October 20, 2010 - 4:00 am
How bizarre is “The Bizarre Truth”? About as bizarre as author Andrew Zimmern’s Travel Channel show, “Bizarre Foods.” And that’s pretty bizarre.
The book is subtitled “Culinary Misadventures Around the Globe” and that’s exactly what this compendium of stories by Zimmern is. Most of us foodies are willing to take a lot of time and go to a lot of trouble — and travel great distances — to find the perfect meal, or the perfect dish, or even something we’ve always wanted to try or haven’t had for many years.
As for Zimmern? Think of him as an extreme foodie, willing to absolutely risk life and limb for an esoteric treat.
For example: puffin hunting in Iceland, which involved piling into an inflatable boat and setting out over open ocean under conditions that left him “expletive expletive-face petrified” to reach a volcanic island — which was created in 1963, making it “freakishly almost exactly as old” as Zimmern — and then leaping out of the moving boat and grabbing a climbing rope, to pull himself up onto the island. He does say he was “gaga” over smoked puffin, so we’ll assume it was worth it.
True to his TV personality, Zimmern comes across as affable and engaging, willing to try anything for a taste — or just the fun involved. But he also sees how much has been and will be lost in our changing world, and so he writes not only about adventure but about a matador who’s trying to save Madrid’s historic tabernas and the man who’s the last person on earth who dives for conch — and who Zimmern refers to as “the last bottle of Coke in the desert.”
The book is colorful, fun and fascinating, even if you’re not a foodie. But oh so much more satisfying if you are.