Lonely Planet Writer

Hugging lessons with Andrew Zimmern

What happens when you combine Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods with Lonely Planet and TBEX in New York City? You get closer to the essence of travel truth.

You also get Andrew's take on the food equivalent of Led Zeppelin IV* and the four essential things you should know about how to hug.

Speaking of which, I've had some fun, unexplainable hugs in my travels. Like when the huge Nigerian-American taxi driver bear-hugged me after a $10 tip at JFK or the bearded Turkish guy who 'adopted' me in an Istanbul bar and bruised me with sturdy beer-soaked embraces for hours. Now, I grew up in Oklahoma -- and we just don't hug. So I've long needed Andrew's hug lessons (as well as cheek-kissing lessons for NYC farewells; anyone?).

Andrew was certainly an effective teacher. For proof, note how well I manage in the Zimmern HugFest versus TBEX founder Kim Mance.

Andrew, thank you. I had the time of my life.

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* Andrew also gave food versions of other bands too. Wings is matzoh ball soup ('comforting'); Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young ('greasy pizza slice at 2am -- a guilty pleasure'), Van Halen ('classic -- a hamburger with fries') and Van Hagar ('turkey burger -- it's good, but it's imitation -- not something for every day'). Think I'll stick with his food Bob Dylan, 'bacon and eggs.'