining on seafood with local chefs Jose Avillez and Henrique Sa Pessoa at O Ramiro. Out come the barnacles, langostine, shrimp, tiny clams, snails, crabs, and lobster. You know the big Under The Sea musical number with Sebastian the Crab?  Well it's like that. Only all the singing fish and mollusks are dead. Watch (and listen) as Tony and company crunch, suck, hammer, and slurp their way through everything that the sea holds dear. It's audible food porn at its finest.

Avillez and Pessoa tell Tony that Portugal is a country that's living off tourists. Sort of like the barnacles that Tony's sucking down.  Ready for dessert?  Make some room because that's not rice pudding or pie -- it is a f**king steak sandwich coming your way.  After dinner, you might want to lapse into a food coma...or listen to some depressing music.  Since Portugal doesn't have Willie Nelson or Patsy Cline, there's Fado. Portugal's answer to the Blues or Country.  Only instead of losing your girl and your hound dog...you've lost your homeland  The music is associated with the Salazar regime.  Portuguese author Antonio Lobo Antunes says that under Salazar's thumb the people of Portugal couldn't talk politics or even kiss in public -- but heroin was really cheap.  Because if you were stoned you didn't have the energy to start a revolution. So Antunes isn't a fan of Fado. But I am. As they sing I'm reminded that Portuguese is one of my favorite languages - all those soft shhh sounds....


Back on a boat for the now-requisite fishing scene. But this is different..because they're fishing for octopus.  Tony hopes they catch a squid fast because the sea's getting rougher and he's about to yak up his breakfast.  As they catch a little guy ("I'd eat him,"quips our omnivorous friend), Tony's suede boots (an unfortunate choice of footwear for a leaky boat) are soaked through. Plus, he just sat on a mackerel. Finally an octopus. As they shove a big knife into his little octobrain, I'm reminded of Paul, the octopus from Germany who used to predict soccer matches. Or the awesome octopus on YouTube that escapes from a fishing boat.

Sol e Pesca is a combination bait shop and bar. Tony meets the members of the band Dead Combo for a beer and some tuna jerky. Apparently we'll learn many times over that trash fish -- mackerel, sardines, squid, octopus -- are very trendy. Tony asks if there are any Brad Pitt-esque hipsters who wear socks on their heads and look like handsome smurfs in Portugal? Yes, there are a few.  But there are many, many more people in need of Zoloft, apparently, because we also learn that Portugal isn't really a "happy place," what with all the unemployment and Fado and all.

There is one activity that sounds like fun (and is cheap): drinking copious amounts of ginjinha, a liquor made from Merello cherries. You can get your ginjinha one of two ways - with a cherry or without... insert punchline here.  After about a dozen or so of these puppies, Tony heads over to Cantino do Avillez, where his new chef friend blends classic cooking with a modern twist. After a meal of green bean tempura, blood sausage, and pig trotters, Tony's sated. The bill comes out to 13 euros.  Not bad, indeed. Some lethal tiddly winks and it's time for more food.  This time we're offered codfish tripe on a tiny clothesline, rabbit-stuffed pastries that look like pig snout, young goat in a tongue sauce, and horse. Which makes me wonder - why doesn't Tony ever go to a place with cannibals? Show of hands - who would like to see Tony chomp down on a little soylent green???

Tony goes to the local market, where he goes nuts over bacalao (dried salted codfish).  It's the national dish of Portugal.  By the way -- it's also the official/unofficial dish of Jamaica (with ackee) and the favorite of Italian grandmothers (made famous in Rosemary Clooney's Mambo Italiano). 

It's almost time to leave, but there's always time for one more greasy pork sandwich and a beer. "Thats f**king good.  Why is it that so often it all comes down to pork on bread?", Tony muses. Sunsets, young lovers in an embrace, pork....and a great jailbreak.  It's how every movie should end.

Here's the awesome octopus escape, by the way (too bad he's not eating pork while the sun sets):

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32 comments
biws
biws

Laine Doss, find your account of the Portugal trip offensive and can only assume you are a total ignoramus. You are part of the revolting American tourists who come out to Portugal and demand "Uncle Ben's rice" - don't come back, we don't like or need people like you. You are the type of person who gives Americans a bad name. No doubt you missed your McDonald's double-decker and greasy French fries...

Guest
Guest

"So Antunes isn't a fan of Fado." That was a very stupid conclusion, you didn't understand nothing.

Hilda
Hilda

I was so disappointed with your show on Lisbon.  It's a shame that you didn't show the beauty that Portugal has. Their fine restaurants and delicious food, beautiful beaches and the wonderful castles.  The Portuguese people are very friendly and kind and hospitable. About the Fado it is wonderful.  If you understand the language the words can put you in tears..If you don't understand the language just watching the fadista singing the Fado you should be able to recognize the love and feelings put into it.I saw a comment about Portugal is not a happy place to live in due to unemployment, corrupt politicians,etc.etc. Regarding abuse of the animals at the bull fights.  In Portugal they don't kill the bulls although Spain does kill them. Should Spain need new laws to stop the behavior.  I am a proud American and have been in Portugal so many times.  I love that nation and if I was to plan a trip with what your program showed it would discourage me. Some of these comments I am addressing to Anthony Bourdain.  Other comments are addressed to the others that commented that Portugal is in sad shape.  Look around the world and observe the situations in different countries.  You might wonder if I am person that hasn't been anywhere but Portugal.  For your info I have been Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Austria, Switzland, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Canada, Mexico and several Caribbean Islands. Sorry if I have offended anyone with my comments but I got offended with some your comments.

Hilda

Joao Simplex
Joao Simplex

Don´t take this show too seriously, this is simply a show where Bourdain travel around the world to shoot sarcastic jokes about the "world of food", but in the end he loves to eat them all.

...and next time visit Portugal in Summer ;)

Diana
Diana

I agree with Laine Doss article....Fado is depressing music and Portugal is not a happy place to live. High unemployment, low wages,corrupted politicians that drove country to bankruptcy. And you missed to mention the cruelty and abuse against animals like they do in bullfights in south of Portugal and in particular Lisbon. How can people amuse with suffering of living creatures? Portugal need laws to stop this kind of behavior.

Miguelgranjasilveira
Miguelgranjasilveira

Tony comes to Portugal and wasn t in the best and most traditional places to eat, the only traditional place was Ginginha ... We are nt sad , and fado is anything but sad music, is about feelings ... And os BACALHAU , do not tell me that now the Portuguese do not know how to write Portuguese... Kisses and enjoy Portugal...

Beast
Beast

 I walked away when they served the horse meat. A bit over the top for my liking.

Jaymao
Jaymao

Lisbon hilton? Wow, Holden Caulfield could have written this. Love lisbon, don't care for this....

Lsdmonteiro
Lsdmonteiro

Haters gonna hate...

Yea, the episode was pretty funny, but in the sense of how foreigners perceive Lisbon - Some things just get lost in translation =)

But anyway, about the food - BIG MISS: Going to Lisbon and not eating pasteis de nata? mmmm noooo! Ok, so its a pastry, but one of those things you can't miss..

And don't take that "oh we are sad & emo" thing to seriously - we are in love with are sadness, which is different (much cooler i say)

Anyway, don't write this - just get a ticked to Lisbon, and come. June is a nice month to visit, and its almost here (This episode was shot in the winter of 2011, Tony couldn't enjoy the weather)

ernie
ernie

yak???? the name says it all-haahaaahaaahheeeehhheeee

Carlos Martins
Carlos Martins

Usually, when somebody show such  stupidity as you, the right way is to close the eyes, get some excuses and move on... But there are things that we cannot let go trough. Firt take all the information you REALLY need, than write the due apologies, end after maybe I would not call you stupid , idiot, and mentcapt, as you really seem to be !!!

Yak
Yak

Time for your meds Ernie

Carla
Carla

Its BACALHAU and NOT Bacalao!

ernie
ernie

u dont get it , clearly when u surround ur self w idiots like the 2 u were hangiing with, i have been to ur restaurant in ny its just another steak house, the waiter was gayer than a 3 dollar bill and he was so millitant about it (gay up to another gay guy , but leave me and my wife alone) the portuguese cuisine u pooped upon is one of the most diverse in the world , u should remember my ancestors discovered the world and brought back much of it in the form of food, cooking techniques i wont even get into the spice trade ,which sparked all of the consumerism that the modern world is regulated by,wtf do iknow? your show is just that a show , u try to be clever and sarcastic often times coming out of it looking like the idiot(village), how many times have i watched ur program ,and the locaals caught in the back drop are looking at u like "wtf is this asshole doing shitting on our country, what does he think, we dont understand english" have ur editing dpartment show u clips if u dont believe me  im errnie a portuguese man living in the states since iwas 2 currently in portugal im 43now i have owned and run restaurants , not my gig these days , it would help maybe to not let college interns write ur program (u lucky piece of dung) the next time im in ny and if i hit ur rest in the midtown area ill be looking for every reason to poop on it, at a minimum when that over the top waiter sexually misconducts himself i will point it out to the nathan lane wannabe, wow my dog could have come up w a better context for a program (other than just shitting on a culture, wow thanks for telling me that portugal was full of junkies during its dictatorial rule - simply not true henrique sa? iknow he is married but i think hes gay (just because he acts and sounds like it to the average portuguese man)  u see how stupid and ill thought out that was, see and read between the lines , please no more garbage,

Silmatter5
Silmatter5

 I'm hoping for a lowlands of Borneo episode complete with rival villager's heads simmering in a pot. Go ahead Tony, eat up. Ja Ja!

Jose Stock
Jose Stock

If this is an article, I am a poet! Your a total idiot.

Jose Stock
Jose Stock

You are a total idiot. I've never read anything as misleading and wrong as the above article.

Ana
Ana

Fado is magical music, even people that don't understand a single word (because it's poetry) can feel the magic; i'm sorry if you don't have the sensibility; I wonder why lots of north europeans when they retire come to live in Portugal; perhaps the reason is all the cruelty, the corruption, the sadness... In Portugal the food tastes really fantastic and the wine is the best in the world, everybody knows! and the forests, the coast line, the sun, the castles, the resilient, friendly, tradicional and yet modern people make the difference!We love the nature, we love children, we love God, Our Lady and the catholic ChurchWe Portuguese exist as a people and an independent country since the XII century, we are, since the XV century citizens of the world, we love to mix and to embrace different cultures and different people...Please rethink, restudy and revisit!,

Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith

haters will hate. Very true. I lived in the Lisbon area for a while (4 years), and there's a lot more to Portuguese cuisine than what they actually ate. They seemed to have gone overboard on finding the strangest things to eat. 

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

 Actually, while it can be spelled bacalhau, the popular (and more internationally accepted) spelling is bacalao.

Lsdmonteiro
Lsdmonteiro

o.O ena pá, você devia aprender a escrever melhor..

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

 Are you Dr. Seuss?  If so - I totally love you!

Ana
Ana

funny, you want to tell portuguese people how to write it's own language!

Lsdmonteiro
Lsdmonteiro

Não - É bacalhau!

Se é para falar Inglês, então é "Cod Fish" - se é para falar Português, é bacalhau.

The Lh sound doesn't exist in English, i think.

Ana
Ana

quora is also wrong, bacalao is spanish, bacalhau is the portuguese word

Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith

 yes it does.. in some words, like millionaire. For an English speaker, some words are still tough and require some practice.

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