MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — CNN’s hit show “Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain” will debut its new season Sunday with a special episode in West Virginia.
Speaking ahead of the episode on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” Bourdain admitted he came into the show with plenty of preconceived notions and stereotypes . He also admitted he quickly realized those needed to be reevaluated.
“We did deliberately seek out one of the poorer counties in the state. We went to coal country and an area that did tend to vote solidly Republican, at least in recent years,” Bourdain said. “I really wanted to go straight at it. I’m well aware the state of West Virginia is totally diverse.”
A native of New York City, Bourdain freely admitted he has very little in common with the folks in southern West Virginia. His beliefs, values, and political leanings are 180 degrees out of step with those people he sought to meet. Turned out, none of that mattered.
“I met people who were kind, who were generous, who looked after each other,” he said. “A lot of people are facing tremendous challenges, but are meeting those challenges with real determination and pride. I keep using the word ‘enchanted’. I was enchanted.”
The visit covers a lot of what makes West Virginia unique. Bourdain traveled underground in a McDowell County Coal mine. He went off road riding in southern West Virginia and he did some shooting while trying to find some middle ground on the Second Amendment. He found very little.
“We come from very different places,” he said. “I’m a guy willing to compromise and some of the really nice people I talked to were in no way willing to give an inch on the issue.”
However, Bourdain was willing to admit when speaking with MetroNews he had a better understanding of why guns are so meaningful to the people of West Virginia.
“New Yorkers didn’t go hunting with their dad at age 7. New Yorkers never had to shoot their own food, I understand that,” said Bourdain. “I understand as well if you live in a remote area and the average time for a police response is 45 minutes if you’re lucky, I can very well understand why you might want a firearm around.”
Bourdain travels the word with his show. He samples the culture, the people, their attitudes, and in a big way samples the cuisine. The visit to West Virginia was no different.
“I had some braised bear meat, and I had some squirrel gravy and some really good biscuits,” he said.
The show airs Sunday on CNN