"There's no such thing as 'scary food,'" Andrew Zimmern insists. "Putrefying shark is only off-putting because you haven't experienced it." As host of the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods, Zimmern has experiences most Americans never willcooking porcupine belly over an open fire with bushmen in Botswana, for instance. "I love how an ingredient no one wants can become heavenly in the right hands," he says.
While Zimmern actually prefers porcupine to walnuts (they leave a horrible taste in his mouth), his home cooking is fairly simple: "I'm a dad and husband, and I live in the Midwest. I make things like roast chicken." The former chef bridges the gap between bizarre and appealing with smart ingredient substitutions. For the taqueria staple chuchules, for instance, he skips the pig intestines in favor of pork confit. And instead of making yakitori with pig trachea, a dish he tried in Tokyo, he opts for chicken thigh. Not that he's given up on convincing the world to try innards. "You start to enjoy even the heinous stuff once you taste it with an open mind. I'm sure other cultures think a hot dog is pretty scary."
Scary Way: "Right in Tijuana's red-light district sits Kentucky Fried Buches, where cooks fry chicken necks, skin on, to fill soft corn tortillas. I can't stop eating them."