Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern (and Tina Chang)

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“Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” is a popular travel and cuisine television show that has been on the air since November 1st, 2006. Ever since its premier, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern has mesmerized many audiences – making it Travel Channel’s most popular show. With spin-offs like Bizarre Foods America, this show does not stop exploring the strange foods of the world. But, what bewilders me is that many of the dishes I have seen on the show are foods I would not consider bizarre. Many of the dishes I have seen I have considered as unfamiliar or strange, but bizarre is rarely a word I use (unless, it is some unidentifiable animal organ). So, it leads to my ultimate question that has kept me scratching my head every time I guiltily watch this show, how does a food categorize as bizarre?

What is more bizarre than the food dishes themselves on the show, is the fact that this show was made to show Americans “disgusting, exotic, and bizarre” dishes from all over the world. Why then, does Andrew Zimmern make a Bizarre Foods American edition? Is he accepting that bizarre foods are from everywhere? If so, it seems as though he is accepting that every bizarre food is based on every person’s different experiences and perceptions. This show encompasses themes like, weird and strange, while questioning the relationship between foreign and bizarre. If it is considered bizarre, does it mean it is foreign because it is unfamiliar?

Andrew Zimmern explores mostly Asian cities, since Americans generally perceive Asian foods as the most bizarre. Americans have become familiarized with chop suey and General Tso’s or sesame chicken as Chinese food while, none of these dishes actually exist in China. Within Asia, Andrew Zimmern visited a couple of Chinese cities. For a more detailed study, I specifically focused this paper studies the Beijing and Guangzhou episodes. I chose both episodes to highlight the Northern and Southern Chinese diet. Upon watching these two episodes, I made a few guesses on which dishes Zimmern was going to expose. I thought, chicken feet definitely for Guangzhou and sea cucumber for Beijing. I was correct with both dishes as Zimmern munches on the two and then explains how surprisingly delicious they are. Like other bizarre foods he munches on, not only chicken feet and sea cucumber, Zimmern quickly learns that the foods are not at all exotic or disgusting. In fact, they are delicious and he even explains the dish’s story and background and how it came to be based on geographical reasons.

One thought on “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern (and Tina Chang)

  1. I like this interrogation of what is bizarre. It seems that he is trying to exploit something being bizarre but relies on the audience’s agreement that it is in fact bizarre in order to impress them with his willingness to try these things!

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