tv Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown CNN September 14, 2019 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
it wasn't supposed to be like this. of all the places, of all the countries, all the years of traveling, it's here, in iran, that i'm greeted most warmly by total strangers. the other stuff, it's there. the iran we've read about, heard about, seen in the news. but this? this i wasn't prepared for. ♪ ♪ i took a walk through this beautiful world ♪ ♪ felt the cool rain on my shoulder ♪ ♪ found something good in this beautiful world ♪ ♪ i felt the rain getting colder ♪ ♪ sha la la la la sha la la la la la ♪ ♪ sha la la la la sha la la la la la la ♪
rome this feels a lot like. after all this time, i finally had my chance to see a country i'd heard so much about. the weather's nice too. i don't know what i was expecting, but it's nice. a big blank spot on nearly every traveler's resume. merci. delicious! thank you. ♪ >> arianne: once upon a time there was an ancient kingdom where they found a lot of magical black stuff under the ground. but, two other kingdoms had the key to the magical black stuff, and when they wouldn't share, the people of the ancient kingdom got mad. they voted and their leader said, "the magical black stuff is ours to keep."
but, the other kingdoms were afraid of losing all of the magical black stuff so they gave money to some bad men to get rid of the leader. they put back in power another leader and they gave him money, too! to some he was a good king, but to others he could be very cruel. after many years the people of the kingdom got mad, this time even madder, so they scared the king away forever. and then things started to get really messed up. >> anthony: okay, that's a simplistic and incomplete way to sum up the last hundred odd years of iranian history, but the point is there were a lot of issues of differing agendas leading up to the explosion of rage known as the iranian
hostage crisis. look, we know what iran the government does. george w. bush famously called them part of the "axis of evil." their proxies in iraq have done american soldiers real harm. there is no doubt of this. but i hope i can be forgiven for finding these undeniable truths hard to reconcile with how we're treated on the streets everywhere we go. so forget about the politics if you can for a moment. how about the food? the food here is amazing. ♪ chelo kebab: as close as you get to a national dish, and the king of kebabs. ground lamb with spices, a good place to start. >> anthony: so what do you guys do for a living? >> ali: i export nuts. >> mahdi: i'm a curator of contemporary art. >> anthony: which is an exploding scene here? >> ali: iranian country have
three different cultures. western culture, iranian, and islamic culture. >> mahdi: it's really a progress. it has changed a lot during the last decades. >> anthony: yeah. oh! >> mahdi: so this is the actual menu. >> anthony: right. >> mahdi: i would recommend you to try this one. >> ali: this one. >> mahdi: and this one. and this one. >> anthony: okay. >> ali: why not? >> anthony: chelo kebab wouldn't be complete without persian rice. fluffy, long-grained, and perfectly seasoned with saffron, the rice in this country is like nothing you've ever had. >> mahdi: so tony, first you should take the butter, and put it on your rice. bon appetit! >> anthony: bon appetit. this is good. >> ali: it's good! >> mahdi: it's very good, yeah.
♪ >> anthony: it was a hopeful time when i arrived in iran. a window had opened. there had been a slight loosening of restrictions since the election of president hassan rouhani and there was optimism for a deal that could lead to an easing of crippling economic sanctions imposed because of iran's continued nuclear program. trade restrictions that have been very, very difficult for everyone. but there's a push happening between opposing factions in the government. on one hand, iranians are the descendants of ancient persia, an empire of poetry, flowers, a highly influential culture that goes back thousands of years. but the ruling clerical and military class are, at best, ambivalent; at worst, actively hostile to much of that tradition.
this is a line that is constantly being tested. alcohol is, of course, forbidden. you can get away with listening to rock or rap. sort of. sometimes. but you cannot yourself rock. or be seen to visibly rock. ♪ not everyone in iran is delighted with what their country has become since the revolution, but even insinuating discontent can have consequences. protestors, dissidents, journalists, have been simply disappeared into the maw of the national security system. >> todd: what? >> todd: oh.
>> anthony: don't shoot. >> todd: yeah. >> local crew: let us cross the -- ♪ >> jason: we are in the northernmost spit of land in tehran. up here, in darband, uh, the road stops and it gets really steep. a place for iranians to escape the heat, escape the pollution, and have a kebab and a shisha, and just kind of unwind. as print journalists, our job's difficult but it's also kind of easy 'cause there's so much to write about. you know? it's, it, the difficult part is convincing people on the other side of the world that, that what we're telling you, we're
seeing in front of our eyes, is actually there. when you walk down the street you see a different side of things. people are proud; the culture is vibrant, uh, people have a lot to say. >> anthony: jason rezaian is the washington post correspondent for iran. yeganeh, his wife and a fellow journalist, works for the uae-based newspaper the national. jason is iranian-american. yeganeh is a full iranian citizen. this is their city, tehran. the official attitude towards fun in general seems to be ever shifting. how, is fun even a good idea? >> jason: um a lot of push and pull. a lot of give and take. when i first started coming here, you wouldn't hear pop music in a, in a restaurant, or a -- >> anthony: right. >> yeganeh: it's everywhere now.
>> jason: now it's everywhere. >> yeganeh: we have police, they arrest girls, or women, for having bad hijab or not being covered enough. but, it's not that we live with the police in our head, you know? ♪ >> anthony: you know, one of the first things that people will say, when you say, "well, i'm going to iran." "oh you're - but don't they make women do this, this and this." >> jason: yeah. >> yeganeh: mmm. >> anthony: actually, not so much. >> jason: yeah. >> anthony: not as much as our -- >> jason: friends. >> anthony: friends. >> anthony: compare and contrast, women aren't allowed to drive in saudi arabia. >> yeganeh: that's right. or vote. >> anthony: uh, or vote. you can drive? you can vote? >> yeganeh: yeah, of course! >> anthony: can you open a business? >> yeganeh: of course. my sister is an accountant. she has her own company. girls are allowed to do almost everything, uh, except we want to go and watch football, which is, like -- >> anthony: can't go watch football? >> yeganeh: we cannot. >> anthony: woman's issues are often at the spear point of change or possible change here. on one hand, prevailing
conservative attitudes demand certain things. on the other hand, iranian women are famously assertive, opinionated. it's a striking difference from almost everywhere else in the region. >> anthony: so why are we so friendly with the saudi's again? >> jason: that's a great question. it's a really good question. >> yeganeh: i'm happy that you asked the question. ♪ >> anthony: do you like it? you're happy here? >> jason: look, i'm at a point now, after five years, where, uh, i miss certain things about home. i miss my buddies. i miss, uh, burritos. i miss having certain beverages with my buddies and burritos, and certain types of establishments. um, but i love it. i love it, and i hate it. you know? but, it's home. it's become home. >> anthony: are you optimistic about the future? >> yeganeh: yeah. especially if this nuclear deal
finally happens, um, yeah. very much, actually. >> anthony: despite the hopeful nature of our conversation, six weeks after the filming of this episode, jason and yeganeh were mysterious arrested and detained by the police. sadly, in iran, this sort of thing is not an isolated incident. ♪ ♪ for barcelona? we did promise we'd go. [dogs] they get the miles...we get a pet-sitter. use the card that gets you miles closer to your promise. [dogs] they should do this every year. and start something priceless.
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roving, young religious militias. despite all permits and paperwork being in order, we're detained for several hours. this sort of harassment is a daily part of life for iranians. >> crew member: just turn if off right now. >> people: bye, bye, bye. bye, bye. bye, bye. ♪ >> anthony: whoa, i'm so glad to be here, thank you! hello! hi! >> anthony: good to meet you. >> man in stripes: enjoy, enjoy. >> anthony: people have been ridiculously nice to us. aren't you guys supposed to be the axis of evil? >> farrokh: you, you're absolutely right. we are demonized by the media outside. you show black-and-white, people are demonstrating and killing and bombing and this and that and you see it in this and that. but you never talk about the real people who are actually living peacefully inside the country, you know? because eventually, in the future of the world, we and americans have a very special
place in this middle east. you cannot play a game without considering iran as a friend. >> anthony: one of farrokh's many passions is ancient persia, culinary history in particular, and he's writing a book on the subject. >> anthony: how do you pronounce the specialty here, dizi? >> farrokh: what they serve is called dizi. which, actually, is the name of the pot. >> anthony: that's right, it's a, like, an earthenware -- >> farrokh: yeah, earthenware. >> anthony: right. >> farrokh: this is one of the early dishes of human kind. it goes back through mesopotamia six thousand years ago. >> anthony: potato, chickpeas, water, lamb; cooked together. add a little fat, mash it up with potatoes and chickpeas. that's good. what do iranians want to eat today? it's a home-cooking culture. i mean -- >> farrokh: yes. we didn't have the culture of eating out. this is a culture of secret foods in the house. things, which are unheard of. it's not in the book. secrets. >> anthony: that's really interesting.
>> farrokh: lot of secrets. >> anthony: mmhm. ♪ psh ♪ >> maeimeh: have you ever tried traditional iranian food? >> anthony: uh, it's difficult, because everybody says the great food of iran is cooked in people's homes. >> maeimeh: yes. >> anthony: this is a land of secret recipes, passed down within families like treasured possessions. >> bijan: mr. tony, please. >> anthony: beautiful spread of food. >> bijan: she's my wife, and i am a really lucky man. she is a very good cook. >> anthony: bijan, like so many other iranians i've met, has been kind enough to invite me to his home. >> maeimeh: this is milk soup. milk-and-chicken soup. >> anthony: oh, it's really good. >> maeimeh: my mom said that iranian people loves guests, and they will never get tired if the
guest likes their food. >> anthony: mmm! >> maeimeh: this call it fesenjan. >> anthony: a stew of fried chicken, onion, ground walnuts, pomegranate, and tomato paste. >> anthony: and this fruit, there's some kind of fruit? >> maeimeh: yes. there is a dried apricot inside this as well. >> anthony: delicious! so good! >> bijan: needed around twenty-four hours' time. >> anthony: these are very sophisticated, very time-consuming dishes to prepare. always from scratch, and always in excess of what you could possibly need. you tend to kill your guests with kindness around here. >> maeimeh: tilapia. that fish is from the south of iran. >> anthony: from the persian gulf? >> bijan: persian gulf. >> maeimeh: yes. and this one is from north. we call it mahi-ye halva. >> anthony: maybe if i could try some, uh -- yes, thank you. >> maeimeh: of course. and that one is gheimeh. we made it with beans, meat. >> anthony: so good. mmm. fantastic food. >> bijan: man and wife, both of them working.
you know? >> anthony: so it's hard to do something like this. >> bijan: yes. >> anthony: that's what i've been waiting, that's the crispy rice at the bottom, right there? the, what's it called? tadek? is that -- >> maeimeh: tadek. >> anthony: tadek. >> maeimeh: exactly. >> anthony: oh, lovely. merci. >> maeimeh: my mom and my mother-in-law, they think if they have a guest, they have to, at least two or three kind of foods. >> anthony: right. >> maeimeh: and, uh, if they make just one they think that this is not very polite for the guest. but, uh, nowadays, for example, for my generation, when i have a guest, i will just make one food, one appetizer, and one dessert. >> bijan: you know why? >> maeimeh: and -- >> bijan: you know why? >> maeimeh: because it's much easier! [ laughter ] (mom vo) we fit a lot of life into our subaru forester. (dad) it's good to be back. (mom) it sure is. (mom vo) over the years, we trusted it to carry and protect
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today, hundreds of thousands of iranians are bussed to his enormous shrine from all over the country. ♪ a national holiday, khomeini died on this day in 1989. his funeral attended by over ten million iranians. >> man: down with ignorance. viva wisdom! >> man: thanks. >> anthony: don't want to miss the bus. ♪
south of tehran the landscape opens up. nearly 300 miles of iranian highway stretching to the city of isfahan. isfahan is iran's third-largest city. "half the world," as the saying went, back when this was the capital of persia and beyond. the city is renowned for its architecture: the grandest bridges and mosques, dating back to the middle ages. ♪ >> shayan: where are you from? >> anthony: the usa, from america. where are you from? from isfahan? or from tehran?
isfahan's bazaar, the smell of something very, very good. this shop has been here doing the same thing for a hundred years. and based on the line, it must be doing it right. i've had beryani in india. i've had it in uzbekistan. but, there's no question who invented beryani. >> farrokh: no. no way. [ laughter ] >> anthony: beryani. maybe you know the word. though this doesn't look like any beryani i've ever had. minced lamb shoulder, onion, turmeric, cinnamon, mint, and of course, saffron. more valuable than gold by weight. this is delicious. >> farrokh: mmm! really good. >> anthony: isfahan today, the, one of the most visited areas by tourists? >> farrokh: yeah everybody you know, if you come to iran and you don't visit isfahan, you have wasted your time.
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>> anthony: across town, the khaju bridge where men gather spontaneously to sing. [ men singing ] is this okay, this impromptu giving oneself over to the creative urge? to stand and sing out to no one in particular? maybe, but not okay, apparently, to film. >> tom: come on. we gotta go. we gotta go. ♪
the road back to tehran. along the way, reminders of just how far back this culture goes. the ruins of ancient caravanserais, highway rest stops from when armies, merchants, traders travelling by camel, by foot, all passed along these same routes. this, right here, a stop on what was once the silk road, extending all the way to china. ♪
♪ in this part of the world, whatever your background, bread is a vital, essential, fundamental, and deeply respected staple. and mornings in tehran, countless bakeries like this one turn out as much as they can. oh man. smells good in here. >> babak: you have to stay in line. >> anthony: no problem. standing on line is a daily part of life for many iranians. they bake these things on small stones. gives it that, that texture. >> babak: this is why it's called sangak. sang is stone, pebble. >> anthony: in the years since the 1979 revolution, iranians have weathered wars, food shortages, and crippling trade sanctions that have caused the economy to sputter.
>> babak: so i'm going to make you a small table. >> anthony: all right. babak is kind enough to take me for breakfast. >> babak: this is called haleem. >> anthony: awesome and it's made from, uh, bulgur wheat? >> babak: yes, and you know what is inside except wheat? it is meat. it is turkey. this is a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. >> anthony: mmm, that's good. >> babak: you like? >> anthony: yeah and this bread is amazing. so you were how old when the war with iraq started? >> babak: i was exactly seven. >> anthony: iraq attacked and it was -- >> babak: yeah. >> anthony: a surprise attack. iran's eight-year-long war with saddam hussein's iraq is deeply, deeply felt. hundreds of thousands of iranians, many of them children, died fighting in that conflict. >> anthony: were you afraid? >> babak: we were afraid. my brother was in the front for three years out of eight and it was not only my brother.
many young people like him. eight years of war, you know? with a country that is supported by many big powers. >> anthony: and it is worth mentioning, whatever you think, wherever we are now, that saddam, supported by u.s. government, and with our full knowledge used sarin and mustard gas on hundreds of thousands of iranians. less known in america, known and felt by everyone in iran. >> babak: and it was a mistake of united states at that time. they made a bad memory for iranians. >> anthony: but it's still, people are indeed really, really nice here. i mean -- >> babak: because people here don't hate americans. you helped a coup and then a revolution, everything, and then we captured your embassy, and okay, it's finished. we didn't kill each other. we didn't have a real fight. so, it can be some political misunderstanding which is resolved. which will be resolved, maybe i
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neither east nor west, but always somewhere in the middle. well, it looks spectacular. >> ramin: you can't have this in a restaurant. it's time consuming; it's very expensive. so you have to, persian cuisine has to be experienced in somebody's home. >> anthony: oh! thank you. >> roya: so this one here is called boz ghormeh. >> anthony: it's slow cooked lamb in yogurt, is that right? >> roya: in yogurt and saffron and egg yolks. >> anthony: nazila, prominent art gallery owner, insisted i come over for lunch with her friends and family. >> roya: and here we have the sour cherry rice. little meatballs and chicken. >> ramin: sour cherries. more than any other nation i think we love sour. >> nazila: yeah. >> anthony: rahim, the cook, has been with the family for generations. rice mixed with yogurt and saffron, baked into a crispy dome.
don't think of rice as a side dish around here. it can be the main event. >> rahim: okay, very, very good. >> anthony: you put far more on the table than anyone could conceivably eat. is that -- >> ramin: yeah. >> nazila: yeah. >> ramin: if you don't like your guest, you don't put anything. >> roya: and here we have koofteh, which is large, very big, meatball. >> anthony: koofteh tabrizi. ground beef, onion, and cooked rice. walnuts, dried apricots, boiled egg, and barberries. >> ramin: anyways, we are a very interesting nation. >> anthony: indeed. and very, and very confusing. >> ramin: extremely confusing. >> anthony: for, for me, the contradictions are just -- >> nazila: enormous. >> anthony: enormous. >> nazila: iranians, we take you to our house and we take you to our hearts and all of that and in that way we are extreme, you know. we are extremists in so many ways. >> anthony: so good. >> ramin: oh, it's always. >> anthony: you see this tortured relationship between america and iran for many years, how do you think most americans
will react when they see this? >> ramin: they will start coming. >> nazila: it is very important for us as iranians to get truth. to make sure that we are seen as humans here and not the so-called enemy or the darkness of iran. you know, like you go to like anybody's house in iran and i'm sure that they will welcome you. >> ramin: the "axis of evil." we're not the axis of evil. we're just normal evil like everybody else. >> newsha: ten years ago, iran was -- people, they had hope for future, young people, they wanted to travel, they had little bit money, but because of sanction -- this sanction really squeezed everybody. eight years, no foreign investment here, and so it was very difficult time. >> ramin: terrible, terrible. >> newsha: i mean the population is really young. seventy percent are under 35 and the thing is they deserve much more than what they have now.
they want to have good job, they want to make, you know, have families, but it's not possible now for them. >> nazila: i hope we can have more faith in the ordinary american because every little change in the policy of the western country, it really, really affects our lives here. ♪ ♪ >> anthony: the milad tower, iran's tallest building and a symbol of national pride. it rises a thousand feet in the air and looks out at all tehran and beyond. we were out on the observation deck taking it all in. trying to make some sense of it all.
our time in iran was coming to an end and it was impossible to say, "was a window opening?" or "was it only a moment in time before it shut again?" you learn pretty quickly that in iran there is plenty of gray area. an undefined territory. where is the line? it seems to change with barely a moment's notice. okay, here it comes. ♪ ♪ >> building employee: this is the first time that we have experienced such a thing. >> anthony: stand away from the glass.
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>> anthony: last day in iran. night falls and the kids, like kids anywhere, get in their rides and head for somewhere they can hang out. amazing display of american -- >> keyvan: american cars. >> anthony: american classics here. where, where do you get 'em? >> keyvan: uh, old mans. old peoples. yeah. >> anthony: old guys, right. and then fix them up? >> keyvan: yeah. >> anthony: mustang. [ engine revs ] >> keyvan: camaro. >> anthony: camaro. >> keyvan: camaro, yeah. >> anthony: firebird? >> keyvan: pontiac. >> anthony: would, that's a perfect l.a. car right there. is this a car club or is this just people just come. >> keyvan: we hang out this way with our friends. >> anthony: awesome, all right. well i called out for a little delivery. one last thing everyone's been telling me i have to try. iranian takeout pizza.
>> anthony: it comes with ketchup! >> keyvan: what do you think about iranian pizza? >> anthony: not bad. >> keyvan: not bad. >> anthony: we don't put ketchup on pizza though. >> keyvan: i love ketchup. >> anthony: ah, thank you. >> keyvan: beer. >> anthony: i spent my youth pretty much doing this. hanging out at a parking lot. ♪ ♪ let's assume the worst. let's assume that you cannot see any way to reconcile what you think of iran with your own personal beliefs. you just generally don't approve. >> jason: yeah. >> anthony: i think those are exactly the sort of places you should go. >> jason: totally. >> anthony: see who we're talking about and where we're talking about here and -- >> jason: i think it's almost un-american not to go to those places. you know?
>> anthony: i don't know that i can put it in any kind of perspective. i feel, you know, deeply conflicted. deeply confusing, exhilarating, heartbreaking, beautiful place. >> jason: yeah, exactly. ♪ >> keyvan: american cars are crazy. >> anthony: american cars are crazy and they're fun. [ tires squeal ] all i can tell you is the iran i've seen on tv and read about in the papers, it's a much bigger picture. let's put it this way, it's complicated. [ laughter ]
[ church bells ringing ] ♪ >> anthony: you go up this beautiful mountain. this incredible town. and it goes back to the 12th century. but people trudge up the hill to the beautiful church. they take the walk that michael corleone took. now and forevermore, it will be sort of the "godfather" theme park where they're just playing the "godfather" theme over and over. >> mary: i think most thoughtful