STRANGE TABLEFELLOWS: Eating Up Andrew Zimmern

Never forget your table manners.

After a cursory look at the promos for Bizarre Foods, one could easily get the impression that this is a show made for people who loved to be grossed out. The uninitiated could also make some assumptions about the host, Andrew Zimmern, being a sick little so-and-so who can’t get enough of the gross stuff for shock value. However, just after partaking in a single episode would turn those ignorant opinions on their head.

For one thing, there’s the remarkable Andrew. You’d be hard pressed to find someone that absolutely loves the culinary experience from soup to nuts as much as he does.  I mean, who else do you know gets giddy at the site of a bunch of pig face pieces being put into a grinder?  Being exceptionally brave is only one aspect of his appeal, and that’s helluva appealing. His willingness to dive head first into any dish has just as much to do with wanting to make a connection to the land he’s currently visiting as much as daring a food product to challenge his advanced and cultured palette.

Another driving force of the show is the people. Andrew shows nothing but love for all the culinary wizards he comes across, who are as varied as all the textures, tastes and aromas of the unique food he samples. Be it an open market in Thailand, a five-star restaurant in Paris or a backyard BBQ in the Bayou, Andrew is welcomed in by a plethora of cooks that have a definitive passion for their particular cuisine. Usually overwhelmed by the hospitality and the delicious meal, it’s not unusual for Andrew to either hug the hell outta someone or plant a big ol’ kiss on them.  He loves food and, through extension, loves everyone involved in the process.

Finally, every now and then, you’ll see glimpses of Andrew’s life before the show existed. Besides displaying hints of his background in having worked in one of the finest restaurants in Minneapolis, you can also see some signs of a much more humble period of his life. There was once a time where Andrew found himself homeless, completely at the mercy of the kindness of strangers. On an episode where we visited a collective of freegans that dumpster dived in order to make cheap eats for the homeless, Andrew ended up getting teary eyed at the incredible act of selflessness (and so did I right with him) and what it no doubt made him recollect over. Perhaps that’s why Andrew is so adventurous with food, since at one point in his life he didn’t have any guarantees of where his next meal was coming from. His humanity and humility are beautiful to watch.

Now is that truly bizarre?

Do you have a favorite Bizarre Foods moment?
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