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Sep 4, 2007 03:47 PM

Bizarre Foods - Spain

I am really starting to like this show more and more after the great Mexico episode and the Phillipines show.

I caught the re-run [in its entirety] of the Spain episode last night and was really impressed.

What was the deal with him not liking the Horchata though? That kind of made me confused- especially since I am trying to get over (and when juxtaposed against) his moaning over how good the testicles and smoked roe ("tastes like a thousand anchovies").

The callos, rabo de toro, squid braised in its own ink, and angoulas looked awesome.

I kind of got creeped out when -during his suckling pig frenzy- he actually cut his lip sucking out the brains.. lol. This guy is a trip. :)

One day I am going to get to that Restaurante Botin and Museo de Jamon Iberico.

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  1. One of the things I like that he is honest about things he doesn't like, apparently Horchata is one of them.
    I agree that the show is becoming better.

    1. My dream vacation would involve him leading me around the world and picking out the food as we go. I love that show, and I gobbled up the Spain episode. He is a trip. And he is clearly a man who genuinely loves food- the cut on his lip was sure evidence of that! Oh, and the HAM. The HAM. Wouldn't it be wonderful to get to try that kind of quality? Spain sounds like heaven. He's a hoot. I'd love to meet that guy.

      9 Replies
      1. re: ilovegobo

        Let me be a bit of a contrarian and postulate that he might not "love food" as much as he loves being a TV eating celeb, starring in a show that seems formulated to see how many people it can gross out. He goes for the weirdest, wildest and often most unpalatable parts of animals -- parts that are even considered offal to a good part of the local populace (China arguably excepted). As far as I'm concerned, he's food TV's equivalent of a radio shock jock. For everyone who is going to make a beeline for the restaurants he recommends, there are probably dozens who wouldn't go anywhere near the places he has featured.

        1. re: ClaireWalter

          Actually most of the restaurants and markets mentioned in the Spain episode would appeal to many people. Zimmerman simply chose the most bizarre dishes at these places. In Madrid, El Botin is a tourist haven. As is the Boqueria market in Barcelina. El Bulli is often considered one of the best restaurants in the world and it is near impossible to get a reservation. The ham store in Madrid is also very popular.

          1. re: RichardA

            I stand corrected, Richard A, and perhaps I should have worded it differently. If he chooses the least appealing dishes even in well-regarded restaurants, the net result would be the same. Some people would touch them with a 10-meter poles -- simply he ordered stuff that disgust most (American) people, and that's what they remember.

            1. re: RichardA

              Calling La Boqueria a tourist haven is kind of like calling the SF farmers market a tourist trap. Yes, tourists go there but it is still a solid working market.

              Actually the place he ate at La Boqueria is just outside the back entrance. It's kind of a lunch place for the people who work at the market and by no means a "bizarre foods" place.

            2. re: ClaireWalter

              I think he does enjoy grossing people out, but he genuinely likes a lot of those foods, and he will always say when he doesn't like it. He seems to LOVE insects, although there have been bugs he didn't like (like those huge grubs in the Philippines). Totally amusing that he can't swallow even one bite of durian. He also had to spit out some of the most extreme stinky tofu in Taiwan--but he liked the milder stuff.

              The show showcases unusual foods as well as just foreign foods, and it is definitely not just a 'fear factor' show, it's a real food show. Most of the foods are really eaten by locals, although there are specialty spots that are special occasion places (like the snake place in Vietnam). If many locals think a lot of the foods are "weird" that is usually due to the gradual erosion of food culture and McDonaldization all over the world, which shows like this try to counteract.

              I usually want to try everything he eats to see how I would like it. I also like the show more and more, it complements Bourdain well.

              1. re: kenito799

                "If many locals think a lot of the foods are "weird" that is usually due to the gradual erosion of food culture and McDonaldization all over the world, which shows like this try to counteract."

                Well put.

                1. re: kenito799

                  I've had durian a couple times and definately was a struggle to keep it down.
                  Durian is sometimes referred to as "The King of Fruit" and described as sweet and custardy. I don't know about that. There's nothing sweet and custardy about durian.

                  Althought, Bourdain wolfed down a durian during one of his Asian episodes.
                  Maybe if you're used to stinky French cheeses, you'll love durian.

                  I don't know <scratching my heand and shrugging my shoulder>.

                2. re: ClaireWalter

                  Wow- I really do see it differently, ClaireWalter. I do appreciate your perspective on the shock jock thing, but I think that to be that passionate about this stuff, one must genuinely love it. I mean, I see a lot of pre-fab personalities on tv who seem to be doing it for attention but he doesn't strike me that way. And I know that many people wouldn't go near this stuff, but being a fellow adventerous eater, I watch that show and my mouth just WATERS. Of course, to tag along to other posts on here, I do think the globalization of packaged "American" fast food is a plague precisely because it does discourage people (especially children) to think outside the box when they eat. If I ever have kids, I want them to WANT to see what an insect tastes like. Maybe I'll discourage them from putting some things from the backyard in their mouths (ha) but I think it is better to live that way than it is to hide under the "safety" (and flat out conformity) that the United States has given to the rest of the world in the garbage it exports and calls food. Bizarre Foods doesn't strike me as the star vehicle that some of the Food Network shows market themselves to be, and maybe that is why I find the host more genuine. He fills a slot that really didn't exist in mainstream tv before, and I'm grateful to him for bringing this level of excitement to cable! I'll take him over the more common media hounds (I'll refrain from naming names) anytime. He seems like a man who thrives in his relative anonymity, though I'll admit I've certainly never met him, or anyone who has... Not that I wouldn't love to....

                  1. re: ilovegobo

                    Ilovegobo - I totally agree with you about the tragedy of fast food infestation -- bad enough here and worse abroad. But to my way of thinking, there is a middle ground between bland, manufactured brand-name food products purveyed by chain restaurants and weirdest, digusting critters and offal. Just because some people like intestine stew and duck feet and suckling pig brains doesn't mean that it is appealing to everyone, no matter what country or culture.

                    When I was younger, I tried a lot of animal body parts that found I didn't care for then and won't touch now: mostly organ meats like brains, kidneys, sweetbreads and the like. I suppose I could pat myself on the back for trying and could hide from the Bizarre Foodies because I just didn't like it -- not always the taste but the texture. OTOH, I love virtually all seafoods (incl squid in their own ink), but sea slugs (a delicacy in Asia) gross me out. There are some things I won't eat because of the environmental cost (e.g., shark's fin soup, unsustainably harvested Chilean sea bass), regardless of how good they taste.

                    IMHO, when it comes to eating oddball critters, a great disservice to the planet comes from American TV personalities cruising the world and eating anything that doesn't eat them first, seemingly unmindful of the eventual results.

                    I have a now-grown child. He grew up on scratch-made food and non-chain restaurants. I never felt that I he would be deprived if he didn't know how insects taste.

              2. Next time you're back this way, you should go to Chicki Jai in Tijuana. They're a Basque restaurant, and serve squid in its own ink. It's a good, easy culinary adventure.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Josh

                  Hey, Josh. I live in Los Angeles. You are referring to Tijuana Mexico, I assume? That is great news. Sounds so good!!!! And not out of reach of a day trip. Thanks for the tip.

                  1. re: ilovegobo

                    I loved the Spain episode as well. I will be traveling to Spain at the end of this month and will stop by some of the places that Zimmerman mentioned.

                    1. re: RichardA

                      Oh, gosh! I'm so jealous! Have a fabulous time and please do come back and post all about it. I'd love to hear about the trip- especially if you are following his recommendations. He's a riot and I'd just love to go travel and base the trips on wacky food.

                2. I think they need to rename the show. I don't think there is a whole lot that is "bizarre" in the choices that he makes. With the ubiquitousness of international food, some of his "bizarre" food just isn't all that weird.

                  And he has really got to change is habit of saying Fabulous. Everything is fabulous with him. Maybe an investment in a thesaurus would be a great start.