Extreme Cuisine!

Remember this post all about the “Fear Factor” in Lao markets? Well I have to admit that whilst “extreme” foods are not really my cup of tea to eat, looking at them is a whole different matter. I braved the markets with my camera, trying not to pay too much attention to the actual origin of the various body parts and insects I was snapping photographing! Neil, of course, ate some bee larvae in the market that stung his mouth – I’d say he was asking for it but he said it was “for the blog”! The people on our market tour were also impressed that Neil was taking one for the group since they, like myself, seemed to prefer to look and photograph and let someone else do the tasting.

If, like me, you’re a timid taster but fascinated by unusual cuisine, you are going to LOVE the new show on Food Network Canada premiering tonight, called, appropriately, Extreme Cuisine with Jeff Corwin. An Emmy-winning television host (you may remember him from Animal Planet’s The Jeff Corwin Experience and Corwin’s Quest), Corwin believes that food is the glue that cements together a community and culture.

According to the press release, in Extreme Cuisine, Jeff “sets his sights on exploring human culture through regional cuisine in his first Food Network endeavour. This thrilling series follows the passionate foodie and anthropologist as he tears through exotic countries like Thailand, Mexico, Greece, Morocco and Peru on radical culinary adventures. Learning from the natives, he samples the indigenous foods, including silk worms, dancing shrimp and pigeon pie, and absorbs himself in the local customs that shape each unique community.”

I had the good fortune to view the first two episodes of this new series en avant première, courtesy of Jessica, the Publicity Coordinator for Lifestyle Channels from CanWest who contacted me after reading my writeup of Jamie Oliver’s talk in Toronto. She thought I might be interested since it deals with two of my passions – food and travel. Neil, on the other hand, thought he would be perfect to host the show since he really is fearless when it comes to eating weird foods… Uh huh…


(image courtesy of About.com)

Or how about some escamole?

(image courtesy of Top 10 Kid)

If grasshoppers and ant larvae aren’t your cup of tea but you’d enjoy watching someone else test the waters, then this is the show for you! Jeff is an affable host, very open-minded (and mouthed!) and in the two episodes I watched (Mexico and Greece), I was impressed to see him making an effort to communicate in the local lingo. Many of the folks he visited and cooked with did not really speak English and this made a refreshing change from other travel and/or food shows.

Many of us know what it’s like being in a foreign country where we don’t speak the language (and don’t know what food we are ordering!!!) and how we have to sometimes pull out all stops to make ourselves understood. Watching Jeff interact with the local people – as he gestures and charades when language fails him – was very real. Jeff is charmingly awkward sometimes as he jokes around and makes puns which don’t always translate. Those of us who have lived in or visited a foreign country will have experienced this feeling so it simply adds to the genuine feel of the show; Jeff seems truly interested in finding out about the different foods and culture/eating habits of the countries he visits.

If there’s anything the show is lacking, for me it would be more information about the places they visit but since it is a food (as opposed to travel)-centric show it’s probably not reasonable to expect that they include even MORE info – then it would be a different show, right? 😉

If you’re into travel and food, especially watching other people eat the food you don’t dare to try, then you will want to tune into Food Network Canada tonight, Thursday January 7th at 9pm ET (6pm PT). If you do, please leave a comment here after you have watched it – I would love to hear what you think! I know I will be checking out future episodes to see where he travels to and what strange food he’s eating!!!

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8 Responses to Extreme Cuisine!

  1. The Best Family January 7, 2010 at 12:11 #

    so fun that you're getting to preview a new show – i love the ways your blog is making these interesting contacts for you! jeff corwin is a very charming fellow who can tell a great story. we hadn't seen much of his actual tv show, but when we was performing with his animals in a town near us last fall, i took charlotte to see him. she'll be in love with this new show! i need to remember to set the tivo. :)

  2. Conor @ HoldtheBeef January 7, 2010 at 12:55 #

    Sounds like my kind of show. I'm a fan of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, loving how he's so very open to how different cultures few foods so differently. This show sounds very similar! Will have to tell the pay-tv person in the family about this show, see if it turns up here too.

  3. Vegetable Matter January 7, 2010 at 18:26 #

    Wonder if it's coming to the U.S. My boys love to watch gross shows like this one. My stomach gets a little too queasy. I don't like roller coasters or small watercraft either. We'll keep an eye out for it here!

  4. Brad January 7, 2010 at 19:34 #

    I like watching the extreme cuisine shows but I am not sure if I could eat most of it. Thanks for the great article.

  5. Geoff January 8, 2010 at 00:00 #

    We should get Corwin to come down under and try Witchety Grubs. ELTW will know what they are… you eat them live, or roasted, I'm told. Full of protein and all that… but …

  6. k a b l o o e y January 8, 2010 at 01:50 #

    How cool that the publicity woman contacted you — you're an opinion-shaper, Mardi! I don't like watching extreme eating, but love the travel aspect and behind the usual tourist gaze aspect of these shows. Love watching Anthony Bourdain's show, for instance. If they could do Top Chef on the road, that's be perfect for me.

  7. Neil C. Phillips January 8, 2010 at 13:36 #

    Geoff, I'm offended: how come those weren't on the menu when I was last (well, only) in Oz?

    It was a good show, overall. A couple comments…

    1) The way it's done, it's not "gross", really. Obviously some of WHAT he's preparing and eating may not be to everyone's liking, but the diting (to me) was more on local cuisine, as opposed to the ewww factor. I appreciated this a lot.

    2) As much as I like Anthony, Jeff certainly is less full of himself on the show, and let the local characters shine through more. I found him less condescending.

    3) He did seem to wish to channel the Ian Wright in him – a bit much at times.

    Overall: this will defintiely be a show on my viewing agenda. If Jeff needs a sidekick, or some research, FN can contact me through Mardi…balut and oh so much more. 😉

  8. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite January 11, 2010 at 01:01 #

    Best Family – how cool that you got to meet Jeff in person! I can see how Charlotte would fall for him!

    Conor – I think you would love this!

    Vegetable Matter – I think it's already aired in the US but it's probably on rerun somewhere.

    Brad – my pleasure!

    Dad – I think he tries something similar to the grubs at some point…

    Kablooey – Top Chef on the road – like a cross with Amazing Race??? My kinda show too!

    Neil – yes, you would be great on this show!

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