For those fans out there of African food, food television, and Anthony Bourdain, you too may have wondered how many times lightning could strike without it hitting Nigeria – the continent’s most populous nation, its largest economy, and wellspring of the United States’ largest African immigrant population.
The surprise (or consternation) here is that the chef-author-personality has hardly shied away from Africa. As illustrated by our handy map below, between his current CNN program, Parts Unknown, and its more culinary-centric predecessor, No Reservations, Bourdain has visited ten countries in Sub-Saharan Africa – a feat only accentuating the gaping blank space between Cameroon and Benin.
But anon, Rum & Biscuits readers, the Nigeria episode is here. Is there any particular reason it took so long to reach the promised land? That’s hard to say. But here’s what we do know:
It airs October 15th
Sunday at 9pm, on CNN, as Episode 3 of Season 10. Set those DVRs now, oh.
For Bourdain, it was all worth the wait
Bourdain’s forrays into West Africa have not always been the stuff of inspirational posters. After a rare, violent bout of snail-induced food poisoning in Liberia, he concluded the 2010 episode by saying “I’d like to sum up with hopeful words, a look forward to a brighter future. But I don’t believe it.” Any Africa episode after that, it could be said, had to be viewed with bated breath and fingers crossed.
Well, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. For the veteran host, the monumental Nigeria visit lived up to the hype. Recounting the experience in a Travel and Leisure article sporting the headline, Anthony Bourdain Reveals the New ‘Parts Unknown’ Location That Took His Breath Away, the host said:
“It digs pretty deep into a place and culture that most Americans don’t know about and one that really impressed the hell out of me,” Bourdain said. “People work hard there. Their optimism, their entrepreneurial attitude is really breathtaking.”
So is their f***ing puff puff!, he must have wanted to say so badly. But hey, nobody likes a spoiler.
It will be different
In the same Travel & Leisure article, Bourdain conceded the episode was “a very difficult show to do” and “a far departure, stylistically, from anything his team has ever done before.”
While this only gets us more excited, we don’t know what it means. Except for one thing:
Nigerian 70’s funk will feature heavily
For the uninitiated out there, NOBODY did 70’s funk music like West Africa, and Nigeria in particular. This is why Nigeria 70 – Sweet Times: Afro-Funk, Highlife & Juju from 1970s Lagos was the Rum & Biscuits soundtrack for the Spring of 2014, when we were taking the light rail to Jersey City to cop some nice goat for stewing. Not everyone has that luxury, though – Bourdain was actually put on to the stuff by his girlfriend, Asia Argento, while he was filming, and it changed the course of the episode.
In an interview with People, Bourdain said the music introduction “was an enormously helpful, inspiring thing that altered the sound for the show and changed up a lot.”
Oh, this just keeps getting better, doesn’t it.
We don’t know the wheres, but we know some whos
Officially, this is the “Lagos” episode, so apologies to Port Harcourt and Ibadan. Outside of that, we don’t know much about where Bourdain will be. However, social media has unveiled on-location photos of the host with Shina Peller, owner of Lagos club/restaurant, Quilox, which could certainly be considered a potential feature.
Outside of food, Bourdain was photographed with musician Banky W, and the Kuti siblings – Femi, Seun, and Yuni – children of late afro-beat legend, Fela Kuti. The traditional Nigerian boxing sport of dambe also makes an appearance.
And lastly, if you can’t wait until the 15th:
Indulge with the Rum & Biscuits pick for Bourdain’s best Africa episode thus far: Mozambique, from the 12th season of No Reservations. Beautifully-scored, beautifully-shot, its perfect balance of political history and oceanfront food porn will have you heart-broken one moment, salivating the next, and ready to reinvest in Portuguese lessons by the end. You can find it free online (and we could have embedded it here) BUT you are required to watch it in HD, so we won’t insult you.
So until then, folks, mma maka ugbua and Nigeria kwenu!