'Bizarre Foods' Host Comes Clean About Druggie Past

Kim Conte

andrew zimmernWe already know that Andrew Zimmern -- the intrepid host of Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel -- has eaten everything from baby pig eyeballs and brain curry to fried chicken testicles and grasshopper pizza. But what you may not know about him is that he has a dark past.

Tonight on ABC's Nightline, the James Beard Award-winning food personality talks about his history of drug abuse and homelessness, specifically squatting in abandoned buildings in Manhattan and stealing purses to support his habit. It's something he's discussed about before -- but never in this much detail.

Here's an excerpt from the interview:

... I lived in an abandoned building in lower Manhattan; one that we squatted -- a bottle gang and I. I would steal purses off the backs of chairs in those swanky little cafes on Madison Avenue, run down the side street, leap the wall at Central Park and 5th Avenue, get on the subway, go down to the Lower East Side, and sell the credit cards and passports that were in the purses for money to support my drug and alcohol habit. And then go to sleep at night on a pile of dirty clothes in this abandoned building and I sprinkled a bottle of Comet Cleanser around so the rats and roaches wouldn’t cross over at night so I could pass out in some peace and quiet and that’s what I thought was normal. That’s how I lived for a year -- no showering, I was the guy you crossed the street to avoid if you walked by me in New York.

This confession gives Bizarre Foods a whole new context: I imagine if you've slept with rats and roaches, then maybe eating them isn't so bad. Still, Zimmern's bravery never fails to astound me: He's not only willing to eat the most disgusting things of all time, but he's comfortable talking about tough personal issues -- like addiction -- on TV. That kind of public brazen honesty takes real courage!

Watch the whole interview tonight on Nightline at 11:35 p.m. ET.

Are you a Zimmern fan?


Image via Travel Channel.com

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