Anthony Bourdain in Austin, TX – The First Episode of the Final Season (Recap)
Last night was the beginning of the end. We did a preview of our ode to Bourdain series yesterday, to get ready for this final season, and it has finally arrived.
For the first episode, Tony went to Austin, TX, pictured above with its beautiful skyline. At first I thought, “Why isn’t Bourdain starting with an episode in Europe???” since the Euro episodes are almost always my favorite, but as the episode went on I began to understand why Austin was the perfect place to start the final season.
Bourdain went to be a part of the South By Southwest Festival (abbreviated SXSW), hosted every march in Austin. I know what you’re thinking, “WOW! An entire festival dedicated to one of my favorite Hitchcock Movies, starring none other than Cary Grant!”… or at least that’s what I initially thought, mistaking South By Southwest for North By Northwest (easy mistake).
But anyway, SXSW is a festival centered around the arts, but the main focus is on Music. In fact, the SXSW festival is one of the largest festivals in the US with around 2000 performers playing in nearly 90 venues over the duration of SXSW.
Bourdain opens the episode identifying Austin as a giant “hipster” haven of sorts (I think Portland might be ready to throw down for that title, but more on that later). Despite SXSW bringing in so many hipsters, Bourdain seems to blend right in. He claims there is an age limit to being a hipster, as to avoid confusion of him also being a hipster. But to that we say, “FOOEY!” Not only does Bourdain blend in with the hipster crowd, he is the hipster crowd. A foodie (i’m sure he’d hat being called that), traveler, writer, film maker… sounds pretty “hip” to me, Tony.
But Anthony has the opportunity to eat with many bands that are playing at SXSW. The episode becomes less about what Bourdain eats or sees in Austin, and more about what these bands at SXSW eat and see. He hangs out with the band UME. And has a crawfish and pig cookout with the band Sleigh Bells.
While eating with Sleigh Bells, Anthony Bourdain gets a new tattoo by one of the guys in the band. The ease with which he was persuaded was hilarious. He described his body like owning an old car… “what’s one more ding or scratch?” Getting tattoos like this (on a whim) seems to be quite a common theme on the show. The tattoo (a sun with rays on his forearm), however, probably doesn’t help his image as a closeted hipster… But if a being a hipster involves roasting a full pig and crawfish with Sleigh Bells, sign me up!
Now it wouldn’t be a show in Texas if BBQ wasn’t an integral part of the show. The first place he went to was called Franklin BBQ. They smoke their brisket there for 16+ hours! You read that right, 16+! There was a 3 hour wait outside just to eat this barbecue. That’s how you know its good!
The other place he went was J Mueller BBQ. This place looked like a party! They had people playing music with the iconic banjo, fiddle, washboard combo that you can only find in the south. The BBQ looked every bit as delicious as Franklin BBQ and I would have to try both many times before i’d even be close to making a decision as to if one was better.
It seems like whether you are in to food or music, Austin is a great place to visit. Bourdain hung out with many other musicians throughout the show and everyone of them lived for playing in Austin.
As the episode comes to an end, Bourdain mentions that around Austin people wear their t-shirts saying, “keep Austin weird”. And this brings me back to that battle. The first and only other place I have seen or heard this slogan was Portland. Is Austin overtaking Portland as a hipster Mecca? or has Austin always been there and Portland just gets more attention?
What do you think??? Austin or Portland for the land of hipsters?
Every Monday I will break down one of my favorite Episodes of No Reservations and talk about what I learned from it and why it is my favorite.
Then you’ll definitely want to join in the conversation on Tuesdays as we talk about what happened the night before!
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