Andrew Zimmern’s program What’s Eating America was filmed last summer, when the current COVID-19 pandemic would have been impossible to predict. And yet the subjects of his six-part series could not possibly be more timely.
“I feel like the issues that we documented back then have only become more critical,” says Zimmern from a self-imposed self-quarantine in Minnesota. “Our first five episodes were board survey pieces on topics like immigration and our healthcare system. These are stories that have tentacles that run deep into our daily lives, especially at this time.”
The palatable blend of vital information and Zimmern’s charismatic personality plus willingness for introspection makes What’s Eating America important and engaging viewing in this day and age. As a long-time television personality, Zimmern understands better than most the importance of balance in media consumption.
“There is certainly a lot of hard news that I think people should be making themselves aware of,” he says. “But you can only take in so much before it becomes overwhelming. That is why last night I watch Top Chef All-Stars and Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Zimmern’s favorite way to spend a night indoors is the classic “dinner and a movie” combo, one that he perfected during his early days teaching cooking classes at Cooks of Crocus Hill in Saint Paul. That practice has since become a welcome salve for the constant stress of the day.
“Dinner and a movie is one of the best ways to bring other cultures into our homes,” the chef says.
We asked Zimmern to show us his version of the perfect night in, with a little horticulture on the side.
Creamy Lemon Pasta
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4 people
This is a recipe was inspired by the seaside town of Rivello in Italy. I am really proud of it. It is one of the most downloaded recipes at Food & Wine’s website and I know it is on my website as well. It comes up quick if you just Google “Andrew Zimmern lemon pasta.”
It’s bright, citrusy, creamy, and delicious. It is tried and true. -AZ
The Big Night (buy on Amazon or watch free on Tubi)
This is one of my favorite food movies. – AZ
Synopsis: Chef Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and businessman Secondo (Stanley Tucci) are immigrant brothers from Italy who open their dream restaurant, Paradise, in New Jersey. However, Primo’s authentic food is too unfamiliar for the local tastes, and the restaurant struggles. When famous Italian-American bandleader Louis Prima is scheduled to appear at Paradise, the two brothers put all of their efforts into the important meal, which will likely decide the very fate of their restaurant.
For more food movies check out “The Best Food Movies on Netflix Right Now.”
Grow Your Own Cherry Tomatoes (find seeds here)
I still have my grand grandmother’s Victory Garden pin for growing so much food during World War II. Let’s get people growing food again if they have the space, and lose the absolutely dependence on the grocery store. I hope this can be a silver lining of the shutdown.
I have had a lot of friends asking me what they should be growing. I say right away, “Don’t grow watermelons.” What I mean by that is don’t pick a challenging vegetable or fruit to grow, pick something that will have a high yield no matter your skillset.
Cherry tomatoes are constantly growing, you could get two or three crops off of them. Pick them off and add them to a nice side salad with your lemon pasta, you can feel an extra sense of accomplishment with the meal. – AZ
Check out full episodes of What’s Eating America on the MSNBC website. Check out Andrew Zimmern’s recent interview on the Great Adventures podcast here.