HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


Bizarre Foods - tell me what you really think

So what do you think of the new "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" on the Travel Channel. I have heard lots of comments pro and con all over the internet. How about y'all uber-foodies?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hey don't call me a foodie!! Call me a Chowhound!!

    Anyways, I kind of like Andrew Zimmern, the host. Nice guy, a little reckless but totally fearless. Tells you what he is tasting, good and bad. I liked that he went to the local spots in the Philippines and tried to be true to the spirit of the food.

    Yet at the same time, I am thinking that this is just the food version of going to the fights and having a hockey game break out, people watch for purely prurient interests and not to learn more about the foods. I learned a lot about the Philippines but I kind of felt uneasy watching him eat all of that stuff. As for the foods he ate, it wasn't anything that we haven't seen before, except maybe for the duck embryo. Nothing beats Tony Bourdain or Ian Wright trying to force down rotten shark meat.

    1. He lost a point when he went to the Japanese offal-on-a-stick restaurant and failed to finish a single stick.

      He lost more points when he went to the open air market and refused to even try any of the insects or organ meats, eventually settling for a sausage (the most familiar looking food available) only to eat one bite and throw the rest away.

      He lost big points when he kicked the Thai cook off of the fire and "showed him how to stir fry". As a guest in someone's home, you NEVER do that! Plus, he spilled oil all over the place, completely oblivious to the fact that where he was, oil is highly valued and not to be wasted.

      But he lost me completely at the durian farm. Imagine, a proud farmer shows off his durian orchard, and offers Zimmern a bite. Zimmern gags, spits it out, and declares it the most disgusting thing he has ever eaten. The farmer does his best to maintain his pride despite the insult.

      I like Bourdain because he respects his hosts, and defers to the culture where he is visiting. He does his best to experience a culture's food just like one of the locals. Bourdain didn't just try hogwart anus, he ate his whole serving with grace and composure, and then complimented the cook. Zimmern may be a fine food personality, but he is not right for this job. I will not watch the show again.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Morton the Mousse

        Well put! I found Zimmern's behavior in that episode more bizzare than the food. I couldn't believe his reaction to the durian! Further, I don't find him to be very insightful or entertaining. I'll watch the show again if I happen upon it, but won't make any effort to tune in regularly.

        1. re: Carb Lover

          I agree. His reation was over-reacted. Seriously. Its a fruit. and it tastes more like creamy pineapple...not rotten onions. Testes lover....psh.

        2. re: Morton the Mousse

          I'm going to have to agree with you! I'm such a huge fan of exotic eating, but at the same time would like to understand it better. That show doesn't really help, it's too fluffy and silly.

          Bourdain did do a much better job tasting Durian.

          1. re: Morton the Mousse

            I loved it when he spit out the durian because that same episode (I think) he said how tasty the still beating frog heart was. But as funny as it might have seemed, I do agree that what he did was inappropriate.

          2. I've never seen the show but he sounds totally obnoxious! Any of this stuff on youtube.com?

            1. "But he lost me completely at the durian farm. Imagine, a proud farmer shows off his durian orchard, and offers Zimmern a bite. Zimmern gags, spits it out, and declares it the most disgusting thing he has ever eaten. The farmer does his best to maintain his pride despite the insult."
              YES - - how dare he......these foods are wierd to us. These items are peoples pride and joy and he doesn't get it. bourdain may have trouble getting something down but he recognizes the beauty in these peasant foods and does not act DISGUSTED. These people aren't stupid.

              1. I can't even bear to watch the commercials for this show.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Gio

                  Yeah, same here. Nothing enticed me to watch the show - I recall that he came across in the commercial as a macho jerk, and that was that....

                2. jeez he sounds like an A # 1. I missed the show, but love unique food and was looking forward to this, but not some jerk trying to do a one man fear factor, no thanks. He is not exactly doing anything for US public relations by acting like a zenophobic fool

                  1. This is not a food show. He doesn't respect the food nor the culture. Why does he have to say, "cheers" before eating something "bizarre". Food is food. Who is he to define what is bizarre?

                    I expect to see Joe Rogan somewhere nearby.

                    I agree with Morton the Mouse...Bourdain is respectful of the host and the food. If he doesn't like it, he doesn't show his displeasure.

                    1. After these posts last week, I did end up watching the show. I did not like him but at least he did not appear to gag on his food in front of the hosts. However I think is is unbelievable that he acts like some kind of hero for eating kidneys, or brains. Big deal. In a sense he is like an adolescent playing truth or dare. So much drama. Then next up was Bordain who graciously ate his dirt omelette. He was able to respectfully admit is was not his thing, but display reverence for a community of survivers. Unlike Zimmerman who was acting like the locals should pat him on the back for stuffing his well fed belly with their "odd" food.

                      1. As an ecological, agricultural and food anthropologist working in Asia, Africa, and Latin America for 35 years, I love Bourdain as much as I love "exotic" food. His genuine resprect for food and people everywhere should be a hallmark for us all.

                        Better, Bourdain is not slavishly fond of everything. While he is a genuine durian fan, he really didn't like iguana ("Makes you want to pull your eyeballs out by the stalks, set your head on fire, and jump over a cliff") or the Indonesian sweet, dodol. His endorsement of pulque was pretty funny; and his comments about some of the food in the mall in Minnesota were hilarious, as was his going back for another bacon donut in Portland.

                        Best, he concluded that if he were to treat Las Vegas or Minnesota as if there were far away exotic locales, he could come away with equal respect for the people and food from those, to me, very exotic places.

                        1. Yeah, I changed my mind about Zimmern after the show on Morocco. I did like Bourdain's riff on eating anus though, classic.

                          1. i just caught part of the morocco show. they show is waaay too much about him him him.
                            isnt there anybody around him to tell him what a pud he is? how did this guy happen?

                            you know this guy is going to come an read this: you sir, are a pud.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: psb

                              this Madrid show is the worst yet..saying "this is so gross" in front of the guy who made him a drink and chasing people around a food market with some local food(? )-missed exactly what but what it was-no matter behavior innappropriate. phaesdrus' last line says it all. Somebody make him stop

                              1. re: lyn

                                I'm realizing I don't like this show. I just like the pretty pictures of exotic locales because I can't afford to travel for the time being. His deal with the bull fries (testicles) was extremely silly and unnecessary.

                            2. Haven't watched this show but I certainly dislike the idea of someone basing yet another "reality" type series around the gross-out factor for North American tastes.

                              I've eaten decomposed shark meat (or properly referred to as hakarl in Icelandic), and ram testicles, and while it was very difficult to do, I did it out of respect for that culture and the people that invited me into their home. I find it so incredibly rude and uncultured that someone would go around talking about "bizarre" foods while commenting on just how gross or disgusting they personally find them to be.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                I know, I am about ready to write the food network. He is just perpetuating the "ugly american" stereotype. I wonder if any staff read this board? I agree I have had some things that didnt float my boat (fermented,rotted herring in Sweden comes to mind) but you smile and give it your best shot and not act like you are on reality tv.

                                1. re: lyn

                                  You won't get very far that way. He's on the Travel Channel.

                              2. I have to say, I have not witnessed the behavior everyone seems so appalled by. My Tivo decided I might like the show, and since it introduced me, I've seen the Morocco episode and the Philippines episode. In each, he seems to have a genuine interest in and appreciation for foods of all sorts, in particular of "bizarre" foods such as organ meats, insects, and animals non-locals might otherwise consider "bizarre" (e.g. Guinea pigs, which, by the way, he loved). In neither episode did I witness any disrespect to his hosts, gagging, or other such behavior. He clearly articulated what he did or did not like about everything he ate, so I suppose if describing something as being "somewhat metallic like all organ meats" or "not the most pleasant texture I've ever experienced" then perhaps you could call him rude. But from what I saw, I'd estimate he enjoyed probably 90% of the things that he ate, so his comments about his dislikes were few and far between.

                                I did notice his saying "cheers" to the camera very frequently, but again, it really didn't rub me the way it seems to have rubbed the small handful of people here that have actually seen the show (versus those who are commenting second hand).

                                For what it's worth, I, too, prefer Bourdain as a person and host, but am tired of all of the hokey shtick on his own show (I really could care less about him getting a mud bath or pretending to play hockey or hunting for producers, etc.). On the food to shtick ratio, Bizarre Foods wins.


                                8 Replies
                                1. re: BJK

                                  Its kind of curious, since AB's show is on the Travel Channel I assumed they put that stuff in to justify having a food show on the Travel Channel, but they don't seem to have the same reservations about Bizarre Foods.

                                  1. re: BJK

                                    When evaluating the politeness of the host in shows like this, keep in mind that there are several people off camera - a producer, sound man, and a camera man or two. What we see is an edited selection of what was taped. And who knows how much the producer or researcher talked to restaurant owners or vendors before and after the taping session. So it is pure speculation to think that a cook, farmer, or restaurant owner is offended by the host's on camera reaction to his food.

                                    Bourdain may be more polite when actually tasting the food, but often his off camera comments border on being nasty. Nor is he any more 'macho' than Zimmern. Recall him cowering in the London living room while two Indian ladies used a pressure cooker. I also learned more about geoducks from Dirty Jobs than from Tony's Pacific NW episode (which overall was disappointing).

                                    About the only thing about the Zimmern Ecuador episode that made me wince was his Spanish pronunciation. I can only think of one other show that treating Ecuadorian food with as much interest and respect - Lonely Planet. Come to think of it, in that case, the show host couldn't bring herself to eat the cuye - she ended up giving it to some other party at the restaurant.

                                    Frankly I watch shows like this with more interest in the country and the food than the host's mannerisms and style. I end up liking a episode if I learn something. For example, from Joan Cuzack (sp?) I learned about Portuguese Cocido, complete with pigs ears. From Samantha I learned about Nice's chickpea crepes. But no one on this forum had kind words to say about Joan, while Samantha is as polite as they come.


                                    1. re: paulj

                                      I watched the Spain episode last night, and I had to laugh at the fact that he gleefully downs entrails and other questionable animal parts, but he couldn't stomach more than a sip of Horchata.

                                      1. re: cheetobrain

                                        I watched this show the first time (the asian show) and really liked it. I was glad they made it into a series.I enjoy the host's personality and he is not playing the ugly american..sorry. Please watch the show yourself. He mentions over and over he may not like something..but respects the "locals" right to eat it. In fact, I am shocked of how much of the food he actually enjoys. In the first show he did mention he shied away from organ meat, but in subsequent episodes he has completely lost his inhabition towards it and eats them gleefully. Again..he enjoys about 2/3 of the things he tries.. What is so bad about that? It would be unrealistic to think he would like everything..would you? He is particularly respectful of an ecudarian family who takes him in and serves him a lunch of grubs. He also tries everything twice whether he likes it or not. He even fed the family cat in the Morrocan episode.
                                        Anyway..I enjoy the show..and enjoy bourdain as well..but I like Zimmern better.

                                        1. re: rochfood

                                          I must admit with rochfood, although one must take note that "Asia" was produced in 2005. He shyed away from a lot of foods declaring; "Too much for my western system". However after a revamp, it came back in 2007 starting with "Morocco" and I have not seen him shy away from one thing.

                                          Andrew Zimmern kindly thanks each and every one of his hosts and it is always aired for us to see. I have watched AB, and many times he is saying thank you out of formality rather than sincerity. As far as Andrew's "bad Spanish", I think that is admirable that he did not have the "typical American arrogance and sterotype" to automatically assume that English is the language worldwide and actually TRY to speak the indigineous language.

                                          As for the food, he tells us how it specifically tastes and thats what the point of that show is. "irony", "metallic", "briny", etc..... That ios important, he does not share "stories" of his past travels, he is on point through the whole show.

                                          I only wish the episodes were longer. Outstanding job Chef!!!!

                                          Corporate Chef

                                        2. re: cheetobrain

                                          What does Horchata taste like? I've had the Mexican version, which a sweet, cinnamon flavored, rice drink. But evidently the Spanish version is quite different.

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            rochfood, I assume you are replying to other comments upstream from mine.

                                            paulj, lookie here, it's a recipe for spanish horchata from chow :)


                                            I have only had it once, but I didn't find it any more distasteful than soymilk or almond milk, though I prefer the sweet, yummy, mexican version. to each his own I suppose, but I thought his reaction was a little strong considering some of the other stuff he's been putting in his mouth.

                                      2. Personally, I like the show. Its entertaining. I don't find him overly obnoxious...just a bit adventerous to try strange foods, which is the premise of the show.

                                        I've actually found it to be better than more recent episodes of NO RESERVATIONS because he is focusing more on the food than on the culture.

                                        1. Being from the Twin Cities, I've read a LOT of Zimmern's work over the years and have always found him intelligent, humorous and interesting.

                                          Then I saw Bizarre Foods and now the guy rubs me all kinds of wrong! First, on a surface level, I found his voice incredibly irritating. Second, I, too, found him disrespectful and self-centered. I can't help but wonder how I would feel about the show had I never even known Bourdain existed. But, unfortunately, that's not the case. Zimmern pales in comparison to Bourdain's knowledge and respect for culture.

                                          That said, I certainly won't stop reading Zimmern's stuff but I don't think TV is his gig whatsoever.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: MaggieB

                                            Last night they played the Scotland/England Bizarre Foods episode, followed by AB's Vegas episode. I can't think of a part of Andrew's commentary that was self centered - unless it was the bit where he wanted to get back at all pigeons. Tony on the other hand talked about feeling 'violated' by the Vega NY imitation, and 'angry' when tasting a competitor's french fires. I realize most of this is in jest, but I would hardly describe Tony as less self-centered than Andrew.

                                            It would be interesting to see this latest Bizarre Foods episode back to back with Tony's London episode. They sample a number of similar things. Still, what sticks in my mind, is Tony hiding from the pressure cooker.

                                            My impression is that with time, Bourdain's episodes have shifted away from an emphasis on the food, and more on the travel experience, and the host's thoughts and travails (such as Tony trying to overcome writer's block). In Good Eats (the other AB) the story line generally enhances the food instruction. In No Reservations it seems to detract more than add.

                                            When it comes to showing respect for a culture, I would point to Michael Palin rather than Tony Bourdain.


                                            1. re: paulj

                                              Well, it IS on the TRAVEL CHANNEL!!!

                                          2. Well, apparently the viewers have spoken and the Travel Channel has listened. Word on the street is that Bizarre Foods just got picked up for a second season. In my observation it seems that there IS an audience for this show, but it isn't the chowhound or foodie audience....how bizarre...

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: jennywinker

                                              why not? I see a lot of new and interesting foods on this show. VERRRY interesting stuff.

                                              1. re: jennywinker

                                                Are you implying that I don't belong on this forum? :-)

                                                Clearly there are people who don't like his style and mannerisms, but I don't see a clear connection between that and a genuine interest in food. This show is compatible with my interest, but then one of my prized cookbooks is 'Unmentionable Cuisine'.


                                                1. re: paulj

                                                  UNMENTIONABLE CUISINE ROCKS!!! THAT'S ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS (PERIOD) OF ALL TIME!

                                                  Don't you want to see someone (hey Bizarre Foods guy) make the recipe in there for the alcoholic rats a la burgundy?

                                                2. re: jennywinker

                                                  Um, judging by many of the comments here, it *is* for the "chowhound or foodie audience...."

                                                  1. re: gloriousfood

                                                    Sorry, I guess I was referring to some early comments above, that clearly did NOT like this guy or this show. It seems like the tide is turning. Like me, there *are* a lot of chowhounds who have a very broad interest in "all things food," good, bad and ugly.

                                                    1. re: jennywinker

                                                      OK, eating duck embryos was pretty extreme, but I don't consider eating turtles, swallow's nest or durien bizarre foods. Maybe its a culture thing but everything in the Asia compilation show didn't seem too outrageous.

                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                        I've only seen one episode of Bizarre Foods. While it was interesting to see what type of "things" other cultures eat, it seemed way to Fear Factorish to me.

                                                        1. re: Axalady

                                                          Well, I like the fact that he is eating things the local eats. Not just eating crickets and raw worms for the sake of grossing people out. Fact is, insects are a main source of protein for a lot of the world's population. And the fact he can desribe the experience so well (he is also a food writer, after all), means that he eats mangrove worms so I don't have to.

                                                3. I like the show. My 5 year old grandson and I watch it at night and he loves it. We both find it entertaining and that's exactly what Andrew is doing..... entertaining us with the different types of foods that are eaten. He is being honest about the foods also. Yes, he could have a bit more "manners" when telling someone that he doesn't like the food but hey, I am sure they have people from all over the world trying their foods and doing the same thing. I surely wouldn't continue to eat something that tasted like dung.
                                                  He was eating a huge sandwich the other night from somewhere in New York. It was a tongue sandwich and it was huge. I imagine they serve huge ones like that of corned beef on rye. Does anyone know where it was? Does anyone know of anywhere in Ohio that serves that large of a corned beef on rye?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: oneangel22

                                                    in cleveland: biggest corn beef and tasty too is at Slymans: http://www.slymans.com/

                                                    not as big but outstanding, Mister Brisket in Cleveland Heights. Jacks Deli on the east side has a tongue sandwich