Travel Channel host survives first RoadKill Cook-off
For most people, it doesnﾒt get more bizarre than roadkill and on Saturday, the king of bizarre, Travel Channelﾒs Andrew Zimmern, tasked his taste buds to sample the culinary creations of the RoadKill Cook-off and Autumn Harvest Festival in Marlinton.
Spending more time on the road than at home, Zimmern said he revels in visiting small fairs and festivals.
ﾓI obviously travel all over the world and every place has a little county fair or town fair, these types of things,ﾔ he said. ﾓIﾒm always at one, either on my own time or with the show, and this is about as sweet a day as I have ever had. The people are fantastic.ﾔ
Zimmern marveled at the combination of strange and tradition at the festival.
ﾓItﾒs a great combination of the fun, over the top, kitchy, roadkill cookery, along with fresh-faced little kids selling walking tacos and grandma selling cider jelly,ﾔ he said. ﾓIt doesnﾒt get any better.ﾔ
With such an experienced palette as Zimmernﾒs, itﾒs hard to find a flavor, meat or concoction he hasnﾒt tired. But, the people of Pocahontas County did not disappoint.
ﾓIﾒve never eaten mink before and thereﾒs a guy that had a mink,ﾔ he said. ﾓI tasted that, a little mink chowder, and it was beautiful. Iﾒve never had a snapping turtle egg before. Iﾒve eaten a lot of reptile and amphibians, but never a snapping turtle egg. It was fantastic.ﾔ
The competitors werenﾒt the only vendors to please Zimmernﾒs seasoned palette.
ﾓIﾒve never had a walking taco before,ﾔ he said. ﾓIﾒve seen them, but the line has always been too long, and I was at the right place at the right time today. It was pretty extraordinary.ﾔ
At the end of his fourth trip to West Virginia, it seems apparent that it wonﾒt be his last.
ﾓIﾒm born and bred in New York, and I travel around the world for a living,ﾔ he explained. ﾓThis is my fourth trip to West Virginia in the last four years. I came here [Pocahontas County] for the first time in 2007 and it is one of my favorite places on Earth. Itﾒs just a magical, magical place and really unique.
ﾓI think what makes it great, not just Pocahontas County, is that West Virginia is a huge amalgam of small towns like this tucked away between hills,ﾔ he continued. ﾓFor people who want to see what America is really like, you have to come here, because the other 49 states, that culture has been bulldozed away and you canﾒt do that here with these mountains. People are still neighborly, they are still cooking the way their great-grandmothers did. It is really a very special place.ﾔ
Zimmern was joined by Ed Blackford, former top notch competitor with the Coal Hollow Brothers, and Mike Reel, of Petersburg, to judge the 10 competitors in the cook-off.
Winners were: first place, The Ridge Runners, with their pork and groundhog gravy; second place and showmanship, GoMarlinton, with the witches brew containing wild turkey; and third place and peopleﾒs choice, Pocahontas County Roadkill Grill, with hardtop hare.