A Cook's Tour (2002–…): Season 1, Episode 9 - Childhood Flavors - full transcript

Arcachon, France Here, Bourdain first learned to love food as a child. Returning for a trip down memory lane, Tony enjoys childhood staples, including steak frites, gaufres (waffles), soupe de pecheur (fishermans soup) and fresh oysters.

Welcome to my world.

[THEME MUSIC]

Two escargot, ponte, frisee.

Two green salads.

OK, line this up here.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN (OFFSCREEN):
Lamb chop, steak-frites.

Shouldn't you be
doing something?

Two full filet and
a pepper steak.

Come on, make the dessert.

Chocolate tart, please.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: As a cook,



tastes and smells
are my memories.

And now I'm in
search of new ones.

So I'm leaving New
York City and hope

to have a few epiphanies
around the world,

and I'm willing to go to
some lengths to do that.

I am looking for extremes
of emotion and experience.

I'll try anything.

I'll risk everything.

I have nothing to lose.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Tiny, tiny little menu.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
Now, a sensible chef

doing world tour would
probably go straight to Paris,

hugely popular
center of great food.



But my center of food
has always been Arcachon.

So I'm catching a train
to France's southwest

coast, just outside of Bordeaux.

My father's side of
the family were French,

and generations of
Bourdains are from Arcachon.

I haven't been
there in 20 years.

I'm go back to the
ancestral homeland.

Hopefully there will
be some reminiscences,

and maybe we'll discover
some things along the way.

I'm really looking
forward to it.

Of all of the places
that I'm going,

of all the places I've been, I'm
really excited about this one.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: Arcachon--

my father loved this town.

It's where he spent
much of his youth.

He imparted the spirit of this
place to my brother and me,

and it's where we spent many
happy summers as a family.

It's where I crept
up on adolescence--

[LAUGHTER OF CHILDREN]

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: --where

I had my first and most
important food experience.

I have powerful memories
of the taste of murky,

brown fish soup at the local
joint, the taste of saucisson

a l'ail, the smell of
Gitanes cigarettes.

Those summers played
an important part

of who I am today.

So I want to go back and
try all of those things.

I want to relive those moments.

My father's long
since passed away,

so it's my way of
reconnecting with whatever

sense of family and
tradition I have.

Arcachon is located
on the southern tip

of Arcachon Bay, which spills
out into the Atlantic Ocean.

It's sort of the
Jersey Shore of France,

where working families vacation.

The main trade year round
is oyster harvesting.

Cool.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING: I no
longer have any relatives here.

But I'm hooking up with
my younger brother, Chris.

He was my partner in crime
during those memorable summers.

We're going to take this trip
down memory lane together,

but I've some time to
kill before he gets here.

Snack time.

Above and beyond, you know,
being the ancestral homeland,

I cook all of this stuff.

This is the food that I first
learned to love and to eat.

You know, French cuisine, I
mean, that's in the bone, man.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: I'm a chef

of a French brasserie
in New York.

So for my first
meal in town, I'm

looking for the authentic
and the familiar,

some classic brasserie
chow, steak-frites.

OK, we're here.

I can hear my steak going
on the grill in the kitchen.

[SIZZLE]

This is sort of like the
French version of, you know,

Joe's Diner.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
This is the sort of place

I am very familiar with.

Basically, it's beer, bread,
steak, and french fries.

Merci beaucoup.

WAITER (OFFSCREEN):
Bon appetite.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
(OFFSCREEN): Oh, yes.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: This is

a bavette, a typical cut
of beef for steak-frites,

grilled with shallots.

This is my first
culinary experience

back in France in 20 years.

And it's exactly right.

It's just what I
wanted to tuck into.

I'm very grateful they didn't
ask if I wanted ketchup.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: So this

is a good halfway
house for someone

taking a sentimental
journey back

into the France of their youth.

I'm not plunged immediately
back into my past.

I'm easing back.

It's a great, comfortable
first meal in town.

Merci, Monsieur.

Au revoir.

Au revoir.

Yeah, now I'm good.

I'm home, baby.

I really want waffles.

I should probably do that
with my brother, though.

That was a big thing
when we were kids.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
My brother's like me.

He lives in New York
and has a family there.

I'm supposed to meet him
at the train station,

but I run into
him on the street.

[LAUGHTER]

You just walking around?

What are you doing?

- Yeah.
- What's up?

Hello.

When did you blow into town?

We just got in.

Oh, yeah.

Have you eaten yet?

I had, like, a little
snack, but, uh--

Maybe a waffle?

We could hit a-- I saw
there's a gaufre over there.

Oh, yeah.

Let's do it.

I think I saw it over there.

Let me ask you this.

Do you get an electric buzz when
you, like, get off the train

and you start seeing
the familiar words

like [FRENCH] jambon,
beignet, boisson?

Oh yeah.

In fact I did see the [INAUDIBLE
jambon over by the station.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: My brother and I

haven't been together
in Arcachon in 25 years.

And of course, the
first thing we go for

is something we were discouraged
to eat as kids, sweets.

And what do we have
here, what kind of gaufre?

Deux gaufres, s'il vous plait.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
When we were kids,

only if we'd been good
could we get a treat.

If we could score a gaufre,
a waffle, we were golden.

So a gaufre was a sweet,
hot, crusty, wonderful treat.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
(OFFSCREEN): (SINGING)

Memories, da, da, da, da.

You know, it's magic,
you know, but that's

because I have happy
memories of long ago,

far away, exotic places in
mind when I bite into it.

But we'll see.
Maybe they taste different.

Let's see.

I think it's something
about they're warm

and the confectioners
sugar and all that stuff.

Yeah, cool.

That's great.

[LAUGHTER]

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: I think

if my mother could see us
now, tucking into waffles

with wild abandon,
she's be horrified.

All right.

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN):
These are great.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: We're

heading to La Teste, a short,
five-minute train ride.

We're going to check
out our childhood

house and the local food joints.

Look at us, my brother and me.

I'm 44.

He's 42.

We've gone far away to France.

Everything's changed,
but I hope to find

that some things
remain the same.

Look at this.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
(OFFSCREEN): I'll tell you,

if that's a Hard Rock Cafe, I'm
going to be really pissed off.

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN): Oh, god.

I'm nervous.

Who would have thought we'd
do something this goofy?

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN):
Who says it's goofy?

What?

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: Our first stop

is the house that our
father's aunt owned.

It no longer belongs
to the family.

But there's a picture I
look at often, of my brother

and I in our silly little
French short shorts,

and we're wearing
berets, standing

in front of the
gate in this house.

I want to see that space.

Can you remember the direction?

It was this way.

Yeah.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: I remember

La Teste as a quaint
little oyster village.

And as soon as we make
our way to our old home,

it seems that time has
left this town untouched.

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN): The town
has not changed a drop.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
(OFFSCREEN): Nope.

It looks exactly
the same so far.

Yeah.

No, it's great.

Those two there are, like,
classic pinasse oyster boats.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
(OFFSCREEN): Well actually,

that's exactly like what
we used to go out on.

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN): Yeah.

We go this way, [FRENCH]--
yeah, the fire station.

Hey, remember we had a
well just like that one?

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
(OFFSCREEN): Yeah, exactly.

So we're right on our block.

Like it's across
the street there.

Yeah, I think it's, like
down-- down just across here.

We're very-- very, very close.

This is so weird.

I'm getting chills, man.

OK, so it's number five.

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN):
Number five, exactly.

There was a gate right here.

But it was something
low, wooden.

And in fact, this
is where we-- this

was where the famous
picture was taken.

That's right.

[DOG BARKING]

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN):
Yeah, and then they

put in this whole thing here.

That's not changed at all.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN (OFFSCREEN):
And the gardens in the back

all look the-- that little
dining area in the back

where we used to eat.

That was your room
for a while, and I

was across the hall
in a back room.

And Gustave and Tante
Jeanne were in the back.

And their 125-watt
light bulb they

used to light the entire place.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
The current owner,

Monsieur Lestingnon, kindly
let's us in to look around.

I just want to see
the garden where

I used to drink Kronenbourg
and eat oysters.

Fantastic.

It's fantastic.

It looks exactly the same.

Right here, buying my
first bag of oysters,

I learned how to crack
oyster right here.

Buy, like, a six
pack of Kronenbourg

and stash them in there.

Just in here, and many
happy lunches right there.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: That's

where my Tante Jeanne made
wonderful fresh tomato

salad with vinaigrette,
shallots, and parsley.

You know, it was the
first vegetables I liked.

I was six.

Oh, it's incredible.

So Chris, the pump used to
be here, the hand crank pump.

Mmm-hmm, yeah.

That's right.

I wonder if there's still
little plastic army buried

in there somewhere.

Probably.

Ah, memories.

Ah, man, this is too much.

Eh, well, should we check
out the neighborhood joints.

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN): Sure, man?

[SPEAKING_FRENCH]

- Merci, Monsieur.
- Au revoir, Monsieur.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: Before we leave,

we have to do one more thing.

[CAMERA CLICK]

So actually, if we
walk this way and up,

we'll hit where the [FRENCH],
where the boulangerie was.

- Yeah, it was right ahead.
- That part of that main drag.

Just, like a couple
blocks past the school.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: This very bakery

is where we'd get
breakfast every morning.

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN):
Bonjour, Madame.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
(OFFSCREEN): I mean,

I haven't smelled
this in 20 years.

[SPEAKING_FRENCH].

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
We order baguettes and raisin

- bread.
- Au revoir.

Au revoir, merci.

OK, here we go.

Recipe unchanged in 20 years.

It's great.

Absolutely.

There's a slight,
like, aftertaste

that says, right here, you know?

Mmm-hmm, absolutely.

I remember I'd dive for
these things every day.

Magic-- it's the best.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
This raisin bread

is definitely bringing me back.

All right.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: But I've

got a special place in mind
that's right around the corner.

Bascially, if we were
too lazy to make dinner

and we couldn't agree on
where we we're going to eat

and what we're going
to do and all the rest,

we'd go around the corner
and eat at, basically,

the neighborhood joint.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING: It's
called Le Bistro now, exactly

the sort of place that
people in this neighborhood

have been eating
forever and ever.

It was very convenient.

It was very cheap.

But what really drew us
back time and time again

was their fish soup.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN (OFFSCREEN):
Soupe du pecheur-- we're there.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: The restaurant

has definitely been dressed up.

It was rattier.

It was rattier.

Yeah.

And I seem to remember, like,
some gaping cracks and holes

and maybe a peeling
poster, perhaps.

It was as basic as you come.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: I hope

the fish soup hasn't
lost its authenticity.

It was the best
kind of soul food.

Merci.

Here they call it fisherman's
soup now, le soupe due pecheur.

I guess I was impressed
by its relative complexity

and strangeness.

It was kind of exotic, yeah.

It was murky.

It was brown.

It was scary looking.

I really loved that stuff.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: As soon

as I started cooking
professionally,

it was one of the first
things I put my repertoire.

It's basically fresh
fish of the day,

shredded and reduced to
an oily, gritty broth

with the liquoricey
hint of Pernod and anise

seed, garnished with parsley.

Of course, I never got it
to taste like it did here.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
(OFFSCREEN): It looks great.

Merci.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: The soup even

comes with the same
assortment of condiments--

This is exactly right.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
croutons, Gruyere cheese,

and a garlic and
pepper mayonnaise.

These traditional
garnishes give the soup

its richer, hearty flavor.

That's wonderful.

Mmm, that's just great.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
So even though this place

is more upscale, the soup
is just as I remember it.

OK, this place is not changed
in all the important ways.

It's beautiful.

This is the best.

Good to be here with you.

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN): To us.

Chris, I could not be happier.

Right now, I could not be
happier than at this moment.

MAN (OFFSCREEN):
Bonjour, Monsieur.

Bonjour.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING: I'll
never forget my first oyster.

It was the summer of 1965.

It came from a day trip on
a pinasse, the little oyster

boat of my neighbor,
Monsieur Sanjour.

He took the whole family out.

We went out early, early
in the morning, still dark.

We waited for the tides
of the bassin to go out.

This was when Monsieur Sanjour
offered me that first oyster,

and I slurped it down to the
shock and horror of my family.

It was a defining moment for me.

So my brother and I are back.

We joined two oyster
fisherman, Dominic and Jerome,

to check out their
typical work day

and maybe hit them
up for an oyster.

But as with so many things
in this trip back to France,

so much is the same,
and much is different.

The oyster parks are
larger, more spread out.

In fact, their property extends
as far as the eye can see.

[SPEAKING_FRENCH]

I have no idea how they
can tell where the limit is,

but they say they know.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
Today, these guys

are checking on their
two-year-old baby oysters.

All of these little
platforms here

are baby oysters in sort
of like a permeable sack.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: This allows

the water to pass through.

It protects them from predators.

The ones that we're
bringing with us today

are going to go into
shore, get sorted over.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: They'll

be sorted for size and quality.

Tomorrow, they'll be
placed back in deeper water

for the nutrients they need.

It'll be another year
until these oysters will

be hitting restaurants
everywhere.

I don't know how he's doing it
in, like, the rolled up shirt.

I'm freezing my butt
off in this thing.

I'm wrapped up like
the Michelin tire man.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: Did I

mention it's the dead of winter?

This, as you can see,
is a tough business.

Pull in a couple of tons
to make the trip worthwhile.

I mean, I remember the
first time we came out here.

It was a fairly
leisurely activity.

Of course, we had the advantage
of doing it in the summer

as well.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: I also

remember the water
was shallower.

We were walking
around on dry land.

We'd sit here for a few hours.

The boat would go down,
rest on the bottom.

You know, we almost
had a picnic of it,

walking around, raking oysters.

Yeah, just about.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: A lot

has changed since my
first oyster out here,

and it looks like I won't get to
eat one fresh out of the water.

But in truth, that was a once
in a lifetime experience.

This is my most triumphant
moment of my childhood.

Like there was that
wonderful moment of silence.

Everybody seemed to
shrink back a little.

And I just see this
glistening, sexual looking

object, and I
thought, OK, I can do

this, just one bite, one slurp.

Boom, I did it.

And I felt like
king of the world.

I guess it was that
moment that I first

started to think about food
as something with power.

It sure caused a
reaction of you.

You looked like you were going
to turn green and pitch over

the edge.

Yeah, well yeah.

- I like them now.
- You've eaten them now.

But they're gross, you know.

I thought it was gross.

I've been looking to shock
and horrified and impress ever

since.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: Here's

a lascivious fact that would
have made us giddy as kids.

Oysters change sex every year.

So Chris, how do they
make oyster babies?

The females spew out millions
of eggs into the water,

and the males just
spew out sperm.

And it all just mixes
around like some big soup.

So like a pool at Club Med.

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN): It's
absolutely a cesspool

of sexual activity
going on out here.

So if you were to tell an
oyster to go [BLEEP] yourself,

that would not be an insult.

[LAUGHTER]

Some might argue that the
oyster is the perfect food.

It provides it's own
sauce, requires no cooking,

requires no shaping
or sculpting,

and it's hard to imagine
improving upon nature.

This is where they come from.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
Dominic and Jerome

have offered a tasting of their
oysters back at their shack.

And after 28 years,
I wonder if they're

going to taste the same.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN (OFFSCREEN):
Oysters, for breakfast, babe.

OK, moment of truth.

MAN (OFFSCREEN): Voila.

Merci.

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN): All righty.

Go ahead, do it.

Mmm.

Ah, amazing.

[SPEAKING_FRENCH]?

Superbe.

The liquor and the salt
water-- the oyster liquor

is the best part.

It's essential.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: Arcachon oysters

do taste just like they did--
brine, flesh, seawater, sense

memory.

Eating fresh oysters,
right out of the water

in an oyster shack.

What's better than this?

Cheers.

This is really great.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: I realize

eating these oysters
is as close I'll

get to stepping
into a time machine.

But Chris and I have one last
stop before our adventure ends.

First, we need to shop
for some cured meats.

This looks lovely.

Ooh, ask him--

Is there some kind of--

Oui, oui, oui, oui.

Oui.

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN):
Ca va bien, yes?

Oui.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: We're

ordering cuts of
ham, the house pate,

and an assortment of sausages.

But what I'm really going for
is saucisson a l'ail or pork

sausage with garlic.

Saucisson?

WOMAN (OFFSCREEN):
Sauci a l'ail.

Ah, a l'ail.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
It was my father's favorite.

[SPEAKING_FRENCH]

WOMAN (OFFSCREEN):
[SPEAKING FRENCH].

[SPEAKING_FRENCH].

Au revoir.

Au revoir, monsieurs.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: We're stocked up

on the essentials, so
we're off to Cap Ferret

on the northern coast of
the Bassin d'Arcachon.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN (OFFSCREEN):
This thing's got juice, man.

OK, let's ride.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
So what we thinking,

riding scooters all
the way around the bay

in the dead of
winter just to reach

a desolate, cold, windy beach?

It's an insane venture.

But hey, cruising
around like this,

I'm starting to feel 16 again.

Hey, let's go
terrorize the town folk.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
Frostbitten to the bone,

we finally make
it to Cap Ferret.

Let's hit the beach.

Let's go.

Of course, I remember
this as the best

Atlantic beach
I've ever been on.

Oh yeah, me, too.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: We'd come out

here, the whole family.

We'd sit on the beach, swim,
hang out, munch sandwiches.

I remember my father's
look of perfect happiness

on the beach at Cap Ferret,
his digging into his sausage,

maybe some cheap red wine,
a nice, fresh baguette.

He knew exactly how
to enjoy himself.

Want to head up that way.

Yeah.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
But when Chris and I got tired

of the beach, we'd
head towards one

of the many Nazi blockhouses
where we used to play as kids.

These block houses were part
of what was called the Atlantic

Wall that the Germans built
as a defensive measure

during their occupation
of France in World War II.

Hey, maybe we'll
hit a land mine.

Oh, yeah.

Or some unexploded shells.

I remember there was one with
the door in the side like that.

Yes.

This was a wild
and great beach,

but this hasn't changed at all.

[INAUDIBLE].

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
This is a great place

to settle in for a picnic.

We'd lay out our usual
assortment of local red wine,

a bottle of Vittel,
an assortment

of stinky cheese
and picnic meats.

The first thing my
brother I go for is

saucisson a l'ail
or garlic sausage.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN (OFFSCREEN):
I remember this well.

It's a sausage more than
anything else, right?

That's the taste
of summers past.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING:
When you're a little kid

and you grow up
playing army like we

did, with little
plastic army men,

you imagine battlefields
in miniature.

So when we came here
for the first time,

this is what battlefields
in the movies

looked like, speaking
with funny accents.

I mean, it's not Normandy here,
but you could still kind of

have a fun time envisioning
D-Day right here.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN
NARRATING: But why

leave it to the imagination?

We brought along our
own stash of ordnance.

We're older and
more mature now.

(LAUGHING) We're
more mature now.

Oh, very--

My eye.

Fire in the hole.

[BANG]

Damn, we didn't get
those when we were kids.

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN): No, no.

Hee hee.

Get in that hole, corporal.

Come on.

Fire in the hole.

[BANG]

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN):
That was a good one.

OK, I'm going to light it.

We're going to run
right over there,

and we're going to take
cover behind the line.

Run away.

[BOOM]

CHRIS (OFFSCREEN): Good one.

Outstanding, corporal.

Oh, it's excellent.

We got the bastards.

All right.

I'm glad we made it, man.

Wouldn't have missed it.

I'm really glad we got
a chance to do this.

Me, too.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NARRATING: I
know that my brother and I are

old now, that things can't
be the same, that it's

been 30 years.

Things change.

Things move on.

One can't recapture the past.

So one can go through the
motions, and one can feel it.

But not matter how wonderful,
one cannot revisit the past.

One cannot be nine
years old again.

Later, talking
about it with Chris,

we realized that perhaps we
were looking for my father

the whole time.

We had a very nice
moment of realization,

how badly we missed
my dad and how much

he would have loved the idea
of us throwing firecrackers

inside a block
house at Cap Ferret.

Dad would have loved this.

He would have just loved
the idea of it alone.

He would love the idea.

He would have loved
knowing about it.

-Yeah.
Yeah.

[THEME MUSIC]