If it’s squirmy, stinky and edible, chances are Andrew Zimmern has tasted it. The star of Travel Channel’s bizarre empire (“Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” “Bizarre Foods America” and “Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World”) headlines Strathmore’s Appetite Festival on Saturday. The two-day celebration (Giada De Laurentiis headlines Friday) includes cooking demos from local chefs and a beer garden.
You filmed an episode of “Bizarre Foods America” in Washington, D.C. Was there anything you ate that didn’t make the episode?
We did a wonderful meal with an Ethiopian family. That scene in its entirety is going to be in a show out this fall.
Did you find anything remarkable about the food scene in D.C.?
I lived in Adams Morgan for a couple months almost 30 years ago. D.C. is so radically different than it used to be. Little by little people have been exposed to dishes from around the world. It’s not like you have 700 Romanian restaurants just because there’s a Romanian embassy. I think the slickest thing is the Salvadoran community and the Korean community.
How do you decide which place to eat at in a new city?
I’m looking for the last bottle of water in the desert — a disappearing cultural icon attached to food.
Do you ever worry about running out of material?
I remember being in a meeting at the Travel Channel [before “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” premiered], and the president handed me a laser pointer. There was a map of the world on the wall, and he said, ‘Show me the number of episodes we could film.’ After about an hour they shut me up.
What’s something you ate recently that was better than expected?
I was just in Colombia and went upriver five hours to a village where the locals trapped caiman [a small alligator]. A lady lightly pounded it and pan fried it and added handfuls of lime juice and chilies and cooked it until the pan was dry. It was a world-class meal.
What can we expect at this weekend’s Appetite Festival?
I’m going to be doing a talk for 30 minutes [Saturday at 7:30 p.m.] on what I do and why I do it. It’s a fun, polished presentation. We’ll have an interactive Q-and-A where folks can get up and personal with me. And I’m going to do a food demo. I don’t want to give away what I’m making, but it’s likely something people have never seen before.
Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda; Fri., 5-9 p.m., & Sat., 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m., $44-$225; 301-581-5100, strathmore.org. (Grosvenor-Strathmore)
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