True Films

Bizarre Foods


bizarre-foods

Cooking show meets travel show. The gimmick works. Balding fat chef goes on a quest to eat the weirdest, strangest, most bizarre foods in the world. He’ll try anything twice, and then give his “review” of it. Humans somewhere will consume anything that moves, or is grown, so there is plenty of material. Strict vegetarians may want to avoid watching. Not only is any animal, insect, fish, invertebrate eaten, every part of it is gobbled down, as well.

The host, Andrew Zimmern, is plain spoken and enthusiastic. Sort of the opposite of a food snob. While there’s adequate background on each exotic host country and culture, the main emphasis is on Zimmern simply understanding and trying out bizarre foods. I’ve given my kids the DVDs in order to encourage them to eat outside the box. I think we owe it to ourselves to explore the world’s cuisine and outer boundaries of food. You don’t have to like it, just try it. Better than several books on the subject, this series will make you rethink your food limits. It’s comparative foodology 101. All weird foods have a good story behind them, as revealed in these upbeat documentaries.

There is a competing cooking/travel show hosted by another globetrotting chef, Anthony Bourdain, but this series, No Reservations, is more about the chef himself than the food. I found Bourdain smug, self-centered, prissy, and uninteresting, but your mileage may vary. Some like his snarky style. For a fun journey to somewhere different stick with Bizarre Foods.

– KK

BizarreFood1.jpg
BizarreFood2.jpg
BizarreFood3.jpg
BizarreFood4.jpg

Bizarre Foods
Andrew Zimmern
2007, 338 min.
$2 per episode, Amazon Instant Video

Official website

Read more about the film at Wikipedia

Rent from Netflix

Available from Amazon

Posted March 27, 2009 at 2:18 pm | comments
| in category Culture


Living with the Tribes


living-with-kombai living-with-mek

This series is the best exposition of a minimal-technological lifestyle that I have ever seen. It is far more revealing than most anthropological documentaries. Here, two white guys go native. For three months they live with a Papua New Guinea tribe that still adheres to traditional hunter gathering mode, using bows, stone and bone tools. Unlike most visitors, including anthropologists, these guys eat only what the tribe eats; indeed, they eat only food that they help find and process. They learn to make their own traditional tools and weapons. Seeing this process we get a very good sense of what is involved in living “in harmony with nature.” It’s tough. Each week the visitors give up more of their gear until they wear what the tribe wears, which is not much. The filmmakers record their own bumbling attempts to learn how to survive in the forest as these members of the Kombai tribe do, and via their education we get a fantastic view of tribal life.

In the second season, Mark and Olly join the highlander Mek tribe, also in Papua New Guinea (the Kombai were lowland tribe), and again go full immersion. During their four-month stay, they build their own hut, get initiated into the tribe, learn to love roots, and get swept up in village and tribal politics.

In their third season Mark and Olly go native with the Machigenga tribe at the headwaters of the Amazon. As in the other two tribal stays, this series gives a intimate portrait of what tribal life is like day to day. Tribal life is easier than one expects in many ways, and less appealing in many others. What surprises me is how disruptive small events are to a tribe, yielding constant drama.

– KK

Living With the Kombai
Mark Anstice, Olly Steeds
2007, 287 min.
DVD, 2-disc set, $8

Available from Amazon

Rent from Netflix

LivingKombai1.jpg
LivingKombai.2.jpg
LivingKombai.3.jpg
LivingKombai.4.jpg
LivingKombai.5.jpg

Living With the Mek
Mark Anstice, Olly Steeds
2008, 319 min.
DVD, 2-disc set, $13

Rent from Netflix

Available from Amazon

LivingMek1.jpg
LivingMek2.jpg
LivingMek3.jpg

Living With the Machigenga
Mark Anstice, Olly Steeds
2009, 348 min.
DVD, 2-disc set, $8

Rent from Netflix

Available from Amazon

Read more about the film at Wikipedia

Posted March 4, 2009 at 3:48 pm | comments
| in category Culture