Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern Previews the Season 8 Premiere â€œKazakhstan: Hunting with Eagles & Milking Maresâ€
I don’t know about you, but before I started watching I thought Bizarre Foods was all about finding the strangest, most exotic foods and sampling them — either here or abroad. But as I got to know more about James Beard award-winner Andrew Zimmern and the show, I realized it was more about experiencing the culture and its peopleÂ — sampling all these different types of cuisine was a (mostly delicious) bonus. I got a chance to talk to Andrew Zimmern last week during a press call. He gives us a little Kazak history, teases what we can expect in tonight’s episode and tells us why exploring other cultures is so important.
We know you visit Kazakhstan in the premiere episode. Can you talk about any of the foods you ate there that maybe you regretted instantly after trying?
Andrew Zimmern: â€œI had nothing but fantastic things in Kazakhstan. Fermented horse mare is milk is the most popular drink there. Itâ€™s called kumis and I love the stuff. I traveled a lot in Central Asia, the market overflowing with fruits and vegetables from some of the southern central Asian countries, apricots and pomegranates were in season from Azerbaijan, just unbelievable food.
I happen to love meat. Shashlik stands where everything is. The guy owns the farm animals, and slaughters them and ages them and cuts them and marinates them and grills them over a local hardware that burns like mesquite. Itâ€™s fantastic stuff. I really enjoyed the foods I had in Kazakhstan.
They have a national dish called Besbarma. Itâ€™s a homemade flat noodle, like a lasagna shape that they smother with sautÃ©ed horse meat and caramelized onion thatâ€™s one of my favorite dishes in the world. You just canâ€™t get it anywhere and I got to enjoy it twice in rural farm houses there. It was just extraordinary. And I got to eat a roasted rabbit meal down by the river in the foothills of Alpine-sized mountains, eating the rabbit that an eagle I hunted with had retrieved for me. Thatâ€™s a once in a lifetime food experience you just canâ€™t duplicate anywhere else.â€
You talked about some of the foods that you experienced in Kazakhstan. What would you say is the biggest influence in that culture? Itâ€™s Central Asia but itâ€™s had some Russian influence, a lot of Middle Eastern influence, and other influences as well as some western influences.
Andrew: â€œItâ€™s a fascinating question with that part of the world and that country in specific, especially in the modern Europe. More people have cell phones in Kazakhstan than have electricity. Almaty has a Ritz Carlton there, a stunning one thatâ€™s bought and paid for by some local oligarchs and I mean itâ€™s just stunning, modern hotel. And very few customers, so there are some humorous parts to all of this incredible growth.
But I think the biggest impact on that culture over the last 20 years has been the resurgence in national pride. You have to remember for 100 years or whatever, the Kazak national vibe was suppressed, right?
Then [in] â€™93, â€™94, the country gains its freedom so the biggest thing — kind of like the same thing we saw in Cambodia, where the original Khmer culture is the thing that everyone is trying to resurrect and make stable again because it had been depressed and made illegal for so long. Same thing with Kazak culture. It was illegal for a long time for them to practice their national sporting ritual of hunting with eagles to the point that there were only six people left in the country that knew how to do it. Now that number is back to 50 or 70 and itâ€™s enjoying a resurgence. It used to be that every village had eagle hunters in them. I mean, thatâ€™s a fascinating thing to think about.
Over the last five years, the country became wired, at least in its cities. So, here you have a country that just wanted essentially from a historical standpoint, moments ago won its independence that now all of a sudden can see pictures of the rest of the world instantly on their phones and laptops and television. Thatâ€™s very, very powerful and I think itâ€™s changing the nature of that country very quickly. Thereâ€™s 111 different ethnicities in the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan, fascinating place.
I know that you call yourself a culinary explorer, which is great. Why is it important to you to travel the world and experience all these different cultures and cuisines?
Andrew: â€œI think only a selfish, heartless, misdirected bastard would have all those things come to him and expect to draw any conclusions from them. It occurred to me a long time ago that American culture is very unique in that we inhale other cultures with our mouths and off the ends of forks, first and foremost. Itâ€™s the first way that we understand and come to appreciate and learn about other cultures is through their food in America. And I thought to myself, this is really interesting because we love Mexican food but the jury is out in America about really how we feel about Mexicans.
I believe very strongly it is the only way to learn about [other cultures] is not the diluted version that sometimes exists here. Itâ€™s necessary to go out and see these things in the cultures that birthed them and to be, and experience what itâ€™s like to walk in another personâ€™s footsteps.
Iâ€™m not down on America. Iâ€™m the most patriotic person I know, but we have a horrible habit in this country of making it convenient for us and I think when Iâ€™m out of my comfort zone and I think the same is true for all the people on this call, when weâ€™re traveling, we are put in a position to grow and stretch and do things we would not ordinarily do when weâ€™re at home.”
Edited for space and content.
Episode synopsis, from Travel Channel:
Andrew Zimmern heads to Kazakhstan, the heart of Central Asia.Â He hunts for rabbits with a golden eagle, suffers a blow while milking a horse and feasts on everything from sheep brains to fermented camel milk and smoked horse sausage.
Season 8 of Bizarre Foods premieres Monday, April 13th at 9/8c on Travel Channel.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Maahra Hill Talks The Irrational
I’m a Jesse L. Martin stan back to the OG Mothership Law & Order (pour one out for Lennie Brisco, y’all), although I admittedly tapped out on The Flash at a certain point. This season, Martin has been back in his old NBC stomping grounds with The Irrational, a different,…
George R. Olson, Tim Rozon, and Sarah Levy Talk the SurrealEstate S2 Finale
[Spoilers for the SurrealEstate Season 2 finale.] How’s everyone doing after the finale? As we close out the second season of SurrealEstate, some of our merry band of misfits are scattering to the winds–Zooey to law school, Phil to the Vatican, and Augie back to his think tank with Rochelle,…
Previewing SurrealEstate Season 2 Finale + Revisiting the Season with George R. Olson
[Warning; General spoilers ahead.] Strap in, SurrealEstate fam, because we’ve arrived at the Season 2 finale, and it’s a doozy. As we saw in the closing moments of last week’s episode, Susan is back. But because we have one more episode left, it’s not as simple as all that, as…
Tyler Hynes Talks Through His Eight-Film Hallmark Holiday Library
Things you realize when you have to re-record your shows on a new DVR – just how many Hallmark movies your people have done. Fan favorite – and one of ours – Tyler Hynes has done eight Christmas movies for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries since 2018. Alongside…
Spencer Creaghan Talks About Creating SurrealEstate’s Signature Sound
SurrealEstate is winding down its second season, with two episodes left, and just as in Season 1, Spencer Creaghan’s music continues to be a character unto itself. And every week, he shares tidbits with the fans via his s social media channels, something he started to help give them an…
Andrew Walker Talks Christmas Island and the Magical Hallmark Community
[Warning: Spoilers for Christmas Island.] Now that the Screen Actors Guild strike has been resolved, we’re able to resume regularly scheduled programming and interview our favorites and yours. Up first, earlier today, I spoke with Andrew Walker about Christmas Island, which premiered last weekend and encores tonight and through the…
George Olson and Danishka Esterhazy Talk SurrealEstate “I Put a Spell on You”
[Warning: Spoilers for the episode.] Tonight’s fun new SurrealEstate found Luke caught up in an especially bewitching woman, Kay, played by Tara Yelland, Susan trapped in her house, and Zooey learning the ropes. In the next part of my conversation with showrunner George R. Olson and producing director Danishka Esterhazy,…
Danishka Esterhazy Talks SurrealEstate: “The Butler Didn’t”
[Warning: General spoilers for the episode]. Tonight’s new SurrealEstate, “The Butler Didn’t,” follows the team as they investigate the years-earlier mysterious death of a woman whose ghost now reenacts her hanging by dropping over the banister from the second floor to terrify anyone on the landing or at the bottom…
Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders Talk the From Season 2 finale
[Warning: Spoilers for the season finale.] How’s everyone doing after that finale? While we wait and wonder and hope for a third season announcement, soon, here’s what Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders had to say about their parts of the finale, and where they hope they get to go next….
Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders Talk From Season 2 + A Season Finale Preview
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] It all comes down this, #FROMily. As Sunday’s episode wraps up Season 2, we begin with the aftermath of the terrifying onset of seemingly simultaneous attacks on Julie, Marielle, and Randall, which accelerate the “We gotta get out of this place” of it all. Sara comes…
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…