Q+A: Andrew Zimmern, Host of 'Bizarre Foods America'

By | Boston Daily |

Andrew Zimmern visited Boston’s Salumeria Italiana in tonight’s ‘Bizarre Foods America’. (Photo courtesy of the Travel Channel.)

In January, the Travel Channel launched “Bizarre Foods America,” a spin-off of “Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern” that focuses on United States locales and their specific offerings. So far the show has visited Minneapolis, Seattle, New Orleans, and tonight we’ll see chef, writer, and TV personality Andrew Zimmern, share some of the best of what Boston has to offer. There are some behind-the-scenes photos that you can check out online before watching the show, which airs at 9 p.m. tonight on the Travel Channel. I asked Zimmern a few questions about the show — as well as his thoughts on Boston:

Tom Lewis: How did you find out about the places you visited in the Boston episode of “Bizarre Foods?”

Andrew Zimmern: Many of them are places I have visited and always wanted to tell the world about … O Ya, Clio, Island Creek, Salumeria Italiana, the Harvard program and so on … and we spend months putting together stories like the family meal in Lowell and the dogfishing trip in Duxbury. Those last two are born from lots of discussion from asking my teammates “what types of stories define a city”? Family meals are always a great silo for our team as are traditional ways of earning a loving and Boston was founded in many way on the backs of the extended communities of seafarers.

From your long experience in the food industry, have you seen any authentically original foods disappear from menus? Are there any dishes in Boston that face such a fate?

Of course! Not many places a few decades ago gave a crap about traditional New England cookery, many of those food styles were gone from our collective consciousness until chefs like Jasper White and Lydia Shire made it their business to extoll their virtues. Today, with the expense associated with traditional foods, and the environmental impact of our modernist lifestyle, along with a healthy dose of narcissism, I truly wonder if my kid will ever get to eat a real Nantucket bay scallop, or a wild striped bass for example … tastes come and go — as do cooking styles and dishes — but our relationship with foods sometimes has irrevocable consequences.

When not pursuing “bizarre” foods in Boston, can you name three places in town that you always wish you had time for?
Coppa and Toro, Oleana, Neptune Oyster

What are some food trends that you have observed in Boston? Are there “good” ones and “bad” ones?
Bad, not really … but I would love to see greater appreciation for the global pantry in Boston. Good, plenty … there is a superb camaraderie amongst chefs and a tremendous explosion of smaller more personal eateries that is probably the most impressive.