In the Season 9 opener for his show “Parts Unknown”, Anthony Bourdain visited Los Angeles — and highlighted immigrants and immigrant contributions that make the city vibrant. In the episode, Bourdain spoke about migrants and Latinos, the fear of mass deportation that exists in the Trump Administration, how the food service industry relies on immigrants, and how immigrants are the secret, uncelebrated sauce in cities and towns across the country.
Bourdain also highlighted the influence of Mexican and Ecuadorian people in his own life:
I worked in French and Italian restaurants my whole career, but really, if I think about it, they were Mexican restaurants and Ecuadorian restaurants, because the majority of the cooks and the people working with me were from those countries. That’s who, you know, picked me up when I fell down; who showed me what to do when I walked in and didn’t know anything and nobody knew my name.
Here are part of Bourdain’s “field notes” from the episode, which highlights the work of immigrants and calls out those who demonize them (like Trump):
California itself used to be Mexico. The architecture, the food, the culture, the music, the very names of the things and places we love are Mexican.
Today, our entire food production system, from who picks, raises, transports, processes, cooks, serves and then cleans up after, is hugely and irrevocably based on the work of Mexicans or Mexican-Americans.
And you can be sure, if you swing by Trump Vineyards, you’re not going to find a lot of Chads, Tads or Hunters picking grapes. [….]
I spent most of my life as a cook and chef working with Mexicans. My loyalties are a matter of record. In almost every kitchen I ever stumbled into, clueless and fearful, it was a Mexican who looked after me, took me under his wing, showed me how to do things. The recent national conversation in which Mexicans are referred to as rapists and drug dealers makes me want to puke with shame.
So I ask that whatever your opinion on immigration policy, who we let in and how many—these are questions for honest debate—let us at least acknowledge who is working and living here NOW, and look in our hearts. Ask ourselves what we would do—who we would be—without them.
During the episode, Bourdain visited a number of Mexican-food restaurants and spoke with Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, a Professor of Chicano Studies at UCLA; Elisa Sol Garcia of Boyle Heights Bridge Runners; stand up comedian and former Daily Show correspondent Al Madrigal; Gustavo Arellano, the Editor of OC Weekly; famed tattoo artist Mister Cartoon; MMA Fighters and brothers Nick and Nate Diaz; and actor Danny Trejo.
Watch the trailer for the episode below: