Anthony Bourdain shows us Cajun Mardi Gras on second-to-last ‘Parts Unknown’

Sunday’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown featured Bourdain, who was found dead on June 8 from an apparent suicide, experiencing Cajun Mardi Gras. CNN’s Alisyn Camerota made a heartfelt introduction to the penultimate episode.

“Anthony Bourdain had a way about him, a way of making us all want to be him,” Camerota began. “He had a lust for life and the coolness to own it. … His appetite for adventure was infectious. He had this way of making you want to go to exotic lands that you never before considered. And revisiting places in your own backyard you’d never paid attention to until he revealed them through his unfiltered lens.”

We then went on another fascinating journey with Bourdain as he glided through a part of Louisiana that remains steeped in classic traditions yet is largely unknown to most outsiders.

Cajun Mardi Gras is a one-day celebration that occurs every year on the day before Ash Wednesday. It’s similar to the more commercialized version that lasts for a week in New Orleans, in that people are in costume and consuming large amounts of alcohol. And even though Cajun Mardi Gras looks as though it has a parade, it’s more a caravan of debauchery that travels through town. After making an early-morning yet drunken stop at the local nursing home, participants paused to competitively catch chickens for that evening’s ritual gumbo feast. Then the party headed back to town, where all the local businesses have boarded up their windows to protect their property from the ensuing festivities. 

And whether it was the food, the injuries, the people or the vibe, Bourdain perfectly captured Cajun Mardi Gras and made you glad that he, and not us, was there to see it in person.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on CNN.

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