Glasgow is one of my favorite cities on earth. I was going to say one of my favorite cities in Europe, but is Glasgow Europe? I don’t think so. It feels somehow older than that.
To many outsiders, Glasgow is seen as a hard-scrabble, even fearsome place, a place that history has moved on from. But there is definitely a sense here that something different is around the corner. There’s a terrific music scene in Glasgow. The pubs are among the finest anywhere. They say Glaswegians have more fun at a funeral than people in Edinburgh have at a wedding. That does invite, from time to time, a fair amount of knuckle-headed behavior. If you’re looking for a beer and a beating, Glasgow will happily provide it.
Like a lot of cities, Glasgow is divided. The river Clyde divides the north and south sides. But the bigger, more tangible divide is between east and west. In the west things are expected to be nice: nice cars, nice families, all the nice stuff that affluence supposedly brings. In the east, that’s where you grow up hard; where things are rougher; where you’ve got, according to legend, to fight to live every day. Heading north out of Glasgow, Scotland quickly becomes something else—a savagely beautiful, harsh, but absolutely mesmerizing landscape that seems to have changed not at all for thousands, even millions of years.
I came to Scotland this time to shoot an animal in the heart, to take part, to be fully culpable in a practice nearly as old as these hills. You walk this country stalking an animal across the rocks and wet heather, you feel little has changed from how your distant ancestors must have searched for their food with a rifle, with a spear, with a club. I dragged my knuckles up a hill and, like my apelike predecessors, returned tired, happy, and covered in blood.
This field note is excerpted from Bourdain’s narration of the episode. It has been edited and condensed.