tv Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown CNN January 16, 2016 5:00pm-6:01pm PST
♪ i am so confused. 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 am greeted most warmly by total strangers. the other stuff is 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 ♪
thank you. good to be here finally. it's taken some time. like a lot of time. like four years i've been trying. finally. ♪ tehran. city of nearly 8 million people. capital of iran. it feels like there are neighborhoods of rome that's built like these. after all this time i finally had my chance to see a country i'd heard so much about. the weather is nice. 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. ♪ [ in child's voice ] >> 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. >> 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 and differing agendas leading 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 are 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 kabob, as close as you can get to a national dish. and the king of kebobs. ground lamb with spices, a good place to start. so what do you guys do for a living? >> i export nuts. >> i am a curator of contemporary art. >> which is an exploding scene here. >> three different culture, western culture, iranian and islamic culture. >> it has changed a lot during the last decade. so this is the actual menu. i would recommend you to try this one and this one and this one. >> okay. >> why not? ♪ >> a chelo kabob wouldn't be complete without persian rice. fluffy, long grained, perfectly
seasoned with saffron. the rice in this country is like nothing you've ever had. >> tony, first, you should take the butter and put it on your rice. bon appétit. >> bon appétit. >> it's good. >> it's really good, yeah. 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, the 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. severe religious-based restrictions of speech, dress, behavior were ushered in by the rise of the ayatollah during the 1979 islamic revolution. ♪
not everyone in iran is delighted with what their country has become since the revolution. but even insinuating discontent can have consequences. protesters, dissidents, journalists have been simply disappeared into the maw of the national security system. >> what? >> some military place. don't shoot, please. ♪ >> we are in the northern-most spit of land in tehran. up here the land of tehran, the road stops and it gets really steep. the place for iranians to escape the heat, escape the pollution
and have a kabob and just kind of unwind. as print journalists our job is difficult, but it's also kind of easy because there is so much to write about. you know, the difficult part is convincing people on the other side of the world that what we're telling you we are 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. people have a lot to say. >> 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 toward fun in general seems to be an ever-shifting -- how -- is fun even a good idea?
>> 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 restaurant or -- >> now it is everywhere. >> now it is everywhere. >> we have police, they arrest girls or women for having the hijab or not being covered enough. it is not that we live with the police in our head, you know. >> one of the first things that people will say when you say, i'm going to iran. yeah, but don't they make women do this, this, this, this. >> yeah. >> actually not so much, not as much as our friends. compare and contrast, women aren't allowed to drive in saudi arabia. >> that's right. or vote. >> or vote. you can drive. you can vote. >> yeah, of course. of course. my sister is an accountant. she has her own company. girls are allowed to do almost
everything, except if you want to go and watch football. >> can't watch football? >> we cannot. >> women'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 region. so why are we so friendly with the saudis again? >> it's a good question. that's a really good question. >> i'm happy that you asked that question. >> do you like it? are you happy here? >> look, i am at a point now after five years where i miss certain things about home. i miss my buddies. i miss burritos. i miss having certain beverages with my buddies and burritos and certain types of establishments.
but i love it. i love it and i hate it. you know, but it's home. it's become home. >> are you optimistic about the future? >> yeah, especially if this nuclear deal finally happens. yeah, very much, actually. >> despite the hopeful nature of our conversation, six weeks after the filming of this episode, jason and yeganeh were mysteriously arrested and detained by the police. sadly in iran, this sort of thing is not an isolated incident.
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roving, young religious militias. despite all permits and paperwork being in order, we are detained for several hours. this sort of harassment is a daily part of life for iranians. >> just turn it off right now. >> bye-bye. bye-bye. ♪ >> i'm so glad to be here. thank you. hello. hi. good to meet you. people have been ridiculously nice to us. aren't you guys supposed to be the axis of evil? >> you are 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 and this and that, but you never talk about the real people who are actually living peacefully inside the country. you know? and eventually in the future of the world, we and americans have
a very special place in this, you cannot play a game without considering iran as a friend. >> one of his passions is ancient persia, culinary history, and he is writing a book. how do you pronounce the specialty here? dizi? >> dizi, it's the name of the pot. >> earthenware. >> this is one of the dishes of humankind. it goes back to mesopotamia. 6,000 years ago. >> potato, chick peas, 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 is a home cooking culture. i mean -- >> yes. we didn't hatch the culture of eating out. this is a culture of sacred foods in the house. things which are unheard of. it's not in the book. >> that's really interesting.
>> a lot of secrets. ♪ >> have you ever tried traditional iranian food? >> it's difficult because everybody says the great food of iran is cooked in people's homes. >> yes. >> this is a land of secret recipes passed down within families like treasured possessions. beautiful spread of food. >> she's my wife. i am a really lucky man. she is very good cook. >> like so many iranians i have met, he has been kind enough to invite me to his home. >> this is milk and chicken soup. >> it looks really good. >> my mom said that iranian people loves guests. and they will never get tired if the guest likes their food.
>> mm. a stew of fried chicken, onion, ground walnuts, pomegranate, and tomato paste. and this fruit, some kind of fruit? >> yes, there's the dried apricot inside as well. >> delicious. so good. >> needed 24 hours time. >> 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. >> that dish is from the south of iran. >> from the persian gulf? >> persian gulf. yes. >> this one is from north. >> maybe if i could try some? yes. thank you. >> of course. >> that one, we made it with beans, meat.
>> it's so good. mm. fantastic food. >> men and boy, both of them working. >> it's hard to do something like this. that's what i'm waiting. that's the crispy rice at the bottom. what is it called? tariq? >> tariq. exactly. >> merci. >> my mom and my mother-in-law, they think if they have a guest, they have to have at least two or three kind of foods. if they make just one, they think it is not very polite for a guest. now they set the example for my generation. that i have a guest i will just make one food, one appetizer, one dessert. >> you know why? do you know why? >> because it's much easier. times have changed. what makes this simple salad the best simple salad ever? heart healthy california walnuts. the best simple veggie dish ever?
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nearly 300 miles of iranian highway stretching to the city. 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 motives dating back to the middle ages. >> where are you from? >> usa. from america. where are you from? from, isfahan or from tehran? >> tehran. >> nice to meet you. >> nice to meet you, too. >> yes, hello.
the 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 biryani in india. i had it in uzbekistan but there's no question who invented it. >> no. >> biryani. maybe you know the word. though this doesn't look like any biryani i ever had. minced lamb shoulder, onion, tumeric, cinnamon, mint, and of course, saffron, more valuable than gold by weight. this is delicious. >> very good. >> isfahan today one of the most visited areas by tourists. >> yeah, everybody know if you go to tehran, you don't visit isfahan, you are wasting your time.
>> 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. gotta go. yep. gotta go. the road back to tehran. along the way, reminders of just how far back this culture goes. the ruins of ancient caravans, highway rest stops from when armies, merchants, traders traveling by camel, by foot all
bakeries like this one turn out as much as they can. oh, man. it smells good in here. >> you have to stand in line. >> no problem. standing on line is a daily part of life for many iranians. they bake these on small stones. gives it the textures. >> that's why it's called tahdig. stone, pebble. >> in years since the '79 revolution, iranians have endured wars, food sanctions that have caused the economy to sputter. >> so i am going to make you a small tahdig. >> right. >> he is kind enough to take me for breakfast. >> it is made from bulgur wheat? >> yes. you know what is inside the wheat? it is meat. it is turkey. this is a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. >> that's good. >> you like? >> yeah, and this bread is
amazing. you were how old when the war with iraq started? >> i was exactly 7. >> iraq attacked and it was 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. were you afraid? >> very afraid. my father was in france for two years out of eight. and it was not only my brother. many young people like him. eight years of war with a country that is supported by many big powers. >> and it is worth mentioning whatever you think, wherever we are now, that saddam supported by the u.s. government and with our full knowledge used sarin and mustard gas on hundreds of thousand of iranians. less known in america, known and felt by everyone in iran.
>> and it was a mistake of the united states at that time. they made a bad memory for iranians. >> but still people are, indeed, really, really nice here. >> because people here don't hate americans. you had a coup. and then a revolution everything. and then we captured your embassy. we didn't kill each other. we didn't have a real fight. so it can be political misunderstanding which is resolved, which will be resolved maybe i hope. [ speaking foreign language ] in reality they're not. if a denture were to be put under a microscope, we can see all the bacteria that still exists on the denture, and that bacteria multiplies very rapidly. that's why dentists recommend cleaning with polident everyday. polident's unique micro clean formula works in just 3 minutes, killing 99.99% of odor causing bacteria. for a cleaner, fresher, brighter denture every day.
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restaurant. it's time consuming. it's very expensive. so you have to -- persian cuisine has to be experienced in somebody's home. >> thank you. >> so this one here is called -- >> slow cooked lamb in yogurt. >> yogurt, saffron and egg yolks. >> a prominent art gallery owner insisted i come over for lunch with her friends and family. >> here we have sour cherry rice. the meatballs of chicken. >> sour cherries. more than any other nation, we like sour cherries. >> 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. >> okay. very, very good. >> you put far more on the table than anyone can conceivably eat. is that -- >> yes, if you don't like your guest, you don't put anything. [ laughter ]
>> and here we have a large very big meatball. >> kuftarisi. ground beef, onion, and cooked rice. walnuts, dried apricots, boiled egg and barberries. >> anyway, we are a very interesting nation. >> and very, very confusing. >> extremely confusing. >> the contradictions are just -- >> enormous. >> enormous. >> iranians, we take you into our house and take you to our hearts. in that way we are extreme. we are extremists in so many ways. >> you see this tortured relationship between america and iran for many years. how do you think most americans will react when they see this? >> they will start coming. >> yes. [ laughter ] >> it is very important for us as iranians, to get true, to make sure that we are seen as humans here and not the so-called enemy or the darkness of iran.
like you go to anybody's house in iran, and i am sure they will welcome you. >> the axis of evil. we are not the axis of evil. just normal evil like everybody else. [ laughter ] >> ten years ago iran was -- people, they had hope for future. young people, they wanted to travel. they had a little bit of money but because of sanction, this sanction really squeeze everybody. eight years, no foreign investment here. and so it was very difficult time. and then the population is really young. 70% are under 35. and the thing is, they deserve much more than what they have now. they want to have good jobs. they want to make, you know, have families. but it's not possible now for them. >> i hope we can have more faith in the ordinary americans, because every little change in the policy of the western
country, it really, really affects our lives here. ♪ >> the 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're 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. >> we should leave now. it's dangerous. ♪ >> this is the first time that we have experienced such thing. >> stay away from the glass. >> please come this way. please follow me. this way. ♪ [ drums ] >> please stop filming.
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♪ 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 all these american classics here. where do you get them? >> old men's, old people's yards. >> right. and then fix them up? >> yeah. >> mustang? [ engine revving ] >> camaro. >> camaro. >> firebird. >> pontiac. that's a perfect l.a. car right there. is this a car club or is this just people come? >> hang out this way. it's our friends. >> i called out for a little delivery. one last thing everyone's been telling me i have to try. iranian take-out pizza.
it comes with ketchup. >> what do you think about iranian pizza? >> not bad. >> not bad. >> we don't put ketchup on pizza, though. >> i love ketchup. >> i pent my youth pretty much doing this, hanging out in 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. that you just generally don't approve. >> yeah. >> i think those are exactly the sort of places you should go. >> totally. >> see who we're talking about and where we're talking about here. >> i think it's almost un-american not to go to those places, you know? >> i don't know that i can put it in any kind of perspective. i feel deeply conflicted, deeply
confusing, exhilarating, heartbreaking, beautiful place. >> yeah, exactly. ♪ [ horn honking ] [ engine revving ] >> american cars are crazy. >> american cars are crazy, and they're fun. 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. ♪
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