Pop culture, comedy, and plain good eating: host Alton Brown explores the origins of ingredients, decodes culinary customs and presents food and equipment trends. Punctuated by unusual ... See full summary »
If this show doesn't tickle your taste-buds, consider them dead
Admittedly, I'm a sucker for food-shows. Over the last few years there has been an influx of food- and cooking-shows in Germany. Not all were gold, though. Shows like "Man versus Food" (about a pig in human shape who shoves food down his gullet) or "King of Bacon" (obese redneck attempts to fill his arteries like a Christmas-stocking), where all just short of distasteful in the truest sense. Different with "Bizarre Foods". For one, the show has a very sympathetic host in the form of Andrew Zimmern. Sure, one could say that by the final seasons, Zimern fell a little too much in love with the camera. But he never stooped down to a level of an Anthony Bourdain oder Gordon Ramsay in the US-variations of "Kitchen Nightmares". Instead, Zimmern convinced the viewer that he was actually culinary interested (unlike Bourdain) and a real chef (again, unlike Bourdain).
To the content itself: Sure, "Khlii" (salted rot-meat in Morocco), Hakarl (rotten shark in Iceland) or maggot-infested cheese (again, rotten) from Sardinia are not to everybody's taste, and I agree with Zimmern regarding the Durian-plant, perhaps among the foulest plants ever produced by nature. Balut (half-developed duck-embryos)? I would have said categorically "no" before watching this particular "Bizarre Foods"-episode, but here's the magic of Zimmern: he's able to convey tastes, smells, textures, etc., that virtually makes the viewer a deeper impression. So, yes, since then I consider trying Balut. I must give the show credit where credit is due: It put quiet a few places and even more dishes on my personal to-do-list. Especially Spain, Venice and Greece (to name but three) seem to be filled with culinary treasures that would make every food-aficionado heart beat faster.
As to the accusations of animal abuse that PETA-cranks frequently voice (which ironically all seem to come from "First World"-countries): Not everybody lives in the land of plenty, where almost everybody can afford the luxury of not seeing how your food is produced or white-wash their conscious with vegan food (that anybody with two taste-buds would consider a culinary abomination). Not sure if I'm paraphrasing Zimmern here, but to the vegetarians who refuse to eat meat out of pure principle: you haven't saved that steak that you won't eat; you simply disrespected it. Don't like what's cooking in the kitchen? Stay out of the kitchen.
I only have two real criticisms about the show: The title itself, for one. "Bizarre", that's a very subjective description of 99 percent of the presented dishes. In Germany the show was called "Der Alles-Esser" (roughly: "The guy who gobbles everything"), which is equally unfitting. First: if you want to try 'bizarre food' (in the negative sense), go down to a certain fast-food-joint with a Scottish name or go for the 50 cent package-food at the local discounter. I have doubt that Andrew would be able to stomach that stuff. The other issue is more about monetary issues. Sure, I'd love to go for a healthy plate of Beluga-caviar in St. Petersburg or stuffed duck in Paris, but who's going to pay? In such moments it comes to mind that it becomes heyday that IMDb is starting to pay their reviewers.
As far as food-shows go, I'd give it a straight 9 from 10 and a healthy "Bon Appetit".
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