Including, but certainly not limited to, a 62-course meal in Chengdu.
The ninth season of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern is hitting TV screens Monday, September 28th. Anyone who has sat through an episode knows it's an emotional roller coaster: cringing at the thought of ingesting whatever local delicacy is being featured, admiration for Zimmern's (almost) complete lack of hesitation, and relief when it's all said and eaten. To put it short, he's taught viewers around the world to sieze the moment when it comes to indulging in the tastes of the world.
To celebrate the new season, we spent some time talking to Zimmern about his all-time favorite dining experiences—of course, they did not disappoint. As expected, most of his recommendations are the most far-fetched of foodie dreams put into single sentences. Read on and start expanding your palettes:
Surprise 50th Birthday Dinner
Midwesterners, take note: "My surprise 50th birthday dinner at my favorite Chinese restaurant in Minneapolis—Shuang Cheng."
Roasted Bats on an Uninhabited Island
Short, sweet, and most certainly can't be beat: "I had a dinner in the jungle on the uninhabited island of Nougatelli where we roasted the fruit bats with wild ginger juice over a coconut fire."
Fresh Seafood at Bao Jao Seafood House
Proof that fresh seafood will forever trump: "Bao Jao Seafood House in the Philippines, down on the island of Palawan. We went to a seafood restaurant on stilts in the middle of a lagoon where the fishermen bring the stuff right up to you. It was quite something."
Eating a la Michelin in Paris
"I had a day in Paris of non-stop eating. I ate at three 3-star Michelin restaurants, including Pierre Gagnaire, who sat me right in the kitchen—that had to be right up there."
62 Courses in Chengdu
"My first dinner at Yu's Family Kitchen in Chengdu—It was a 62-course Chinese meal that boggled my mind. I remember everything about it. There was a course with a paintbrush, red paint, and a piece of paper to draw on. It confused me—I didn't know what to do. I held it up, and the paintbrush was edible. It was a dumpling made to look like a paintbrush. The brush itself was edible floss and inside was the dumpling—it was attached to the wooden stick. The paint itself was the sauce to dip it in. It was perfectly done."
Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.