Strange Brouhaha

Monday, September 12, 2005

Beaten by Durian

I was watching a show on the Travel Channel just now. Sorry, I didn't catch the name. Oh, wait, this is the Internets; it was "Travel Channel Presents Bizarre Foods: Asia".

Fascinating stuff. After reading "A Cook's Tour" and watching Tony Bourdain's shows on Food Network and the Travel Channel, I started thinking that it would be neat to go to Thailand or Vietnam and try some of the weird things they've got over there. This show made me rethink that.

The guy on this show--Chef Zimmern--started out in Tokyo eating pig's-testicle soup and drinking sake with a lizard in it. (Yes, a lizard. A dead lizard. In the sake glass. Sake tastes bad enough without a lizard in it.) He also ate frog sashimi, which he started off by eating the STILL-BEATING HEART. In case you missed that, the heart was still beating. I guess that's what you call fresh.

Strangely enough, the rest of the Japanese segment was relatively tame. Fugu for the zillionth time is not interesting. A sushi restaurant where he ate tako...gosh, how horrifying. The restaurant that served only turtle wasn't really that gross, not on the level of lizard sake (or deer-penis sake, and I'm not making that up). The yakitori bar was perhaps the next grossest, because the host and his friend were trying to figure out just what parts of the chicken they were eating. Zimmern couldn't finish a whole stick of anything.

He moved south after that to eat a variety of things in Thailand and Malaysia: fruit bat, organ sausage, cooked-in-the-shell snail, and a lot of other things that were ultimately very, very disgusting. He passed on the fried intestines--a good idea--and ate some congealed blood that he called quite possibly the worst thing he'd ever eaten.

Through all of this, he never once made a face, never looked like he got even close to booting, never spit anything out, never got beaten by any of the foods he tried. (Or, at the very least, through the magic of television he was never shown doing any of those things.) He was eating some interesting-looking stuff, too, if by "interesting" you mean "dear GOD, you can EAT that?" I mean, I still can't get over the lizard and the BEATING HEART.

As the title of this post suggests, though, Zimmern was finally beaten by Durian, the notoriously foul-smelling fruit that Tony Bourdain ate and apparently enjoyed. Zimmern's reaction to the Durian was pretty funny. He put a piece in his mouth and everything that hadn't happened to him throughout the episode pretty much happpened. (Well, except the booting, but he looked close.) Pretty funny--you'd think that after the freakishly bizarre meats he had put down his throat, a vegetable would would be no problem.

If you can catch this, I recommend it.


  • (Fj) We watched part of the show. While eating dinner. Changed the channel.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:03 AM  

  • I was eating dinner with some friends at a local Malaysian restaurant a month or so ago, and a woman sitting near us ordered a Durian shake in Chinese.

    It came, she started drinking it, and as the scent drifted over my friends all developed the identical expression on their faces -- probably very similar to the guy on the show. "What is that???" they asked.

    By Anonymous david adam edelstein, at 1:15 AM  

  • They had a segment on the guy buying a Durian fruit from a roadside stand--a sequestered stand, far, far away from all the other stands--and chopping it open and asking people to smell it. These were locals, now, and most of them smiled and politely refused; one little boy shook his head in terror and ran away. The funniest one was the lady who said that the smell was "special." Zimmern said something like "I think 'special' means 'like feet.'"

    It was humorous to hear the wounded tone of the Durian farmer after Zimmern's mouth rejected the Durian. He reminded me of the hotel clerk in "This is Spinal Tap" saying "I am as God made me, sir."

    By Blogger Robert, at 8:17 AM  

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