Monday, February 16, 2009

No Reservations: Philippines (Monday 10 pm Eastern, Travel Channel)

Next on No Reservations: Philippines

Yes, my home country.

I love the show, arguably the roughly three or four hours of non-film television I ever bother to watch on a weekly regular basis (I'm not the only one, apparently--Samantha Brown's manicured guided tours of Europe have been bumped out by Bourdain (and his co-conspirator Andrew Zimmern) to a Saturday time slot, practically a graveyard for ailing travel shows). I don't know what it is about the show, the mix of attitude and a philosophy, the restless hunger, the need to seek out new cultures and foods, to try keep an open mind to all cultures (or go down swinging) to contemptously urinate on the tried and touristy, except (as in the Singapore episode) when the food is that good.

I mean--take his previous episode, on food porn. Basically blows away Zimmern's rival episode exploring the link on food and sex, and here's why---Zimmern's episode actually tries to explore said link, and at best the link's tenuous; upshot of the episode is that the best aphrodisiac is the one one believes is the best aphrodisiac (the placebo effect, in effect).

Bourdain's episode is cruder, more straightforward: he just stitched together money shots of extravagantly rich and sensuous foods being prepared and eaten (there's some thesis connecting food television to the '70s porn industry being put forth, but the treatment is not too serious, nor no doubt was it meant to be). Eric Ripert prepares angel hair pasta with a buttery foie gras sauce and osetra caviar; Terrance Brennan slaps together a meat (braised ribs)-and-cheese grilled sandwich to die for; David Chang creates a Bo ssam--a 10-pound pork butt, slow-roasted in molasses, green chilies, and Korean soybean paste, served with a dozen oysters, and kimchi, and rice; Martin Picard's staff at Au Pied de Cochon prepares every part of the pig--from the head meat to the deboned and richly stuffed foot to the deep-fried tail--sautes them in pork broth and butter, tops the various parts with generous chunks of foie gras and cream, assembles the deliciously mutated monstrosity on a gigantic wooden board, sits down at the table, takes off their clothes (at least the upper garments) and eats.

Now that's naughty.

So what to expect from the Philippine episode? Lechon de leche, of course. Don't know if he'll prefer it to his current favorite, Indonesian pig (where the skin is basted with coconut water, to make it carmelized and crisp). Adobo; durian; fresh fish of all kinds; balut; pinapaitan. If he's really as hard-core as he likes to think he is, he'll try agus-us, a pork product I'd once read about from Edilberto Alegre that even Zimmern might hesitate to try.

We'll see. I'll watch the episode, see what happens, hopefully write about it sometime this week.

1 comment:

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