Chicken testicles, black chicken meat, stinky tofu stuffed with cabbage, cock’s comb sautéed with green onions, and bees, perfectly crunchy without the runny, intestinal goo most bugs offer, are not experienced on many menus or prepared by many chefs. And few culinary gurus have the opportunity to travel the world in search of weird, bizarre buffets on streets and in alleys of the globe.
When I first walked into Café un deux trois in Minneapolis, over a decade ago, little did I know the chef who delicately roasted my veal chop and plated my profiteroles would someday be interviewing street vendors in Taiwan or sipping tea after burning his mouth on shredded spicy cabbage.
Andrew Zimmern has always been on the edge. His dreams have always been broader than developing the next great barbecue sauce. As the opening chef at un deux trios he experimented with the palates of Twin Citians on regular basis. But the path Andrew walked was different from your regular chef. He was methodical about food. He always hungered for the culinary combination that would make a dining community gasp in awe while they were still trying to figure out the difference between Fussilli and Fettuccine.
Zimmern possesses the character of a character. A prankster who enjoys life, the traveling chef was always ready for an adventure.
I hadn’t seen Andrew since I left the Twin Cities – until Sunday night. While surfing the channels Andrew’s face filled the screen on my Sony. While sucking a Chicken Satay his brow wrinkled and his face contorted with the emotional enthusiasm of a man on a culinary mission. Bizzaro as it may seem, Zimmern was there, in my living room, on the Travel Channel. Hosting his own show, “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern”, the chef has walked the mighty tumultuous path of culinary adventure and his journey, happily, continues.
If you haven’t watched the show, tune in. Zimmern is a great host and his explanation of the foods and dishes he merrily consumes, almost as though accepting a dining dare, is fascinating. He is living proof that one should never give up the dream or the journey.
Zimmern was always exploring the street foods of the world, and on occasion his creation would grace the menu of the café. The first time I ate shrimp in the shell coated with sea salt, pepper and other secret spices was on a Saturday evening with my wife and mother in law, Helen Lawton.
Andrew, always the gracious chef, would appear tableside from the kitchen, seeking kudos or criticism on the shrimp or Helen’s veal. Naturally, after a mini round of applause, Zimmern would spout off the recipe, without hesitation and describe where he had experienced the dish. A street stall in
Seeing his face again, brought a smile to mine. Memories of our past lives flashed in front of me. Joyously I watched and thought how excited Helen would be to see one of her favorite chefs on TV while he was cringing at having to eat fermented beef and cabbage next to a plate of stinky tofu. Delightful.