Synopsis: Straight off the bat, Bourdain comes clean with you: He only shot this San Francisco episode to train at a particular jiujitsu academy. The academy is a “douche-free environment,” Bourdain says, and yet a vast majority of the people training with him are the tech bros detested by Bay Area locals. They’re driving out the mom-and-pop shops and putting up a bunch of Chipotles in their stead, San Franciscans say. Don’t leave your heart in San Francisco, friends, or it’ll probably get crushed under an infamous Google bus.
On the tech bros bleeding the city of its much-loved character
- “San Francisco is changing. We all know it. You can’t stop it.”
- “San Francisco is like a righteously dirty town. It’s grimy. You guys have actual street hookers in the center of town.”
- “San Francisco was built on toughness. It’s a boozy town, a saloon town: red meat, sex, and dirt.”
- “According to many locals, the whole character of the city is being leached out by an invasion of tech people, a flood of tech money. It’s the triumph of the nerds—out with old, in with the new.”
The changes are not just happening in San Francisco. Across the bay in Oakland, gentrification is met with—one would think—a starker history of resistance. This, after all, is where the Black Panthers were born.
- [On Sinbad’s] “Is the relentless wheel of history going to roll over this place or what?”
- [At Trader Vic’s] “The Bay Area is changing forever. Will San Francisco’s new overlords find a place in their hearts for this?”
- “South Bay San Jose—not much going on out here other than world domination by a small group of tech companies. But on a happier, less paranoid note, San Jose has one of the last three remaining Japantowns in the country.”
On getting his ass whooped
Now when you’re a white belt—especially a 59-year-old white belt facing younger, stronger, far better competitors—you don’t go out there looking to win. You go out there to learn how to survive.
- [On Bourdain’s jiujitsu training in San Francisco] “The whole reason I’m doing an episode in San Francisco is actually to train here—Ralph Gracie Academy—one of the toughest and most notorious and most admired.”
- “I will never be young again or younger than I am today. I will never be faster or more flexible. I will never win competitions against 22-year-old wrestlers in my weight class. I will never be a black belt. None of those things will happen. But none of that matters anymore.”
- “Humility: Jiujitsu gives you that in spades.”
On point: Bourdain’s characteristic unpolished pearls
- [On Swan Oyster Depot] “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m an old-school guy. I’m sentimental about some things—nautical-themed restaurants, puppies, and places like this.”
- [Also on Swan Oyster Depot] “True love cannot be denied. … If I read about myself dying at this counter, I’d say, ‘That was one lucky guy.’”
- “I need a cold draft beer. … I deserve this beer.”
- [Upon sopping up the fluids in a crab back at Swan Oyster Depot] “Dude, it’s like unicorn juice.”
I’m like a real housewife of New York City. I drink only vodka ’cause, you know, it’s like … low carb.
- [Also at Trader Vic’s] “I used to drop acid and go to Hawaii Kai, so this kind of thing is a taste of my childhood, too.”
- [On the frankaroni at 4505 Burgers & BBQ] “Aw, that’s wrong. I want it. I want it.”
- [On the nontraditional cuisine at Juhu Beach Club] “Does authenticity have any meaning or relevance anymore at all?”
- “All bacon all the time? Yeah, that can’t be good for you.”