Anthony Bourdain: I’m Anthony Bourdain. I cook. I write. I travel. I eat. I do oceans of cocaine. And I’m hungry for more.
Bourdain (narr): Miami. The very word itself conjures images of undercover cops wearing linen shirts with only two buttons buttoned, flamboyantly gay Cuban manservants roller skating down South Beach in short jorts, and old ladies swerving in front of you on the roads. But there’s more to this city than its clubby, up-all-night exterior. I’m not here to see the Will Smith Miami. No, thank you. I will pass. Will Smith is a queer. I’m here to see the guts of Miami. The juicy offal bits of Miami. The stewed heart and kidneys of Miami. The distended and deep fried anus of Miami. The stuff that other tourists here would usually ignore. This is, after all, home to one of the US’s largest immigrant populations. And with all those immigrants comes food. Lots and lots of food. And hopefully, some cocaine too. Helping me on my journey will be the always game and always frisky Jeff Garcia, former quarterback for the Tampa Bay Bucs and someone who loves this town as much I as hope to.
Gay Zorro: GAY ZORRO!
Bourdain: So I think about Miami and I think about, you know, dipshit kids dancing half-naked in clubs.
Gay Zorro: Thees ees not the real Meeami. The real Meeami… ees deefrint. To understand the real Meeami, you mus be willeeng to go a leetle bit out of your comfort zone.
Bourdain: Where are we going now?
(smokes 90 cigarettes at once)
Gay Zorro: I show you. You gonna like thees. I goeeng to start off very easy on you.
Bourdain (narr): Where we end up is Joe’s Stone Crab, a Miami institution. Opened in 1918 by Joe Weiss, it has been serving up huge plates of succulent crab meat for nearly a century.
(looks indifferent setting until food arrives)
Bourdain: Oh my God, look at that.
Gay Zorro: Thees… bess crab you ever have.
Bourdain: (eats) Oh, man. That is good. That is just straight fucking sex right there. That’s like, fucking on heroin good right there.
Gay Zorro: Thees because crab is fresh. Ees not sheeped in from Thailand. They catch it this day, you eat eet fresh.
Bourdain: It’s just so good. Like fucking in the bathroom good. I really like it. This is the kind of food that I’d love to eat at 3AM while drunk. And stoned. And with a roll of quarters stuck up my ass. I mean it’s really good. I’d love to eat this while drunk, stoned, and sniffing ethanol.
(cameraman tries to have a claw)
Bourdain: FUCK YOU DOIN’, MAN? YOU HAVE TO SHOOT! Only I get to eat!
(eats 90 lbs. of crab, gains no weight)
Bourdain (narr): Okay, okay. I’m definitely getting into Miami right now. Visions of old people playing shuffleboard in oversized black sunglasses are quickly fading from my memory. I think… no, I’m certain… I’m actually beginning to like this town! Maybe it’s the 17 beers I had at lunch!
Gay Zorro: You like?
Bourdain: Absolutely. I’m almost ready to drop a gratuitous reference to the Ramones to establish myself as a punk rocker among food show hosts. Where next?
Gay Zorro: Bess Cuban sandwich you ever have. Come.
Bourdain (narr): We hail a taxi and enter the bowels of Miami. That part of town that has been unofficially annexed by Cuba. And that’s just fine by me. You can see it in the faces. You can hear it blasting from car stereos. That unmistakable sound of a lively people, recreating their culture in a land freer than the one they call home. And Jeff proves a helpful and good storyteller, and an enjoyable travel companion along the way.
Gay Zorro: All these people came here on boat. All of them. They reesk life. They reesk not seeing family again. To come here. So you can eemagine the joy they feel to be here, AND BE FREE! TO BE WHO THEY WAN! AND TO BE VERY GAY IF THEY CHOOSE!
Bourdain: It’s almost a rebirth of their spirit.
Gay Zorro: Exactly.
Bourdain: Well that’s nice. NOW WHEN DO WE GET TO EAT AND THEN SNORT COKE OFF OF PIZZA PANS?
Bourdain (narr): Jeff takes me to a hole in the wall in the seediest part of town. Paco’s has been here for over 30 years, and they’ve been making Cuban sandwiches for hungry day laborers ever since. This sandwich was invented over a century ago in Ybor City, and its ingredients remain constant: ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and Cuban bread. Simple ingredients, mastered over a long period of time.
Gay Zorro: Try thees.
Bourdain: Oh my God, that is good. That is so fucking good. That’s, like, rape-your-grandma good.
Gay Zorro: TONY!
Bourdain: No, really! Just, “Bend over, Nana. I gotta have a Cuban.”
Gay Zorro: YOU CRAZY!
Bourdain: The ham and the pork just go so well together. That is just sex in a bun right there. That is edible fucking. That is orgylicious. By the way, Food Network? Run by pussies. They’d never let us go to a place like this. Food Network eats shit. And Paula Deen is a fat cunt.
(eats 30 sandwiches, drinks 30 beers, somehow loses weight)
(spends 20 minutes poorly reenacting final shootout of Scarface for his own amusement)
Bourdain: Where to now?
Gay Zorro: GAY CLUB, OF COURSE!
Bourdain (narr): Leather? Chains? Sweaty men kissing each other out in the open? OH I CAN’T WAIT FOR THAT! Okay, this is not necessarily my milieu. But Jeff is a pleasant host, and I’d hate to poopoo his good time. Still, this is not exactly the part of the trip I was most looking forward to. We still have lots of eating to do. AND I NEED MORE COCAINE!
Finally out of the club, and Jeff’s appetite for pork of another kind finally sated, we hit something a bit more my speed.
Bayside Market, Miami’s largest and freshest food market. Home to some of the world’s best seafood, and butchered meats as well. And I try it all.
Bourdain: What’s this?
Vendor: That is the eye of the sheep.
Bourdain: LOVE sheep eyes.
Vendor: And this is shark’s tooth in broth.
Bourdain: LOVE eating shark teeth.
Vendor: And this is human foot stewed in wine.
Bourdain: LOVE human feet.
Vendor: And this is illegal whale meat, ceviche with lime juice.
Bourdain: LOVE illegal whale meat.
Vendor: And this is squid penis.
Bourdain: LOVE squid penis. Look at that. Look at that color. That’s like eating out Nigella Lawson’s pussy, right there.
Bourdain (narr): Okay, so we finally got the good stuff. But still… WHERE’S MY COCAINE? And isn’t there a football game being played somewhere around here?
Bourdain (narr): Ah, Land Shark stadium. Home to the Miami Dolphins, owned in part by that Troubadour of Middle-Aged wet dreams, Jimmy Buffett. I fucking hate Jimmy Buffett. But I like football. And I love tailgating. And perhaps there’s a dealer in the parking lot. So let’s go.
Saints Fan: WHO DAT! WHO DAT! WHO DAT!
Bourdain (narr): Okay, so maybe coming to the parking lot was a bad idea. And I never did find any cocaine. (Just kidding! I totally did! Miami is crawling with good dealers!) But I think, with Jeff’s help, I was able to see the true soul of a city. The people driving the engine that allows all the Hiltons and Kardashians of the world to come down and have their fun in the sun. I was wary of Miami before I came here, because I thought it was all style and no substance. But there is a substance to this place. There’s a real, true, and earthy quality if you look hard enough. Good food, made by people who sat on the ocean surface for days at a time just to be able to come here and make it. You can taste it in the Cuban sandwiches, and the squid penis.