Hitting the trail! TV host Andrew Zimmern normally loves venturing off the beaten path, but for the latest season of Bizarre Foods, he’s tracing it. Over the course of six hour-long episodes, the James Beard Award winner explores some of the country’s most iconic, historic routes, including the Pacific Coast Highway and the Southern barbecue belt.
As with past seasons, Zimmern delves deep into the traditions and local ingredients that make each destination compelling in its own right. (In the exclusive clip above — taken from the season premiere, which covers Lewis and Clark’s trail — he pops fish eyes like candy and grills the roe of a fresh-caught steelhead salmon for the daughter of a native fisherman who has never tried the delicacy.)
But beyond ogling the fish eggs and eyeballs, the Minneapolis-based chef hopes viewers pay attention to the unifying thread among all the destinations: the people. “Brave food pioneers and/or their descendants are holding on to what’s been done for centuries or generations, fighting against the bulldozer of modernity,” he tells Us, adding that the current social climate in the United States makes this through line particularly relevant. “Our country’s history seen through these routes will remind everyone of our nation’s foundational principles,” Zimmern says. “We are Americans first and foremost — regardless of who we love, what color our skin is, or what god we worship. So many people ignore the forest for the trees, choosing to latch onto teeny culture memes that continue to divide us.”
The host also had a few revelations of his own. “In our pursuit of convenience and cheap, easy solutions, we have almost completely destroyed our natural eco- and food systems,” he explains of his biggest a-ha moment along the way. “Patience is how Americans navigated life for 200 years, up until three or four decades ago.”
Ahead of the new season, which premieres at 9 p.m. tonight on the Travel Channel, Zimmern shared four exclusive photos he took while filming along California’s Pacific Coast Highway. “The small-town vibe in the central coast is phenomenal,” says Zimmern, who loved “seeing how unchanged the relationship with the ocean and the fishermen all up and down the coast really is — despite the massive changes in California over the last century.”
For more behind-the-scenes excitement, including the “Andrew in the Kitchen” companion web series, head to the show’s website and Instagram (@TravelChannel) and Zimmern’s profiles on social media (@AndrewZimmern on Twitter and @chefaz on Instagram).
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