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ANTHONY BOURDAIN PARTS UNKNOWN

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown- Jerusalem

Aired September 21, 2013 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST: Where does falafel come from? Who makes the best hummus? Is it a fence or a wall?

By the end of this hour, I'll be seen by many as a terrorist sympathizer, a Zionist tool, a self-hating Jew, an apologist for American imperialism, an Orientalist, socialist, a fascist, CIA agent, and worse.

So here goes nothing.

(MUSIC)

I was raised without religion. One side of the family long ago, Catholic. I think. The other side, Jewish. I've never been in a synagogue. I don't believe in a higher power. But that doesn't make me any less Jewish, I don't think.

These guys sandbagging me at the wailing wall, they don't seem to think so either.

Only half.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jewish?

BOURDAIN: Yes. So that makes me (INAUDIBLE).

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You writer?

BOURDAIN: I'm a writer, yes.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mazel tov.

BOURDAIN: Mazel tov. Thank you, gentlemen.

I've never felt so much like I'm masquerading as something I'm not. I am instinctively hostile to any kind of devotion. Certainty is my enemy. You know, I'm all about doubt, questioning one's self and the nature of reality. Constantly.

When they grabbed hold of me and in a totally nonjudgmental way essentially, you know, God's happy to have you, you know, here you go. Oh, man. You know. My treachery is complete. Just because I was raised outside the faith with no particular attachment or loyalty to Israel doesn't mean that plenty of people on this earth don't hate me in principle. I know that. But the state of Israel, I never really knew what to think.

First look around, it's like everybody says -- it's pretty. It's awesome. It's urban. Sophisticated. Hip. Like Southern California. Only nicer. Then you see the young draftees in the streets and you start to get the idea.

This is Jerusalem.

YOTAM OTTOLENGHI, CHEF/AUTHOR: I'm taking you through Damascus Gate, which is one of the gates to the old city. And these walls are pretty ancient. People say that the gates go back to King David. And then as history progressed, they built up the wall. So the top bed is the newest.

BOURDAIN: And by newest you mean --

OTTOLENGHI: I mean, up to about the Ottoman time which -- the Turks left here about 150 years ago. And the Brits came and they conquered us. I wasn't here.

BOURDAIN: Born here, now cooking in London, Yotam Ottolenghi is the widely known respected chef and co-author of the book "Jerusalem."

OTTOLENGHI: Basically, this city was divided into two until 1967 when there was the famous Six-Day War.

BOURDAIN: Yes.

OTTOLENGHI: And the hall of the -- we're traveling in now, walking in, is east Jerusalem. It's the Palestinian part. And that was up until '67 was belonged to Jordan. So now it's under Israeli control. Very controversial because for the Jews, for the Israelis, the city has been unified. But obviously for the Palestinian, they are under occupation, as far as they are concerned.

We just have to go for a falafel because it's so much part of the culture here. And again, contentious because, you know, Jews or Israelis make falafel their own and everybody in the world thinks falafel is -- you know, an Israeli food. The actual fact it's (INAUDIBLE) food even more so, because, you know, it's been done for generations here.

And here, you get falafel that's just been fried. You don't get it any other way. When I come to a place like that, and I see there's a few left from the previous customer, I don't take that. I want them to fry them for me. That makes all the difference in the world.

BOURDAIN: It's a whole different animal, isn't it? So is there a historically provable answer to who invented it?

OTTOLENGHI: Who made it first. The one thing that's very clear that -- in this part of the world, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, it's been cooked for many, many, many generations. On the other hand, you get like Jews from Yemen coming here --

(CROSSTALK)

BOURDAIN: Right. So they can say hey, my great uncle was in Syria at the time. Hey, I remember distinctly --

OTTOLENGHI: So there is actually no answer to it. But the question of food appropriation.

BOURDAIN: Right.

OTTOLENGHI: Or who owns the food (INAUDIBLE). If you can go on arguing about it forever.

The old city is divided into four quarters. There is Muslim quarter. There is a Jewish quarter. There is a Christian quarter. And there's an Armenian quarter. Each one functions independently, but people that live in the certain area are all from that religion.

BOURDAIN: Right.

OTTOLENGHI: So here you see these Israeli flags over this house. So basically Jews have bought this house, although it's in the Muslim quarter. And that's very controversial because it breaks the separation that people would normally expect in this city.

Now we're walking in the steps of Jesus Christ, right?

BOURDAIN: As I so often do.

(LAUGHTER)

OTTOLENGHI: So this is Via Dolorosa, which is the last trip Jesus did before he was crucified. So people feel very emotional. They come here and they feel like oh, my god, I am walking in the steps of Muhammad, David, or Jesus.

BOURDAIN: It's like Jesus was here. I feel like I should be more something.

OTTOLENGHI: A little bit more pious?

BOURDAIN: A little bit. Well, it's too late for me.

Great. You get your own crown of thorns?

OTTOLENGHI: Yes.

BOURDAIN: In answer to the question, what would Jesus wear?

OTTOLENGHI: Yes.

BOURDAIN: Oh no, no, no. That's just wrong.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOURDAIN: Israel is bordered by Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. In 1967, after the Six-Day War, Israel took control of the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and then next east Jerusalem.

In 2003, Israel began construction on a wall along the green line representing the Israeli-Palestinian border. The wall now stretches 450 miles. When completed, it will span 700 miles. Eighty-five percent of it in Palestinian territory. On one hand, there's no doubt that the number of suicide bombings fell drastically.

On the other, there's this. You cross from Jerusalem into the West Bank. Also called Judea, Samaria, also called Palestine.

Since 1967, half a million settlers have moved here, all in contravention of international law. Many in contravention of Israeli law, though in effect, it seems to make little difference. They're here and in ever-larger numbers.

This is Nolan (ph), one of our drivers from Tel Aviv, who I asked about the graffiti on this house near the settlements.

So what is price tagging?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something happens in a settlement or some attack with Jews, kids from the settlement would come and have a price tag for every activity. So they come to a Palestinian village like this, they will destroy cars, they will write on walls like this. It says, "Against Arabs, the state of Israel is alive, and death to the Arabs."

BOURDAIN: Intimidating. I mean, you put two targets on my house, I'm moving.

This is Eli, a settlement with a population of over 3,000, relatively isolated from the rest of Israel. Amiad Cohen is the chief executive of the Eli settlement and its former head of security.

AMIAD COHEN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, ELI SETTLEMENT: Here you see from up above most of our town. You see the Palestinian villages all around.

BOURDAIN: It's an unusual situation. A lot of your neighbors would very much like you to not be here.

COHEN: I know most of them. And most of them, they are happy that we're here. Because we -- actually we gave them prosperity for the past 45 years. And wherever the PLO came, they lost it.

BOURDAIN: I'm guessing a lot of people would disagree with that statement.

COHEN: High tech security, radars and cameras.

BOURDAIN: So from the high ground, you can see anybody walking at night. You could see from pretty far out.

COHEN: Definitely.

BOURDAIN: Could you identify them after the fact?

COHEN: Depends. What we have are protocols that we work with. And we had our successes.

BOURDAIN: We drive to Ma'ale Levona, another settlement a few miles away. Hot, sun-bleached, suburban feeling. Behind its ring of electronic surveillance, censors and security, everything they feel they need. A school, public transportation, and a petting zoo.

Amichai Luria has lived here for 23 years. He's a wine maker and amateur cook.

Wow. You're not kidding around.

AMICHAI LURIA, WINE MAKER AND COOK: The salmon is marinated with pomegranate juice that -- on the season, I squeeze pomegranates. And I freeze the juice so I'll have it all year round.

BOURDAIN: Where were you before here?

LURIA: I was born in Pennsylvania.

BOURDAIN: So your parents brought you over at age 4?

LURIA: Yes.

BOURDAIN: (INAUDIBLE) kids living in the relative comfort and familiarity of Pennsylvania. Heading off to what must have, at least in part of their mind, would seem an uncertain.

LURIA: Yes. It was very difficult for them. Almost all Jews say next year in Jerusalem. It's part of prayers that we say all the time.

BOURDAIN: If I'm understanding it correctly, you're -- the bible, it's all right there. It all happened here. That's sort of a nonnegotiable position.

LURIA: You see prophesies coming true. Things coming to life again. You know, mountains that nobody wanted to live on, nobody dared to -- for thousands of years, nobody wanted this place. You know. And then finally, we come here and everything is flourishing again. It makes you feel good, you know?

BOURDAIN: You've been here since '90. You look over the edge there, there's an Arab village right --

LURIA: Yes. There is one that you can see from here.

BOURDAIN: At any point during that time, you ever go to anybody's house, sit down and eat?

LURIA: Not there, but in other villages.

BOURDAIN: Ever sat down at a Muslim table?

LURIA: Muslim table --

BOURDAIN: You host and everybody else --

LURIA: Coffee.

BOURDAIN: But not there.

LURIA: No, because I don't -- as a religious Jew, I eat only kosher. So they respect that. So they don't offer me.

BOURDAIN: So I've got to ask you about something that troubled me. Coming up, the first house before you come up the drive to this village, the graffiti on the front --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

BOURDAIN: The targets spray painted on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

BOURDAIN: Whodunit?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Villains. Bad people.

BOURDAIN: Kids?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. Apparently kids. When we educate kids, kids are not able to understand complicated things. They see the world in black and white. When you get older, you're able to see the gray. And when someone hits you --

BOURDAIN: I understand why kids would do it. Given what you told me earlier, identifying the perpetrators within the realm of possibility?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're young people.

BOURDAIN: Why not paint it over?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good question. I don't know. Maybe we should. You're right.

BOURDAIN: Elsewhere in the West Bank, just outside of Ramallah, meet Betty Saadeh and Mona Ennab. Two members of a group of women who call themselves the Speed Sisters. The first all-female Palestinian racing team.

BETTY SAADEH, SPEED SISTERS RACING TEAM: Hi.

BOURDAIN: Hi. I'm Tony. Good to meet you.

SAADEH: When I'm riding a car, I'm the happiest girl ever. Racing, it's in my blood. Here in Palestine, it's very small. There's no roads. So when I drive, I speed. I feel free.

BOURDAIN: Do you find that people underestimated you at first?

SAADEH: At the beginning, they could maybe make fun of us. But when we got good scores, we win respect.

BOURDAIN: Now they know.

SAADEH: Yes. Well, a car doesn't know if you're a woman or a man.

BOURDAIN: Yes.

SAADEH: A lot of girls want to join us as Speed Sisters. But some of their families, they are very reserved. Their don't like their daughters to be between men racing. You know. Palestine is a very reserved society.

BOURDAIN: So are things getting better? Staying the same, or worse?

SAADEH: You never know what's going to happen in Palestine. One day it's good and the other day it's just -- you never know. It's a crazy country.

BOURDAIN: The local police would prefer them off the streets for obvious reasons. But the track here, such as it is, has its drawbacks. It's basically a parking lot across from the Ofer Detention Center.

What do they think about this next door? Do they ever give you problems?

SAADEH: This is an Israeli jail. It's called Ofer. One time we were here with Speed Sisters and there was problems because of the prisoners. So I just stopped my car over there and I was walking. I wanted to see what's going on. And the Israeli soldiers, they came running at me and they start shooting at me. And I got -- I got shot in the back. It was a tear gas.

BOURDAIN: The canister hit you.

SAADEH: Yes. So my Speed Sisters, they took me to the hospital. I fainted.

BOURDAIN: Have you thought of challenging the Israelis to put up a team?

SAADEH: I can't race because my car is Palestinian.

BOURDAIN: What if they come over here?

SAADEH: They're not allowed to enter the West Bank and we're not allowed to go to Jerusalem, so how can we race together?

BOURDAIN: OK. Silly question.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOURDAIN: It's right there for all to see. And it feels like something out of a science fiction film. This is the wall. From the other side, from inside this place, for instance, the Aida Refugee Camp in the district of Bethlehem, it doesn't feel like anything other than what it is. A prison.

Abed Abusrour is the founder of the Al Rowwad Children's Theatre Center.

ABED ABUSROUR, FOUNDER, AL ROWWAD CHILDREN'S THEATRE CENTER: So we are at the north entrance of Bethlehem, and heading to Aida Refugee Camp.

BOURDAIN: So this has been here since 1950.

ABUSROUR: Yes. It started with tents. People were under the tents for about seven years. And later on the U.N. saw that it was not temporary as it was supposed to be so they started building what they call shelters.

BOURDAIN: First impressions of the camp, there's a remarkable number of kids.

ABUSROUR: Now it's about 6,000 people. And the two-thirds are under 18 years old. So it's a very young population. Unfortunately, with the continuing degradation of political and economic situation, we are in the situation where we have no playgrounds or (INAUDIBLE) spaces anymore.

BOURDAIN: Children play in the streets beneath walls covered in images of martyrs, plane hijackers, political prisoners.

Six thousand people, of that number, 66 percent are under the age of 18.

ABUSROUR: Yes.

BOURDAIN: I don't care where that is in the world, that's pretty much a recipe for unruly behavior, I think would be the best.

ABUSROUR: Well, yes. Especially when you don't have any possibilities to evacuate the anger and the stress in a creative way. So after I finished my studies, I came back here and I started using theatre as one of the most amazing, powerful, civilized and nonviolent means to express yourself. To tell your story. To be truthful.

And this is for me the remedy to build peace within. And hopefully help them to think that they can grow up and change the world and create miracles. Without the need to carry a gun and (INAUDIBLE) and explode themselves or burn themselves. But to stay alive.

BOURDAIN: Abed takes me to the camp's martyrs quarter to be fed by (INAUDIBLE). She runs a women's collective offering Palestinian cooking classes, helping her provide for six children, one of whom is disabled.

In America, kids grow up with pop stars, sports players.

ABUSROUR: Yes.

BOURDAIN: Never a politician. I mean, it's unthinkable for a child to look up to a politician or to look up to a military figure. Sports or entertainment.

ABUSROUR: Yes.

BOURDAIN: Here, kids 4 or 5 years old every day, they're looking at somebody who, you know, brought down a plane.

ABUSROUR: Yes.

BOURDAIN: I'm not questioning why that is.

ABUSROUR: I know. No.

BOURDAIN: Do you think it's helpful?

ABUSROUR: Well, I guess we have a history. We are people who are under occupation. People honor their heroes. And their heroes are those who resist the occupation. Whether they resisted it with armed struggle or non-violence.

And to tell you the truth, sometimes I have been invited with some political parties, when they put images of people who are killed in their own houses. Ahmed's sister, in the 29th of October, 2001, she was killed in her kitchen by a sniper from the Intercontinental Hotel. But when these political parties take this woman and want to make a montage of photos with her carrying a gun to say this is the hero proliferated the Palestine, sorry, this is not the truth.

This woman was killed in her house. We will go today and ask the Palestinians who is the great hero? You ask these kids, who will they recognize? They will recognize a young man from Gaza who is on "Arab Idol" named Mohamed Assa, a singer, who sings. He becomes more famous than Abu Mazen and Arafat and everybody else.

This is another image of Palestine.

BOURDAIN: You can almost believe for a minute or two that some kind of peace, some kind of reconciliation, meeting of the minds, sanity is possible after you visit Majda. It's a restaurant in what looks like an idyllic village in the Judean Hills, about 20 minutes from Jerusalem. It feels like an alternate universe for a number of reasons.

Michal Baranes is Jewish. Yaakov Barhum is Muslim, from a nearby village. They're partners, co-owners of Majda, and also married. They're unsurprisingly friends of Yotam. Together they grow and raise much of what's used in their kitchen. Their food reflects both their different backgrounds and their commonalities.

OTTOLENGHI: We're going to spoil you now.

BOURDAIN: Yes, here we go. So you grew up in this town.

YAAKOV BARHUM, OWNER, MAJDA RESTAURANT: Yes, in this village.

BOURDAIN: Where did you grow up?

MICHAL BARANES, OWNER, MAJDA RESTAURANT: Near the beach.

BOURDAIN: Near the beach.

BARANES: Yes.

BOURDAIN: Not the neighborhood.

(LAUGHTER)

BARHUM: But we met in the neighborhood. In Kibutzka (INAUDIBLE). And then we worked together in hotel.

BOURDAIN: How did that go down the families?

BARHUM: Wonderful now. Now wonderful.

BOURDAIN: Now good. In the beginning, not so much.

BARHUM: Started with a, you know, with all those questions. Understand that we love each other and they can do nothing, so we continue and they support us.

OTTOLENGHI: This is your special fried eggs. Sunny side up.

BOURDAIN: Farm eggs with peppers from your garden. Tomato. That looks awesome beyond words. It is incredibly beautiful here. I don't know why I didn't expect that.

BARANES: You know, a lot of people come and say it's like Provence, it's like Italy. And I said, no, (INAUDIBLE).

OTTOLENGHI: You like it?

BOURDAIN: I do. Roasted tomatoes, okra.

OTTOLENGHI: Onion and mint. And that's all they do. What they do a lot here is char the hell out of it. So it's like this, really smoky just from being in the pan on very high heat.

BOURDAIN: So generally speaking, who lives in this area? Mostly Arab -- ethnically Arab in this part of town?

(CROSSTALK)

OTTOLENGHI: Michael is the only Jewish in the village.

BOURDAIN: And this --

OTTOLENGHI: Zucchini that's been grilled. And then we use the fried yogurt, so that's the sauce. So it's like that intense kind of go-to flavor. Very typical for Palestinian cooking. Right?

BARANES: Yes.

BOURDAIN: Yes. It's good.

I just had this incredibly delicious meal completely oblivious to the fact that it's entirely vegetarian. If any of the vegetarian restaurants in New York served food that tasted anywhere near this, I would be -- I would actually go there. I'd consider it.

(LAUGHTER)

And this?

BARANES: Fried zucchini with mint.

OTTOLENGHI: And the apricots. The little sweet apricots we had.

BOURDAIN: It's really intensely delicious.

Are you hopeful?

BARANES: Of course. I have my children. I need to say that.

BARHUM: I respect her religion. She respects my religion. And together we can build something for our kids. Our future. That's what we think and that's what we give the message for our customers.

OTTOLENGHI: Part of the attraction of this restaurant, the fact that it actually manages to do what not so many chefs try to do here, and that is sort of mix your Jewish ethnicity or background with Arab foods.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOURDAIN: Getting in and out of Gaza from Israel is truly one of the most surreal travel experiences you could have on earth. Over 1.5 million people live in Gaza. Most of them considered refugees. Meaning they're not from the place they're compelled to live now. In most cases, they're either prohibited from or unable to leave.

Israel decides who comes and goes. What gets in and what stays out. Apart from journalists, aid workers, emergency responders, very few people are allowed to cross into Gaza. In 2005, the Israeli defense forces left the Gaza Strip and all Israeli settlers were removed.

Now inside Gaza, Hamas is in charge. Considered a terrorist organization by both the United States and Israel, they got elected in 2006.

This is Laila Haddad, a native Gazan, journalist and author of "The Gaza Kitchen."

LAILA HADDAD, "THE GAZA KITCHEN" AUTHOR: The catches are not as big as they used to be, and that's primarily because the fishermen can't go beyond three to six nautical miles.

BOURDAIN: Could you envision what happens? HADDAD: They'll shoot at the fishermen, they'll spray cold water at them, they'll destroy their boats, they'll cut their fishing nets, they'll detain them. So it's obviously really risky business. Nine nautical miles, that's where that deep sea channel is where you're going to get the really good catches.

Gaza is the last Palestinian area with access to the coast. And that's really important to remember. You know you have the West Bank just an hour away, but many of the Palestinians, they have never seen the sea, have never been to the sea.

BOURDAIN: Right.

The (INAUDIBLE) family owns a small farm in the (INAUDIBLE) area of the eastern Gaza Strip. (INAUDIBLE) Sultan and her husband are unusual in that they cook together. This is not typical in this part of the world or in this culture. They use their own fresh-killed chickens to make the Gazan classic Maqluba. The traditional Palestinian dish comprised of layers of fried eggplant, tomato, potatoes, caramelized onions, and chicken sauteed then simmered in a broth with nutmeg, cinnamon, cardimum, and rice.

It's a big family. Children, grandchildren, all living under the same roof, and it can get chaotic.

So let's talk about food and eat food because it's just (INAUDIBLE).

HADDAD: Yes, yes, sure.

BOURDAIN: Tell me, what do we have here?

HADDAD: OK. So this is called Maaluba or Maqluba. Traditionally with lamb, in this case chicken. They're very concerned that we're being very rude and we're not --

BOURDAIN: Yes. Please.

HADDAD: We're not allowing the others to eat. He's saying how can you be eating and you're letting everybody stand.

(LAUGHTER)

BOURDAIN: Wow.

HADDAD: For me, being from Gaza, being a child of diaspara, I always thought food was a really interesting way to be able to tell the Palestinian story. Being able to discover this lost history, this Palestinian past. Plus, the food is really dang good.

(LAUGHTER)

BOURDAIN: Right. That it is.

HADDAD: And it was I think also important to be able to provide Palestinians an image of themselves that they recognize, a very humane image, because all they're seeing in the media, whether here or there, whether on Arabic channels or abroad, you know, is this kind of very caricatured images of gunned men and this kind of grim cinderblock landscape.

You're not entering into the private homes. What does a kitchen look like, or what does, you know, a family you see here.

Yes. Do you like it, she's asking?

BOURDAIN: Absolutely delicious. Really, really good.

HADDAD: Yes? She wants you to open a restaurant for her.

(LAUGHTER)

BOURDAIN: Keep cooking like this. It's really delicious.

HADDAD: Gaza has three distinctive culinary heritages. Those who hail from villages that were either depopulated or destroyed in 1948. And they constitute about 75 percent to the population of Gaza. And they kind of bring with them their own distinct cuisine. That's very different from the cuisine of the city, Gaza City, which tends to use much more heat, much more chili peppers, from the cuisine of the coast, which is rich with seafood, of course, and a very sophisticated, very urbane cuisine.

BOURDAIN: Whatever you think is still there. Will -- in your lifetime, I guess the first question would be, in your lifetime, will you be able to visit Yahba?

HADDAD: She says, you know, she hopes she can. She also hopes she can go to Jerusalem as well. So she's optimistic. Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BOURDAIN: What --

HADDAD: She's saying -- first she said you're not allowing us to. Then self-corrected and said the Israelis aren't allowing us.

BOURDAIN: Go, go.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

HADDAD: This is a normal tone of voice. He's not upset, by the way. This is how we talk. We yell.

(LAUGHTER)

BOURDAIN: What's he saying?

HADDAD: He's saying, you know, give me a permit. If they allow, of course I'll go.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BOURDAIN: Laila's got something to show me. A watermelon salad she discovered on her recent trip here that's really piqued her interest. So off we go. I figured, this will take a minute.

We arrived at what looks like a pretty serious gathering. This is a duwan, and we're soon joined by her Um Sultan's husband Abu.

HADDAD: It's an area where kind of the elders gather to, you know, resolve community problems, to, you know, kind of advise.

BOURDAIN: All these guys are originally from (INAUDIBLE), now part of Israel, so they're bound together by traditions and a way of life very different from here, where they've been relocated and lived since 1948.

Does he think he'll be able to go to his ancestral homeland in his lifetime, his children's lifetime? What's his guess?

HADDAD: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will return.

HADDAD: Whether now we're 100 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our Quran, our instrument, told us this.

HADDAD: It's pre-ordained, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This enemy back me. Please kill him. And we understand that. We hope. Me, my son. My daughter.

HADDAD: So what they're making now is called (INAUDIBLE), is basically a baby watermelon, under ripe watermelon. And this is kind of a specialty of southern Gaza generally but also Sinai. It's usually something that's made specifically by men, as I was told here. So they begin, you can see over they're fire roasting the baby watermelons. They cover them with aluminum foil.

In addition, they put them through a wire, kind of like, sort of rustic skewer. And then yes, they just throw them in there. And then the idea is that they take the pulp out, so that's what's going on. Yes, and then what they do while that's fire roasting is they knead an unleavened dough over there with whole-wheat, barley, plenty of really rich, extra virgin olive oil. And then they throw that into the pit as well, or they dig a pit in the sand over there. And that's fire based.

BOURDAIN: Right in the coals?

HADDAD: Yes. And then they mix that all together. So it's interesting. Because right now, we're about, what, 35 minutes away from Gaza City. Ask anyone in Gaza City if they've heard of this dish and --

BOURDAIN: No.

(LAUGHTER)

HADDAD: No. So you're an area as small as Gaza, you see this very wide variation. They're going to clean it up.

BOURDAIN: Many, if not most of these guys, are not too sympathetic to my country or my ethnicity, I'm guessing. But there's that hospitality thing. Anywhere you go in the Muslim world, it seems. No matter what, you feed your guests and do your best to make them feel at home.

HADDAD: We have to eat. Maybe we should -- you're supposed to eat this with your hands. Very good. He's saying if you eat this, you shouldn't have another meal for three days.

(LAUGHTER)

BOURDAIN: Where does this dish come from?

HADDAD: This is a dish that's native to southern Gaza, the Sinai, the -- sort of the Desert Bedouin areas.

BOURDAIN: All the food I've had so far in Gaza has been very different than in anything else I've had in the Arab world. Different flavor spectrum.

HADDAD: Yes. Totally. It's kind of this -- its own little gastronomical bubble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you not using a spoon?

HADDAD: You know, I find that the food has more flavor, I get a better sensory experience. They have children, they like to eat with their hands. He's saying God gave us hands to eat with, not spoons.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOURDAIN: One can be forgiven for thinking, when you see how similar they are, the two peoples, both of them cook with pride, eat with passion, love their kids, love the land in which they live or the land they dream of returning to, who live so close, who are locked in such an intimate, if deadly embrace, might somehow, some day, figure out how to live with each other.

But that would be very mushy thinking indeed. Those things in the end probably don't count for much at all.

Gatan Galkowitz runs a restaurant just seven miles from the Gaza Strip.

You and your family have paid the worst imaginable price.

GATAN GALKOWITZ, GAZA STRIP RESTAURANT OWNER: Yes. My daughter was killed by a mortar sent by Hamas.

BOURDAIN: In some Israeli towns and villages within close proximity of the Gaza Strip, bus stops double as bomb shelters, and air raid sirens warn of incoming missiles fired from less than a mile away. Rockets and mortar shells have been known to fall from the sky in these parts and no one understands the consequences more than this man.

You were not a fervent ideological Zionist.

GALKOWITZ: No.

BOURDAIN: You were not an orthodox Jew.

GALKOWITZ: No.

BOURDAIN: And yet here you are, at the spear point, right at the dip. Here's your restaurant.

GALKOWITZ: This is a shelter.

BOURDAIN: There is a shelter. Here you are.

GALKOWITZ: After the death of my daughter, I just start to talk, to whom? To people who want to listen. I know that my daughter was killed for no reason and I know that people on the other side have been killed for no reason. Childrens, old people. I have been a soldier in Gaza. I saw very poor people. I know there is interest in keeping this poor people. You can go far, far, but the bottom line is, let's stop with the suffering.

BOURDAIN: You know, I went to this settler community and I --

GALKOWITZ: Nice people.

BOURDAIN: And I said to you, you know, they were nice. And you said, you said -- what did you say? You said, they're all nice.

GALKOWITZ: They are all nice. I know, nice, very nice Palestinian people.

BOURDAIN: They're all nice, but if you scratch, if you push, they all want -- but they'll all say, throw them in the sea.

GALKOWITZ: Most of the people, they don't talk. They are very upset. They are fed up. And the same goes from the other side to us. You have to find the right people on both village, also on the down, also on the up, and maybe they talk. And I am sure that is possible.

BOURDAIN: The opportunities to do that here are very, very, very limited, it seemed.

GALKOWITZ: I agree.

BOURDAIN: And I mean, one doesn't even have to speak metaphorically, because there is an actual wall.

GALKOWITZ: There is a wall.

BOURDAIN: Or a fence, depending on who you're talking to. GALKOWITZ: Fence or wall. No, it's a big wall. It's ugly. It's really ugly. You can see it, it's not far away from here.

(END)