The best things about Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations…well, the best thing is probably Anthony Bourdain himself. The second best thing, however, is the way Bourdain follows food–handmade, homemade, freshly killed, pickled for years–to uncover the sociology and anthropology of a given region. You’re Uzbekistan? On the Silk Road? No wonder your cuisine is a crazy mix of cultures.
This approach is taken a little farther than usual in the episode the Travel Channel is rebroadcasting Monday (1pm Eastern). While filming in Beirut, Bourdain and team were caught up in the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. Bourdain notes that they were no longer making the show they’d come to make, and instead we see them nervously planning escape routes and watching the bombing from a hotel near the embassies that everyone hopes will be safe. They’re not overreacting–we eventually see their surprisingly moving evacuation by the US military. It’s tense and scary and sad and angry, and it’s very real. It might not be through the food this time, but you’ll learn more about life under fire in the Middle East in this episode of No Reservations than you will from almost anything else you see on TV.