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Andrew Zimmern’s crazy awesome wings

So a couple weeks back, I happened on an episode of Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Made, which is the replacement for Best Thing I Ever Ate, for which I think they just ran out of ideas and categories for. And Andrew Zimmern was on there. You know, the guy from Travel Channel who has a show called Bizarre Foods, and eats some of the absolutely craziest things that anyone would ever put in their mouth–including one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen–bull schlong. Quite honestly, I drew the line right there and haven’t watched that show since.

But when I saw him dial up this recipe for “Grandmother’s Chinese chicken wings” and my mouth was watering right away. My mouth is watering as I type this, because I tried these things two Sundays ago and they were phenomenal. I made them again this past Sunday and I may make them every Sunday until the end of time. They were that good. And it’s not like they are crispy–you make them in a large pot and essentially stir fry them for like an hour. But holy crap, the sauce is like a parade of flavors–sweet, spicy, tangy, soy-ee. Anyway, I get it. I get why he tried to re-create these for years before a friend came across the recipe from a Chinese grandma. You have to get a few ingredients you may have trouble finding–dried chiles, star anise, sake and mirin. But you can usually find stuff like that in a store like Whole Foods, or giant grocery like Woodman’s here in Madison.

So do me a favor and do Zimmern a favor and try these wings for your next party. They will go FAST.

Product review: CASCAL fermented soda

On the surface, it sounds kind of funny and maybe not too appetizing–”fermented soda.” And maybe when you realize that CASCAL is a product endorsed by Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods fame, you might think you’re about to taste something strange. Then again, what do you think wine is? Basically fermented grape juice, right? And it’s also worth noting that there are no odd things in this beverage like, oh I don’t know, Mediterranean bug juice or bull testicle extract. They are basically sodas with fruit flavors, but with a couple of twists. For one, some of the fruits are fermented, giving it a half-sour, on its way to being alcohol flavor; and also there are some flower flavors such as rose and magnolia.

The taste? They are actually really delicious and refreshing. I’m a big fan of flavored, unsweetened seltzer, and since these are not as sweet as soda or even fruit juice infused seltzers, it’s refreshing without coating your mouth with sugar. The brightness of the fermented aspect is nice too without being over the top. My favorites were the Bright Citrus–with flavors of lemongrass, tangerine and pineapple; and the Berry Cassis, with black currant, tangerine and lemon. I wasn’t as crazy about the Ripe Rouge. The cherry and chocolate flavors in that one were nice but were overpowered by the rose flavoring. The same goes for the magnolia in Crisp White, which took over the pear and apricot tastes.

Zimmern offers advice on which flavors go best with which fare–such as Crisp White going well with egg dishes; and Ripe Rouge a nice complement to barbecued ribs. Thankfully, he doesn’t suggest pairing any of them with some of the weird things he eats on the show. So go try CASCAL in confidence if you are intrigued, and I know you are. The stuff is really interesting and for the most part, mighty tasty.

What’s the grossest thing you would eat?

I’ve noticed that on lots of food-oriented TV shows lately, hosts and contestants and just regular people are eating foods that I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.

Remember “Fear Factor?” They would make people eat bugs, but now it seems like bugs are exotic cuisine. In Asia, they eat bugs like it’s nothing. Yum, bugs in your ice cream? Oh yeah, that’s good! Yikes.
Anyway, on Food Network’s “Chefs vs. City,” one of the obstacle course stations was to eat bugs at some place in New Orleans that specializes in bug cuisine. Really? And I mean they were eating grasshoppers, ants, and other disgusting creatures.

Then they make the chefs on “Chopped” make creations with stuff like chocolate covered grasshoppers, and the one I saw recently–canned haggis. So we’re talking tripe and other organ meats mixed with oatmeal. Oh, and they did rabbit kidneys the other night. Really, does anyone really eat this crap?

On Travel Channel, Anthony Bourdain has partook in some pretty disgusting things, like when in Italy they break open a lamb’s stomach and dip bread in the blood that spews out. EWWWWWWWW. Are you serious?

Then, speaking of Travel Channel, there is Andrew Zimmern. Okay, his show is called “Bizarre Foods,” and while I would eat about 5 percent of what he eats on the show, I recently got hooked on the show a bit and was even DVR-ing episodes of it. But then he did it. The dude was in Viet Nam or Thailand, and he ate at a place that served….are you ready? You might want to look away……he ate bull penis and testicles. Yes, Andrew Z ate a schlong and balls. I know they put weird shit in hot dogs, but i’m almost sure they never use the unit of an animal. But the worst part was, the dude ate it and liked it. And he has the, ahem, balls, to say he refuses to eat walnuts. Are you kidding me???

So I ask you…what is the grossest thing you would ever eat? I think I draw the line at hot dogs, seriously. Let me know and I’ll post this on Facebook too. Blah!

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