Why Andrew Zimmern Wants You To Eat More Palestinian Food

Andrew Zimmern is an influential name in the food world with a success story to match. While Zimmern knew he wanted to work in food from a young age, his battle with addiction drove him away from the early success he experienced in New York City, where he helped open and run dozens of successful restaurants. Zimmern spent a year living on the streets until he went to a treatment facility in Minnesota. Then, after finding sobriety and transforming his life, Zimmern re-commenced his career, beginning as a dishwasher at Cafe Un Deux Trois, a French bistro in Minneapolis that, according to his Twitter, has since closed.

It wasn't long until Zimmern became the Cafe Un Deux Trois' executive chef and, in just six years, made it into an awarded restaurant. That's where his media career took off before he founded his own media company, Food Works, filmed the pilot for his show, "Bizarre Foods" and its related spin-offs, and published his first book. In the midst of his success, Zimmern carries on his work with many national and international organizations, driving important conversations around social justice and food.

Described as a "walking, talking food encyclopedia" by Eater, Zimmern believes food is a unifier, per Life Hacker. And, as a religious Jew, he sees Palestinian food as a medium for education on historical struggles experienced in the Middle East.

Unification through food

From creating, producing, and hosting "Bizarre Foods" to his MSNBC series "What's Eating America," to "Andrew Zimmern's Driven by Food" and "The Zimmern List," Andrew Zimmern has devoted his career to encouraging the acceptance and understanding of different cultures through the exploration of their cuisines — and he's eaten a lot of food in the process. Eater argues that he knows more about the different foods of the world and their historical gastronomy than anybody. And, according to Life Hacker, he's all about getting people to eat the cultural cuisines they didn't grow up eating — but he specifically vouches for Palestinian food.

As he tells Life Hacker, a lot of assumptions tend to be made about the geopolitical and socioeconomic issues that are prevalent in the Middle East. "I want people to eat Palestinian food, because if you ate Palestinian food, you wouldn't demonize Palestinian people. And I'm a religious Jew, you know, this is the struggle," he says. As a fan of Palestinian food himself, and particularly foods from the Levant — a region that spans the eastern Mediterranean coastline, from Syria to modern-day Israel (via Britannica) — Zimmern sees Palestinian cuisine as "the great unifier." 

It's become his mantra: By eating each other's food, he believes people can gain more patience, tolerance and understanding for one another.