Taste TV

Cross-country eats: Mother and son venture outside their comfort zone

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Andrew Warren / TV Media
Vinny and Paola Guadagnino as seen in “Vinny & Ma Eat America”

Vinny and Paola Guadagnino as seen in “Vinny & Ma Eat America”

There's at least one in every family: that person who just doesn't like trying new foods. Some people just want to stick with what they know, never moving outside of the comfort zone of the foods that they grew up with.

For former "Jersey Shore" personality Vinny Guadagnino, that person in his life is his mother, Paola, but that's about to change. He's been taking her on a cross-country culinary road trip over the past few weeks, and getting her to try some of the distinct regional foods that can be found in every little corner of America.

Ending on a fitting date for the loving family, "Vinny & Ma Eat America" wraps up with a two-episode finale Valentine's Day, Tuesday, Feb. 14, on Cooking Channel.

So far, their road trip has taken them from coast to coast and to places in between. Paola immigrated to Staten Island from Sicily when she was 10 years old, and has never really stepped out of her comfort zone of homemade Italian cuisine. At the first stop on their road trip, though, her son got her to check out the foods in one of the "weirdest" cities in the country: Austin. There, she fell in love with a weird but delicious dish: big juicy burgers served on doughnut "buns."

Then, the lifelong pasta maker tested her know-how by making an entirely new kind of noodle: hand-pulled Asian ones.

In Tuesday night's two-episode finale, Vinny and Ma hit up Nashville and New Orleans, where they'll be sampling catfish and frog legs before ending their trip on a sweet note at the place where bananas foster -- a sugary dish that's a Big Easy specialty -- at the very restaurant where it was invented back in 1951.

Keen-eyed Cooking Channel watchers might recognize the mother-and-son duo in "Eat America." The pair of them, along with Vinny's Uncle Angelo, were the runner-up team in this past summer's season of "The Great Food Truck Race."

There, though, they stuck firmly to Italian food, but it seems that Vinny's Ma has gotten a taste for travel -- and is feeling a bit more culinarily adventurous. "Vinny & Ma Eat America" goes out with a two-episode finale Tuesday, Feb. 14, on Cooking Channel.