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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Would you like gerbil brains with that?

As part of the American cable television industry's ongoing quest to better educate the general public, the Travel Channel has developed an eye-opening, orifice-tightening cuisine programme that must have the executives at the Food Channel salivating in envy. All right, maybe vomiting in envy. (A warning here - if you're reading this at mealtime, you might want to skip down and come back in a few hours. Seriously... unless you enjoy violent regurgitation.)

Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern is the story of one man's quest to sample the strangest foods on the planet. In true high-concept fashion, the premise of the programme is simple. Zimmern travels around the globe looking for the most unusual, stomach-churning, gag-inducing items in the local cuisine. In practice however, not all of the offerings are as peculiar and nauseating as one might think.

For example, during a trip to Scotland and London, Zimmern sampled such dodgy fare as Stinking Bishop cheese (not made from real stinking bishops mind you) and Laverbread (presumably seaweed paste, but possibly made from actual stinking bishops). However, he also sampled haggis, beef pie with mash, Christmas pudding, and fish and chips.

Fish and chips bizarre? Maybe to a classically trained chef who's not used to meals cooked entirely in boiling oil, but to the vast majority of the rest of the world, this is standard artery-thickening stuff. You can find beef pie and mash in the frozen meals section of your grocery in the UK and Canada.

Just who is the audience for this show, anyway, HM Queen Elizabeth? (Of course, I'm thinking even Bess has probably has a nice bit of fried haddie or cod with a nice side of well-salted and vinegared chips at least once a month. Who wouldn't?) During a trip to the American South, Zimmern even included turducken on his list of odd foods. The nerve!

All right, there are some real nasty menu items on the show that no human being should have to endure, much less to the point where they start thinking of them as delicacies. Zimmern has bravely (foolhardily?) chowed down on head cheese, mullet gizzard, giant coconut worms, balut soup with cow's feet, poached calf's brains, gooseneck barnacles, giant clam innards, and - according to the adverts for upcoming shows- something called "putrid meat and eggs" if I remember correctly.

So, the man has a stomach of solid, tempered steel (and taste buds deader than Queen Victoria's libido). Still, one can't consider him a truly intrepid awful-foods adventurer unless he's fully sampled some of the following rare and unusual delicacies:

  • Rabid Wolf Spider Curry
  • Ostrich Egg Shell Sushi
  • Leg Wax Risotto
  • Raw Navy Beans
  • Clamshell Chowder
  • Donner Party Surprise
  • Marmite Pudding
  • Honey Roasted Qtips (Used ones, for more flavour)
  • Whale Tooth Gumbo
  • Kentucky Fried Snake Anus
  • Josie and the Pussycats
  • Poached Slugs
  • Turnips, Parsnips, and Lizard Toes (Parsnips! Yuck!)
  • Baked Alaskan
  • Carrot Sorbet with the Bill of a Northern Gannet
  • Trump Bisque
  • McDonald's McRib (Truly ghastly)
  • Tongue Surprise
  • Lip Surprise
  • Tonsil Surprise
  • Esophagus Surprise (Which, along with the preceding three items, really has a poetic double meaning)
  • Cowpie Pie
  • Chicken ala Thong
  • Fish Scale Custard
  • Placenta ala Cruise
  • Badger Colon
  • Liver and Fava Beans

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