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Andrew Zimmern is somebody who stands for a somewhat different view of everyday food consumption. Andrew Zimmern draws the line at dogs, which he really would not eat. Otherwise this culinary world traveler has few qualms and in his view there is no occasion for these. "I believe that I am born for this job," says Zimmern, "I have the constitution for it." Flying giant ants in Uganda or putrefying shark in Iceland – these require a digestive system built to order.
Yet that alone would scarcely be sufficient qualification for this task of global proportions. What makes Zimmern so convincing is not just his robust digestion, coupled with fearlessness, frankness and curiosity – in a word, his personality. Zimmern is also a seasoned professional in the matter of taking food. He knows exactly what he is talking about. He has worked as head chef and manager in New York’s finest eateries, founded his own restaurants, and as critic, writer and TV presenter enlivens both the gastronomic and gourmet scene as well as the TV landscape.
Yet Zimmern is no reporter of scoops, he savors life. On his expeditions he goes in search of choice regional specialties on the spot, free of prejudice he discovers the best restaurants or beach stands. ("All I look for is a long queue of happy customers!"). One thing above all is important for him – that he invariably knows just where his food has originated, however bizarre that may seem. The tomato slices in some hotel buffets, he once said, worry him more than foodstuffs from the local market.
So for some years Zimmern has traveled around the world and tasted what other cultures have to offer in terms of everyday or out-of-the-ordinary foods. With his "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" television series he allows the rest of the world to share in his experiences. The accompanying recipes then appear on the Internet.
“Bizarre” is a key term in Andrew Zimmern’s culinary glossary – on television he sees to it that its message comes across. “Authenticity”, nevertheless, would be a significantly better slogan for Zimmern’s motivation on his journeys. “I want to tell these great stories about food and take people into the back of the souk in Morocco where they're eating a whole roasted lamb. Or to the conch fisherman in Tobago, who may be the last of his kind.” Zimmern is an anthropologist and a researcher who studies not only the pots but also the people and cultures behind them. Food is a cultural heritage just like clothing, music or art – and Zimmern nourishes himself on the world’s cultural variety in one of the most sensual ways that one can pursue, through taste.
Bizarre, even Zimmern must constantly be explaining, is here extremely relative. What donkey skin is to one person can be caviar to another. To eat fish roes could probably seem truly bizarre in some regions of the world. So what is bizarre? One anecdote has it that Zimmern once ate freshly grilled bats by the fire, when his local neighbor approached him. He was really astonished, said this man, that Zimmern should be doing a programme here. After all, they did eat not many peculiar things…