Parts Unknown


“I mean, how do you guys feel when some asshole like me comes here from New York, and I look out at the sky and think, ‘I want this. I want to live here. And wear my boots and a cowboy hat.’ What do you guys think about that? Do you appreciate it? Does it piss you off? Because it’s true. I do want that.”

The words above, or some version of them, were uttered by the irreverent, inimitable Anthony Bourdain; chef, writer, and current host of CNN’s “Parts Unknown,” a new show reminiscent of Bourdain’s previous Travel Channel program “No Reservations,” but with arguably more artistic, creative finesse and risk.  The first season of “Parts Unknown” took Tony and the crew to locations like Libya, Myanmar, Colombia, and Morocco, just to name a few.  The second season will take him to Singapore, Israel, Copenhagen, and, yes, our very own New Mexico.

The words above, or some version of them, were heard by a few of us, ranging in age, background, cultural heritage, and professions, as we sat on a rickety wooden picnic table, in a dusty, warm adobe courtyard circled by stables.

The words above, or some version of them, were spoken amidst hearty, delicious local food, and equally hardy and delicious local beer from Tractor Brewing Company (you can see now why I needed to include the “or some version of them” note – a few pints in and our specific memories blur a bit, as we all know…).

We were gathered at a ranch outside of Cerrillos, NM to help bury a pig in the ground that would roast on hot coals overnight – an experience akin to a traditional matanza (but missing a few key elements, like the on-site slaughtering, for example).  This massive party/pig roast/celebration would be filmed for Tony’s NM episode, and through the wonderful small-world that is Albuquerque, Tractor Brewing and friends were lucky enough to be involved in the festivities.

Those of us sitting around the table, listening to Tony’s questions, all similar to the one above, felt, I think, a unanimous sense of pride about our incredible state.  We opened up to Tony with the idea that we love when people love this place – just don’t f**k it up.  We love when people want to embrace the incredible – and particular – diversity that exists here.  Tony approached this place – our people, our food, our beer, our gifts of tequila – with authentic and open arms.  If it is one thing New Mexicans love, it is a good time.  Even better if we can share that time with others.

As we all sat under a lone, shading tree, watching the sunset and the planets align (yes, there really were planets aligning – that is not the Tractor Pilsner Roja speaking), sipping tequila and pints of Big Bale Wheat, we shared stories and memories with Tony, and he shared his right back.  Lucky for many of us those stories and memories will stay right underneath that tree; what happens in Cerrillos, stays in Cerrillos.  It was a perfectly beautiful New Mexico evening.  What a relief it is when “famous people” turn out to be just as cool and easy going as you’d hoped they would be.  I’d like to think that New Mexicans are thought of in the same way.  Behind the curtain of “Carpe Mañana” and the sometimes gritty look of certain sections of Albuquerque, this place is full of cool, easy going people who enjoy sharing and connecting.  Only good can come from somewhere like that.  Or, at least, only mostly good can come from that.  If we were perfect, we’d be spoiled.

Earlier in the week, one of the director/producers was sitting with us at the Tractor Tap Room and said this (or, yes, some version of this): “This show happens because of moments like this.  You get some people together and pour a few drinks, suddenly we’re all connected and everything opens up.”

Lucky for us, something tells me the “Parts Unknown” crew feels right at home in New Mexico.  And right they are to feel that way.

-Erin Phillips Mraz