Sticking with the protein not on the unusual list 2015.05.28


I went to a graduation open house last Saturday and, like one I attended for another member of the same family two years ago, everything I ate was delicious. Even better, at least in my book, everything was recognizable. 

When it comes to food, I may not know much, but I know what I hate, and trying something odd ranks high on that list. I went through that childhood phase of being forced to try new foods many years ago, and part of living on my own means now I only have to eat what I want, whether Andrew Zimmern likes it or not.

Zimmern, for those of you unfamiliar with him (I learned of his existence last Friday when I received the latest Mens Health magazine), hosts a show called “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel. He probably wouldn’t be happy to hear that in addition to him, I’ve never seen the channel, either. 

Zimmern wrote an article for Mens Health about protein and another for their website listing 26 unusual proteins we should all try. After seeing what he thinks is good to eat, I’m starting to wonder if his name was originally Zimmerman, up until the day he ate the third m and the a because they looked good to him, too.

For example, he starts his list with goat, saying “Goat is like soccer. The rest of the world gets it and here in America we don’t.” That’s hardly a reason to almost literally shove goat down our throats. After all, if the rest of the world jumped off a cliff, would Zimmern automatically think that’s a good idea for us?

He ends his goat pitch by saying “My dream someday is to have goat on every table in America once a week.” Dream on, Mr. Zimmern.

Next on his list is donkey, which he calls “the planet’s most underrated protein,” making me wonder which planet Zimmern is native to, and horse, which he calls “the other red meat.” He further states that “horse is what beef wants to be when it figures out how to taste that good.” Zimmern also expresses his love of eating horse meat raw. Now I think I know what happened to Triple Crown winner Secretariat.

Another of Zimmern’s “unusual” proteins is what he calls “real ham,” which he explains means real American country ham. He says he keeps one in his garage at all times, but doesn’t explain why it must be kept there. Maybe the exhaust from his vehicles adds some additional smoke flavor.

The ham is brought in when his family wants a slice or two and when company comes over. According to Zimmern, “Nothing says ‘I love you’ like cured pig.” If that’s the best he can do, I’m surprised he still has a family.

Zimmern suggests we get a trapping license so we can catch our own beaver, which he claims is delicious. Even more than beaver steaks, he loves “light and elegant beaver chili.” This may be the first time in the history of human communication that I’ve seen the words elegant, beaver and chili used in the same sentence.

If you get that trapping license, you could also use it to procure the next item on his list as “Trapping wild porcupine is the only way you will taste this amazing animal unless you travel to Botswana and hunt them.” Zimmern says serving the entire ”coat” of fatty skin charred is a “true treat.” For him, maybe. For the rest of us, is there a Burger King in Botswana?

In addition to ham, not all 26 items on the list are unusual, as items like crab, lobster, duck, goose, buffalo, venison, pork chops and “good” cheese are included. I’m not saying I’d eat all of these items, but they’re hardly worthy of inclusion with beaver, donkey or tuna head.

Tuna head? Zimmern says “No one is serving it in America and I don’t know why.” I could make a guess or two. He adds that “Tuna heads offer the best meat on the fish,” and, finally, “try the eyes.”  Uh, no, thanks.

Could it get worse? How about some barnacles, which Zimmern claims are “the next big thing” and “represent some of the best eating in the animal world.” And just think—if you know someone who owns a yacht, maybe they’ll let you scrape all the barnacles you can eat off the bottom of their boat for free. Sound good?

The more I think about it, that taco salad I had last Saturday sounds even better than it tasted at the time. And if someone ever invites me to a meal catered by Andrew Zimmern, I’ll get sick early and avoid the rush.