THE GREEK ISLANDS, May 2016—Some shows start out with a simple premise, some with a nebulous one. This one, set on the Greek island of Naxos, was the first one filmed for this season. The idea going in was quite simple: I go to a really nice, laid-back Greek island—one with an actual local culture, businesses and income streams outside of tourism—and slide gently into another year of making television whilst maintaining my suntan from summer vacation.

What did I know about Naxos? What did I expect to find? I will admit to having done little homework and having had few expectations.

I knew that Greece as a nation was going through an awful, crippling financial crisis.

I asked for a villa where I might putter about and do some cooking as a base of operations.

What would it be like, removed from the mainland? Naxos, I knew, was very different from Mykonos.

It was not a party island. It was a blank slate. So the narrow slices of life depicted in this episode are me learning right there along with you.

There’s a lot of delicious food. The place is, as one would expect, gorgeous.

But there are surprises—and indicators both hopeful and ominous.

The newsletter you need Get more Bourdain in your inbox.