Birmingham is known for its barbeque, banana pudding and all its James Beard Award winners. But Monday night, Bizarre Foods America takes a look at the city's exotic cuisine from oxtails to bullfrog hearts.
"I think they'll get a chance to see the Southern hospitality here. They'll see Alabama being in the South is just a great place to come for good food," said Ann Willis, a regular at Eagle's Restaurant.
Bizarre Foods America fans across the nation will also feast on unusual cuisine described as "just good eatin'" by the soul food restaurant owner. On host Andrew Zimmern's plate at Eagle's? Oxtail and neck bones."It's just a nice, when it's really cooked, tender meat," said Willis.
At lunch Monday, people chowed down on another Eagle's staple- pigs feet."It's kind of rubbery but has a good taste to it," said Bill Murray, a board member of the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau. "This is the real deal. When you go for the real deal, you've got to have the thing that's most unique on the menu."
For Shindigs Catering, its real deal is pork belly buns. It's a mainstay on the food truck's menu."A lot of people say what is it? Essentially pork belly is bacon just cooked differently and cut differently," said owner Chad Scofield.
The show features some bizarre foods not found on the typical menu, like a beating bullfrog heart. But there are others that have gone unnoticed, like sea urchin or uni. It's widely available at sushi restaurants."Usually a lot of stares when we tell people about this. They nod their head in approval but I'm not always sure they know what we're really talking about," said Dr. Steven Watts of UAB's Department of Biology.
Watts is developing the first farm raised sea urchin for restaurants. But even he isn't sure about more exotic local eats, like a beating bullfrog heart or George Sarris' goats head soup."I'll leave that to Andrew Zimmern to have those," he said.
On Monday, the Super Oriental Market was out of bullfrog. The employees say it's a popular ingredient used by Red Pearl Restaurant next door.
Restaurant owners hope others will be inspired to feast on the wild side."Once they see how Andrew enjoyed it, I think they'll try it for themselves," said Ahmad Rucker, Eagle's owner.
Bizarre Foods America airs on the Travel Channel Monday at 8 p.m.. Tune in to find out what other local restaurants are featured and which local chef is brave enough to try a beating bullfrog heart.