For going on fourteen years, chef Andrew Zimmern has put his stomach and his taste buds to the hazard by traveling to distant lands and trying the local cuisine on shows like Bizarre Foods, Bizarre America and Bizarre World. Of course, he’s not the kind of traveler who’s content to hit a new place and check out its mainstream chicken and rice offerings. No, Andrew Zimmern will eat and mostly pretend to enjoy the weirdest assortment of “food” ever unleashed on planet Earth. Of course, it’s his raw enthusiasm and unbridled curiosity that makes Zimmern such a fun person to follow around. Sure, he might not be classic cool, but the man knows what makes a person really worth watching. Here are just a few things that make him Travel Channel’s most “bizarre” yet excellent host.
1. Even He Has a Limit
Zimmern often finds himself in local homes in his travels, which can be kind of a blessing and curse. On the one hand, some home chefs rival the pros you’d pay hundreds of dollars for. On the other hand, one time Zimmern was “presented with rotted chicken intestines that had discolorations on them.” That was one meal he had to politely decline – but mostly he’s game for anything.
2. Zimmern Says He’s Discriminated Against All the Time
One of the more unfortunate aspects of traveling all the time is dealing with the fact that discrimination is still ever-present. Andrew Zimmern encounters discrimination “all the time” as a Jewish American. What may surprise you, though, is that his American-ness is more offensive to most people than his Judaism.
3. Donkey Is Also Delicious
If there’s one person on TV who can steer you towards an exotic meal, it’s Andrew Zimmern. According to the TV host, one of his favorite things is a dish found when he was traveling in Taiwan. Zimmern says that bees and their larvae are “surprisingly good when wok-tossed the right way.” According to Zimmern, donkey is another personal favorite.
Adventurous Comfort Food
Of all the things that Zimmern is forced to to endure on his plate, you’d think that when he was off the clock and going for something easy and close to his heart, he’d eat something cleaner, at least. No, Zimmern’s comfort food is gas station pizza, which proves that the man really has zero respect for his digestive system.
5. The Joy of Oaxaca
There are several places that Zimmern has come to really enjoy in his myriad travels in front of the camera, however, he had really special things to say about the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Says Zimmern, “The food there is unique, magical, and culturally relevant in a way that other regions of Mexico aren’t.”
6. Destination Tips for Young Travelers
According to Zimmern, one of the best places for young travelers to go when they’re looking to get lost and try some wonderful new food are South American countries like Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, and Peru. He says those places are actually quite safe, very cheap, and easy to move around in. What’s more, the food in the area can’t be beat.
7. The League of Extraordinary Hosts
Obviously, Zimmern isn’t the only world famous host who’s frequently seen on the Travel Channel. Anthony Bourdain is also one of the world’s most famous traveling chefs. According to Zimmern, he and Bourdain are actually good friends, keeping in touch as they jet set around the world in search of new ways to get indigestion.
8. “He Creates Some of My Favorite Food Anywhere.”
When asked which of his Food Network stars restaurants was his personal favorite, Zimmern had nothing but glowing things to say about every one of his fellow chefs (naturally). Of course, when pressed, Zimmern admitted that “when Scott Conant is doing the cooking, he creates some of my favorite food anywhere.”
9. The Best Food in the World Is Found in…
It may sound a little biased coming from a native, but when you ask Andrew Zimmern where to find the best food in the world, his answer is quick and simple: New York City. However, the TV chef wouldn’t direct you to one of the upscale places in Manhattan or one of the trendy spots in Brooklyn. No, he’d send you to sample one of the myriad of hole-in-the-wall eateries offering diverse cuisines.
10. Nothing Like A Stoney Tangawizi
When he’s traveling abroad, it’s not all about the solid foods for Andrew Zimmern. When he’s in Africa, he enjoys tasting a Stoney Tangawizi ginger beer. Though they’re produced by Coca-Cola, they aren’t sold here in America, which — according to Zimmern — is a real shame.
11. The Independent Man
Here’s something that’s fairly interesting about one of TV’s most eclectic chefs: he was born on the fourth of July. He’s a world traveler, but this all-American guy was born in New York on Independence Day in 1961.
12. The Chinese Connection
While he’s celebrated for not only his ability to try cuisines across the globe, Zimmern is also loved for his open excitement about food in general. Of course, everyone has to have a favorite kind of food, right? For Zimmern, that’d be Chinese food (just like a true New York native).
13. His Hugging Issue
Zimmern is unfailingly polite when he’s in a home, however, sometimes, his enthusiasm gets the better of him. As he says, he’s a big hugger and — on a few occasions — this has become an issue when he’s been in Muslim homes. He’ll get comfortable with their hospitality and then he’ll hug his hosts, which can be a big faux pas in some circumstances.
14. “Deep-Fried Little Baby Birds”
Now, I’m sure that Mr. Zimmern is one of the nicest guys on the planet, real salt of the Earth fella. However, you still have to stop and wonder about a person who — when asked what his favorite food is — responds, “probably deep-fried little baby birds of all species.” I’m sure they’re delicious but that’s along the lines of someone telling you their favorite hobby is hunting baby seals.
15. What He Cooks at Home
On the rare occasion that Andrew Zimmern is at his home by himself, he tends to gravitate towards one favorite dish: “a very large bowl of the most impeccable mussels and clams cooked in white wine, parsley and butter and piled over a small tangle of very, very thin noodles.” That doesn’t sound bizarre at all. Want some?