Synopsis: When Bourdain arrives in Sicily, he quickly realizes that telling the story of the island under the boot of Italy will be harder than he thought. While in Palermo and Catania—two of Sicily’s major cities—Bourdain interrogates how the mafia shaped the culture and politics of this Mediterranean island.

On what makes Sicily unique:

“There’s the simple fact of its location, tucked away under the boot of Italy—part of but not really part of that country. [It has] its own language, culture, its own history of Norman, Arab, Spanish, Roman, Turkish, Egyptian interlopers, all leaving their mark and their influence.”

On spaghetti al nero di seppia:

“This is what I wanted Sicily to be, something to soothe my shattered soul. It doesn’t take much: a bowl of good pasta. In this case it’s the famous spaghetti al nero di seppia (spaghetti and cuttlefish).”

On the Godfather films and Sicilian mafia culture:

“I love the films Godfather 1 and Godfather 2, but they had nothing to do with any organized crime from reality. They’re opera—magnificent opera, but basically a morality tale about loyalty and destroying the things you claim to love and want to protect. Actual organized crime members? Generally speaking, a bunch of spectacularly uneducated, lazy-ass sociopaths who have no problem stealing from their own harder-working neighbors.”

On his failed fishing excursion:

“For some reason I feel something snap, and I slide quickly into a spiral of near hysterical depression. Is this what it’s come to, I’m thinking as another dead squid narrowly misses my head. Back in the same country almost a decade later, and I’m still desperately staging fishing scenes?”

“Strangely, everyone else pretends to believe the hideous sham unfolding before our eyes, doing their best to ignore the blindingly obvious.”

“Then they gave up and just dumped a whole bag of dead fish into the sea.”

“I’m no marine biologist, but I know dead octopus when I see one.”

The fishing aftermath: 

“Oh look, my octopus! I remember personally catching that one. It was a mighty struggle, too.”

“I’ve never had a nervous breakdown before, but I tell you from the bottom of my heart, something fell apart down there, and it took a long, long time after the end of this damn episode to recover.”