The Watchman: ‘Bizarre Foods’ Host Recalls Bourdain

Andrew Zimmern

Andrew Zimmern

A new season of Bizarre Foods rolls on Travel Channel July 3, as Andrew Zimmern schleps along some of history’s most iconic routes, hearing stories and sampling fascinating grub. Zimmern said the show was initially pitched as a look not at the quirky dining spots in cities and countries, but as a close-up of historical routes that offer compelling stories and victuals.

The new season sees him try deer haggis while walking in the footsteps of William Wallace in Scotland, sampling squirrel on the escape route of the Underground Railroad, and following a Pony Express trail to Sacramento while noshing on fire-roasted duck hearts.

“The stories are so fabulous,” Zimmern said. “We meet such engaging people.”

There’s a political bent to some of the episodes, such as Scotland’s struggle with independence and a visit to the Battle of the Bulge site in Belgium. “Belgium is one of the many countries we stood with as allies for truth, justice and freedom,” said Zimmern. “In 2018 we are rejecting those allies.”

Zimmern doesn’t deny the political messages in the new season. “It’s impossible to escape what I call civic truths,” he said.

The host was pals with Anthony Bourdain, and offers up fun bits about his fellow chef and TV host, including one Travel Channel promo session when Zimmern was first starting in television. As they sat on the Brooklyn Bridge, Bourdain described television as a “vile mistress.”

“The man was a f--king symphony,” Zimmern said.

Evel Live, History’s three-hour homage to daredevil Evel Knievel, premieres July 8. Motorcycle maven Travis Pastrana will attempt three of Knievel’s jumps in Las Vegas: a leap over 52 cars, then 16 buses, and finally the fountain at Caesar’s Palace.

Pastrana said his father and uncles “pretty much worshiped Knievel,” and he was raised to obey “the Evel mentality: ‘If you say you’ll do it, do it,’ and, ‘It’s not a failure until you fail to get up.’”

Evel Live is a tribute not just to Knievel, he said, but to all the swashbucklers from the days of yore. “When men were men,” said Pastrana, “and bikes were crap.”

He admits the Vegas jumps are “very frightening,” and says each of the three has its quirks. The 52-car jump should be the easiest. The 16-bus leap, two more buses than Knievel jumped, offers the highest ramp. The Caesar’s fountain jump, meanwhile, has never been pulled off before. Knievel tried it, and ended up in a horrific crash.

“We’re pushing the limits on what can be done on this kind of motorcycle,” Pastrana said. “We’re showing that there are still guys who push the boundaries like the guys from the ’70s.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone is content director at B+C and Multichannel News. He joined B+C in 2005 and has covered network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television, including writing the "Local News Close-Up" market profiles. He also hosted the podcasts "Busted Pilot" and "Series Business." His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Boston Globe and New York magazine.