Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Behavior
“This small rodent has been revered as the national dish for thousands of years because it tastes great, it’s packed with protein, and it’s low in fat,” Zimmern explains on the show. While the show makes it clear that cuy is an accepted dish in some parts of the world, cavy enthusiasts are upset because they found Zimmern’s behavior disrespectful to the animals.
Zimmern compares the experience of dining on guinea pig to a seafood restaurant, telling viewers, “Just like picking out your lobster… you can pick out the guinea pig you want which isn’t the easiest thing to do if you’ve ever had Fluffy as a pet.” He’s then shown holding a wryly guinea pig, unsupported and screaming, just moments before it’s to become dinner. The death of the animal is not shown on the show but we do see several shots of the animal being prepared whole. Those opposed to the episode feel the animal should be treated with respect and should not be in this much stress or discomfort. Those in support feel the animal has reached its end and the stress or discomfort does not matter.“It made me cry, though, and I have been in rescue for 17 years now and I’ve seen a lot,” said Judi Lainer from Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue. “Mr. Zimmern obviously has no respect whatsoever for the animals he eats.” Lainer encourages those who are upset about what they see to write to the Travel Channel and share their opinions.
Is Zimmern educating viewers about these cultures by showcasing them in this way? This is debated. Guinea pig supporter Erika Walther commented, “What Zimmern is doing however, is not educating. He is perpetuating the polarization of cultures by engaging in these “bizarre” eating rituals in a flamboyant and arrogant manner rather than educating the US about these people and trying to encourage us to think about the reasons behind these cultures.”
A clip of the show can be seen on YouTube if you can stomach the scene. We’ll warn you by saying it isn’t easy to watch if you have a pet cavy. Share you opinion of this episode of Bizarre Foods by writing to the Travel Channel and letting them know how you feel. “I do hope people write so that our voices can be heard,” Lainer shares.
Season 1, Episode 3 featuring guinea pigs was originally aired March 12, 2007 but the episode continues to air. The show is now on Season 7 and has been retitled Bizarre Foods America with a focus on food in the United States rather than international travel.
What do you think of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern? Is it acceptable or did he cross the line? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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