Talk about eating on the go. In the new series Have Fork, Will Travel (premiering tonight at 9:30 pm/ET, Food Network), food-loving adventurer Zane Lamprey, the beloved host of MOJO Network's cult drinking hit Three Sheets, mixes two of his most beloved pastimes: cooking and travel. TVGuide.com talked with the zany comedian about his recent travels, his favorite utensil and one intoxicating monkey.
TVGuide.com: You have such a reputation for being a drinker that I thought it would be fun to do this in a bar. But we're in different cities, so....
Zane Lamprey: It's funny because I drink so frequently when I do Three Sheets that when the camera's not on, I rarely drink. So I only drink on the job.
TVGuide.com: Me, too. So in Have Fork, Will Travel, do you ever eat anything that requires a spoon?
Lamprey: [Laughs] Well, I do go to Asia, and I eat bouillabaisse in Provence, so you have chopsticks and spoons right there. Usually I carry a fork, so I try to utilize it. It works with soup — it just takes a really long time.
TVGuide.com: You actually carry your own fork?
Lamprey: I do. I figure that's the name of the show, so....
TVGuide.com: The show seems part cooking class, part history lesson. Are you a big history buff?
Lamprey: When I'm drinking and eating, I always want to know, "What is that, why do you eat it, where does it come from, who makes it?" These are questions you can't really ask a waiter in a restaurant, so it's cool that with this show, I get to actually ask anything I want.
TVGuide.com: Do you know a lot about the history and traditions of a place before traveling there?
Lamprey: With Fork, I try to be informed. I don't want to know what the surprises are, but I try to be a bit more educated about what I'm eating; I might know what it is, but I don't know the why and the how. For example, we were in Belgium and we were talking about the french fry. According to Belgians, it originated there — there was this river where they would catch these little fish that were about the size of a french fry, and they'd just fry them up. But the river eventually ran dry of these fish, so they took potatoes and cut them in the shape of these fish and fried them. That's supposed to be the dawn of the french fry. And they eat them with heaping globs of mayonnaise — dee-licious.
TVGuide.com: So are you a big cook yourself?
Lamprey: [Laughs] I burn cereal.
TVGuide.com: But I noticed that you had a very smooth, sure hand when cracking eggs!
Lamprey: You know what that is? That's misplaced confidence. [Laughs] I live in L.A.; we have zillions of restaurants, so I eat out all the time. But I like to cook; I'm not a good baker, but I'm good on the grill and on the stove top.
TVGuide.com: You seem quite adventurous with the food you sample — in one episode you ate cheese that smelled like dirty feet. What's the foulest thing you've ever eaten?
Lamprey: It's not intentional to eat anything that's gross or looks unappetizing. We just want to really get the authentic feel for where we are, so if smelly cheese is French, then let's do it. [In Norway] we ate reindeer, a sheep's head, and then we had a moral dilemma because I had whale. I expected it to be a little fishy, but it was like a piece of steak, very lean and almost dry. I was talking to the guy about it and I said I sort of had a moral dilemma about it, and he said, "Whale is a part of our history; we've been eating it for 500 years." So that was a tough one.
TVGuide.com: You've said that you can learn a lot about people by what they eat. What do culinary traditions say about people?
Lamprey: A lot of foods come out of necessity and what's available. Norway was one of the poorest countries in Europe until the 1960s, when they discovered oil, and now it's one of the richest. But before then, they had to eat whatever they could. They didn't have refrigeration, which is why they ate lutefisk, cod they would dry for the entire summer and then reconstitute with lye. And whale was what was available in the north of Norway; they were making the most of what they had. [That's how it is] in so many places — in Bangkok their carbohydrate was rice, in Ireland it was the potato, in Italy it was pasta.
TVGuide.com: How are you with languages? You seem to enjoy bonding with the people you meet, and language is an important part of that.
Lamprey: You know, I'm actually pretty good at impressions, so I can pick up the nuances and accents of a language. So my accent will be perfect, but my vocabulary is very limited, so I sound like an idiot. Like, "Oh this guy speaks Spanish, but what the hell's he saying?" I just sound like I'm drunk all the time.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of which, let's talk about the Three Sheets drinking game.
Lamprey: You know, I was talking to one of the producers, Mike Kelly, and I said, "We're making a drinking show, we would be doing a disservice if we didn't make it a drinking game." So we did it on our own, and the network got wind of it and loved it.
TVGuide.com: And... it involves a monkey?
Lamprey: Yes, the monkey's name is Peepleus. On my first trip to Ireland, I opened my suitcase and my wife had put this little stuffed monkey in with this nice little note. And so I [decided to] hide this monkey in every episode to let my wife know I'm always thinking about her.
TVGuide.com: A little "Where's Waldo" thing?
Lamprey: Exactly. And so the viewers caught on and that [became] one of the rules.
TVGuide.com: So will any monkeys be making an appearance on Have Fork? Can we get some kind of eating game going?
Lamprey: You know, I was kind of planning on doing that, but I think Three Sheets has such a wonderful following, I decided to let it have its own animal, so to speak. But you're welcome to drink along. When I eat monkey brains, maybe you can make someone drink.
TVGuide.com: And where does the monkey's name come from? Peepleus sounds like something you would say when you're drunk.
Lamprey: No, I say things when I'm sober that other people say when they're drunk.
TVGuide.com: And that's why you're where you are today.
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