Thanks to all who enjoyed No Reservations: Sri Lanka show and left comments. If you read my entire blog about the shoot, you would realize that the show is filmed out of sequence as is standard in TV/film. You will also notice that a lot of stuff that I wrote about didn’t make the final cut. That’s the nature of trying to cram 40 hours of footage from six days on the run into a cohesive 45-minute program. As a filmmaker myself, I’m familiar with the challenges, but none-the-less, I think Tony and crew once again distilled the essence of Sri Lanka’s diverse flavors into another good show.
That being said, there are, of course, several things I would have done differently. First of all, the Galle Face Hotel as “The Shining?” No way. That hotel, where Arthur C. Clarke penned 2001: A Space Odyssey, is a seriously classy joint, and it was bubbling with activity all day and every night when we returned. They must have been filming after midnight to get those empty shots. Secondly, I would have cut down the Dutch burgher segment–especially the extended interview with the lady who made the lampreis, which strayed into David Lynch territory. Nothing personal against the burghers (or Dave Lynch), but they represent less than 1% of the population, and aside from Lampreis, an incredible contribution, not much of the food. The Muslim community represents with biriyani, but Jaffna cuisine from the north is not represented at all–through no fault of my own.
I had originally arranged a meal at Katpaham, A Jaffna restaurant in Colombo, but since I’m no expert on Tamil food, I tried to get our most famous Sri Lankan cricketer Murali, who is also Tamil, to be in that segment. Due to scheduling conflicts he couldn’t make it, so Jagdesh, our Indian friend, ended up filling in at the last minute. I did sample the dishes, however, and the food was awesome! Especially, the Kool, a spicy seafood soup made with 5 types of seafood—crabs, prawns, fish, squid, and crayfish—and thickened with Palmyra root flour. Tamil food is generally spicier than even regular rice and curry if you can believe that, and I was very disappointed by this segment’s omission.
But that underscores the most important point here: This is Tony’s show. This is not Sri Lanka, but Sri Lanka through the filter of Anthony Bourdain. Tony’s home movie, you might say. He’s never one to gloss anything over, and that’s why we all watch the show. He tells it like it is, and if he’s not feeling physically well he’s not going to pretend he is. Plus it was bloody hot!
I’m certainly no big fan of Colombo, but I think it got a bad rap, too. Put that down to the hole-in-the-wall joints we ate at and the ridiculous traffic. There are some really nice parts of the city that I wish I could have shown Tony, but there’s so much time in a day.
And to all the Sri Lankans, who said, “I would have taken him here or there, and giving him such and such to eat,” believe me, I tried, y’all. I lobbied heavily for Kandy, Galle, Trinco, and even Jaffna, one place on the island I have never even visited myself. I even tried to get him eat at some upscale places like The Lagoon and The Gallery, but you know Tony, folks, he likes it raw. And that was exactly what he got, from Rifka Caterers to Leela’s. If that’s not, at least, real I don’t know what is.