In case you have been hiding under a rock for the past decade, you have probably heard of the Travel Channel show "Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern." This program, which premiered in 2007, follows one adventurous chef around the world as he samples traditional dishes that we as North Americans might fight odd. As the show gained popularity, Zimmern also ventured closer to home, tasting some of the weirdest eats in the USA for a spinoff, "Bizarre Foods America." In addition to the gross-out factor, "Bizarre Foods" helps viewers learn about other cultures and their varying tastes.
On the show, Zimmern always says, "If it looks good, eat it!" However, he will try just about anything, no matter how disgusting it looks, smells, or tastes. His try-anything-once attitude has delighted viewers for many seasons and given him some culinary experiences most of us will never have. While some of the things Zimmern tries on the show turn out to be not so bad, some of the dishes are downright odd. He managed to keep them down (most of the time) but you couldn't pay me to taste any of the foods on this list!
Keep reading for the 25 grossest things Andrew Zimmern tried on "Bizarre Foods!"
In 2015, Andrew Zimmern traveled to Croatia. While Eastern Europe doesn’t sound like the most exotic location for food, this is where the chef got to try roasted dormice. This ancient culinary tradition of munching on rodents helps Croatians get through chilly winters, even though the animals don't provide much meat. The idea of eating a rodent sounds pretty gross to me, but this practice, including hunting for the dormice, has been around for centuries and isn't going away anytime soon.
24 Century Egg
Have you ever heard of a century egg? This dish from Hong Kong involves preserving duck, chicken, or quail eggs for months in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, and more. As a result, the eggs end up a gooey black and green glob that many people outside of Asia would never try. The pungent smell and gross appearance turn many people off, but those who are brave enough to try it get to experience a Chinese delicacy you won't find anywhere else.
Brains are perhaps one of the most common foods Andrew Zimmern has tried on his adventures around the world. As gross as it sounds, many different cultures enjoy eating animal brains in their own way, from curry in India to llama brains in Bolivia. He even tried a unique concoction a chef called "brainaise" in California, an aioli sauce with pig brains blended in. They say that this body part is packed with essential nutrients, but I will take my chances!
Octopus is another common yet bizarre food that Zimmern has tasted on the show. Mexico, Spain, Japan, Greece, South Korea, Hawaii, and California all gave the chef octopus dishes to try with their own twists. From stews to sushi to ice cream, who knew there were so many ways to eat this creature? I don’t know about you, but the idea of chewing on all those little arms with the suction cups attached does not sound too appealing to me!
21 Fish Eyeballs
Japan seems to be the place where a large number of Zimmern's most bizarre taste tests have taken place. For instance, it was there that he tried a different part of bluefin tuna than the rest of us eat: the eyeballs. He also ate these in Hawaii and Samoa. The worst part is that these are traditionally eaten raw! Eating food that is still looking at you is bad enough, but literally munching on the eyeballs takes that to a whole new level!
20 Pig's Head Stew
Around the world, stews are a common way to use up the weird parts of animals that don’t taste good on their own. Andrew Zimmern got to try one example of this in Puerto Rico. In order to reduce waste, his hosts prepared a stew made from a wide variety of pig parts, including the head. While this food probably came out tasting just fine, especially if it was seasoned well, I don’t think I could stand seeing it being prepared!
19 Head Cheese
Speaking of pig heads, one of the grossest dishes ever on "Bizarre Foods" was not from Asia or South America, but from the American South. Head cheese is a is not a cheese at all, but a creation made from meat scraps (usually from a pig's or cow's head) mixed with gelatin to make a sliceable loaf. This cold cut is also popular in Europe. My parents have eaten this often but I can never bring myself to try meat jelly!
While many of Zimmern's food adventures take him to remote countries around the world, it is also easy to find bizarre foods close to home. For example, on an episode where the chef explored New York City with the late Anthony Bourdain, the duo tasted some truly crazy things, including tarantulas on a stick. I am terrified of spiders, so the idea of chewing on a big old spider leg creeps me out! Maybe eating the thing I fear would help me be less scared.
Believe it or not, frogs are another pretty common food to eat around the globe. Throughout the series, Zimmern has tried them in a wide variety of forms. From frog congee to frogs stuffed with pork to grilled frog, it appears that millions of people love eating this slimy creature! The oddest way the chef has eaten frogs, though, was in Tokyo, Japan. There he tasted frog sashimi as well as the frog's still-beating heart on the show's pilot episode. Thanks but no thanks!
16 Fish Head Curry
In 2016, Andrew Zimmern took a trip to Singapore to discover their unique world of flavors. Among the many dishes, he tried there was fish head curry. This dish is traditionally shared with your dining companions and contains whole red snapper heads as well as fresh vegetables like okra and eggplant. There is something about a big old fish staring at me, begging me not to eat it, that would make me not want to taste this meal, no matter what you paid me.
15 Giant Sea Squirt
Sea squirts, known scientifically as tunicates or ascidians, are invertebrates that usually live in shallow water. They are called sea squirts because they often shoot water out at predators when they are disturbed. On a trip to Chile for "Bizarre Foods," Andrew Zimmern ate a giant sea squirt, which is perhaps the strangest food he tried on the entire series. Even weirder? He ate it raw! Though they apparently taste bitter and fishy, Zimmern added a bit of lemon juice to make it palatable.
Another strange food that Zimmern tried while he was exploring New York City was the Pacific geoduck. This large type of saltwater clam is not very bizarre in taste but is known for its silly appearance. Instead of the clam living solely inside its shell, a geoduck grows out one end. Its long, wrinkly appearance looks to many like a certain male body part, giving some people the giggles and other a sense of disgust. At least it doesn't taste bad!
13 Durian Fruit
On the pilot episode of "Bizarre Foods," Zimmern visited a number of Asian countries, including Malaysia. While there, he tried a variety of unique seafood dishes but the most disgusting food by far was durian fruit. This spiky fruit is a delicacy due to its custardy interior that tastes both sweet and savory. While the flavor is pleasant, the fruit's smell, which many people say is like rotten onions or garbage, is hard to get past. This is one food that the chef says he can't stand!
12 Fried Snake
While in Texas, Andrew Zimmern decided to try some traditional cowboy fare. Among a number of other meats, the chef tasted fried snake, a common animal to come in contact with on the prairie. The snake was breaded and deep fried and looked like a piece of fried chicken! While eating something deadly is not high on my priority list, I am sure that snake meat, like most things, it probably does taste great when fried.
11 Beef Tongue Ice Cream
Japan is known for being unique and innovative in so many areas, from food to fashion. On his numerous trips there for "Bizarre Foods," Andrew Zimmern got to experience a wide array of the country's culinary inventions. Of all the odd dishes, though, perhaps the strangest was beef tongue ice cream. Normally we think of sweet flavors to go with the creamy coolness of ice cream, not a salty, savory, bloody taste. I definitely wouldn't get a cone of this ice cream!
10 Pig Ears
Another bizarre yet surprisingly common food that Zimmern ate on the series was pig's ears. In Vietnam, Spain, and the USA, the chef tasted this random pork part in a variety of flavors and preparations. Pig's ears are both crunchy and chewy with a sweet pork flavor and are often fried. Whether it is eaten as an appetizer or main dish, this food is usually well seasoned and eaten to avoid any waste of meat. I always thought they were just for dog treats!
9 Insect Nuggets
When you think of Amsterdam, eating insects is probably not the first thing to pop into your mind. However, when "Bizarre Foods" went there in 2015, Zimmern visited a company named Kreca, which makes insect larvae and crickets into sweet and savory munchies. The chef tried freeze-dried larvae as well as insect nuggets. They looked just like chicken nuggets on the outside, but the inside was made of bugs! I think I would take a hard pass on that one!
8 Sea Cucumber
Sea cucumbers are another creature that Zimmern got to taste numerous times on "Bizarre Foods." These animals are not cucumbers at all, but marine animals that look like big, fat worms that live on the ocean floor all around the globe. They are considered a delicacy in many countries, mostly in Asia, and are so popular that their populations are actually declining! Zimmern suggests cooking them and adding a bit of soy sauce to make them taste good. I'm not so sure!
7 Hakarl (Fermented Shark)
On a 2008 episode of the show, Zimmern ventured to Iceland. Here he tried a local delicacy that made even this adventurous eater turn up his nose. Hakarl, a fermented shark dish, smells terribly of rotting fish flesh but, according to Zimmern, has an OK flavor. It is made by burying shark meat in the ground for a few months followed by a few more months out in the open air for drying. This process is necessary because the meat is poisonous to eat when it is fresh.
6 Coral Worms
When asked what were truly the most bizarre foods he has ever eaten, Zimmern typically names coral worms, also known as palolo, among them. These little sea creatures reside inside the coral deep in the Pacific ocean, including off the coast of Samoa, where the chef tasted them. Coral worms come out of their homes every couple of years due to certain atmospheric conditions, leading to a feeding frenzy for locals. They eat them raw or cooked and sometimes even spread them on bread!
5 Giraffe Beetles
Madagascar is home to many of the world's strangest creatures and giraffe beetles are one of them. These big, colorful insects look straight out of a cartoon! Despite their weird appearance, Zimmern says that they taste just like shrimp when sautéed in butter. I am all for a delicious shrimp dinner but I'd rather have the real thing, thank you! Eating bugs might not be odd for locals on the island, but I still would not be into trying them.
4 Coconut Tree Grubs
Wriggly, squirmy things are at the top of my list of foods not to eat. However, chef Andrew Zimmern does not feel that way. This was obvious when "Bizarre Foods" sent him to Peru. While there, he ventured into the Amazon jungle and ate fat coconut tree grubs skewered and grilled over an open fire. These insects provide locals with tons of protein but can be very hit or miss with taste. Zimmern says the proper cook can take them from rotten goo to crispy perfection.
3 Stone Fish
Stonefish are one of the most venomous sea creatures in the world. They are dangerous and sometimes even lethal to humans! But, you guessed it, Andrew Zimmern has eaten one. He ate the fatal fish on a trip to Japan with the show but was not in danger. Because the fish is venomous, not poisonous, cooking the meat or removing the venomous parts before eating makes it perfectly safe to consume. I think I'd still rather stick to the safe fish, though!
2 Stinky Tofu
Another dish that is hard for many people to stomach is stinky tofu. This dish, made of fermented tofu, is known for its strong, pungent odor. Fermented in a weeks-old brine of fermented milk and vegetable or meat broth, you can imagine it's hard to keep down. It is a popular street food in Asia and Andrew Zimmern tried it on two different episodes of "Bizarre Foods." While visiting Taiwan and Taipei, the chef tasted different varieties and had to spit one out!
1 Fermented Skate
In South Korea, fermented skate, also known as hongeo, has divided opinions. People either love or hate this fermented fish dish because of its strong stench of ammonia. Some people liken the smell to an outhouse and say you can't get the smell out of your clothes for days afterward! The bottom-dwelling creature is served up sashimi style, sometimes with kimchi to mask the gross flavor. There is no question about it: I would not try this food under any circumstances!