Andrew Zimmern on globalization, immersive travel, and the royal rat—my interview with “El Pelón” on World Hum

az4.jpg“Travels in a ‘Bizarre World’ — Joshua Berman asks the Travel Channel host about his new show, his book, and the impact of globalization on culinary diversity”

Last winter, I served as a researcher and guide for Travel Channel superstar Andrew Zimmern and his crew during the filming of episodes in both Nicaragua and Belize. Nicaraguans love giving nicknames—they called Andrew “El Pelón que come gusanos” (the bald one who eats worms) and “Chamboaca,” the latter a highly complex term of endearment which is short for “El que come como un chancho, duerme como un boa, y caga como una vaca” (or “He who eats like a pig, sleeps like a boa, and shits like a cow”).

Belizeans just called him “Andrew,” like they were old buddies. AZ’s fans in Belize ranged from squat Mayans in the south, to the pilot of our charter plane who declared in a heavy kriol accent, “You consume some crap, mon!” before chest-bumping Andrew on the tarmac.

az_jb.jpgDuring our travels, I had a chance to chat with El Pelón—here is my interview with Andrew Zimmern on There’s definitely more to the man and his show than just bugs, balls, and brains: “We want to show parts of the culture [our viewers] haven’t seen before,” he says. “We want to show what the country looks like in an immersive way that people wouldn’t normally see by themselves.”

As a guidebook writer, I have a similar mission, so I appreciated his insight. Please enjoy our chat.

More on my work as a Nicaragua and Belize fixer.

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