"Bizarre Foods" host Andrew Zimmern has taken viewers around the world in search of the weirdest and wildest foods. Now, he's bringing his series' focus stateside with "Bizarre Foods America," which features the craziest concoctions in our own backyard.
"I've spent a lifetime on the road sort of telling stories," Zimmern said last week on a call from an L.A. butcher shop. "And every time I would sit in interviews I would always talk about the opportunities here in America for telling some of those same kind of stories."
This new season was inspired by the "insane level of curiosity" Zimmern realized his fans had about domestic locations, a hunger he attributes to accessibility.
"When I'm in tribal Africa eating grilled, wild giant porcupine, people are fascinated with it, but there's a little bit of a disconnect.... It's not possible [for them] to be doing," he said. On the contrary, focusing on America gives viewers a greater chance of actually being able to share the experience.
The series begins in Zimmern's adopted home, Minnesota, an area stereotyped for being bland. Turns out the Twin Cities are anything but bland as Zimmern wolfs down casserole-esque offerings called hot dishes containing everything from elk to Reuben sandwiches. Snapping turtle becomes an entree after being treated with an air compressor and pestilent fish are cooked to perfection. For desert, Jell-o meets liquid nitrogen.
Zimmern is quick to say that upper midwestern cuisine can be some of the most vibrant and exciting in the country. As for his other favorite places for travel, Zimmern doesn't hesitate to expound the virtues of West Virginia.
"If you want to still visit communities that live the way that we did in past generations, West Virginia is gorgeous," he said. "From a traveler's standpoint, every time you come around a curve [you] see a different river, a different mountainside, a different little town built into a hill. If West Virginia had an ocean next to it the entire country would be living there."
He also submits that Central Florida is "infinitely charming" and overlooked and that South Carolina is a hidden gem.
After the second episode, shot in New Orleans -- look forward to pig stomach and smoked raccoon -- the show's itinerary includes stops in Seattle, Boston, Detroit, West Virginia, Charleston and Savannah.
"Bizarre Foods America" premieres Monday, January 23 at 10:00 p.m. Eastern on the Travel Channel.