Bourdain in Brazil

No Reservations - Sao PauloAfter managing to miss the first couple of installments due to my own incompetence with the big red button on the TiVo remote, I finally got a chance to check out the latest run of No Reservations, which is billed as "Season 3, Part Deux." Having watched the previous seasons pretty much in their entirety, it was just like returning to a well-worn vinyl chair at the kitchen table of an old friend, albeit an old friend who you are incredibly envious of. I mean, why does this mook get to travel to the world's great cities, get whisked instantly to the best local spots by eager, attractive foodies, all the while having no apparent raison d'etre beyond getting smashed on free booze in every country on Earth? Is it because he's a great writer and a one-of-kind personality who it's very difficult not to like? Oh. Yeah, I guess that's it.

In last night's episode, Tony takes on São Paulo, Brazil—otherwise known as "not Rio de Janeiro." In fact, Bourdain goes to great lengths to detail how São Paulo and its inhabitants, known as Paulistas, differ from the beach lovers of Rio. The first segment centered on the supremacy of the Mortadella sandwich, which owes its popularity in São Paulo to the large number of Italians who settled in that region of the country.

After the obligatory Samba segment and some ruminations on the proximity of rich to poor (and a thrilling helicopter ride), Bourdain settled in to do what he does best—eat and get hammered. It really was a tough call as to which delicacy took top honors on last night's show—the national drink, the caipirinha, or the national dish, feijoado. They both had a Pavlovian effect on this viewer. In the end, I suppose the winner was probably the feijoado, since the resulting hangover appeared to be easier to manage.

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