This Is The Country All Foodies Should Visit, According To Andrew Zimmern - Exclusive

Watching Andrew Zimmern discover a new food indeed is a spectator sport; his Travel Channel show, Bizarre Foods, has entertained audiences for 22 seasons, while his new series, The Zimmern List, snagged an Emmy in its first season. We've seen Zimmern feast on everything from larvae in the Amazon rainforest, to fermented shark in Iceland. So since he's gotten around, so to speak, what country does Zimmern believe is the best place for an American foodie to visit?

Always one to go all out, Zimmern's answer to this question was not just one country, but an entire continent that actually contains 54 individual countries: Africa. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, this global taste-tester explained why this diverse destination sets the stage for a foodie's dream vacation. "Within each country, in some cases, hundreds of cultures, because of the way the tribal systems have developed there," he explained. "The food is extraordinary... extraordinary!"

Africa offers the best seafood on the planet, according to Zimmern

Assuming you don't have unlimited days to spend exploring Africa during your hypothetical dream vacation, we asked Zimmern where in Africa, specifically, a foodie should go for the best eats. Here, he was at a loss. "The seafood of coastal Senegal, versus the stew and tajines of the mountains of Morocco..." makes for a tough choice, he said. But if you love seafood, one destination that must go on your itinerary is Namibia, Zimmern said definitively. "Some of the best seafood in the world is off the Skeleton Coast in Namibia, where the coldest, swiftest moving water in the world is," he explained. That being said, Zimmern also noted that there is this "incredible seafood tradition of Egypt that no one thinks about, because everyone forgets they have a massive coastline."

Still, make sure you spend some time within the center of the continent, too. "The tribal wisdom of the cooking of Central Africa, and the trade that has gone on there for thousands and thousands of years, make it not only real traveling, but real eating and a real voyage of discovery," Zimmern said.

Traveling in Africa will change your life, says Andrew Zimmern

While your taste buds certainly will be delighted when you visit Africa, it's really your mind that will benefit the most, Zimmern said. Despite our differences, as Americans, we come from a large nation that has many common cultural commonalities, whether it's a love for BBQ or baseball. In contrast, said Zimmern, "Africa is really a continent of thousands of cultures, because aside from recent history, it was colonial European people, who put lines on the map and gave those countries names through thousands of cultures there," he explained. "Frankly, especially as Americans, owe that country such a great debt that can never be repaid."

Certainly, all travel will expand your horizons, physically and metaphorically, according to Zimmern. "Look, Paris is great. Ho Chi Minh City is great, Beijing is great, Bangkok is great, Tokyo is great. I mean, South America, Western Europe. I mean, go on and [on]." Compared to Africa, however, these destinations simply don't hold a candle. "[But], you want to travel? Go to Africa! You want to learn something? Go to Africa!" And it goes deeper than your knowledge, Zimmern added. "You want to have your soul reset and re-calibrated? Go to Africa!" he advised. If this sounds too serious for you, no worries there, either. "You want to really have an adventure? Go to Africa!" he emphasized. And if the truth is, you're really just traveling because of the food, you won't be disappointed, either. "You want to taste food you've never tasted before that will blow your mind? Go to Africa!" Zimmern said.

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