Andrew Zimmern, the host of The Travel Channel’s hit series Bizarre Foods, has an extraordinarily well-earned reputation for traveling far and wide to seek out and sample anything and everything that’s consumed as food globally, from cow vein stew in Bolivia and giant flying ants in Uganda to raw camel kidneys in Ethiopia, putrefied shark in blood pudding in Iceland and Wolfgang Puck's Hunan style rooster balls in Los Angeles. For Zimmern, local cuisine — bizarre, gross or downright stomach turning as it may be to us -- is not simply what’s served at mealtime. It is a primary avenue to discovering what is most authentic — the bizarre truth — about cultures everywhere. Having eaten his way around the world over the course of four seasons of Bizarre Foods, Zimmern has now launched Bizarre Worlds , a new series on the Travel Channel, and this, his first book, a chronicle of his journeys as he not only tastes the “taboo treats” of the world, but delves deep into the cultures and lifestyles of far-flung locales and seeks the most prized of the modern traveler’s goals: The Authentic Experience. Written in the smart, often hilarious voice he uses to narrate his TV shows, Zimmern uses his adventures in “culinary anthropology” to illustrate such themes as: why visiting local markets can reveal more about destinations than museums; the importance of going to “the last stop on the subway” — the most remote area of a place where its essence is most often revealed; the need to seek out and catalog “the last bottle of coca-cola in the desert,” i.e. disappearing foods and cultures; the profound differences between dining and eating; and the pleasures of snout to tail, local, fresh and organic food. Zimmern takes readers into the back of a souk in Morocco where locals are eating a whole roasted lamb; along with a conch fisherman in Tobago, who may be the last of his kind; to Mississippi, where he dines on raccoon and possum. There, he writes, "People said, 'That's roadkill!' ‘No it's not,’ I said. ‘It's a cultural story.’”
Whether it’s a session with an Incan witch doctor in Ecuador who blows fire on him, spits on him, thrashes him with poisonous branches and beats him with a live guinea pig or drinking blood in Uganda and cow urine tonic in India or eating roasted bats on an uninhabited island in Samoa, Zimmern cheerfully celebrates the undiscovered destinations and weird wonders still remaining in our increasingly globalized world.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Business & Economics eBook: The Bizarre Truth|
|Release Date: 09-08-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Broadway Books|
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The Bizarre Truth
Puffin Hunting in the Land
of Fire and Ice
Iceland looks and feels like no other place on earth. As our plane touched down just outside Reykjavik, I was almost convinced we’d landed on the moon. Not surprising, given that NASA astronauts trained in Iceland prior to the first moon landing. In much of the country, the barren, rocky topography looks otherworldly in the extreme. Iceland is roughly the size of Ohio, a moss-covered, glacial, rocky expanse, born of the volcanic womb. Treeless mountains, sweeping fields of arctic grasses waving out to the horizon, awe inspiring geysers, raging rivers, spectacular ocean vistas and therapeutic hot springs fueled by boiling, underwater volcanoes are stunning, but make much of the island uninhabitable. Iceland is called the land of fire and ice yet, despite its staggering natural beauty, the overwhelming majority of the population lives in the capital city of Rekyavik. Everyone else is a farmer, or works in either the thermal energy business (booming) or the greenhouse gardening industry (emerging).
The country is changing and growing all the time– literally. In 1963, a volcanic explosion just off the southern coast of Iceland created an island one square mile in size. This landmass, named Surtsey after Iceland’s mythological god of fire, grew to official landmass status in only three and a half years. I was fortunate enough to travel to Surtsey by boat one day. It’s a phenomenal the thing to see, an island that is as big as it is, that is as new as it is, and freakishly almost exactly as old as I am.
I knew the food in Iceland would be wonderful. As a chef in New York and Minneapolis, I’d always been floored by...