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Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown

Cologne, Germany. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 05, 2016 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:16] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Through translator) The Ground Rules of Kolsch. It is what it is. It'll come as it comes. It's always gone well. What's gone is gone. Nothing stays as it was. Don't know it, don't need it, chuck it. What're you going to do? Do it right, but not too often. What's with that? You drinking' one with us?


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST: They say, and by "they," I mean people from around here, that Cologne is an ugly city. This is quickly followed by the proud statement that the people are nice. That they are welcoming, tolerant, kind, open to new things. I never saw Cologne as ugly at all. I always saw it as, well, charming in the least patronizing sense of the word. I mean, this city charms you. It takes you in. It makes you feel welcome.

Maybe it was the non-douchey beer culture here that appealed. I don't mean beer culture in a judgmental neck beard hovering over you waiting for you to decide between craft beers way either. I mean, but here decent beer is a way of life. It's a birthright. You don't talk about it too much. You freakin' drink it. Beer here means more often than not, Kolsch. Heinz Grune has lived in Cologne his whole life.


BOURDAIN: Prost. He does marketing for several German breweries, so Kolsch is an integral part of both his social and business lives. Kolsch is not a brand. What is this anyway?

GRUNE: Let's call it a style. It's a pale ale and people loves to drink it in high amounts.

BOURDAIN: Malzmuhle Brewery has been slinging beer non-stop for the last 150 years. Democratic, utilitarian, welcoming to all people with a powerful thirst. I love the whole style, the little glasses. Is this unique to Cologne?

GRUNE: Other regions of Germany, you won't find such small glass.


GRUNE: They start with '03 to '05. BOURDAIN: To the giant.

GRUNE: Yeah.

BOURDAIN: You know, if you have a giant thing of beer, it's like piss warm by the time you get down to the bottom.

GRUNE: Right. But here it's necessary because it is not very carbonated and the foam disappears in minutes.


GRUNE: There are guys who drink it in one sip.

BOURDAIN: I'm not sure the exact blood absorption rate of alcohol but I would think that if you're hammering these things back, it's hitting your bloodstream at the perfect rate.

GRUNE: Maybe we he to name them alcoholic but they are accustomed to it.

BOURDAIN: There are certain iconic accompaniments to beer drinking when in Cologne. Like Mettbroetchen which is minced raw pork with onions on a roll. Or Halve Hahn, which is simply gouda cheese on rye. This is really good.

GRUNE: By now you see how it goes, no? You'll get the Kolsch without ordering.

BOURDAIN: I don't like this custom, though. I don't want to know how many beers I've had. This is ...

GRUNE: OK, but he has to know.

BOURDAIN: Yeah, that's fine. Can't he do his own little system somewhere around here? I'm thinking, "Geez, I've got a problem." It's when the Himmel und Erde or Heaven and Earth hits the table that I start getting deep into my happy zone. That's blood sausage, fried onions, and mashed potatoes with applesauce which if you don't like, by the way, pretty much removes you from my "will save from drowning" list. And then, there's this. The dish that almost alone brought me back to Cologne. It was sweet, sweet memories of this stegosaurus sized shank of cured pork boiled and boiled until it literally falls away from the bone steaming and moist, a symphony of meat and gelatin and good, good stuff. God is hiding in there somewhere.

[21:05:10] GRUNE: Cologne is a workers' town, you know? So the kitchen is definitely a workers' kitchen.

BOURDAIN: And yet, it has a pretty liberal progressive world view. Where did that come from?

GRUNE: It has something to do with the river. Occupation here was trading, so the Cologne people from the beginning were interested in other people and they took profit of other people. We are not afraid of influences from outside. But therefore, it's also important to have some traditions that are lasting for a long time.

BOURDAIN: And one of those would be Kolsch.

GRUNE: One of is Kolsch, one of it's a dish and people know that they can come here, and it won't change. This place will not change in the next 200 years.

BOURDAIN: Cologne is or was a predominately Catholic city, perhaps more Mediterranean in temperament than those fun-hating Lutherans and Calvinists. It's Germany's fun-zone and from November to February Cologners celebrates Carnival. Partying here has a whole season.

Carnival here is an exuberant, anarchistic, bat-shit wild, 40-day celebration leading up to Lent. It can be absolute mayhem. My completely rational fear of clowns, mimes, parades, public dancing and crowds in general really, prohibits me from taking part.

These days Brian Jones could come back from the grave for one night only with the Stones and Janis and Jimmy and Jim, they could all be there. And you know what? I ain't going. But the Cologners, God bless them. They love it.

Bei Oma Kleinmann handles enormous crowds of revelers. Fortunately, the madness is still a few weeks away. And this is my old friend Tracey (ph) who had the good or bad fortune, depending on how you look at it, to travel and produce shows around the world with me for many years. Anke (ph) is from Cologne and makes me feel better about my Carnival phobia. Carnival, do you like Carnival?

TRACEY, ANTHONY BOURDAIN'S FRIEND: I do, and I'm not ashamed to say it.

BOURDAIN: Will jesters and bards and medievally attired pranksters be popping up during my stay here?

TRACEY: You're missing out. You're really are ...

BOURDAIN: Mimes? No mimes, troubadours, jugglers, uh, human statues?

TRACEY: Come on.

ANKE, COLOGNE RESIDENT: All of them are wearing bonkers costumes and look like shit. I don't like it. No, I always get embarrassed about those people.

BOURDAIN: I hate Carnival.

ANKE: I hate Carnival too.

TRACEY: You ...

BOURDAIN: Are there parades?


ANKE: Yes. BOURDAIN: I hate parades.


BOURDAIN: Are there clowns?

TRACEY: You hate clowns.

BOURDAIN: I hate clowns.


BOURDAIN: Jesters?

TRACEY: Yeah, occasionally.

BOURDAIN: Festive attire? I have beer right now. I don't need no stinking Carnival to drink beer, man. And as I understand it, I am urged to drink beer as part of a community of beer drinkers with other bros. I hate bros.

TRACEY: It's not just bros. It's a whole community of people speaking in dialect, singing songs in dialect.

BOURDAIN: Singing, I forgot to mention that.

TRACEY: Singing is good.

BOURDAIN: I hate that too.

TRACEY: There is another side and if you open your heart you would see it.

BOURDAIN: My heart is a cold, cold place, and there's no room in it for jugglers. What did you think when you heard that I want to come to Germany and go to Cologne?

TRACEY: That's awesome because Cologne is like the other city in Germany that I can really identify with. It's like I have this love affair with it.

BOURDAIN: I often say that the places I go, there's a pheromonic (ph) decision made very quickly. You step outside the airport terminal, and then you go, may you know right away. There's something about this place that's -- that I think I'm going to like."

ANKE: A few weeks ago a friend of mine from Berlin came to visit me, and after three days he just looked at me and said, "Anke, what is this? Why are you all so satisfied? Why are you all so happy? Why are you all so relaxed?" I don't know, maybe it is because everybody's telling us that our city is ugly and Berlin is the big thing. Maybe we have to show with our hearts that we are good people and we -- that we are having fun and I think the Kolsch is helping.

[21:10:09] TRACEY: For some reason every time I arrive here, I always feel like somehow the people are more open here to me being American and speaking German. And part of it is this Carnival thing.


TRACEY: Maybe it's my own self-discovery of like being in another place and finally being accepted, maybe because I'm in costume and they don't know right away that I'm not German.

BOURDAIN: Right, it's sort of like an "Eyes Wide Shut" kind of a thing.

TRACEY: I know.

BOURDAIN: This is what I came here for, though. Surfboard-sized slabs of veal and pork filled with many wonderful things, dredged in bread crumbs and fried in magical, magical deep fat. Now that's a Carnival I can get behind. Wow.

TRACEY: That looks amazing.

ANKE: Wow.

BOURDAIN: That is unbelievable.

TRACEY: Supposedly, you can split your schnitzel in half, take the other half home and it's really good for breakfast.

ANKE: Yeah.

TRACEY: It's like the German equivalent of pizza in the morning.

BOURDAIN: Wow. Well, there's a tradition I totally support. Considering it's a weird drinking culture, at the end of the night, will there be two or three or five or ten people all hang out like way past the point that they should have gone home? Or does everybody reach a sensible point of intoxication or say, "Well you know what? I'll see you tomorrow."? I mean, they're forcing beers on us. I didn't order a beer and another one just keeps coming.

TRACEY: Do you know how to make it stop?

BOURDAIN: Face plant it to my schnitzel?

TRACEY: There's an easier way. You do this. That means, like, "I'm done."

BOURDAIN: Yeah, but nobody's doing that.

ANKE: Not yet.

TRACEY: I'm not doing that.


[21:15:24] BOURDAIN: So, let's talk about the elephant in the room. We know that Cologne is a proudly tolerant, fun-loving, beer drinking, pork-happy and friendly little city. But just a few days before we arrived, Cologne became the focus of the whole argument over Europe's refugee crisis.

Cologne of all places is now the example for both sides of an increasingly bitter argument over whether Europe and by the extension the world should turn their backs on the millions of refugees spilling out of Syria, Iraq, and a Middle East spinning into chaos and slaughter. With the bodies of children washing up on Greek beaches and few other countries willing to help, Germany has taken in 1.1 million people fleeing ISIS, Russian and Syrian bombs and war. One should, I believe, be admired and even celebrated for doing the morally right thing over the probably wise thing.

Sakher Al Mohamad is one of many who found his way to Cologne. Hani Zaitoun helps refugees as they try to integrate into German society. This is unsurprisingly easier said than done. Getting to Turkey, no problem?


BOURDAIN: Turkey to Greece, problems.

HANI ZAITOUN: Getting to Turkey is now a problem.


ZAITOUN: But in that time, it was not a problem.

BOURDAIN: Next, went from Greece to Macedonia? Yes, correct? Welcome there?




BOURDAIN: Were you welcomed here?

AL MOHAMAD: Yes. Very welcome.

BOURDAIN: So here we are, Cologne, one of the most liberal, if not the most liberal cities in Germany. A city doing the right thing. And on New Year's Eve, the whole attitude towards refugees, not just European policy, but the whole moral question was thrown into doubt.

Cologne found itself the test case, both the example of tolerance and hope and worst-case scenario. Here's what was reported. On the night of December 31, 2015, witnesses saw crowds of up to a thousand men described as predominately Arab and North African near Cologne Central Train Station. Some broke off into small groups, assaulting hundreds of women as they left the train station. Police were completely unprepared. The situation continued reportedly for hours.

Three weeks after the incident, the official numbers were as horrifying as first reported. 766 criminal complaints, of which 381 are sexual offenses, including 3 rapes. Many across the world of course saw this as the perfect "I told you so" moment. A sadly understandable reaction. There is no minimizing 381 sexual offenses in one night.

How big an effect is this going to have on the situation?

ZAITOUN: So all Syrians that I knew were totally condemning what happened and we absolutely cannot tolerate something like this because it's not a part of my culture, it's not a part of ...

BOURDAIN: But do you think it will change the political climate is what I'm asking. Before it was relatively easy for a German politician to say, "Look, have a heart here. Let's do the right and moral thing." And it is being used as a club to beat any politician or leader who would like to have a more conciliatory or more welcoming attitude towards people who clearly need help.

ZAITOUN: Refugees are human beings. And some of them are good and some of them are bad. There is 500 refugees who did this and they're pretty bad. It's the fault of those who did it but it's not the fault of the refugees. It's not the fault of the Germans.

BOURDAIN: The infrastructure exists more or less to ...

ZAITOUN: Exists.

BOURDAIN: ... handle this enormous influx.

ZAITOUN: An integration of 200,000 to 300,000 would be easier than integration of 1.1 million that entered in 2015.


ZAITOUN: This is a challenge not only for the Germans but also for those who came to integrate in the community. It's something that has to be worked -- work on from both sides, not only the Syrians, but also the Germans.


ZAITOUN: The Germans are willing to because that they're pretty well organized.

[21:20:17] BOURDAIN: Germany and Cologne had reason to believe they could pull this off. Absorb all those refugees from a culture very different than their own. Here in Cologne, the Turkish presence is larger than any other in the country. F

As I understand that during the '60s, '70s, the German industry essentially recruited in cooperation with the Turkish government, huge numbers of Turkish workers. Was that the beginning of the size able Turkish population?

MELEK YAPRAK, TURKISH IMMIGRANT: Yes. It was. Like my grandfather and my grandmother, they came here in the '70s. My parents, they started to work in a company like in the, a rural company. Everybody has almost the same story in this good generation.

BOURDAIN: Melek Yaprak's (ph) grandparents were among the first wave of Turks to arrive in Cologne. And to a great extent nowadays, Turkish food is German food, the way Italian, Eastern European, Jewish, and Chinese have become American food. Raki to start. Prost.

YAPRAK: Prost.

BOURDAIN: That brings me back.

YAPRAK: Yeah? This brings back Istanbul to us.


YAPRAK: When we go there, we have always Raki and the Bosphorus and here, this is like Istanbul feeling for us.

BOURDAIN: Yeah, me too. And meze. Spicy mashed vegetables, tzatziki, hummus, beetroot and olive dip, fried eggplant, pastries with feta, meatballs with tomato sauce and mint. Wow. That looks really pretty.

YAPRAK: I don't think that you have any problems with spice? Yeah?

BOURDAIN: No, no, no. I don't. Very much.

YAPRAK: Not at all. All right.

BOURDAIN: Since you are born here, how Turkish do you feel? And how German do you feel? And when does that equation change? Are there times when you feel like, "I'm not part of this," or other times you feel, "Oh, I am definitely part of this."

YAPRAK: That's a question -- I'm thinking about all my life. In my heart, I'm Turkish. In my head, I'm German. I'm glad that my parents wanted to have a good education for me. But still at home, they were Turkish, like Turkish traditions and for the Turkish thinking, so I was always on both sides. And now, I'm adult enough to pick the best ones from both sides.

BOURDAIN: Growing up here as the child of Turkish immigrants, how did you feel in school? You felt German?

YAPRAK: Yeah. Yeah.

BOURDAIN: So, why do you think Germany's good at that?

YAPRAK: The Germans are very correct people. They want to have everything on the point. They don't like surprises. So they organize everything before.

BOURDAIN: It's almost a cliche that it's organized.

YAPRAK: It's not a cliche, it's organized.

BOURDAIN: Grilled minced lamb basted with hot tomato sauce and slathered with melted sheep butter and yogurt. Roast lamb with feta, bulgur, and roasted vegetables. That's beautiful.

YAPRAK: Danke schon.

BOURDAIN: So if you graduate from University here and choose to live in Cologne, could you afford to live here?

YAPRAK: Yeah. You can.

BOURDAIN: So it's reasonably affordable.

YAPRAK: Yeah. But because of the refugee situation I think living space is becoming less, like everywhere.

BOURDAIN: Do you think this is a pretty town? Every -- most of the people I speak to say, "Well, you know, we're a very ugly city."


BOURDAIN: But I don't think so. I think it's very pretty.

YAPRAK: Everything was destroyed after the Second World War.

BOURDAIN: Yeah, but it's not the most beautiful city in the world but it is not an ugly city, I mean, at all.

YAPRAK: I think I'm more with the ugly city.

BOURDAIN: You think it's ugly?

YAPRAK: The buildings are new, ugly, gray, like made up after the Second World War. There's only small, old town.


YAPRAK: I miss the old buildings like in Munich.

BOURDAIN: So 20 years from now, will Cologne be the same?

YAPRAK: I don't know. I don't want to think about it because now it's fine. I love it as it is now.

BOURDAIN: I don't hear that a lot. You know, you go to San Francisco, Rio, there are pressing problems or that the character of the city is changing. The character of this city does not seem to be changing.

YAPRAK: No. It stays as it is.


[21:28:00] BOURDAIN: If there's one musical movement or one band that represents Cologne better than this one, I don't know what it could be. Created in 1964, with Holger Czukay, Jaki Liebzeit, Michael Karoli, and this man, Irmin Schmidt, Can was at the forefront of what was called inevitably the Krautrock Movement. Combing the sounds and attitudes of classical, avant-garde, rock and funk.

So, so you moved here -- how old were you when you ... IRMIN, KARL HEINZ STOCKHAUSEN'S COLLEAGUE: I'm here in '64.

BOURDAIN: Interesting time, '64.

IRMIN: It was a very interesting time. It was the time of -- where Cologne was really blossoming. It was the art town in Germany.

BOURDAIN: Irmin (ph) studied with Karl Heinz Stockhausen (ph), but it was a trip to New York City where he was exposed to what new read and similarly classically trained John Cale were doing with the Velvet Underground that would prove to be the catalyst for Can.

'64 was still pretty early days for cultural ferment, I guess maybe.

IRMIN: But not here.

BOURDAIN: Not here.

IRMIN: Not here.

BOURDAIN: So, so the question is, why here? What was it about Cologne?

IRMIN: Well, I think it's this generation which were like me. We grew up in this after war, terrible destruction. And that was the generation which started to create something new. That was bubbling from everywhere.