Return to Transcripts main page

Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown

Glasgow, Scotland. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 10, 2015 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST (voice-over): And I guess that's what it comes down here. All of it. Led here. I write a book, I get a TV show, I live my dreams, I meet my hero. Two old men on a beach.


BOURDAIN (voice-over): Everything changes. Nothing changes at all.


BOURDAIN (on camera): Drinking at 4:30 in the afternoon, it's the perfect time, when the light is just right. It's important. Also it's not too crowded. It's quiet. A man can have a drink, a pint, in a dignified fashion, free of care.


BOURDAIN: No, thank you.


BOURDAIN: Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you're on holiday?

BOURDAIN: Sort of.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's your first time in Glasgow?

BOURDAIN: No, I've been in a number of times before. I haven't been in the oldest pub before. Oldest in --


BOURDAIN: 1510. Amazing.

(voice-over): From my very first time, it was Glasgow, my favorite city in Scotland, one of my favorite cities on earth. I was going to say one of my favorite cities in Europe, but is Glasgow Europe? I don't think so. It feels somehow older than that.

To many outsiders, Glasgow is seen as a hard-scrabble, even fearsome place, a place that history has moved on from, but there is definitely a sense here that something different is around the corner. UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: It'll be one of the most important events

in Scottish and British history. More than four million people will decide whether Scotland should stay in the U.K. or become an independent country.

UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: Will Scotland stay or will it leave the union?

UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: Scottish independence could mark the beginning of the end of the U.K. as we know it.

BOURDAIN: But in the end, 55 percent of Scotts voted to stay in the union. That left almost half the population still hungry for independence. And with 17.5 percent of teenagers voting yes, England had its undies in very much in a bunch over the possibility of an unraveling of the union with Scotland. It's an idea that is overwhelmingly popular in this city above all others.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Glasgow is a gutsy city. A different outlook. A new generation. But I still here the cries of yesterday.


BOURDAIN: Why does the possibility of independence have such a powerful hold on Glasgow? The past. Glasgow has along endured, among other things, a reputation for being the most violent area in the U.K. It's a familiar cycle, analogous in many ways to what we see elsewhere: hard times, a disappearing manufacturing base, unemployment, a general sense of apathy that the government can't or won't fix what's broken, that in the corridors of power of London and Edinburgh, they just don't give a shit about Glasgow, especially Glasgow's east side.

Like most cities, like most cities, in fact, Glasgow is divided. The river divides the north and south sides. But the bigger, more tangible divide is between east and west. The west, things are expected to be, well, nice. Nice cars, nice families, all the nice stuff that affluence supposedly brings. East side, that's where you grow up hard, where things are rougher, where you've got, according to popular legend, to fight to live every day.

[21:05:59] JOHN CARNOCHAN, FORMER DETECTIVE, STRATHCLYDE POLICE: In Scotland, if you're a young boy in Scotland and you're 9 or 10 and you're coming home from school, a big guy beats you up and you run home to your mum crying, you know what she'll do? She'll give you a cuddle and then she'll tell you get back there and get him. Don't let anybody ever do that to you. That's what we do. And it makes us dangerous enemies, resourceful enemies, but it also makes us very loyal allies.

BOURDAIN: Detective John Carnochan, 38 years on the job, much of it is murder police on the east side. He's seen it all. Confronted with violent hooliganism, the traditional approach has been to get out there, bust some heads, lock up some perpetrators. But after decades of dealing with generation after generation of violence, much of it gang related, he took a controversial new tactic. Along with a colleague, he established a new unit within the Strathclyde police called the Violence Reduction Effort and focused their efforts on the social problems that he felt led directly to violent crime. His peers, unsurprisingly, we dubious. But as of 2014, Scotland is at a 40 year low of violent crime. Retired from the force, Carnochan now advices law enforcement around the world. When in town, though, he likes to come here, typical Scottish fare, mother India, for a lamb curry served in spicy gravy served with traditional non-Scottish bread.

CARNOCHAN: I know Glasgow is a traditionally tough town. I've always seen it as a warm and welcoming place. It's always been one of my favorite places in this part of the world to visit. Do you think the town's reputation is deserved or is this a --

CARNOCHAN: Nope. I mean in terms of labeling the violence, the fights are the fights. That's there. But statistically, if you don't live or come from Glasgow, your chances of being a victim of a violent attack in Glasgow is something like .000.

BOURDAIN: I've never, ever, ever felt -- and I've done a fair amount of stupid behavior here, a fair amount of drinking, a fair amount of putting myself in the sort of situations they advise visitors to a new town not to take.


I've never felt uncomfortable here. I could be wrong in that, after a few drinks, I notice that I don't understand anyone.


They could be making various threats of violence to me at the bar, and I could just be smiling and nodding.


(voice-over): Indian food is, of course, huge here as it is everywhere in the U.K. You could venture to guess that the cold, damp weather causes the heart to yearn for food from spicy climates. But it's more likely it began with the trade routes established by the East India Company in the 17th century, the returning sailors. And that whole takeover India thing, all I can say is pass the roginhash (ph).

(on camera): So how do you reduce violence? I mean, traditionally, we would just get more police. Get out there, crack some skulls, throw some people in jail, and problem solved.


BOURDAIN: A good number of Americans probably still believe that very much. We're very fond of throwing people in prison. To suggest otherwise would be seen as coddling criminals. CARNOCHAN: Absolutely, and it was the same here. We started to think

about it in an entirely different ways. Violence is a public health issue. We all have the capacity for violence. People at home learn not to be violent. That's why (INAUDIBLE). Because things that happen then will affect their whole life course about how they make decisions about themselves and how they judge risk. No matter how good the police service is, it will just contain and manage the problem. It won't make it better.

[21:10:09] BOURDAIN: First of all, it's not what I expect to hear from somebody who spent 30 years with murder police, presumably busting heads and arresting people, that we should hug these bastards more?

CARNOCHAN: Yes, absolutely.

BOURDAIN: That we should make them feel like they're worth something. I mean, I get it. I believe it, absolutely. But everything you've been saying is no way to run for office in my country.


CARNOCHAN: This is going to take a generation. They go, oh, politicians don't have a generation.


BOURDAIN: They're worried about the newscasts on Monday at 6:00.

CARNOCHAN: The headlines, yeah, absolutely. The truth is we don't have it sorted here, but we're on a journey.

BOURDAIN: So what's going right here? Let's face it, this is one of the most awesome cities anywhere.



BOURDAIN (voice-over): Look, I don't want to give you the impression that Glasgow is an impoverished wasteland filled with violent hooligans and gang members, an impression shared by many candy ass Europeans, for sure, and a reputation that many Glaswegians are only too happy to perpetuate. Let's face it, Detroit or New Orleans, most American cities make this town look like Club Med by comparison.

Glasgow remains the region's noble shit zone. What I find most endearing in this town is that if you're a native, you're probably an expert at taking the piss, a high-level style of ball-busting that approaches an art form around here.

[21:15:30] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's good to be back at work again. (INAUDIBLE)

BOURDAIN: No one excels more at deflating the pompous, making fun of self-importance, turning even the darkest tragedy into comedy than Glaswegians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a ballet, fellows.

BOURDAIN: That is, if you can understand the bastards.


BOURDAIN: This can be a challenge, particularly after a few pints of Heavy or a couple of bottles of Buckfast.



BOURDAIN (on camera): Glasgow has a reputation of being a hard drinking, two-fisted town.


BOURDAIN: I've always found it to be this funny --

GODLEY: Very funny.

BOURDAIN: -- very funny town. I mean --


GODLEY: Very dark humor. If you say in America, my father died, people are immediately sympathetic. In Glasgow, if you say it here, Glaswegians say, what size was his shoes.


We have that.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): Jamie Godley grew up on the east end, married into an organized crime dynasty, worked as a bartender, became a very famous playwright, author, and stand-up comedian. I thought I'd meet her here, at Rogano's, a very old-school institution.

Jamie's working some goat cheese thing with figs. For me, Scottish oysters are an irresistible impulse. They are magnificent, by the way.

GODLEY: What a lot of people abroad don't understand is wine is the backbone of the industry. That still exists, tony. The age expectancy is still 55. In Iraq, it is still 65.

BOURDAIN (on camera): Wow, that's still an extraordinary thing.

GODLEY: Yeah, I know. There's still a lot of crime. There's still drugs. There's still a lot of alcohol problems. I think the fact that we are a bit shit helps us because we have the commonwealth games here and I loved that everybody tried not to shout in the street and swear and sell stolen goods in public. I loved that they all had this covert operation of let's be nice for a week. I loved that. (LAUGHTER)

BOURDAIN (voice-over): Main course, Jamie goes for the pan-fried grill.

Me? I can't pass up an ocean-line, continental class from days gone by, like the fabulously unfashionable Tyrannosaurus Rex, the seafood dish, lobster thermidor. Without irony, the lobster is Scottish, as is the cheese, the eggs, everything really.

(on camera): Do you have anything to say on the Glaswegian diet?

GODLEY: The diet, it's really interesting.

BOURDAIN: I mean, the story is that the health-wise, as far as heart problems, right behind Tonga.


BOURDAIN: The all-time worse, least healthy --

GODLEY: Yeah. It's really weird because when I was a kid and we were poorer, we ate fish, butter beans, potatoes. Then we would have liver and onions and potatoes and cabbage and peas. Then somewhere from the mid '70s onward onwards, it just became crap. Now you have a generation of women who don't know how to make a pot of soup. To be a real Glaswegian housewife, you have to be able to make a pot of soup. I can't make soup. The joke is I'm apparently good at sex. Sex takes five minutes. Soup can takes days. And my husband has never asked for soup.



BOURDAIN (voice-over): There's a terrific music scene in Glasgow. The pubs are among the finest anywhere. They say Glaswegians have more fun at a funeral than people in Edinburgh have at a wedding. That does invite, from time to time, a fair amount of knuckle-headed behaviors. If you're looking for a beer and a beating, Glasgow will happily provide it.


[21:20:11] BOURDAIN: The toughness thing is no joke. If you ever tried to choke a small Glaswegian into unconsciousness, as I have -- long story -- let me tell you, it is like wrestling with an angry fire plug. It's nearly impossible. Also it hurts.

Access to guns is extremely difficult here. So Scottish hoodlums, unable to dispatch their victims with the kind of speed and efficiently as we enjoy in the good old USA, this led traditionally to resort to the knife to do its maiming and killing. The old-country way, one person at a time.

MARK DAVIES, OWNER, TACTICAL EDGE: A stabbing might not get more than a few lines down in a column in the Glasgow papers, because in this city, ordinary stabbing is hardly news anymore.

BOURDAIN: Where knife violence is an affliction, there must be a cure. Meet Mark Davis. He began his career working as a bouncer in some of the east side's toughest drinking establishments where he had plenty of opportunities to hone his skill. Now he runs Tactical Edge, teaching close combat and knife defense to U.K. special operators and security companies. Come at him with a knife, the overwhelming likelihood is that it will soon be hanging out of your ass.

(on camera): Generally, these courses start, come at me with a knife and a guy comes at you like it is "Friday 13th."



BOURDAIN: And pretty much nobody outside of "Friday 13th," in my experience, has ever come at anybody like this.


If somebody does come, they're rushing at you with multiple --


BOURDAIN: -- in a manic frenzy of multiple jabbing or slashing movements.

DAVIES: Yes. Your attacker has been affected by adrenaline. In such a state, the fore brain shuts down. So you're no longer capable of cognitive thought. You tend to get these repeated lines of attack. If they're going for the stomach, it is a sewing machine kind of action.

BOURDAIN: Is your first order of business deflecting or getting the knife away from them?

DAVIES: I'm going to either gain control of the weapon or go to a returning blade technique where I can control the weapon and return it to sender.

BOURDAIN: Right. Show me.

DAVIES: OK. The thing about knife defense is there's no magic bullet. Any technique can fail. Any technique can go wrong. If there's multiple opponents, that can get difficult as well. Here, this sort of thing, yeah? If we've got the knife held up close, OK, yeah, pull hit. Now I'm going to force this thing back into your sternum repeatedly like I'm a woodpecker. Put your hands up, brute force, forth, charge. That's it. Charge.

So if you're mugging, I'm going to pin your hand to me so I own the weapon and I'm going to slap backwards into the groin. I'm going to hit, come up, grab. Now I'm going to introduce point "A" with point "B." When I do that a few times, it's like taking (INAUDIBLE).


You're going to want to let go, so bang, bang, bang, bang.

This is a little bit more closer and sort of vicious. Everybody doesn't see it. I've cleared the weapon. Shift yourself, knee him in the balls, straight under.

BOURDAIN: That was an education.

DAVIES: No problem.

BOURDAIN: I enjoyed that.





[21:23:27] BOURDAIN (voice-over): Last night, in Glasgow, I had enough with the deeper issues. Now I want to go no deeper than the bottom of a bubbling cauldron of hot grease. It's out there. It's calling to me. I want it now. A happy place from my past where once I frolicked young and carefree in the field of frialated arts. The University Cafe where I learned at the foot of the masters the Tao of hot fat and crispy batter. Yes, they do a deep-fried Mars bar here and deep-fried pizza. Been there, done that. But Carlo here and his twin brother have been keeping the Verragio family tradition alive since 1918, and it ain't about no Mars bar.

(on camera): I'm tempted to go completely nuts for all the things I like, like pies, beans, and chips. I don't even know what kind of pie, but I want it. The macaroni and cheese is tempting. Haggis I'm doing. I couldn't resist that. Cheese Beano, I don't know what that is, but I kind of want it.

Ooh, sausage roll. I do like a good sausage.

[21:30:00] (voice-over): I order the fish and chips and some haggis. Haddock battered and floating, a drift in a sea of mysterious life- giving oil. The accumulated flavors of many magical things as it bobs like Noah's Ark bringing life in all its infinite variety. Deep-fired Haggis, my personal favorite. Sinister sheep parts in tube form, in this case. And if you don't like chopped-up liver and lungs and all that good stuff, believe me, the curry sauce sets you right. The combination of French fries, or chips in the local dialect, with curry sauce and with cheese is perhaps a bro too far, Guy Fieri (ph) in a kilt, but, what the hey.

(on camera): I'm pretty sure God is against this. Oh, yeah, definitely.

That's good. Doesn't eat well with a fork. You really have to pick this up. I'm so ashamed.

Oh, yeah. Clean living.

That's really one of life's great pleasures. Don't let them tell you otherwise.

They're lying about you, Mr. Haggis.

There is no more reviled food on earth than haggis. Its ingredients are, in fact, no more unusual or bizarre or unappetizing than any hot dog you ever ate. How many anal glands are in a chicken nugget? I don't know, and I'm not suggesting there are anal glands in a chicken nugget, but would you be surprised if there were? We'll get to the bottom of this. Back to you, Wolf.


[21:35:45] BOURDAIN: Heading north out of Glasgow, Scotland quickly becomes something else. A savagely beautiful, harsh, but absolutely mesmerizing landscape that seems to have changed not at all for thousands, even millions of years. And across Loch Mare, and only accessible by boat, one of the great isolated estates: Letterewe. It's the favorite retreat of my friend, Adrian Gill, more widely known as A.A. Gill. He's the much feared and widely followed restaurant critic for the "London Sunday Times," a regular columnist for a spectrum of magazines, author, traveler, and one of the finest essayists of our time.

Letterewe, as it stands today, was built as a shooting lodge. Deer stalking, like they do here, is something from another era, but it persists in places like this, which both protect and cull deer populations.

If you are, like us, of course, two murderous aristocrats looking to put some venison on the table, you need help, professional help. And estates like Letterewe come with a stalker.

Stephen Miller has been working here for eight seasons now, both protecting the animals who live on it and helping people like us in the arduous and delicate task of sneaking up on them.

We would, as gentlemen of leisure, require a cook. And Adrian has recommended the supremely well-suited Fiona Cullina (ph), who excels at this kind of Scottish traditional game cookery.

For dinner, it's grouse. Shot, then hung until the already funky game bird gets pleasingly ripe. The birds are rubbed inside and out with salt and pepper, some fresh thyme jammed in the cavity. Browned in the pan, plenty of butter to baste with. In traditional game bird cookery of the British Isles, bread sauce is a must. We don't do this in America, but here, it's essential. Basically, it's milk simmered with flavoring agent, like an onion, nutmeg and bay leaf, and then thickened with raspings of bread. Grouse larded with bacon, then roasted in the oven. Nicely rare or medium rare, they are moved to rest and the pan deglazed with red wine. Game stock is added and the sauce reduced. Topped with watercress along side some parsnips and beet root.

(on camera): So explain what we're eating, because this is as classic as it gets?

A.A. GILL, AUTHOR: This is specifically Scottish. This is a grouse, which is the only truly wild game bird in Britain. They're the most highly prized as a sporting bird. They're the most difficult to shoot, but more importantly, they're the most prized to eat.

BOURDAIN: This bread sauce thing, what is that?

GILL: Bread sauce, you have to grow up here to love this. It is like pottage. It's soft. It's a very old dish, but it goes very well with -- grouse, they're a very gamey meat. It's a very grown-up taste that is slightly repellant, but within that, it is particularly alluring.


GILL: There is something also sexual about it that people don't often talk about.

BOURDAIN: Right, right.

So good.

GILL: I'm going to a vegetarian school. My parents sent me to a vegetarian boarding school, and for nine years, the year after I left, I was a vegetarian.

BOURDAIN: Nine years as a vegetarian, that's unthinkable to me.

GILL: Then I decided not to be. I made the decision if I was going to eat meat again, then I had to be prepared to do the whole business.

BOURDAIN: Right. You've got to be accountable.

[21:40:08] GILL: For all of it. For all of it. So I started getting fish with the guts in and then gutting them and then, in the end, someone says, well, come and -- if you're going to eat it, come and kill it. You go, well, then, I have to do that as well. And when I started doing it, it was like coming home.

And that's the thing with being on the hill.

BOURDAIN: (voice-over): Until the 19th century, the Scottish Highlands were seen by many as a mysterious, hostile and dangerous land, populated, when populated at all, by scary ass barbarians, descendents of the terrifying Picts, tribes so ferocious, so extravagant in their violence and toughness, that even the Roman legions decided not to mess with them, and instead, built a wall, hoping to keep them out and away from civilized society. Later, hunting estates like this were home to tenant farmers who scratched out a living by growing oats and potatoes. Owned by landed gentry, by various royals, the Highland clans, McKenzie, McDonald, McLeod, to name a few, later, by newer money, fabulously wealthy foreigners. Today, around half the land in Scotland is owned by fewer than 500 people.

It's an anachronism, dismaying to some, I grant you, but seductive as well. Because who wouldn't do this, if they could? Enjoy this kind of rugged solitude from the comfort of a warm, inviting 17th century lodge. Warm one's legs by the fire, play a little Snooker, enjoy a fine, single malt or two, a substantial game meal, maybe another whiskey perhaps, contemplate the mysteries of the universe under a starry sky, and then to sleep into the arms of Morpheus, to rise in the morning as bringer of death.

Stephen and Adrian keep calling it "the hill," but that ain't no hill I've ever seen. It's a behemoth, an endless range of behemoths, one mountain giving way to a moor, giving away to another mountain, then more, then more. There might be a hill somewhere in there but it's probably between mountains after a five-mile up-hill walk. And though I am, to be modest, in the best shape of my life of late, it's a daunting hike. The climb gradual, then steep. The footing ranging from rocky to spongy and wet mile after mile. Me, trying to look cool, make it seem like this is nothing unusual, but really I'm dying.



[21:47:10] BOURDAIN (voice-over): We walked the Highlands for hours. Our stalker, Stephen, finally identifies a red stag of suitable age and size, one ready, in the parlance, to be taken off the hill.

Getting in a range without scaring him off, however, is another challenge. We need to circle around the mountain to close the distance.

STEPHEN MILLER, LETTEREWE ESTATE DEER STALKER: There's not a lot I can do. Fast and light. So we go slowly. Just pretend we're hikers at the moment. He hasn't got a bobble hat.

BOURDAIN: (on camera): What?

MILLER: If you put a bobble hat on, the deer think you're a hiker.


Can you see the antlers?


MILLER: Get down. Stay down, stay down. Dig in nice and steady. Just take your time.


MILLER: That's a nice stag.

10 points.

BOURDAIN: Is that good?

MILLER: He was never going to get any better.

Do you want to use your knife?


[21:50:26] MILLER: For shooting your first red stag in Scotland, you'll get blooded.



MILLER: Best if you close your eyes.




Oh, OK.

MILLER: And the rule is you have to leave it on.


MILLER: All day.


BOURDAIN: You going, chaps?

(voice-over): As getting vehicles up here would be both physical and destructive, they have retained the tradition of using Highland ponies to retrieve the stalked deer. They are bred to be strong and trained to do this work. They will likely make it back sooner than we will.

MILLER: Thanks, chaps. We'll catch you around at some point.

See you.

Good boys through.

BOURDAIN: I thought coming up my legs burning, I can't wait until that nice easy downhill walk back, but as I soon find out, the walk down is even harder. Knees screaming, face crusted with dry blood, I'm looking forward to a warm fire, a strong whiskey and some good country ass cooking.



[21:56:26] GILL: So what do you fancy with the venison? Stew with wine?

BOURDAIN: They always marinate juniper and all of that. Super simple.

GILL: OK. We'll do that.

BOURDAIN: (voice-over): The venison is seasoned with salt and pepper and rosemary, seared in duck fat and then into the oven. A pan sauce made from the fawn, red wine and deep game stock, sweetened with currant jelly and finished with a mellowing nod of whole butter and served with clap shot, basically, mashed turnips and potatoes.

MILLER: That's it. That's the end of the season. Usually, the girls will be killing it, and you start killing the girls. You have to traditionally where the mask, the leather mask --


MILLER: -- to the stag and you -- and you send them notes beforehand saying I'm watching you, I know where you live.


BOURDAIN: (on camera): We deserve this.

MILLER: We've worked for it, huh?


Literally, the greatest feat of strength of my entire life. Never at any time in my entire life have I done anything so remotely physical over a sustained period of time.

MILLER: Really?


MILLER: Look how well you've done.

BOURDAIN: At no point previously in my life would I have been able to do it.

Thank you, guys.

MILLER: Here's to the best of health, folks.

GILL: All the best.


GILL: Good shot.

MILLER: I say to a place --


MILLER: -- a safer place for ramblers.


MILLER: It's a lot safer now that we're not on our land.


[21:59:00] BOURDAIN: I came to Scotland this time to shoot an animal in the heart, to take part, to be fully culpable in a practice nearly as old as these hills. You walk this country stalking an animal across the rocks and wet heather, you feel little has changed from how your distant ancestors must have searched for their food, with a rifle, with a spear, with a club. I drag my knuckles up a hill and like my ape-like predecessors, return tired, happy and covered in blood.

Everything changes. Nothing changes at all.