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Maybe Andrew Zimmern isn't so bad after all?

AllesandroSprezzatura Jan 26, 2010 07:14 AM

I happened to watch Zimmern of Bizarre Foods last night, the episode in Sicily. It actually was a great show! Learned a lot about the foods of Sicily, and it was the first episode of BF that I would have tried anything he ate. I think he is at his strength when he is *not* eating bugs, worms, et al. As for the tuna sperm, why have American foodies not taken this up as the latest, greatest?!...

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  1. duckdown RE: AllesandroSprezzatura Jan 26, 2010 02:41 PM

    I don't mind him that much, his show is good for a chuckle sometimes.

    1. h
      hudsonvalleyfoodblog RE: AllesandroSprezzatura Jan 27, 2010 06:20 AM

      I think they have changed the shows format a bit. Seems to me that they are going away from the shock value of eating bugs and just trying to focus on exotic locations and less known food.

      I too have found the show interesting lately. Previously I never watched it because of the reasons mentioned.

      7 Replies
      1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog
        newhavener07 RE: hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 27, 2010 10:07 AM

        He's done some good shows recently, and I always found him bearable in small doses. He seems like a genuinely humble and curious guy, who somehow got talked into the "bug-eating" format. I like that he struggles to convey how disgusting some things are without offending his hosts. He did a great show recently on Appalachia and I tend to like his shows based in the U.S. better because there's not the "yuck, scary foreign food" vibe.

        1. re: newhavener07
          boogiebaby RE: newhavener07 Jan 28, 2010 11:54 AM

          I don't have a problem with him, per se, but I don't like how he reacts to things he doesn't like. He'll eat bugs and testicles and things like that, but during the Malaysia episode, he actually spit the durian out of his mouth -- the farmer who owned the durian farm looked apalled. In a country where people are big on manners and very careful not to offend their hosts, I found his behavior to be unacceptable.

          Bourdain has a completely different approach. Even if he doesn't like something, he will be polite about it. In other countries, that's the diplomatic way to do it without offending anyone.

          1. re: boogiebaby
            hudsonvalleyfoodblog RE: boogiebaby Jan 29, 2010 09:36 AM

            I agree

            1. re: boogiebaby
              ferret RE: boogiebaby Jan 29, 2010 09:55 AM

              As if a durian grower didn't know about it's controversial nature with foreigners (and locals, as well). I've seen enough of Zimmern to note that he's a respectful guy and in this particular episode (I didn't read the grower as being "appalled") he was just reacting naturally.

              I don't assume that foreigners are naive individuals. Those who enjoy dishes that are not especially mainstream appreciate that there is either an acquired taste or cultural gap in introducing it to those who are unfamiliar. If you recall the episode in Africa with the palm leaf pulp that was fermented in the ground for months he was not exhibititing disrespect in his reaction, he tried something that very few outsiders would attempt and tried to put in in teh context of his overall experience. To read so much into a single edited scene in a TV show is not especially fair.

              1. re: boogiebaby
                newhavener07 RE: boogiebaby Jan 29, 2010 12:27 PM

                Come on, durian is famous throughout Asia as having a terrible smell -- you can't even bring it on planes! The farmer can't have been surprised at a foreigner's reaction.

                1. re: newhavener07
                  Phaedrus RE: newhavener07 Jan 29, 2010 12:34 PM


                  Its been banned by public transportation hubs, hotels, and various other public places.

                  1. re: newhavener07
                    jenn RE: newhavener07 Nov 3, 2010 05:05 PM

                    terrible smell, yes, but once its in your mouth its a different story. Can't see why you'd have to spit once you got it past the sniffer.....

            2. chefathome RE: AllesandroSprezzatura Jan 27, 2010 01:53 PM

              I have always liked his positive outlook and attitude and willingness to try anything. He is curious just like me so I enjoy his shows. He is unpretentious, down to earth and refreshing. As a traveler it is interesting for me to see him go to many places I have been to - it is a joy to re-live trips and experiences.

              8 Replies
              1. re: chefathome
                reiflame RE: chefathome Jan 27, 2010 06:29 PM

                I also like that unlike Bourdain, he will actually say if something is disgusting.

                1. re: reiflame
                  nvcook RE: reiflame Jan 28, 2010 04:05 PM

                  Personally, I think it is more important to show respect to his hosts. I hate the ugly American stereotype that can happen, especially with a "famous" t.v. personality spitting out food. Especially in very poor countries where food is a very precious commodity.

                  1. re: nvcook
                    monavano RE: nvcook Oct 18, 2010 07:04 PM

                    I"ve never seen him as disrespectful, just honest. He explains why he couldn't eat something, which is important.
                    Disrespectful Ugly American would be Jessica Simpson and her gal pal wretching at the sight of bugs in Asia (can't remember where). I mean, just say no! Instead, they made a scene which was so embarassing.

                    1. re: monavano
                      reiflame RE: monavano Oct 19, 2010 05:45 AM

                      And honestly, when you feed a westerner durian, do you really expect him to like it?

                      1. re: reiflame
                        yfunk3 RE: reiflame Oct 22, 2010 06:05 AM

                        Well, I just hope they taste what I taste, which is creamy, custardy, sweet goodness. If not, then well...more for me. :o)

                        I actually hate Andrew Zimmern. His whole personality and just the general concept of the show is a little too "Wow, look at what these crazy, backwards people eat and now I'm going to eat it too! Look at how brave and awesome I am because I eat this crazy stuff that people living here just view mainly as an everyday part of their culture/cuisine!" It all comes off as so condescending to me 95% of the time. I actually grew up on a lot of the foods he showcased on the show, so I might just be a bit biased and insulted due to that...

                        1. re: yfunk3
                          Phaedrus RE: yfunk3 Oct 22, 2010 07:01 AM

                          Well, you can look at it that way or as I see it, he is speaking in the voice of the audience they are trying to pull into the show. Don't get me wrong, I think he does a bit too much complaining but if you think about who is watching the show: those who are thinking along that way too, he is actually softening some of the their stance against the so-called bizarre foods. I noticed that he really proselytize to the culinary conservative by gushing over how great what he is eating is tasting to him.

                          1. re: Phaedrus
                            yfunk3 RE: Phaedrus Oct 22, 2010 09:52 AM

                            Yeah, sometimes I get the good vibe from him and think, "Well, maybe he's not THAT bad." But then he almost always does or says something that rubs me the wrong way. It's probably more me than him, though. I am pretty sensitive to things that sort of thing, but it means the show just causes me more irritation than pleasure.

                            I also just find it seriously funny that he's disgusted by spam and durian, but he's eaten the testicles of every domesticated animal known to man. I've had testicles from a couple of animals before (no jokes, please! LOL) and...I'll be diplomatic and say that it's not my cup of tea, nor is it the most pleasant texture I've ever encountered. So on that count alone, I personally find his judgment questionable! Heh.

                            1. re: yfunk3
                              hill food RE: yfunk3 Oct 22, 2010 05:28 PM

                              personally I liked the "Rocky Mountain Oysters" I've had, but then that just means for this occasional viewer that plate's a yawner.

              2. Cherylptw RE: AllesandroSprezzatura Jan 30, 2010 11:01 AM

                Andrew Zimmern has always respected the country he visits and their foods & their cultures..He will try anything and for him to not like something says alot. What was he supposed to do with a mouthful of something even he couldn't swallow? How many people who criticize him are willing to eat 90% of what he tries? Just by reading the chowhound boards, most people won't try simple things never mind "exotic".

                It's not disrespectful to remove something from your mouth that you don't like...These boards never cease to amaze me...

                2 Replies
                1. re: Cherylptw
                  boogiebaby RE: Cherylptw Feb 4, 2010 08:57 PM

                  To me, there's a difference between removing the item (durian in my example above) from his mouth, and saying "OK, I can't eat this" as opposed to spitting it out and acting like someone is trying to poison him. There was a polite way to do it, and a offensive way to do it, and he went the offensive route.

                  Disclaimer: I'm quite familiar with durian -- my extended family is in Malaysia and I've grown up around durians. Hated them until I was about 20 years old or so, then slowly developed a liking. They have a unique smell -- not gross, but different. It's strong though, hence the warnings not to take durian into enclosed places.

                  1. re: Cherylptw
                    Alcachofa RE: Cherylptw Oct 19, 2010 07:31 AM

                    Plus, he really tries. I remember when he had an ant pie in Mexico, which he clearly didn't like, but he ate some and said "I can honestly say that is the best ant pie I've ever had." :o)

                  2. k
                    KCBarbieQ RE: AllesandroSprezzatura Aug 19, 2010 10:00 AM

                    I like the show, and most of the time now,can stomach most of what I watch him eat. But will someone PLEASE tell the man to stop smacking his lips?It's bone-chilling gross...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: KCBarbieQ
                      Jeanne RE: KCBarbieQ Oct 23, 2010 04:47 AM

                      I was looking for someone to mention the smacking of the lips thing! I mean really - you're taught not to do that as a child. I like the show - but please stop with the lip smacking!

                    2. bigmackdaddy RE: AllesandroSprezzatura Aug 19, 2010 10:13 AM

                      I can't stand Zimmern's kind-of-whiny, Little Lord Fauntleroy personality. But I am a huge fan of his show. With all his drama-queen antics, he manages to provide a lot of information, not only on the food, but the country's history, traditions and how the food is relevant to the location. He's a very intelligent man as well as being annoyingly pseudo-flamboyant.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: bigmackdaddy
                        Dinsdale45 RE: bigmackdaddy Aug 20, 2010 08:32 AM

                        I've always liked him, but his "Little Lord Fauntleroy" thing kind of bugged me, too. That's why I was totally floored to learn that his druggie past makes Bourdain look like a piker. Knowing that he came back from the brink of self-destruction makes me like and respect him a little more.

                        1. re: bigmackdaddy
                          Honeychan RE: bigmackdaddy Oct 21, 2010 03:37 PM

                          I will -always- in my mind's eye nowsee Andew Zimmern wearing a short-pants suit, big floppy bow and wearing a blonde corkscrew wig, thanks to you!! *LOL*

                          That made me laugh waayyy too much today!

                          1. re: Honeychan
                            Phaedrus RE: Honeychan Oct 21, 2010 07:13 PM

                            Well, I didn't have that picture in my mind, until you desribed it. Thanks a lot, now I won't be able to sleep.

                        2. Pzz RE: AllesandroSprezzatura Oct 12, 2010 10:49 AM

                          I've learned to tolerate his peculiarities and enjoy the show (particularly several of his female co-hosts). But he's obviously a bright guy, so somebody needs to help him develop his vocabulary beyond "outstanding" and "amazing". Maybe we should all pitch in and send him a thesaurus?

                          1. Passadumkeg RE: AllesandroSprezzatura Oct 15, 2010 08:58 PM

                            Compared to the "Gorge Shows" and the "Neurotic Iron Chop Shows", he is a pleasure!

                            1. hill food RE: AllesandroSprezzatura Oct 21, 2010 07:26 PM

                              no no no he is evil and has to be stopped!

                              although I much prefer him to the Man vs. Spew shows. I wish Bourdain (they seem to actually have some sort of conviviality) would get joke-snarky and start referring to his as "that freak show"

                              I mean how many variations on testicles are there out there and how many times do his producers think we'll care?

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: hill food
                                bob96 RE: hill food Oct 22, 2010 07:36 AM

                                Hear, hear. The concept itself is a gimmick that has run its course. Zimmern may have pulled through some tough times, and congrats to him, but so what? He's another round, sweaty man-child at play in real places the show frames as exotic theme parks , all of which end up becoming one big food court designed to amuse, well, other round, sweaty tourists.

                                1. re: bob96
                                  Atomica RE: bob96 Mar 22, 2013 11:52 PM

                                  So it's gimmicks that displease you. Please pitch your food show here, and by all means do not rely on cheap gimmicks. I'm waiting.

                                  1. re: Atomica
                                    bob96 RE: Atomica Mar 23, 2013 07:17 PM

                                    Gimmicks always start out as concepts and are what make popular entertainment, and while some are more successful than others, they all run their course, which is what I said about Zimmern. I personally can't abide his stuff your mouth innocence, or the conceit that "bizarre" is a cheap code word for anything you've not yet heard of. Others disagree. I'm not in the TV business so I'm under no obligation to pitch anything. I just know what I respect and enjoy, and what I don't.

                                    1. re: Atomica
                                      hill food RE: Atomica Mar 23, 2013 07:47 PM

                                      Atomica - was that 2.5 year response to me or bob?

                                      I just finished reading "Blue Highways" by Wm. Least Heat Moon. it's sort of as if Thoreau went on the road in a Ford van with a copy of Whitman, a cookstove, rudimentary maps (it was published in 1982 so no GPS) absolutely no clue, specific destination or advance team, just the intent of circumnavigating the continental US. He developed a rating system of all the disappearing small town diners based on how many calendars hang on the walls. but also delved into local basics (not 'specialty' foods) as well as the history of place names and towns that once were.

                                2. b
                                  Breezychow RE: AllesandroSprezzatura Oct 23, 2010 05:49 PM

                                  No, sorry, he's still BAD. His comments re: foods he finds revolting are so offensive sometimes, I can't believe the recipients aren't kicking his ass out of the country. Compare his behavior to Anthony Bourdain - who when dining on something not to his liking, is extremely polite about it.

                                  In addition, if you're the host of a show called "Bizarre Foods", you have absolutely zero business offensely disliking anything. You decided to do this; YOU deal with it politely in every instance.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Breezychow
                                    hill food RE: Breezychow Oct 23, 2010 07:15 PM

                                    Bourdain does seem to project a deeper respect for his hosts, and while being adventurous not exploiting the novelty of the offerings. but AB's isn't just about food really. it would seem to be more about all the intersections of life and culture that share paths with food. AZ tries to hit that, but I don't think is nearly as successful.

                                    1. re: hill food
                                      Atomica RE: hill food Mar 22, 2013 11:49 PM

                                      As a long-time Bourdain fan, I disagree. I actually think Zimmern is able to create a Bourdain-like show more successfully and with plenty of respect towards his hosts and less of the Bourdain snark. Zimmern is really hitting his stride.

                                    2. re: Breezychow
                                      monavano RE: Breezychow Oct 31, 2010 03:36 PM

                                      At least with AZ, you know you're going to get his honest opinion. Half the time his hosts have NO CLUE what he's saying, but he does so with a smile on his face and he's genuinely appreciative of their largess. Many times his host understands how strange their foods are to Americans.
                                      I also appreciate that he'll try anything, and take at least 2 bites. He once ate salted and dried seahorse. Took one bite, said it was foul and then took another! Yuck. I think it shows his willingness to truly give anything edible a shot.
                                      I loved the episode (equador?) when he got the full, royal treatment from the town's medicine man. AZ was stripped to his skivies, got smoke blown on him, hooch spit onto him, fire blown at him, a guinea pig rubbed all over him and smacked vigorously with some weeds that caused him to break out in hives all over!
                                      I was hoping that somebody in the crew carried an epi-pen.

                                      1. re: monavano
                                        ritabwh RE: monavano Oct 31, 2010 10:02 PM

                                        i think AZ always shows respect to his hosts and the food. he always describes the food's texture and taste, whether he loves it or not. i think it is ok not to like everything. he shows great example of how to act, when one encounters strange foods; with good manners. actually, i think he is better at this than AB and would be a good example for kids on how to act with good manners. AZ is rarely as snarky as AB. he's only spit out a few things, durian being one of them. funny thing is that AB love durian. now, i want to try durian, because i love stinky runny cheeses.

                                        1. re: ritabwh
                                          monavano RE: ritabwh Nov 1, 2010 05:11 AM

                                          AB's episode of Greece comes to mind. His opening salvo about the women, their weight and Dress Barn was cringe-worthy.

                                          1. re: monavano
                                            bob96 RE: monavano Nov 2, 2010 07:54 AM

                                            Agree--saw it by chance again last night and wondered if the next few shots of him drooling over simple meze might have been an editorial course correction.

                                    3. Passadumkeg RE: AllesandroSprezzatura Oct 31, 2010 11:25 PM

                                      Compared to Adam Richmond, AZ is a (Jewish?) saint.

                                      13 Replies
                                      1. re: Passadumkeg
                                        reiflame RE: Passadumkeg Nov 1, 2010 05:40 AM

                                        That's really apples and oranges.

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg
                                          monavano RE: Passadumkeg Nov 1, 2010 05:43 AM

                                          Hmm...not getting the analogy, Passadumkeg. Could you explain? TIA.

                                          1. re: monavano
                                            Passadumkeg RE: monavano Nov 2, 2010 09:52 AM

                                            I find the gorging on Man vs Food a wee bit disgusting. Mr. Richmond is a fine actor, but the gorging message sent to an already obese nation, I find the wrong one. I find AZ to be the quintessential American tourist; full of foibles, but w/ genial good intent.
                                            AB is the archtypical NJ bad ass, but enjoyable when he sticks to the food and not pontificating on the dark side of over indulgence.
                                            My personal views, for what it is worth.

                                            1. re: Passadumkeg
                                              monavano RE: Passadumkeg Nov 2, 2010 10:04 AM

                                              Thanks! Great points. I don't get the "bragging rights" that come with over-eating either and think of the true discomfort that eating way too much causes. I've stuffed myself maybe twice in my life, and the thought of doing it frequently is gross. It's a terrible feeling!
                                              After taking a 10 or so day cruise, I was sick of eating. I subsisted on salads for days and days afterward, until my enjoyment of eating returned.

                                              1. re: monavano
                                                pdxgastro RE: monavano Mar 22, 2013 11:41 PM

                                                Old post, sorry, but had to concur. I worked in Las Vegas for a few weeks. After the 5th casino buffet, I too craved salads.

                                          2. re: Passadumkeg
                                            Jase RE: Passadumkeg Nov 2, 2010 09:41 AM

                                            I've always found Adam to be respectful and genial to his hosts and the food. I'm not a big fan of the challenge part. But the other 20 minutes, it is fun to see the local food attractions and how the community loves it.

                                            1. re: Jase
                                              bob96 RE: Jase Nov 2, 2010 12:26 PM

                                              Exactly--many of us enjoy seeing very very local foodways--especially those not on the overcropped Tuscan estate circuit--but question (I do) the mind-numbing premise of some challenge, competition, or carnival stunt. And to make the host some kind of genial buffoon, rather than an engaging, knowledgeable (gasp!), and, yes, self-effacing expert.

                                              1. re: bob96
                                                Passadumkeg RE: bob96 Nov 2, 2010 01:10 PM

                                                Yeeeees! The Food Channel is not about food and the Travel Channel is not about travel; they are both about lowest common denominator sensationalism.
                                                *I have only had cable acess for not quite 3 months and am saddened by the plethora of crap.
                                                HL Menken was right.

                                                1. re: bob96
                                                  Jase RE: bob96 Nov 3, 2010 08:06 AM

                                                  I don't find Adam to be any kind of buffon. He's a guy that likes to eat and doesn't pretend to have any high credentials or anything of that sort. His personna is of a regular guy that has the opportunity to try out local eats. Nothing wrong with that.

                                                  For those kinds of local places, I don't think you'd be able to engage and make a connection with the customers and owners as well as Adam if the host was coming across as some kind of expert regardless of how self effacing they are.

                                                  1. re: Jase
                                                    monavano RE: Jase Nov 3, 2010 08:21 AM

                                                    Agreed-I question the "entertainment" aspect of watching someone eat way, way, way too much food, but I've met Adam when he was scoping out the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.
                                                    He was so, so nice and really, sincerely interested in the eats there. I like to think that I helped to steer him to the segment he did in that episode, on DiNic's roast pork italian ;-)

                                                    1. re: Jase
                                                      bob96 RE: Jase Nov 3, 2010 06:35 PM

                                                      Millions of chubby nice guys like to eat and never pretend about their credentials. They'd gladly admit they know nothing about where they are, and go love 'em for it. They'd probably also jump at the chance to scarf down something with a cold local beer. Why would they belong on TV?

                                                      1. re: bob96
                                                        Jase RE: bob96 Nov 4, 2010 08:20 AM

                                                        Uhh so they can show these places to people who are like them? I'm not sure why this concept bothers you so much.

                                                        1. re: Jase
                                                          bob96 RE: Jase Nov 5, 2010 12:45 PM

                                                          What are they showing--a frat party in a Bangkok street market?

                                              2. s
                                                Shann RE: AllesandroSprezzatura Nov 3, 2010 09:13 AM

                                                I've kind of wondered how other cultures view the show, most of them seem kind of amused by this kind of goofy fat guy trying all their local foods. I don't find it disrespectful. Does anyone really think they don't explain to the vendors that it is a TV show where the guy tries stuff he's never eaten before and might not like it??

                                                Maybe I've been watching the wrong show but Bourdain has struck me as much more of a wise guy than Zimmern ever was.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: Shann
                                                  monavano RE: Shann Nov 3, 2010 09:16 AM

                                                  During an interview that AZ did, he said that production checks out everything before he eats it, so yes, the locals understand it's a tv show. It's not as organic and spontaneous as it looks.

                                                  1. re: Shann
                                                    Breezychow RE: Shann Nov 3, 2010 03:47 PM

                                                    Yeah - but Bourdain is a "polite" wise guy. You'll never see him making a face or spitting something out or insulting the person offering the offending item. In addition, Bourdain's show isn't entitled "Bizarre Foods". Like I said before, if you've contracted to be the host of a show like that, than you should suck it up.

                                                    1. re: Breezychow
                                                      Worldwide Diner RE: Breezychow Nov 3, 2010 06:04 PM

                                                      Why? It's his show why can't he do what he wants?

                                                      1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                        Breezychow RE: Worldwide Diner Nov 4, 2010 12:09 PM

                                                        Oh, he can definitely do whatever he wants (within Food Network's limits, I imagine). But that doesn't mean the folks that have tuned into his show have to like it or agree with it. Which is what this thread is about. :)

                                                  2. vikingkaj RE: AllesandroSprezzatura Mar 22, 2013 06:14 AM

                                                    Bad compared to what? A genial raving sycophant with a sunburnt tope sucking up to people who barely understand English serving incomprehensible bloody bits?

                                                    Oh, wait a minute, that is his show...

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