“Give it to Mikey, he’ll eat anything!”
Anyone else remember those commercials? If you don’t, it’s okay. We’re sure you get the drift, or will in a couple of seconds.
Andrew Zimmern has quite the reputation on the Travel Channel and in culinary circles around the globe, as he too is likely to eat anything, and he too has millions of viewers screaming out in shock: “He likes it! He really likes it!” much like the lovable kid in those commercials from back in the day.
Zimmern, a television personality who travels the globe sampling some of the world’s most outrageous foods in Bizarre Foods, as well as a plethora of others, is no stranger to the bizarre, as he has indeed sampled some pretty interesting dishes.
A former professional chef, he started his culinary education at the age of 14 and cooked and managed some pretty important restaurants in the US. He definitely has a vast knowledge of food and applies it in his travels and adventures in the more original side of the culinary societies of the world, essentially, to quote good old Captain Kirk on this one, he boldly goes where no other culinarian is likely to go, or should we say boldly eats?
Well, the question remains though, if this man will in fact eat “anything,” is there a particular cuisine or food that he’ll shy away from? Or even, if he has tasted something particularly icky, is he likely to eat it again.
Join us in this article as we count down the foods that he will probably shy away from in the future and a few that he recommends, but beware, we ain’t talkin’ burgers and fries here!
To have seen this episode was equivalent to watching old episodes of Fear Factor. Now what I remember most about Fear Factor were of course Joe Rogan's reactions to contestants eating some of the most gnarly things imaginable and this episode of Andrew's show was no different.
He was bold, no doubt about it. This particular fish, known as Surstromming in Sweden, actually came in a can and the people standing around were not having it as Andrew opened the can and the smell came wafting out. Even Andrew, who usually puts on a brave face seemed to have his doubts beneath the surface.
Regardless, he took a bite, but we're doubtful he ever will again.
Well, this one here isn't that far fetched, as it turns out. Pork brains have made their way to North American cuisine. In fact, it's been over two decades. Offal in general is a type of cuisines that disgusts many, but at the same time, there are others that live to taste the parts of animals that usually go to waste, specifically the brains.
The dish is rather renowned in some circles even here in North America and there are many high end restaurants that serve offal. The item has been featured predominantly on the Food Network and made many appearances on Iron Chef, as well as other programs.
Andrew recommends it too, and he's sampled it often.
This particular food is a fertilized duck egg. The egg is allowed to enter the embryonic stage and then is boiled. The item is very popular all over Southeast Asia and particularly, the Philippines where Mr. Zimmern was made to taste it.
The item is served with vinegar, in which those interested in tasting, must sprinkle the vinegar into the egg once the shell has been peeled away and well, down the old hatch, as they say.
Zimmern actually ate the egg with vigor and seemingly really enjoyed it. Enough to convince us that he'd likely have it again.
Here's an episode of the show that was incredibly hard to watch for sufferers of arachnophobia (those afraid of the creepy-crawlers of the world).
Zimmern traveled to a small village in Cambodia where the locals trapped and even cultivated tarantula spiders for the purpose of food.
The locals showed him their recipe and proceeded to deep fry them. Watching Zimmern as they're being fried amidst sounds that can only be compared to a tea kettle, you're not sure which way he'll go. But as he bites down into one, he raves about how good it is.
If any of you, our dear readers, don't know what this fruit is, thank your lucky stars. And if you ever see one of these in your travels, stay away, far away. And we're not just saying that because of the spikes that surround its exterior.
As it turns out, the flesh of this fruit is very much like quite a few of the items on this list, as it's quite famous for its odor. And no, we're not comparing it to Chanel No 5 over here, the smell of this fruit is so utterly bad, even Andrew had a hard time with it! And he gets paid to eat the smelliest and most rotten things!
The Durian Fruit is indigenous to Indonesia.
In continuing with the whole offal theme, Head Cheese is pretty much in the same realm as the aforementioned pork brains and is definitely in the same category of cuisine. Many recipes in the French classic cuisine have been created celebrating this particular item and Zimmern is no stranger to it.
Many enjoy this very much like you would a cold cut of cut of preserved meat, with freshly baked bread, a glass of wine and an excellent conversation.
The dish or rather the item isn't for everyone, but then again, neither are many of the items on this list.
This item here is a record breaker, as it marks the only item he's ever refused and even here, he had a particularly good reason to do so.
The true story here though, is that he was willing and ready to try this particular item, but that all ended when he saw it being carried towards him.
He was actually in someone's home and the item on the menu was Rotten Chicken Intestines, but as he watched it being carried to him, his skilled chef's eye knew immediately that it would be dangerous to touch the stuff, as there were different colored spots on the intestines and that meant that the animal had been diseased. So he refused on the spot.
What makes a person say: "Hey, I think I'll cook up some udders for supper?" When watching Zimmern on his show or reading his writings on the subject of food, we wonder how many people have asked that same question?
If we'd have to venture a guess, we'd have to say, probably curiosity. At the end of the day, curiosity in general is why we eat so many of the produce and meats that we do. I mean somebody out there in the annals of time had to say to themselves, "hey, what's that big green sphere growing in that patch over there?" And when he cut it open, and saw all those black seeds and red flesh, good thing he decided to take a bite, or we would never have known the wonders that is the watermelon.
Zimmern has this curiosity and his courage only catapults it further.
Now here, once again, we've gotta say kudos to him, as this is not at all as disgusting as it sounds.
Most North Americans have eaten pork rinds. In fact, the food is almost as popular as chips and many have chomped down on these as they drank a cold Cola and watched the game on TV. No real elements of haute-cuisine there.
But in Italy, the stuff is as popular as meatballs, especially in the central Italian countrysides. It's braised in tomato sauce and is perfect for accompanying pasta dishes and is an excellent main course treat. The Italians also make actual spaghetti out of pig skin as well, essentially cutting them into strips and braising them in tomato sauce or lightly sautéing them in seasoned oil once boiled.
As can be seen in a particular episode of his popular show, Andrew definitely had a particularly bad time of it with this particular food item. He was in Taipei and the restaurant he was frequenting specialized in this particular treat.
According to thedailymeal.com, he said that this tofu actually smelled like "the bottom of a dumpster," and we can just imagine how that would smell.
The tofu was seared and used like slices of bread to form a sandwich and Andrew as always was supposed to take a bite. Well, he did, but this would mark one of his only "food fails" as he was unable to ingest the item.
And the list goes on. In Asia, this particular delicacy is rather famous, or maybe we should say infamous. And if it sounds bad, it is. Essentially the rodents are trapped and then processed in much the same ways that other food meat items are processed and then grilled on an open flame. Many in many Asian countries enjoy this meal and we wonder how much Andrew enjoyed it.
This makes us question if he in fact enjoys all he says he does. Is there a bit of showmanship going on here? Is he in character when he smiles and chomps down on something as strange as this?
According to quora.com, he is very weary of the local waters wherever he is traveling. This is probably very smart on his part, as whenever you're traveling, there's no way to know about the local water supply unless extensive research is done.
Tap water in general across North America is impeccably clean. The amount of treatment and filtering that it goes through is unlike any other. In fact, many trust it more than bottled water.
But the water in another country is and/or can be very dangerous. In fact, many cases of serious illnesses have been reported in the past, and he does very good to abstain from certain water supplies.
This here is one of Iceland's most renowned dishes. Essentially, the word "Hakarl" means fermented shark. The item is prepared by cutting slabs of shark and seasoning them, then hanging them, being allowed to ferment for a period of over four to five months.
The smell is incredibly pungent, even in the cold. Go figure.
Andrew reputedly did not particularly enjoy this item but did manage a taste. He did say that it was one of the worst things he's ever tasted or even breathed, according to thedailymeal.com.
Well here we have something that is definitely a little more in the norm, if you will. Cuttlefish are part of the squid family and are rather prominent in the cuisines of Italy, South America, as well as France and even Asia. The squid family is in fact rather popular and indigenous in many local cuisines around the world.
In Italian cuisines, this fish in particular is rather famous as being used in Insalata di Pesce, which means fish salad. Sounds so much more romantic in Italian, though, doesn't it?
If nothing else, Andrew's recommendation reminds us that his tastes aren't always wild.
He has tried to push some of this stuff down. In fact, there is a fairly comical episode in which Andrew is trying to shovel some of this in his mouth and he is actually in considerable agony as he does.
Why is it so funny?
Again, because the man eats so many things that would make anyone go running in the opposite direction, and he can't stomach the food that health buffs and millions of us folk from North America eat every single day!
So it's at Chef Chris Cosentino's San Francisco location that the absolute best grilled fish spine is served--specifically the tuna spine. Now, that doesn't sound particularly appetizing, but to hear Andrew rave about it, it actually sounds quite good.
According to travelchannel.com, Andrew says that it's absolutely incredible. The restaurant is Incanto, and the tuna spine recipe is of Japanese origins, perfected by Chef Cosentino, of course.
Cosentino is actually renowned for serving other items in the offal culinary category and many flock to his restaurants to sample his dishes, including Mr. Zimmern over here.
Of all the things that this adventurous eater will not touch, this and probably one other has got to be the most hilarious of them all. The walnut in general is one of the most popular nuts in the world and it is a recipe item to many dishes, both sweet and savory, and in reality, cannot be avoided in the culinary industry.
How this man has been able to avoid it, some will never know, but he has and at all costs. According to quora.com, he has been asked to eat the item, but has avoided it like the plague, actually refusing it. To our knowledge, it isn't an allergy, but his aversion to it just comes down to taste.
"There's always room for Jello!"
Not for Zimmern over here. According to quora.com, the man hates jello pudding and avoids this too at all costs, as well as yet another item that millions eat every day, and again is quite popular among dieters everywhere: Cottage Cheese.
If we're honest, we can understand the whole cottage cheese thing, as it does look pretty weird and tastes of nothing really; most people add jam to it to give it some flavor, otherwise, they eat it as is, yuck!
So we can agree with him there, but Jello pudding? Come on Andrew!
The porcupine of the deep sea! Not really of course, but talk about the greatest in natural defense mechanisms in the underwater ecosystem. Pretty impressive. But, unfortunately, it has no way to defend itself against hungry chefs intent on making a dish worthy of much praise and attention.
Sea urchins are in fact quite popular and many celebrity chefs have tackled the species and created dishes renowned the world over.
Most prefer to eat these raw and fresh, immediately after opening, but there are indeed many recipes in which the fish is cooked, specifically many pasta dishes in Italy.
Sea Urchins are widespread across the ocean floors of the world.
Ho Chi Minh is indeed a location that isn't for everyone, but those who dream of going to Vietnam no doubt should spend some time in this populated but gorgeous city. And if not to experience the sights and culture, then at least to sample the food that the streets have to offer.
According to Zimmern, the street food that can be found there is some of the best in the world ... authentic, fresh and oh-so-tasty.
He also recommends renting a scooter and joining the locals for a ride around the city and when you park the moped, sink your teeth into some epic food you're not likely to forget.
So, for a man who eats anything, we wonder if there were ever any experiences in which this adventurous eater has ever gotten sick from something he's ingested? That's a perfectly valid question, and if you've ever seen his show or shows, you'll understand why we ask the question. In fact, you may have been wondering just that, yourself.
As it turns out, Andrew actually got extremely sick after ingesting some really tainted cumin on one of his adventures in Northern Africa, as seen in the show. It was so bad, he had to be admitted to poison control and that's never good. These days, he's extremely wary of any recipe that requires this spice made popular by Indian and Mexican cuisine. Cumin is that particular spice you taste in your favorite Tacos and Indian dishes.
Celebrities will say the darndest things when put on the spot, and yeah, even celebrity chefs with hit TV shows.
Tabloid television juggernaut TMZ caught up with Zimmern at the airport and they asked him what he wouldn't eat.
Well, staying in the character of a guy who would eat just about everything, he seemingly joked that he wouldn't eat any of the freshly farmed food from Nebraska.
The statement was odd and as things go at TMZ, no follow up was made, nor do we know why he made the statement in the first place, so it does leave us to scratch our heads. Joke or no?
If there was ever a publicity stunt done on the show, we'd have to say that this was one. We can't be sure, but what human would actually put themselves through such an ordeal as to eat an insect that spends its days in the waste of a Water Buffalo of all things?
It was while in India that he ingested this particular creepy-crawler and claimed that it was in fact good, but there's no way that he could have actually enjoyed it.
Now we know he likes bugs of all sorts and has eaten many, but we're going to have to call "Reality TV Scripting" on this one. After all, it garnered a lot of attention for the show and a stunt as gross as this one is usually a one and done. We may be mistaken, but we doubt if he'll ever go out looking for this delicacy ever again.
Chinese food in North America in no way can be considered authentic. At some restaurants, it is in fact quite good and even sought after, but the parallels between the food that can be found at Sun Ling's on the corner of 4th and Main, and the actual food from the streets of Hong Kong and Beijing are actually rather different. Ha! That's a huge understatement, as the two foods are actually night and day.
The Chinese are actually quite famous for using many different sorts of animals to cook their authentic street food, camel's hump, amphibians and reptiles as well, and even Donkey are actually quite popular. In the case of the Donkey, the skin in particular is extensively used and it couldn't please Andrew more, as he is a definite fan of the many dishes made from it.
Now this is an interesting story and an interesting item, as this is one of Andrew's own creations. Hey, remember, he is a chef after all.
On an episode of the Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Made, Andrew claims that his Chinese Chicken Wings take the cake, but his story of how he perfected the recipe is more interesting than the dish itself.
After returning from a trip to China, Andrew made this recipe from taste. It was good, but not perfect. After lamenting to a friend, this friend sent him an ancient Chinese recipe book and in it, he found the recipe that he would combine to his.
Talk about a piece of ancient Chinese doctrine coming to the rescue!
Sources: wikipedia.org; quora.com; thedailymeal.com; travelchannel.com; tmz.com;The Best Thing I Ever Made / Food Network (Episodes on YouTube); Bizarre Foods / Travel Channel (Episodes on YouTube)