I’m sitting here (at work, doing a whole lot of nothing), watching this show on cable. It’s called Bizarre Food with Andrew Zimmerman*, and as you can tell by the title, it involves this dude traveling the world and eating the craziest shit he can find. He can often be found in some back alley in Mumbai, eating goat penis and rooster balls.
This show is gross. That’s the only word for it. Wait, that’s not true, I could also use the words: sickening, foul, nauseating, repugnant, grody, icky and nasty. If I’m in an old-timey mood I could use the words: ghastly, vulgar, abominable, loathsome, macabre and horrid. The point is that it’s not a pleasant show to watch.
Nothing is too disgusting for this guy. Nothing is unpalatable. He’ll sit down at an old wooden table, probably made back when Jesus was doing his carpenter gig, swat away the thousands of flies obscuring his face and laying who knows how many eggs in his food, and happily chomp on a sheep bladder marinated in urine and camel spit.
Typically, the food he eats has a rubbery, slippery texture and the appearance of an aborted fetus. The main colors of the food are yellow and gray. And, of course, they are the parts of animals that people don’t usually choose to eat unless they’re dirt poor and starving. Testicles and internal organs feature prominently.
It’s like that dinner scene in Temple of Doom, but much worse. This show makes eating chilled monkey brains and snake surprise look absolutely scrumptious.
As mentioned in previous entries, I’m a bit of a stickler for good hygiene. Especially when it concerns food. Which brings me to the biggest problem with the show.
It would be bad enough if this guy just hung out in his kitchen and made these disgusting meals in the safety and cleanliness of his own home. But that’s way too simple. Instead, Zimmerman travels to the dirtiest fourth-world shitholes he can find, to eat their greasy food. These are places where people get a gallon of water a day to use for cooking, cleaning and bathing, and where the plague and cholera are your dining mates. The people there are already used to undercooked food; their bodies are full of bacteria and germs that would kill an American within hours, so they’re fine eating chicken covered in filth. But if you or I were to travel to Morocco and decide to be daring and eat some local cuisine, we’d be sitting on the toilet for so long our skin would fuse to the seat.
I speak from experience. When I came over here to Iraq the first time back in 2003, my dad told me to sample the foods and cultures of this place, because who knew when I’d be over here again? (answer: two years later) and it would totally broaden my base of knowledge and experience. So, I ate the gorak, the kabob, the tikka, the goat-cheese pita pizza and the ill-conceived pizza with potato and beans topping, (seriously, potato chunks on a pizza, and it was specially made for me by some terrible pizza place in Dohuk, I had to try to gag it down while the cook stood there watching me with hope and glee) and the chicken. In Mosul there was this place we called Chicken Alley because there were dozens of chicken rotisserie places on either side of the street for a couple of blocks. It was always nice when our convoys would travel down that road. The smell would make our stomachs rumble.
Sadly, though the rotisserie chicken smelled succulent, it wasn’t too good for one’s gutty-works. Instead of the chickens I’m used to, (injected with hormones to grow dangerously fat in an unhealthy amount of time, forced to live in a one foot-by-one foot cage with forty other chickens, and with beaks painfully clipped at a young age; you know, good old American poultry!) the chickens they cook are the stringy, gamey, sickly birds that feed at the innumerable garbage heaps in the city. So in every bite, I was enjoying yummy trashy goodness!
They called what I caught eating the chicken the first time “Saddam’s Revenge.” Simply put, in the following three days, my sphincter got more of a workout than Marcellus Wallace’s in Pulp Fiction. I lost a dozen pounds or so. I highly recommend it for people trying to go on crash diets. Luckily, after the first time, the stomach gets used to the Iraqi food and hardens up a little against the onslaught of uncooked poultry.
That’s why this show is so nasty. This Zimmerman guy has to have a cast iron stomach, or else he’d have puked and shit himself to death halfway through the first season. And absolutely nothing he eats looks the least bit appetizing.
I’m going to drink some water now to wash the taste of that show out of my mouth. Bon appetite!
*Otherwise known as Hey everybody, watch what this WP shoves in his mouth!