I'm so happy to have On Demand (only the free service part, I don't pay for anything extra). Last week I came across episodes of "An Idiot Abroad," Ricky Gervais' new show. The show is a bit of a practical joke--sending Ricky's friend Karl to exotic locales to experience other cultures. Of course, the entertainment comes from the fact that Karl is not adventurous in any sense of the word--he even packs his own snacks.
I was drawn into the show because the first episode sent Karl to Beijing and some nearby locations. As a first trip outside of England, China is a shock. My greatest source of amusement was watching Karl's reaction to the local food--especially as he watches a girl enjoy a scorpion on a stick and a man chow down on chicken embryos. Unlike Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern, Karl doesn't encounter stinky tofu. On his trip along the Great Wall, he gets to watch his host kill and cook frogs. He tries to politely decline the delicacy, but is force-fed by his host. I must admit I do enjoy the taste of frog, especially the Sichuan/Chongqing-style dishes, but I also find the small bones annoying.
It isn't all torture for Karl; he seems to enjoy some of the travel. He gets some amusement out of his Shaolin kung fu training. Of course, that is followed by some traditional Chinese therapy involving fire on his body (I'm convinced that anything that is supposedly good for you in China is painful).
In other episodes, Karl travels through Israel, Jordan, Mexico, India, and Egypt. Surprisingly, the most unusual foods he encounters are in Mexico and Egypt. In Mexico, he eats some wasp larva with some chili at a Mayan village. And in Egypt, he eats some animal testicles and other organs before his host tells him what's in the dish.
After going through the first five episodes, I'm waiting for the new ones. I don't know where they'll send Karl next or how Ricky Gervais will try to torture him.