Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern (Chengdu -China Episodes): Sample Lesson Outline

The Travel Network’s hit show, Bizarre Foods, has episodes shot in Chengdu, Beijing and Hong Kong. Although  the show is in English, the rich images, authentic food locales, cultural contexts, and the cross-cutural perspective, provide authentic materials that will spark lively discussions and motivate food-themed project work.

Suggestion: if the learners are young adults (or children), or are animal-rights activists, the episodes may not be appropriate, or should best be situated in introduction of a variety of countries and cultures which all have their share of “bizarre foods” and some discussion on cultural pluralism. The teacher may also pick-choose clips that are “tamer” and leave learners to explore the rest of the show on their own.

Below I provide a rough lesson outline using the first 15-minutes of the Chengdu episode. At the end of the blog, you will find links to the video clips of the Chengdu episode, the Hong Kong episode, and the Beijing episode.

Sample Lesson (for advanced proficiency or heritage learners of Chinese), to be conducted in Chinese


Ask students to give examples of foods that they, or someone they know, have eaten and may be classified as “bizarre” for themselves or from others’ perspective. Based on what students say, the teacher writes on the board names of the food items given. Teacher needs to prepare her own answer as she may need to use her example to encourage participation.

Ask students to rank the food items listed on the board according to a “bizarre-ness” scale, “零” being the least bizarre, “十” being the most bizarre.

Ask students to compare their lists with each other. The class is likely to differ on the answers, but generate a consensus as what’s most bizarre and what’s least.

–Transition to Main Topic

Now segui to the actual video. Ask the class if anyone has watched the show called “Bizarre Foods”. Ask how this title should be translated in Chinese. Follow up on the answer: e.g. what episodes students have watched, whether they liked the show, who the host is, and other basic show-related questions.

Explain that the show has shot an episode in Chengdu. Write the pinyin and character of “Chengdu” on the board. Generate knowlege from class regarding Chengdu: where it is located (bring a map if you have it handy); weather conditions there; language spoken; food characteristics (this could be done in a very quick game-show like activity).

Ask the class to list a number of food items that they think will be featured on the show;  write the words on the board.

Watch the first 5 minutes or so of the show. Provide a vocabulary list that gives Chinese names of items featured on the clip.

Discussion ensues. Most likely, the teacher uses the chance to clarify items portrayed on the show and explain cultural notions. Assign students to watch the rest of show, and provide homework:

-Ideas for produtive-skill building homework assignments:

Speaking: 1) using; ask students to work individually or in group to create a presentation of bizarre food items from a particular episode of the show (of a country of their choice). The images come from the show but they add Chinese narration. 2) using, ask students to create, in a mock clip as Andrew Zimmern’s “5 top moments”, their version of the 5 most memorable or impressive moments” of the episode they watched, including their Chinese narration.

2) wiki–collaborative writing. If your writing assignments regularly involve wiki (useful in a heritage language class), possible topics are:

  • assign students to explore foods of major areas in China and write introductory wiki pages.
  • assign students to collaboratively generate a synposis of the episodes involving Beijing, Hong Kong and Chengdu, each group covering one episode.

3) essay where students begin with a summary of the episode and and focus on commentary of

  • why a food item may be plain and common in the local context ,but bizarre for an outsider;
  • what are some of the common features of foods that are considered bizarre across different cultures.

Video resources


Hong Kong:



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