Famous weird food eater Andrew Zimmern has gone to some strange places, and eaten stranger food. Now, with his third book “Andrew Zimmern’s Field Guide to Exceptionally Weird, Wild, and Wonderful Foods: An Intrepid Eater’s Digest,” he’ll be taking you there, too! The delightful volume is an alphabetical guide to the most offal foods in the world… As well as tips for fighting off vampires and zombies (seriously).
We chatted with Zimmern by phone – as he was on set in a remote location filming “Bizarre Foods” – to find out more. “I wanted to provide a really funny, ribald cave that boys and girls could go to, from a reading experience point of view,” Zimmern told us. “I wanted create a book that your bad uncle would buy for you!”
To that end, he focused on ideas that kids would like, like dung beetles (“Kids love poop!” said Zimmern), while still trying to keep things fun for adults to read with their children. So the book starts with essays about what the food means to Zimmern, then branches out to “related topics,” which is how you get from eating brains, to an interview with a professor about how to take down zombies.
Even with the stream of consciousness feel Zimmern tried to give the book, that doesn’t mean the author didn’t put a lot of time and effort into making it. “For something to look casual, but still be viable, is a tricky process,” said Zimmern. “The way everyone under twenty-five today devours content is like a record needle skipping across the surface… We like to touch on a lot of different things. That’s the magic of this book, that we managed to capture that.”
Another aspect of the book? Zimmern tried to make bits of it work like a graphic novel, pulling on comic artists for the book. This is, of course, part of a larger recent trend, with Anthony Bourdain releasing Get Jiro from DC, and the Dirt Candy cookbook embracing the graphic novel format as well. Zimmern immediately jumped to Bourdain when asked about this, saying, “We roughly had the idea at the same time… Neither of us talk to each other, and they couldn’t be aimed to two more different genres of audience.”
Continuing, Zimmern actually noted similar reasons to Bourdain for why the graphic novel format is so appealing. “It’s a beautiful way to look at food!” said Zimmern.
Then it was over to zombies and vampires, so we asked the pertinent question: since Zimmern has traveled all over the world, has he ever encountered evidence that the beasties exist? “I wouldn’t say it’s impossible,” said Zimmern. “Until someone can prove to me that they don’t exist, then I’ll say they do. I’m not going to produce a picture of sasquatch for you, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist, or I haven’t seen them before.”
Continuing, Zimmern told a story of being in Ecuador while filming the first season of his show, shining a flashlight down a small hole near a river at night. “You just need to see a million pairs of eyes staring back at you to convince yourself that everything exists,” said Zimmern with a laugh.
He also noted that given he’s occasionally ripped the throat out of an animal for his show, with his bare teeth, that puts him a little closer to being a zombie than most people. And as he noted to us later, he’s actually come to enjoy the taste of blood… Over the past few weeks, he’s ended up in several situations where chef’s have served him glasses or bowls of blood, and found that the best way to enjoy the liquid is raw. “The fresher the better!” said Zimmern.
Yup, Andrew Zimmern is a vampire. You heard it here first.
Andrew Zimmern’s Field Guide to Exceptionally Weird, Wild, and Wonderful Foods: An Intrepid Eater’s Digest hits bookstores on October 30th from Feiwel & Friends!