Anthony Bourdain - chef in Shangrila Zhongdian

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of China  ,
Saturday, November 1, 2008

I hate it when they have those cooking programmes, and the person invited along get to taste first. It s the moment of truth, and everyone is watching, waiting for the reaction.
Of course there can only be one response. "Delicious".
Anything else will surely offend the hosts.

So when chef and traveler Anthony Michael "Tony" Bourdain goes to Zhongdian and tries yak meat, what does he say?

The American chef, best known for Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, has recently put together Travel Channel's "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations".

He is known for culinary adventures, namely eating any for the cause of good TV. His worse meal: chicken mcnuggets.

You can watch highlights from a recent series at

Interestingly, there's no smoking, drug taking or drinking during the filmed segment. And I couldn't hear any profanities.

After leaving Michael's home, Tony travels to LiJiang, home of the Naxi people; the Naxi have maintained many old traditions, like falconing. Thanks to Yumei, Tony's Naxi guide, Tony is privileged to catch one of the majestic birds on his arm, an intense feeling he will never forget. Next, Yumei takes Tony to see the process of curing ham, a local specialty. Enthralled with the process of curing one of his favorite foods, Tony purchases some ham in the market to take home. The next day, Yumei takes Tony to an old monastery in LiJiang not to experience the prayers or study, but to enjoy a traditional Naxi meal, a custom at the monastery. Unsure, at first, about trying the wiggly bean gel, Tony warms up to the other dishes and ends up enjoying his meal. Later, Tony ascends to the top of a mountain glacier to take-in the view. Unfortunately, he forgot to take along oxygen! The lack of O2 seems to be go to his head. An hilarious mountain top rant ensues.

Shangri-La, a real life location with a fictional name (thanks to a 1938 James Hilton novel) is a Tibetan area of China. Tony's Tibetan guide, Gonpo, gives him a tour of this highly-spiritual village. The buildings are adorned with prayer flags, the chanting of monks fills the air, and Shangri-La is home to the world's largest prayer scroll, an important element of Buddhist worship. Tony and Gonpo wind up at the home of local Tibetan farmers, where they are treated to a home-cooked meal made of all things yak, the local staple. After watching the yak-milking process and greeting the villagers who have come to visit, Tony samples delicacies - yak meat, yak cheese, and yak butter tea, a warm, slightly salty wintry treat. Looking around at the kind faces of the strangers sitting around him, and feeling the warm tea settling in his stomach, Tony realizes that China, once again, has left him enchanted.
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