Andrew Zimmern and Not So Bizarre Foods

A couple of months ago my husband and I were at Etta’s enjoying a Saturday dinner, sitting at the windows watching a lovely sunset unfold before us. I looked up from my crispy shrimp spring rolls to see a bald fellow fiddling with a bunch of luggage or equipment at the back of a van parked in front of the restaurant. After watching him for a few moments, I pointed one of the spring rolls toward the gentleman and said to Bob, “that guy looks a lot like Andrew Zimmern.” He looked up from his (delectable) albacore tuna sashimi and quickly determined that it was, in fact, Mr. Zimmern.

A few moments later he and some of his crew were heading into the restaurant, clearly not there just for a bite of Tom Douglas’ take on Northwest seafoods. I couldn’t help myself. I started working mentally down the menu we’d looked at just a few minutes earlier and wondered “What’s bizarre enough here to merit a spot on his television show?”

Ends up I’d unfairly pigeonholed the poor guy. He does not, in fact, live by Bizarre Foodsalone. When chatting with him and Tom a bit later, Andrew told me that it’s getting so he can’t eat out with his family for a little pizza or a burger without someone coming by, gesturing toward his plate and making some hardy-har-har comment, asking what’s so bizarre about his meal tonight. Geez, that must get really old. And very fast.

I’ll admit that I can’t bring myself to watch Bizarre Foods, at least not for more than a few minutes flipping around the stations, hopefully landing on a segment more about an unusual wild mushroom in Chile than one about some big fat winged insects being fried up in Southeast Asia. I do not have an adventurer’s stomach, much as I hate to admit it. I don’t care how much you try to convince me that it tastes just like a potato chip or something I’m supposed to already love….  (I had to laugh when I read in the bio on his web sitethat he’s the “international spokesman for Proctor & Gamble’s Pepto Bismal brand.”!! How wildly appropriate.)

Thankfully he and Tom weren’t going to be cooking up any sea cucumbers or jellyfish (yes,  yes, I know…both are delicacies somewhere). The subject instead was mussels.

The segment, about 5 minutes long, from Zimmern’s new Appetite for Life series went live earlier this month on msn.com. The “road trip” concept has him starting up on Whidbey Island with Rawle Jeffords at Penn Cove Shellfish. Then Andrew drives his haul down to the Etta’s kitchen where Tom whips up a perfectly Seattle, straight-forward, flavor-packed stovetop recipe with the delicious bivalves. There are five other cities featured to date, including Palm Springs and Portland.

The show’s part of a new wave of new media, created exclusively for the web. Televisions? Who needs them these days. I was talking with friends recently about Netflix and the growing number of immediate-download movies and shows that are now available, just click and watch on your computer screen (eco-friendly wide LCD screen, right? nah, me neither, but surely will be the norm before long). I, for one, spend FAR too many hours each day at my computer screen already. Come evening, no way I want to sit in front of it with my knitting and glass of wine. I’m still a fan of retreating to the comfort of my living room for that.

I digress, as often happens. It was fun to run into Andrew that evening and have a couple moments to chat with him before the crew needed him in the kitchen. And nice to know that he does indeed get his fair share of opportunities to enjoy some good old mundane foods now and then.

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Filed under Food Personalities, media

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