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Andrew Zimmern’s Picks Don’t Appeal January 17, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Food & Drink, Writing & Writers.
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200px-Musca_illustrationHave you ever watched Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern?

Even if I weren’t adverse to carnivorous foods, the stuff he sticks in his mouth would NEVER pass my lips without strenuous argument and objection.

I am disinclined to eat a frog’s beating heart, drink lizard sake, or quaff bull’s rectum and testicle soup.

I am equally opposed to eating baby eels, poached calve’s brain, grubs, deep fried worms, rooster comb, and any number of other bizarre “delicacies” that Andrew has shared with his viewers (and his intestines).

If Andrew and I went to a restaurant together, and he listed his 100 Favorite Foods on the menu, I expect that I would have tried only a few, if any, of his picks.

There might be only one or two things I had not tried that I would be willing to consume . . . for any amount of money.

Any offer on his part to order for me would be declined without hesitation.

There is no way I would willingly substitute his nutritional and epicurean  judgment for mine.

I felt the same way this morning, reading through Time Magazine’s list of  the 100 Best Books written in the English language since 1923.

I’d read between 10 and 20 of the two editors’ selections, and only enjoyed a handful of those.  Several books were required reading in High School and College.  Others were read, under internal duress, while I was still a member of The Clean (Book)Plate Club.

As I scrolled through the synopses provided by Time, I found only ONE book I had not read that I want to read:

The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969) ~ John Fowles

For those of you who have not read it, here’s what Time Magazine had to say:

A magnificent game of a novel, one in which the brilliant postmodern contrivances actually add to the poignancy of its anguished Victorian characters. Charles Smithson is an amateur paleontologist living on the southwestern coast of England. Ernestina is his drearily upright fiancee. Sarah Woodruff is an enigmatic local governess, said to be pining for a French soldier who has misused her.

The fourth major figure in this book is not a character but the author. By no means all-powerful, he discovers early on that he has lost control of his characters and proposes in that case to let them have their freedom. And he means it.

The story procedes [sic] through alternative episodes — in one Charles marries Ernestina; in another he doesn’t — and multiple endings, with the author sometimes turning up to walk among his characters and comment tartly on their actions.

In its final pages — don’t dare to call them a conclusion; in a book so open-ended, what could that word mean? — he opens a vista onto freedom that’s both dazzling and devastating.

I don’t know if I will enjoy The French Lieutenant’s Woman, but I’m intrigued to see how the author tells the tale(s) while letting his characters lead the way.

The rest of the books on the Time’s list, I’ve either read or  am unwilling to consume.

I am disinclined to substitute the Time’s literary judgment for mine since its editors seem, like Zimmern, to lean toward the more unsavory and bizarre offerings of life.

What we put into our mouths is with us only a short while before making an exit through the back door (assuming we can choke it down at all).

What we put into our minds may haunt those hallowed halls forever.  I choose to jealously guard the entrance to mine.

How about you?  How often do you allow someone else to substitute their judgment for yours in selecting the food, books, and movies you consume?

No rules.  Just write!

Related posts:  Time’s 100 Best Books (My Literary Quest) * The Clean (Book)Plate Club * Inspiration and A Challenge (Reflections from a Cloudy Mirror) * Food Critic, Book Critic, Film Critic (BrainRants)

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Comments»

1. Greg Camp - January 17, 2011

If someone’s paying me, I’ll eat it or read it, more than likely. Why? It’s not a matter of principle, and I can use the money. I won’t violate my principles, but my tastes–myeh, let’s negotiate.

In my experience, no reading is wrong for me. It’s informative, aesthetically pleasing, or instructive. Good writing gives me ideas that I need and pleasure that I enjoy. Bad writing shows me what not to do.

I don’t generally pay much attention to lists, though, because I don’t know the standards by which the list was compiled.

nrhatch - January 17, 2011

I will never be able to read all the books that I want to read . . . so I no longer waste time reading novels that have as their central focus subject matter that makes me sick to my stomach (horror, torture, terror, incest, animal abuse, child abuse, drug abuse, gratuitous violence, prostitution, sexual abuse, etc.) ~ and that is true no matter how well written the prose or how well endorsed the author.

If I need to bone up on any of those depresing subjects, I don’t need to read a novel . . . I can read the newspaper. 😦

2. Maggie - January 17, 2011

Ah, the golden writing of John Fowles – that is one particular book I feel inclined to try as well.

nrhatch - January 17, 2011

Doesn’t it sound interesting? I’ve requested it from the library so I can give it a peek.

3. Cindy - January 17, 2011

No, Zimmerns’ rectum and testicles aren’t my thing either.
As for the book list, pfft!

nrhatch - January 17, 2011

The choice of reading material is personal ~ perhaps even more so than what we choose to consume at the dinner table.

Time is a limited commodity. It pays dividends when we spend it wisely.

4. flyinggma - January 17, 2011

I appreciate your analogy between food and books. I’m appalled at the lengths to which they go to find the new “extreme” tv shows, constantly pushing beyond where they have gone before.

I guard what enters my mind through books and movies because I recognize the fact that they can remain in my mind for a very long time.

qaSometimes I think that I have forgotten an image from a long time ago and when I place myself in a certain set of circumstances those thoughts reappear and are as fresh as the first time I saw or read them.

Sometimes all it takes is glance at something or a smell to call those thoughts or images back.

I agree wholeheartedly that time is a limited commodity. It is that fact that I struggle with daily, to use it wisely.

nrhatch - January 17, 2011

Reality TV is so bizarre . . . on so many levels.

I’m more careful about the movies I watch and the books I read because of unpleasant flashbacks I’ve had from films like Reservoir Dogs ~ the torture scene in that movie still makes me want to vomit.

I no longer watch anything directed by Quentin Tarantino. His sense of humor and mine don’t mesh.

And when people say, “Try it, you’ll like it” or “You don’t know what you’re missing,” I just smile and say, “Of course I do . . . and I’m not missing it at all.” 🙂

5. Carol Ann Hoel - January 17, 2011

I’m very picky about food. But, my Grandpa, the CC Camp cook of a former age, learned to prepare a dish of pork brains and eggs that was absolutely delicious. As a child I’d been eating it for breakfast for years before finding out what it was. All the other foods on Zimmerns’ list sound awful to me, and I’ll never knowingly eat them.

The books, well, I am so short on time these days that I’ve scarcely time to read the few books I’ve recently purchased to support debut authors. Blessings to you, Nancy…

nrhatch - January 17, 2011

Thanks, Carol Ann. I find that I’m having the same problem getting through the books I have stacked waiting for my attention.

I often read only after getting in bed at night and, in short order, I’m ready to turn out the light.

My favorite way to consume books is when I can sit outside and read. Aah . . . bliss.

6. Artswebshow - January 17, 2011

I’ve heard of the french lieutanants woman.
Wasn’t it done in film too?

nrhatch - January 17, 2011

There is a movie by the same name, but the plot has been changed substantially ~ it’s about a group of actors in the present, putting on a play of the past.

7. Paula Tohline Calhoun - January 17, 2011

As far as Zimmern goes, I am right with you. The same for the fellow that has made a show out of over eating! That sends me around the bend. I confess to not having seen it, but the ads are enough for me. I even turn those off!

Now, on to books and book lists. I frequently peruse them and often choose from them – not because I’m letting someone else choose what I read, but because the lists help to inform me of what is out there! Otherwise, since we are without an indie bookstore in town, and the big box stores are a hike away, I depend on lists in magazines and newspapers and online to help me see what is available.

I made myself a challenge to read the books on Time’s list – not because I think they will all be great, but because I think that any book gives me some sort of insight into how some people think. I don’t think a book has EVER by itself changed my mind or caused me to walk a path I have not chosen to. BUT, many books have offered me knowledge (like Greg said of how to craft a sentence, or how not to!) of certain mindsets, or they have enriched me and pointed out to me possibilities for a different path or journey I might never have taken nor been aware of.

There are many, many distasteful books out there, and I feel much the same way as you about them. However, I also find that I have been able to understand a bit more about the minds of people who do like that sort of thing, and why on earth they might. It helps me to be less judgmental sometimes, or even more judicious in relationships!

That being said, I have closed some books without completing them because a few pages are enough to tell me they are written merely to disgust, repulse or tittilate. That sort of gratuitous violence to mind, body, and spirit I do not ever waste my time on.

As far as Time’s list goes, I chose to tackle it because I saw so many books on it that I have either skipped over, skimmed through, or been ignorant of and I have a curiousity about them. While I read book jackets sometimes, I seldom let them decide for me whether I will read the book in its entirety or not. Through trial and error over the years I have learned a few things: 1. Other people’s opinions about a book are seldom my own, so choosing not to read a book that otherwise sounds interesting to me has kept me away from some wonderful reads; 2.Some of the very best books I have ever read did not start out well. I had to struggle through many pages before I adjusted to either the story, or the writing, or the subject matter; 3. I love to read. I have traveled to places spiritually that I would probably never have known of, much less traveled to. Reading has been the very best non-medicinal form of pain relief that I have ever used. It does not always see me through the worst, but it has seen and still sees me through some times that otherwise I thought would be intolerable.

I will say again that you are so right as far as trash goes. There is a lot of it, and I choose not to read it. The fact that a list might recommend it doesn’t mean that i will automatically read it, but depending on who is doing the recommending, I might consider giving it a try. Depends on my mood.

I appreciate what Flyinggma says above, and I understand her feelings about guarding her mind from junk that can crowd out the good stuff and pop out when least needed. My husband has much the same feelings. He also, as I have said before, cannot watch movies or TV that is laced with profanity. I have a switch in my brain, apparently, that just automatically dismisses it when I hear it. I don’t like it, but I understand that particularly in this day and age, language has taken a huge nosedive away from quality and civility. Many movies seem like they go overboard to imitate the vernacular. so be it. I don’t like it, but if the movie seems otherwise intelligent and worth my time, I watch it, and can even enjoy it on certain levels despite the language or graphic sex and/or violence.

So, this rather long-winded comment is basically to say that I understand where you are coming from in respect to Time’s list, but I myself was not miffed at it, because I love to see what others say is worthwhile or good reading, and then find out for myself. At least when I finish the list, if I’m able to, I will have found out about those books that I’ve always heard or read about, but never actually read.

I’ll keep you posted! 😀 BUT, while you’ll read what I have read, and my personal opinion about it, I will always make clear that these are my feelings about what I have read, recognizing that my take on things is often unique.

Also, unlike many people, I have huge segments of time in which to read, and I do just that, often reading as many as 5 or 6 books a week, depending on how difficult a time I have getting through one or two. Also, I very jeslously guard my energies, so that I will be able to physically do the things that must be done, or that I really want to do, so reading is an excellent way to do something which I find useful (to me at least), and at the same time rest my legs, back, and assorted other areas of my body in need of some respite.

I guess lists are a sort of “whatever floats your boat” proposition. For me, it’s smooth sailing ahead! 😀

nrhatch - January 17, 2011

Wow! I think that’s the longest comment I’ve ever gotten on SLTW. 🙂

I’m not being critical of you. I read through every synopsis and felt that none of the books that the Time editors included (except the one) appealed to me at this point in my life.

Rather than feeling dismayed that I hadn’t read all their “picks” . . . I was delighted that I had read all (but one) of my picks. 🙂

nrhatch - January 17, 2011

Also, I don’t think that the books they picked are “trash” ~ but they are heavily weighted towards sober and depressing issues such as pedophilia, alcoholism, incest, etc.

I read novels to add to, not detract from, my enjoyment of life. I want to read happy and uplifting books. The Time’s editors didn’t include many of those on their list of Best Books.

8. jannatwrites - January 17, 2011

I have seen a little of the show, but I couldn’t watch it. I’m a picky eater and the stuff they have on there made my stomach flip. I can’t watch the show where the guy does all of these eating challenges, like trying to eat an eight-pound hamburger. There’s just something unappealing about watching someone stuff their face.

As for Time’s book list – I don’t pay any attention to those lists because I generally don’t like the books that have received critical acclaim (same with movies.) But, I’m glad that you found one that piqued your interest 🙂

nrhatch - January 17, 2011

The idea of Fowles giving his characters free rein while walking among them and commenting on their actions intrigues me. 🙂

I have better luck with movie lists ~ because it’s easy to cull out movies rated “R” for violence before adding them to my Netflix Queue.

The movies we watched this week ~ Nanny McPhee Returns and Despicable Me. The older I guest, the more I gravitate toward children’s movies. 🙂

9. Paula Tohline Calhoun - January 17, 2011

I actually made a poor choice of words in “trash,” although I wasn’t referring to any of the books on this list necessarily, but some of the so-called “popular” books and best sellers these days.

Also – I of course know you weren’t directing your comments at me – no worries! Although I can see how you might see my over-long comment a some sort of retribution! 😀 I decided (unconsciously) to use your blog for another post on the challenge rather than take up more room on mine! Thanks for the “Parking Space.” Sould I put a quarter in the meter, or will my handicapped tag exempt me? 😀

nrhatch - January 17, 2011

Hahahaha. You always have FREE PARKING here.

10. Wading Through Sot-Weeds | Spirit Lights The Way - January 8, 2014

[…] Related posts:  The Clean (Book)Plate Club *  Andrew Zimmern’s Picks Don’t Appeal […]

11. bluebee - March 7, 2014

If I start a book and don’t like it, I stop reading it. Life’s too short. I did this with ‘The Book Thief’ – I found the narration very irritating. But I go to movies once a month with two girlfriends, and a different one of us chooses each time and last month, one chose ‘The Book Thief’ and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So sometimes, it’s worthwhile letting the opinion of others’ carry you into a new experience 🙂

nrhatch - March 7, 2014

What a great way to enjoy movies with your girlfriends ~ by taking turns choosing the flick. I am more apt to stick with a movie to the end (unless it’s really BAD) because the time investment is less. E.g., I would never have taken the time to read Star Wars, but I loved the films.

I have The Book Thief in my Netflix queue. If I enjoy it, I might give the book a go.

12. 7 Pearls of Dubious Pedigree | Spirit Lights The Way - January 27, 2015

[…] Why are cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys gobbled up while horses, dogs, cats, and rodents are shunned by everyone but Andrew Zimmern? […]


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