Anthony Bourdain goes to Uruguay

The Travel channel is one of my favorite stations to flip through. I love getting to see and hear about exotic new places to go to as well as see some that I don’t think I would enjoy visiting. So I was pretty surprised when my Dad flipped on the Travel Channel to find Anthony Bourdaine’s show No Reservations and he was going to Uruguay.

I was so excited! Telling my parents that they could see more of where I was and some of the food that I was talking about, and on top of it all we had read a previous article saying that Bourdain loved the chivito, parilla, and was really excited in general about Uruguay!

So Anthony Bourdain goes to Uruguay, and I am astonished to learn more about his family’s short history in Uruguay and brother’s fascination with researching genealogy than about anything Sand and I experienced. I even called Sand’s mom to ask her to take a look at the show.

The Bourdains first go to Montevideo and drive around seemingly empty streets, which is something we never experienced there. They then go to Mercardo del Puerto and eat at Estancia del Puerto; where we ate as well and it was as delicious as Bourdain described. They ordered the parilla para dos, twice! much to the surprise of the wait staff.

The Bourdains then go inland to visit a couple from Canada where they believe their French ancestor, that the brother has been researching, would have moved during the 1939 Civil War. Here the Canadian family lives like Gauchos and eat armadillo freshly caught by their eldest son.Next they go to visit a world famous chef who left the fast paced, rich city life to wait. As he explains to Anthony, saying he feels that the life of waiting around and cooking is much better suited for him than anything else.

After here, the Bourdains move on to Punta del Este; this beach resort is 1 million in the high season and is where Anthony decides he wants to get to know his brother better. In Punta del Este they have seafood seafood instead of beef and try octopus. They then go to Cabo Polonia to eat at a fisherman’s house, Raúl. They learn a bit more about the country and even met a locals pet penguin.

Last, the Bourdains return to Montevideo, specifically Barrio del Sur, and listen to Candombe drums which they tell viewers are descended from Africa.In this part of the city they sit around and eat chorizo.

Overall, the show was fairly appealing. Especially for someone who has not been to Uruguay. First, Montevideo does not have empty streets and even the car that the Bourdain brothers drive around in are not common. Cars are pretty expensive in Uruguay seeing as there is a high import tax on them and Uruguay does not manufacture cars.

Also, Maté! When Sand and I were in Uruguay we could not walk around for 5 minutes without seeing someone with maté in their hand or a matera over their shoulder. I could not believe, and was slightly angry, at not seeing anyone with maté for the entire duration of their show! I feel that they must have actively kept the wonderful beverage called yerba maté out of the view of their cameras. If you were walking around Montevideo or any of the other towns, with the possible exception of Punta del Este, you could not miss maté.

If you have read the link above, you will also know that another important part of their program was missing. According to the initial notes about the show they were not only going to exhibit a chivito but state it as the best sandwich Anthony Bourdain has ever eaten. I feel like this is a pretty significant part of the show that was missing.

Admittedly, the episode was pretty interesting. I have watched his shows many times before and never learned that he had a brother or anything about his family, but I still feel that he had some more important reporting to do. The neglect to mention a chivito is definitely sad, but he did have some great compliments to pay on Uruguay’s taste in food. I am a bit distraught that they did not mention yerba maté at all, or even show someone sipping it. I feel like this is an essential part of Uruguayan life, yet it was completely disregarded.

10 Comments on “Anthony Bourdain goes to Uruguay

  1. I am a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain as well! And I agree that he has one of the best shows, actually one of the only shows I watch.
    I was just so disappointed that these two important aspects of Uruguayan life were completely left out of this episode.

  2. I watched and read this article and comments and am astonished to the acute sight and perception of these persons. As uruguayan myself, I have to admit is almost impossible to walk in Monmtevideo’s streets for two minutes without seeing somebody having mate. I travel the world, and go all the tiem sipping my mate. Sometimes I have to ellaborate complicated explanations to sort airports and customs, but people always understand.
    Anthony’s show is always great and so it was this one…one last very important comment.
    The tango, was born in Montevideo, it is a fusion of european instruments and african voices and rythm. it was later taken to Buenos Aires. Many Argentinians are not aware of this, but those who know, refer the Tango as “rioplatense” meaning by this, is common to the cities of the widest river in the world, El Rio de la Plata.
    I hope many people read this comment and start to unveal a hidden truth…Tango is Uruguayan, best beef you will ever taste is Uruguayan, and Carlos Gardel is Uruguayan
    Thank you very much

  3. I’ve really been enjoying your posts! I just wanted to say one thing about this particular post. Having watched Anthony Bourdain’s Uruguay episode about 50 times now 🙂 I can tell you for sure someone is caught drinking yerba. The Canadian couple you mentioned that he met in Lavalleja were partaking. The husband had a thermos tucked under his arm and his wife was giving their baby daughter sips from her mate. So only be disappointed about the chivito. 🙂 I agree both things should have been pointed out more, but really with that particular episode, the more times I watch, the more things I catch.

  4. Thanks for this note, I apologize as I have been off site for a while… Starting a new career has set this site back, but it is time to remedy that. Thank you for your kind words.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing details of your time in Uruguay. I’m heading to Montevideo in a few weeks, and while I have done some research, reading your entries has introduced me to some places that I definitely want to see.

  6. Thanks for pointing out the use of mate and other good aspects of the show. I love to watch Anthony Bourdain and hope that your travels in Uruguay are great!

  7. I’m sorry, he does mention chivitos, he says he ate two since he got there, the chain of restaurants is Marco’s, which are the best followed by La Pasiva. As an Uruguayan I too felt he left some parts of the culture out, but it was an emotional episode to me loved it

  8. Thank you Rodolfo. I must have missed that part. My Uruguayan host pointed out Marco’s, but I unfortunately never made it to one for a meal. I did eat at La Pasiva, and I completely agree that they have good chivitos.

  9. Good visit but many aspects left appart.
    After Marcos, the best chivitos are at “Los Francesitos”. The ones al “La Pasiva” used to be much better. There are many excellent restuarants cheap and expensive with local dishes with a lot o european influences.
    Also they should have gone to other places in the countryside, much more representative than the coast.
    There are also very, very good wineries such as “Joanicò”, “Bouzà” and others.
    Other representative places are “cafes and confiterìas”.
    Tango is uruguayan as well, the best world known tango “La Cumparsita” was wrote in Uruguay by a uruguayan..
    They also should have tried a “chorizo” at the local main stadium “Estadio Centenario” a typical local activity.
    Hope they visit the country again and do a much more complete program, its a small country but has a very rich pop culture.