Bourdain's Parts Unknown Season Three Has Me Craving Kulcha

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Last night as I was buried in my couch watching the season premier of Anthony Bourdain's

Parts Unknown

, it occurred to me that we've done a lot of blogging about food-related television shows like

Top Chef

on City of Ate, (mostly when the show has a local participant featured) but we've not spent much at all on more serious programming. Bourdain's latest is a must-see for anyone who has an interest in food, travel and culture, and that holds true even if you've not enjoyed his previous projects, including

No Reservations.


Parts Unknown

is Bourdain's most creative work to date and arguably some of the best food journalism available right now.

This latest season opened with images of a street vendor selling small fruits in the Punjab region of India that borders Pakistan. His street cries, carefully looped with urban-turned-musical sounds, provided a rhythmic soundtrack that was perfectly tailored to the opening images of vendor stalls, whizzing cars and livestock wandering the city streets. Music drives the imagery throughout the show, and slick cinematography and camera tricks provide visual interest that can almost border on psychedelic.

There's more than eye candy, though. Bourdain's conversations and narratives touching culture and politics make the program more interesting and informative, and the food scenes act like little arias, punctuating the seriousness with compelling food porn. You haven't seen Bourdain as animated as he was as kulcha, a heavily buttered wheat bread filled with onions and other ingredients served with a soupy chickpea stew, was brought to the table, or a similar bread stuffed with minced goat.

(If you watched the show and want some kulcha of your own, my favorite versions served in the Dallas area can be found at Chennai Cafe and Muhglai.)

There's sag so thick you could spread it on bread like butter, a temple that has served thousands of free meals every day for the past 300 years and an almost comically retro meal served in a 100-year-old hotel that included baked eggs Florentine and mulligatawny soup. I've already dug out my Indian cookbooks; my apartment will smell of Punjabi curries soon.

Next week, Bourdain heads to Vegas and hijacks a private dining suite for a meal with Michael Rhulman that features caviar, truffles and so much sabayon. There's also a cameo from José Andres and what looks like quite a few whiskey shots. I wouldn't miss it.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.