Andrew Zimmern gets 'bizarre' in Pittsburgh

In May, chef-turned-TV personality Andrew Zimmern spent five days in the 'Burgh exploring some of our city's more unusual culinary traditions. (Feel like eating catfish reeled in from the Allegheny River, anyone?). On Monday, Nov. 11, he'll finally dish up his findings, when a Pittsburgh episode of "Bizarre Foods America" airs on the Travel Channel.

A spin-off of the popular series "Bizarre Foods," the food/travel series explores the sometimes weird, often gross but always tasty (to locals, anyway) food traditions in cities across North America. It kicked off its fifth season on Nov. 4 in New Jersey, where Mr. Zimmern sampled an authentic Italian-American food called scungilli (conch meat that's steamed and cut into strips), visited a raman factory and dined on pig-blood stew and fresh pig trotters.

On Monday's show, the award-winning TV host pays expected homage to several of Pittsburgh's most-loved and best-known food destinations. No trip here would be complete without a visit to Wholey's or Primanti's, of course. Mr. Zimmern also takes a lovingly photographed tour of the Strip District with WQED producer Rick Sebak. Other stops include Emil's in Rankin and Pierogies Plus in McKees Rocks.

What puts the "bizarre" into this episode, though, is a trip to Silver Star Meats' sausage-making factory in McKees Rocks. Suffice it to say you don't really want to know what's in braunschweiger (hint: it involves hundreds of pounds of fresh, bloody liver, along with pig jowls) but you're going to find out anyway. Almost as icky to those of us who grew up here when the rivers weren't so clean is an after-dark angling session on the North Shore. Joe Gordon of 3 Rivers Catfish Club takes Mr. Zimmern fishing for monster catfish in the Allegheny River, and yes, they eat the mean-looking suckers they reel in.

The Minnesota-based food writer also explores some of the city's newer food traditions by sampling cured trout made by Tom and Cavan Patterson of Wild Purveyors and Chef Justin Severino's roast goat, goat sausage and goat-heart tartare on ramp pesto with celery foam at Cure.

Hungry? The show airs at 9 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 11, on Travel Channel. Future episodes will give viewers a taste of such delicacies as cicada pot-pie from Richmond, Va.; seal-flipper pie from Toronto; and Pakistani goat brain from New York City.

Gretchen McKay:


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