July 27, 2010— -- Andrew Zimmern's day job comes with a unique list of occupational hazards, but he manages to keep a good sense of humor about it. One has to, if they're in the business of eating things most people would cringe at.
"The fact that I've had 60 or 70 types of animal penis and testicles actually in my mouth at one time is a huge amusement to many people," said the 49-year-old chef and host of the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods." "To me, I'm just curious, I'm just hoping one day to find one that's actually good," he said and added, "but size does matter. The bigger ones cook better and end up having a better flavor."
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The premise of "Bizarre Foods" involves Zimmern traveling the world to seek out and dish out the strangest of delicacies. He basically goes everywhere and eats everything, attempting to sample dishes in their own native regions, wherever that may be.
In his excursions, Zimmern estimates he's been to 80 countries and has sampled 15 different types of rats, 100 different types of bugs, and every single part of a cow, including the bile sack and even its blood – straight from the animal itself.
"I mean, literally, we nicked a cow's artery, filled a jug, took mud and feces to stop the bleeding and drank the jug in the field with these Tanzanian warriors," he said. "That's what they drink before they go to work every morning of the year."
Clearly, not your average cup of morning joe, but as Zimmern likes to say, one man's weird is another man's wonderful. "The world is small -- don't practice contempt prior to investigation," he said. "Life's too short. We balk at things we know nothing about."
It is through embracing this philosophy that brought Zimmern along a path that was tumultuous at times.
Zimmern began his culinary career at 14, working nights in restaurants while many of his peers worked landscaping jobs. "I didn't want to be at the beach every day where the cute girls were," he said. "I wanted to be where the other cute girls were at night -- in the restaurants."