We chatted with Andrew Zimmern, the James Beard Award-winning host of the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods," who travels around the world for cultural dining experiences. He's foraged for giraffe beetles, gulped down aloe tonic in Ecuador and noshed on "breathtakingly delicious" deep-fried ducklings and baby chickies and sparrows in Vietnam.
When did you acquire an interest in bizarre foods and exotic travel?
"My show is not about weird foods, it's about foods that are traditional in different cultures. In Minnesota at Christmastime, they eat lutefisk. In Samoa, they eat salted, fermented sea cucumber with every meal. I'm curious when I get there. I always say, 'One and a half billion Chinese can't be wrong.' If everyone is eating it, I want to know why."
You've traveled to a lot of places most of us will only read about. Which is your favorite?
"It's always the place that I just got back from. I just adore Africa. I think it's a very special place. It would be easy to pick some places in Southeast Asia or the Pacific islands, but there's something about Africa that's very, very mystical and empowering to me. I was in Madagascar in a place called Morandava spending time with people who paddle 25 miles out to sea to get food for their families."
Is there anything you would refuse to eat?
"A human being. I won't do cannibalism. And I won't do endangered species."