Posted By: Andrew Zimmern
Andrew Zimmern shares his favorite moments from Miami.
Andrew Zimmern shares his thoughts on the trip to San Diego, including a few suggestions for the places you must visit.
Andrew Zimmern shares his thoughts on the Behind the Scenes and 100th episode of Bizarre Foods which takes places in Las Vegas. Andrew also shares moments (i.e. housemade tofu, Raku and more) that didn’t make the final show.
Andrew Zimmern shares his thoughts on Bizarre Foods Celebrates 100. Andrew looks back on the many, many episodes of Bizarre Foods and looks forward to the future with Bizarre Foods America.
I love Georgia, and I fell in love with Daufuskie Island during the making of Bizarre Foods America. Sallie Ann Robinson is a giant, an angel and a visionary who can also make a mean pot of crab rice. As you can see in the show, it’s one of the more special places we have ever visited.
Daufuskie is a residential “sea island” between Savannah, Georgia and Hilton Head, South Carolina, about 2.75 miles (4.43 km) offshore. The total island surface is just 8 square miles (21 km2) within the maximum length of 5 miles (8.0 km) and maximum width of 2.5 miles (4.0 km). Daufuskie has a full-time population of around 250. There are two resorts, a private residential community, and a large undeveloped tract of lands identified as residential property. The island’s recorded history traces back to pre-Revolutionary War. It was the site of a skirmish called the “Daufuskie Fight” during the Yemassee War of 1715–1717. The island was home to a sizable population of Gullah inhabitants from the end of the Civil War until very recently. Gullah are the descendants of freed slaves. The 1972 Pat Conroy book The Water is Wide was set on Daufuskie, fictionalized as “Yamacraw Island.” The book recounts Mr. Conroy’s experiences teaching on the island in the 1960s. The Daufuskie Island Historical Foundation (www.daufuskieislandhistoricalfoundation.org) has a museum with historical artifacts of the island as well as a display with information about the Gullah history of the island. The island is now split into five parts.
To the northeast is the Haig Point Club, a private, member owned residential club with around 150 year-round residents and over 225 homes.
South of Haig Point is the Daufuskie Resort. Formerly a private vacation club with an emphasis on golf and tennis, and offering a private residential component, this is now a publicly accessible resort. Farther south on the eastern side of the island is Oak Ridge, a small undeveloped oceanfront community, followed by Bloody Point, a private residential community.
The western part of the island is unincorporated land. Several dozen residents live in a variety of accommodations, from trailers to beautiful waterfront homes with private docks. This section of the island received federal designation as a Historical District in the early 80s. According to a study conducted by the Savannah College of Art and Design, the island has excellent examples of Gullah homes which have not been altered. There are decendants of the Gullah people living in this area on land which they have owned since just after the Civil War
When I left Daufuskie, I knew something wasn’t right. How could the interior of the island, a place with so much history, one of America’s great treasures, be surrounded by a gated community and populated with multi million dollar luxurious second/third homes? How could it survive? How did the few permanent residents of the isle deal with this, and would the island in years to come suffer the same fate as so many others have, culturally bulldozed to make way for the agenda of the few looking to take advantage of the underrepresented. Sallie Ann’s pal Don Newton sent me this email a few months back, I excerpted the following:
In “Souls of Black Folk,” W.E. B. Dubois speaks of a veil that shrouds Blacks in America; and the veil renders the wearer invisible. The social, economic and human health costs of life behind the veil are high. Even today, such costs remain overwhelmingly high for the residents in a historic Gullah neighborhood in Daufuskie Island’s Community Preservation (CP) District, Beaufort County, South Carolina. The Gullah people are the descendants of former slaves who returned to the bridgeless island after the Civil War. For over last 19 years, blacks and other residents of Daufuskie’s historic district received sub‐standard waste services—county owned and operated waste services that degraded their environment and potentially endangered their health. There is a history of stench at the “dump” that would “gag a maggot,” wrote one well known Daufuskie Island resident in an August 2010 newspaper article. He continued: *There was+ “garbage tea” leaking into the ground due to the exposure of garbage in open‐top dumpsters to the rain; “waste oil and battery acid dumping from golf carts; a three‐ring circus of buzzards, raccoons, possums, rats, and feral dogs and cats.” So other than a practice of continuing environmental injustice, what is the rub for some historic district (also called the community preservation (CP) district), landowners and residents in regard to the proposed new waste facility?
Is the disregard for black history and culture so blatant among high‐ranking county officials as to make it perfectly acceptable to build an island‐wide waste facility on land of historic significance to black people? The actual site for the county owned and operated waste facility is recorded in the National Historic Registry as “Robinson’s House (#93 on historic map)—the parcel is a “contributor” to Daufuskie Island’s designation as a historic district. Two key historic properties— the First African Union Baptist Church and the Mary Field School (#89 and #91 respectively on the historic map)—are in use today by residents across the island, are on the must‐see list for tourists, and are in close vicinity to the county’s proposed permanent waste facility.
Is the Dubois “veil” phenomenon preventing county officials from realizing their lawful responsibilities in the case of waste management on Daufuskie? Or alternatively, do we have life as usual where public agendas tend to be heavily influenced and driven by those with power, money, and political connections? In either case, blacks and the socio‐economically disadvantaged remain disenfranchised.
Now, you don’t have to pick sides if you don’t want to. Don and his wife live near one of the 5 existing garbage pic-up sites on the island. The residents want the garbage situation remedied without expanding a plant in the interior of the island. That’s the easy solution that the state seems to back and it’s amenable to many who live in the private developments on the coast. Out of sight, out of mind. But the reason I post this is that as I travel around the world I have become sensitized to the ongoing struggles of people trying to live their lives with dignity and respect. From the residents of Favela Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro to the boat people of Tongle Sap in Cambodia, from the homeless on the streets of San Francisco to the descendants of slaves whose ancestral homes on Daufuskie Island are the unwilling pawns in a real estate struggle that goes way beyond sewer and waste management issues. Rumors swirl that Beaufort county would rather put a dump site in the historic area than a park and that the local government is spending money on other projects that was allocated for Daufuskie.
Kyle Peterson is a local reporter who is following this story and here is a link to an older article of his. Anyone looking to write a letter or follow up on their own can contact the local government. My point is simple. When you visit a place as a traveler, sometimes in many ways you will never leave.
Sometimes when we visit a place, a little piece of it rubs off on you and you cant shake it. That’s the power of travel.
So here is what you wont see in our Charleston show. An entire city engaged.
Impossible to define, like the Supreme Court definition of pornography (“you know it when you see it”), the people of South Carolina and especially in Charleston know food. On a basic and intrinsic level, they have pitch-perfect taste. We had one free evening when we shot that week (well, that means we were done by 8 after a 13 hour day) and I met my pals from Perennial Plate at FIG, Mike Lata’s amazing restaurant that has helped jump start the Charleston food explosion. It was a Tuesday evening. Slow night. Wrong. Place was packed in ‘off season’ on a ‘slow night’ and that was also the case all over town. People love to go out to eat in Charleston. Anyway, like all the other great restaurants in this city, FIG offers simple recognizable food, nothing fancy or convoluted, nothing but perfection in every dish. Mike was out of town the night we were there and it’s a testament to his staff that the evening was a seamlessly excellent as when he is on premise. A rarity in the restaurant world.
On the flip side of the equation, there is TW Graham’s in McClellanville, just outside of Charleston. We had a rain out on a story one day, needed some content and the restaurant opened their doors to us. You will see it in the show. What you wont see was the two hours we spent eating across their whole menu after the shooting wrapped. Without doubt one of the best crab cafes I have ever come across, but the owners make a chowder that will curl your toes. They graciously allowed us to have their recipe. You can’t go wrong. That being said, the recipe is less than tight. Its designed for cooks that have a lot of touch. I suggest simmering the shrimp shells in the stock for a while before using and I think you need to simmer the chowder until cream is thickened. Play around with this recipe but BY ALL MEANS get down to TWG and have lunch, then head into town and dine at FIG. You will thank me later. Catch the episode of Bizarre Foods America: Charleston tonight, Mon., March 5, at 9|8C on Travel Channel.
Crab and Shrimp Chowder
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1/2 small jalapeno, fine dice 1 large sweet onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large baking potatoes, unpeeled and diced
1/2 lb raw chopped shrimp
1 lb fresh crab meat
1 cup corn kernels
1/4 lb unsalted butter
1 qt chicken stock (I think they use some crab/shrimp stock also, but go ahead and experiment)
1 qt heavy cream celery salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Saute vegetables, except potatoes, in butter. Add potatoes and sauteed vegetables to stock; cook until potatoes are just tender. Remove from heat, and add shrimp and crab. When shrimp have turned pink; add heavy cream, corn, celery salt, and pepper. Return to low heat, and simmer very gently.
I LOVE WEST VIRGINIA, it’s the most beautiful state in the lower 48. And professionally, because of the state’s topography, makes it the most obvious example of Darwin’s Island Theory. Tiny little hamlets and towns comprise West Virginia and the pockets of culture preserved by its steep hillsides are legendary, especially when it comes to music, but also when it comes to food.
The story below I wrote originally for a friend’s anthology called Chewed. I was sent a half-eaten squirrel chew toy, purportedly mangled by someone’s dog, and was told to give them 700 words of backstory. I did, and inspired by my many trips to WV, it feels right to share with you in this format. Best of all, it has a great squirrel recipe included, enjoy.
Squirrel: A Cautionary Tale
I knew I wanted to eat it. Why wouldn’t I? I had joyfully devoured this primeval delicacy years before, in the hollers of West Virginia and yeah, it was really good. Never shy away from a plump squirrel, that’s my motto.
I know what you’re thinking. And to answer your question, this squirrel has nothing in common with a NYC Central Park squirrel. Those little bastards are vicious and Lord only knows what they are eating, or what squirrel-borne pathogens they could pass my way. This squirrel was different. This squirrel was local… born, raised, fed and eventually taking the long dirt nap, all in the backyard of my house in Minnesota. He ate apples I tossed him in the winter, berries from my garden in summer. Diet dictates flavor!
So one day in late October, small game license in hand, when preparation met with opportunity, I culled the herd and dispatched the biggest fattest sweetest, fruit-and-nut fed squirrel of them all. This was locavorism of the highest order. Zero mile dieting more or less. I skinned and butchered him, roasted the head in the fireplace, engaging the most far reaching places of my lizardy consciousness as I cracked the skull and prized out the brain, splashed it with sea salt and a squeeze of lemon and enjoyed every blissfully creamy, meat buttery moment. The rest of him? Well, fried squirrel is something my friends at the Snowshoe Lodge and Adventures at The Gorge gave me a lust for, so lunch was a no-brainer. Pun intended. Weeks later a treat arrived in the mail from the local taxidermist, so up on the shelf went my little squirrel. In full view through the glass enclosed porch of all the other critters in the woods. Top of the food chain baby! But my delightfully articulated symbolic gesture was short lived. The pooch, drawn to the latest incarnation as much as I was to the first, somehow got him down. And yes, the dog clearly enjoyed his chew toy as much as I enjoyed his warm blooded doppelganger.
Take your squirrel and skin it, clean it, rinse it in several changes of cold water and pat it dry. Cut it into fifths (two front quarters, two rear quarters and one central piece of the saddle).
Let it soak in a cup or more of buttermilk for as little as 2 hours or as much as 24.
Remove the squirrel from the buttermilk and let it drip dry for a moment, then season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Dredge it in flour lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and place pieces on a piece of wax paper.
Place a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and add rendered fresh lard (vegetable oil will do in a pinch), to fill to a depth of about a half inch.
Heat the fat to 375 degrees, or until a piece of squirrel sizzles well when it’s slipped into the pan.
Fry pieces for 5-6 minutes, until walnut brown, drain on paper towel, season, allow fried squirrel to rest a few minutes and enjoy.