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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 February 2007, 15:57 GMT
Cooking in the Danger Zone
Following the success of the first series, food writer Stefan Gates returns for a second helping of the series that uses food in order to highlight the controversial issues that affect people's lives in some of the most dangerous places in the world.

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CHERNOBYL

Stefan checks for radiation in Chernobyl, while a local woman eats some food
Monday, 2 April, 2007
0130 BST on BBC Four

In the Ukraine, Stefan travels to the scene of the world's worst nuclear disaster to see how people survive and eat in one of the most contaminated places in the world.

The explosion in Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant released 100 times more radiation than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The Soviet government imposed a strict exclusion zone around the plant and evacuated tens of thousands of people.

Today it is still extremely dangerous - and illegal - to live in the area, but Stefan finds that many people quickly returned after the disaster to some of the small villages and are living on berries, mushrooms and the meagre produce of their remaining livestock.

Armed with a Geiger counter Stefan sits down with a couple in their 80s who have stubbornly refused to leave their homes and still eat the produce from their garden. They invite Stefan to stay for dinner, but will he ignore BBC safety advice and tuck in to a potentially radioactive supper?

Stefan finally retreats to the "safe" town of Slavutych and picks mushrooms with the town mayor, who assures Stefan that there is no danger in eating them. But, when Stefan takes the mushrooms to be tested, he makes a shocking discovery.


Producer: Marc Perkins
Executive producer: Will Daws

ARCTIC CIRCLE

Stefan in the Arctic with an Inuit
Tuesday, 3 April, 2007
0140 BST on BBC Four

In one of the harshest climates of the planet, 500 miles inside the Arctic Circle, Stefan travels to the town of Igloolik where he discovers people still hunting whale and seal.

He goes on a 10-day hunting trip with his Inuit guide Theo, and is forced to put aside any qualms about the hunting of seals and whales as Theo explains their cultural importance.

It may taste like diesel but the local delicacy "muktuk" or raw whale skin is essential to Inuit survival in these most extreme conditions. Stefan even develops a taste for raw seal meat, but an 18-month-old rotten walrus carcass proves to be a culinary step too far.

He also discovers that global warming is threatening the Inuit way of life. Temperatures in the Arctic are rising four times as fast as in the rest of the world, making hunting increasingly dangerous.

Stefan experiences this first hand when their boat gets stuck in the ice leaving them stranded on an island for days. The race is then on to get back to dry land before they are trapped in the ice for the winter.


Producer: Marc Perkins
Executive producer: Will Daws

INDIA

Stefan eating rat in India
Wednesday, 4 April, 2007
0030 BST on BBC Four

In India Stefan visits some of the world's poorest and most oppressed people.

More than 160 million people in the country are classed as Dalits and are considered "Untouchable".

Tainted by their birth they enter a caste system that condemns them to an inescapable cycle of poverty, illiteracy and oppression.

Nowhere is this discrimination more evident than with food.

The "Untouchables" are not allowed to eat in the same places or even touch the same plates of other castes.

Stefan ventures to India's most lawless state, Bihar, to meet Dalits who work the land. He meets a particular sub-caste known as "Rat-Eaters" and joins them in the fields where they live up to their name: catching, roasting and eating rat.

But it is not only poverty and discrimination they face. Stefan tracks down an "upper caste army" whose aim is to keep the Dalits in their place, often violently attacking them.

Stefan then heads to India's "City of Dreams", Mumbai. Here he visits the city's most exclusive and expensive restaurant, to see at first hand India's rapidly expanding middle class with money to burn.

But he also sees another side to the city when he visits the largest slum in Asia, home to thousands of Dalits trying to find a way out of the caste discrimination.

He also meets Bale Rao, a Dalit who now works as a tiffinwala, delivering lunch-boxes on his bicycle to middle-class office workers around the city.


Producer: Chris Alcock
Executive producer: Will Daws

VENEZUELA

Stefan milking a cow
Thursday, 5 April, 2007
0120 BST on BBC Four

Leaving India behind, Stefan travels to Venezuela, which is in the midst of a socialist revolution led by President Hugo Chavez.

He arrives the day after President Chavez is re-elected and finds a country split down the middle, locked in a battle between rich and poor.

Key to this battle is the president's massive redistribution of land and food to the poor, paid for with oil exports.

During the trip Stefan cooks in the slum's soup kitchens, investigates food shortages in subsidized shops, and meets one of the richest men in the country who has been battling with "land invaders" for five years.


Producer: Chris Alcock
Executive producer: Will Daws

BURMA

Stefan cooking and eating in the Burmese jungle
Friday, 6 April, 2007
0100 BST on BBC Four

Stefan concludes his culinary journey around the world with his most dangerous trip yet - smuggling himself into the jungles of eastern Burma, where the Karen people are fighting a vicious guerrilla war with the Burmese army.

Stefan goes on patrol with a Karen rebel group deep into the jungle to check on isolated villages that are under constant threat of attack from the Burmese army.

There he finds villagers whose fields have been mined to stop them harvesting their crops, and whose homes are often looted by the Burmese army. The patrol must survive on a little rice and what they can catch in the jungle, even if that means eating endangered animals.


Producer: Marc Perkins
Executive Producer: Will Daws

If you would like to comment on the series, please fill out the form below:

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I am just writing to say how much we appreciate this series. Stefan's compassionate, sensitive, non- condescending manner and genuine spirit of enquiry is such a change from the norm. We really wish him all the best.
Tim and Pauline Cotton, UK

I nearly missed this series because of the title. It sounds like something they put on Channel 4 at 9pm, but then it was on BBC Four so I gave it a go. It is easily the best programme I've seen in ages. You explore every possibility in every location you go to and are not afraid of challenging the viewer's ideas. Brilliant!
Chris Whitham, UK

This is an absolutely fascinating series. l wonder if your production team could ask the natives of these countries what they think of our eating habits... tripe, sweetbreads, lambs hearts, black pudding and so on. This series shows just how diverse "tastes" are around the world.
Graham T Barrie, Ayrshire

Thanks to Stefan Gates for the Ugandan visit. He has done a wonderful job of enlightening the world about how these people are suffering and by shooting the documentary without portraying the negative images that other people show who visit Africa. Keep it up BBC!
Mwima, UK

Well done, but I was shocked by the dog episode. I had a hard time sleeping that night, it really shook me up. And I'm not a dog lover! Stefan really handled the situation as well as one could, he really deserves credit for an excellent job.
Jason Day, UK

I love this series, such a refreshing and open-minded look at the gastronomical world, contrasting so sharply with our own culture of heavily processed food. It's amazing to see what culinary delights these people manage to rustle up.
Matthew Prosser, UK



SEE ALSO
Country profile: Burma
12 Jan 07 |  Country profiles
Country profile: India
09 Jan 07 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Ukraine
07 Mar 07 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Venezuela
01 Feb 07 |  Country profiles

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