09 November 2007

Live worms for breakfast, anyone?

I love watching food shows, travel shows, and travel food shows. My husband, on the other hand, couldn't care less; when I watch these kind of shows, he gets up and goes to play online poke. However, two nights ago we watched Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on the Travel Channel together. Why the sudden togetherness? Because the episode was about exotic foods from the Philippines.

For those who haven't watched the show before, Andrew Zimmern is a chef and foodaholic who travels the globe in search of bizarre foods. I tell you, this guy will eat anything. He might not like it, but he'll try anything and give a critique afterwards ("gamey", "gritty", "bland" and "gooey" were some of the terms he used to describe the foods he ate in the Philippine episode). Some of the foods he sampled in the Philippines, from (in my opinion) the most common, tamest foods to the rarest and most disgusting:

Banana-que (saba bananas fried in syrup, eaten on a barbecue stick)
Cheese and ube (purple yam) flavored ice-cream on a hamburger bun
Dinuguan (pork blood stew)
Barbecued chicken intestines
Frog, stuffed with ground pork and deep-fried
Soup #5 (bull testicle soup)
Balut (steamed, fertilized duck embryo)
Uok (large coconut worms)
Live mangrove worms dipped in vinegar

It was a very colorful, interesting show indeed. I only had two complaints:

First, Zimmern's pronunciation of local terms was atrocious. No, I'm not expecting his accent to be perfect, but c'mon, saying "ballot" for "balut"? Or pronouncing the "X" in Roxas City? Surely someone on his staff knows that the "X" is silent, and that the accent in balut is on the last syllable (i.e., ba-LOOOT).

Second, the show seemed to imply that Filipinos eat weird and bizarre things all the time. Yes, the Philippines cooks up some pretty weird stuff (as evidenced by the list above). In fact, foods from the Philippines make up 6 out of Andrew Zimmern's top 10 list of the worst (least palatable) bizarre foods he has eaten. But that doesn't mean that everyone likes them or eats them every day. I myself only eat the first three foods on the list above. I hate dinuguan, I'm willing to try the frog and the intestines, but I just do not have the courage or the stomach to try any of the rest (more power to you, Andrew). The fact is that Filipino cuisine is delicious, not just by "bizarre" standards, but by any standard, featuring dishes that even the pickiest foreigner would love: chicken adobo, pansit, fried kangkong leaves, and anything from Goldilocks.

Maybe I'll give Soup #5 a try someday.


P.A. Pasimio said...

I didn't take the opportunity to watch this show, but I did view the commercials advertising it with my partner, who is not filipino. I was a little perturbed that the highlighted food item was worms, as I had never heard of Filipinos eating worms, and I felt like it made our people look weird. My partner's comment was, "We don't have to eat worms when we go to visit your family in the Philippines, do we?" I'm sure I wrinkled my brow and responded with an "Of course, not." I hate dinuguan, too... and I've given Balut a shot, but won't do it again, but it is fun to gross people out with the idea of it. One of my most favorite dishes is Kare kare... hmmm... just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Thanks for posting on this... and letting my ramble on here a bit before I go off to bed.

honglien123 said...

I've watched Andrew Zimmern's show even though he annoys me. Actually, the whole concept and execution of his show annoys me. I really dislike how he exoticises the cultures of the countries he visits. I mean, the show is about weird foods, they're going to a special effort to find some pretty weird stuff, even for the locals. He never clarifies that some of the stuff he eats is weirder than others in the sense that even locals rarely if ever have eaten them. Banana-que on the same level as live mangrove worms? I don't think so.

Bonggamom said...

I'm glad you guys agree with me. I was beginning to wonder if I was a little oversensitive to the whole "exotic foods everyday" thing.

mamazilla said...

i've never seen this show, but my curiosity is piqued. has he done a show on american food yet? i consider foods like velveeta, alligator and squirrel pretty bizarre....

mom2amara said...

I did not see this show. But a non-Filipino friend of mine saw it on its first run a few months ago. I wish I could have seen it. I'm with Mamazilla. Non-Filipinos eat some "different" foods too. So I think we're all in the same boat. To each their own.

Anonymous said...

You are all missing the whole point. He did do a show on New York City and Alaska, or were you to self absorbed to notice? Ohh boo hoo he said we eat worms... well he found somewhere that they do and serve them to you. He found somewhere that all they serve is penis. In Vietnam they served him a beating snake heart!! Does that mean that all vietnamese eat beating snake hearts?? NO!!
So what is your point?
Squirl? Alligator? I've lived in the US my whole life and never eaten any of it. Never seen anyone eat squirrel, but I know someone does. I'd like to see him do a show where they do that. If they did a show like that would you all think that all americans eat squirrl, or alligator, or fermented fish heads? NO!!!
Velveeta- it's just cheese.
In every episode he does some normal food and some really strange food. That's what people want to see. There are 200 shows highlighting what good food from your countries is all about. Sure some of them are good, the rest BORING!!! Who cares about fried leaves? People want to see him eat camel paw, donkey meat and balut. It challenges the mind and senses. It's not to say you eat weird stuff all the time, it's to say hey, you have it on a menu, let's try it. He did focus on the lady, who was a local, with him at the penis restaurant. He pointed out she did not have much interest in trying the food there.
And SO WHAT about how he says things. 90% the world can not pronounce the name Jason correctly.. so do you have a point or are you going to attack him next because he is kind of fat?? Or maybe the shaved head... well not all americans have a shaved head.. is making us look bad? Get a life. He is an American, you are going to get an american sounding translation.
You should feel honored that he has visited your countries. He is showing the U.S. that things we think are really strange are not to other cultures. It makes people think about other things that we find completely "strange" should be more easily accepted.
The guy has done some 13 shows, he's not only talking about filipino's!!! of course other countries/cultures have different foods, that's why he is on the TRAVEL channel, and not the u.s. filipino channel. He can only make so many shows every year. i'm done, don't even know why I wasted my time.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous...get a life.

Bonggamom said...

It's ok... point taken. The title of the show is Bizarre Foods, after all, not The Best of Global Cuisine. I'm just hoping people are watching with this distinction in mind.

BTW I really like his show. I'm glad he's very respectful of the local cultures. And I'm glad the show is showing US viewers that the rest of the world eats fish and chicken with bodily parts attached, not from a hygenic square styrofoam package.

So I'm ok with that. But I still think his staff really needs to make more of an effort to research the pronounciation of local terms.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think it is wonderful that he takes the effort to bring these places into my living room. My children who are 8 and 11 love watching this show. We are travel and food channel buffs. I think it is wonderful that they are learning things about different countries (and the USA, he has done several shows here) on this show. It is a wonderful opportunity for me to share how much cultures differ. I get to talk to them about respecting others' beliefs and when visiting another country taking the time to understand why they eat what they do. I do not believe that every individual I see on the show eats every sigle dish he shows, but - really...isn't it fun to watch? Thanks to him for doing it.