Andrew Zimmern, host of "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" on the Travel Channel, treks around the world with a television crew so viewers can gawk as he fearlessly feasts on all manner of unmentionable cuisine: fried bees, beating cobra heart, lamb's blood pudding, weaver ants. Zimmern is a man who will eat anything. But not just for shock value, he says. "I love food, I love culture, I love the immersion process as a traveler." The 47-year-old adventurer, raised in New York, was a chef. "Bizarre Foods" is currently in its third season. Last summer, Zimmern and crew ate their way along the coast of Maine. We talked from his home in Minneapolis.
Q. Is there anything that you would prefer never to eat again?
A. Fourteen-day-old stinky tofu in Taipei was really vile. It smells and tastes more like a rotting carcass than any rotten carcass. Another thing is rotten skate wing. In Korea they let it fester in a warm oven for a few days. It has the most particularly hellacious ammoniated decomposing aroma.
Q. Anything that you have refused to eat?
A. I will refuse something if I know that there is a guarantee of illness. Unwashed rotten chicken intestines was one where I knew I would have spent three days in the hospital. It would have been like playing Russian roulette with six bullets in the barrel.
Q. I heard that you won't eat dog
A. I tried dog two different ways in Vietnam. I don't need to try it again. We have a pug at home.
Q. The point is not just to gross yourself out, right? I mean, this is also about good food. How about some favorites?
A. Fresh crocodile meat is so good. They eat it in Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia. It's lean and delicious and perfect grilled medium-rare with just salt and pepper. Goose, goat, octopus, and organs like liver, sweetbreads, and hearts are all delicious and common around the world. I love sparrow and other small birds that they eat in Vietnam. Small reef fishes right out of the Pacific Ocean are so good. Also, the jelly-like meat of a green, immature coconut seasoned with lime-juice and chili powder is something I always look forward to.
Q. What do you eat at home?
A. I'm a family guy. I throw pork chops on the grill or chicken in the oven. I make my grandmother's Jewish recipes - brisket and that sort of thing. At home nothing is better than perfect roasted nectarines in a puddle of brown sugar and butter.