Film & TV

Anthony Bourdain No Reservations: Meat Me in Kansas City

Tony is in Kansas City, and it's all about the barbecue. Along for the ride is his friend Zamir, whom we've seen in several No Reservations episodes. Tony is out to give Zamir a lesson in good ol' American food, as well as a few pointers for his inevitable television show (because, apparently, everyone has one these days). As Tony preps for his meat-filled journey, he notes that eating this much colon-threatening animal flesh requires stamina, endurance, and a strong stomach -- much like Madonna's cabana boy.

Tony then proceeds to go on what can only be called a barbecue bender with Zamir. He visits Jack Stacks for a little amuse-bouche of pork ribs, lamb ribs, and bourbon. Then comes the main course -- "a haunch of Flintstone." We're assuming he means Dino and not Fred. Though the restaurant is clean and family-friendly, Tony reminds us not to hold their good service against them. Sometimes you can get good food in a place that's not swarming with muck. Tony tells Zamir the key to being a television host is having a catch phrase. Maybe "Wow! That's a mouthful!" Not as catchy as "no reservations," and a better catch phrase for, say, Hugh Hefner's Girls Next Door. We'll keep trying.

More barbecue at LC's, where Zamir sees a sign that touts "barbecue, baseball, and jazz" and asks if barbecue is as cultural as it is about nourishment. Zamir is onto something. And that something is the Hair Museum.

So Tony takes a break and, like a dream sequence in a movie, Zamir visits Leila's Hair Museum. Which is awesome. What's in it? Ummm, hair. Hair dating back to our forefathers. Ronald Regan's hair. John F. Kennedy's hair (for which Leila appears to have some sort of fetish), Abe Lincoln's tresses, and Michael Jackson's locks, still singed from the day they caught on fire.

Hungry after all that hair talk, Zamir goes to Stroud's Chicken Family Restaurant. We're not sure whether it's named for a chicken family named Stroud or a family that sells chicken. Wait -- it's a human family, famous for its fried chicken. Zamir says Lenin himself would have his beliefs in socialism clouded for a whiff and taste of this decadent chicken. Wow! That's good chicken.

While Zamir eats chicken, Tony, drunk on bourbon, wanders the train tracks. Soon some strangers -- Dan and Patrick from the band the Black Keys -- pick him up, offering more bourbon and adventures. Clearly they are insane murderers, so to confuse them and deter them from the dismemberment they have planned, Tony lures them to a barbecue joint. They've come all the way from Akron (a breeding ground for serial killers, Tony reminds us). The Keys and Tony bond over horror stories of bad wonton soup as they wait for the food to arrive at the Wood Yard. Tony, still clearly afraid of his impending massacre at the hands of these hipster rockers, wonders whether to fashion a weapon out of a chicken bone. In the end, Tony is left unharmed, and the Black Keys head north to sell out Madison Square Garden.

After more barbecue at a roadhouse and some chatter about how gangsters and prostitution led to jazz, which led to rock 'n' roll, and how so many corrupt cities in the United States also happen to be very religious (sin on Saturday, repent on Sunday), Tony brings up something more sacred than either music or religion -- football.

If you go to Kansas City, you have to take in some tailgating. Tony says he's never been to a tailgate party -- which would make him gay or a communist or someone from New York City. As some beefy Chiefs fans ply Tony with booze in a plastic bag and Jell-O shots, our intrepid hero remembers he likes food and liquor. And that tailgating is not really about football; it's about food and booze. And standing around in a parking lot for four hours.

As Tony and Zamir say goodbye to their awesome barbecue bender with a few more bourbons and a burger for the road, Tony promises to give the animal kingdom a rest tomorrow by eating a salad. Fat chance for that one. Wow! That's a mouthful!

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss