Unusual Foods, or Food that is Different to a Caucasian Westerner What is the strangest food you have eaten or seen served, or read about? Traveling and living and working in different countries and cultures has often led me into sitting staring at something served on a plate in front of me that I either just do not wish to eat, or the odor of which, to me, is absolutely appalling.
Let me try and explain some incidents when I have not been able to eat the meal placed in front of me.
Recently, in Korea, I was taken to lunch by a very attractive Korean girl, who took me to a Restaurant and asked if I liked Octopus. I love calamari, and expressed my interest to try the Korean version. Imagine my chagrin when a bowl of living, and writhing, miniature octopus was placed in front of me. When I said something about them being alive, she calmly cut one with a pair of scissors, and ate it while it was still writhing.
There are stories of Koreans choking to death from eating live octopus. The tentacles are actually moving, and there have been instances when the tentacles get suctioned in the throat of the diner, and death can occur from choking.
Another Korean delicacy I simply cannot handle is Silkworms. When you walk up to the mountains where the Temples are, vendors along the side cook huge Wok like pots where they turn what looks like grubs. They are grubs. They are silkworms, who have been removed from the steamed silk cocoons, after the silk has been care fully spun out, and the silkworms are steamed or cooked in water. They have the odour of used football socks being boiled in water, and I am sure they taste the same. Silkworms are reputed to have the protein content of 6 egg yolks in one grub, but I was told that only Koreans can utilize this form of protein, so eating a grub on toast would hardly fill my protein requirements for the day.
When a New Zealand Friend came to visit me last year, I cheekily gave him a paper cup of silkworms, which is how they are served, and looking somewhat surprised, he carefully tasted one, and proclaimed it dreadful. I was tempted to try one, for the experience of tasting a morsel that is reputed to have the protein content of 6 eggs…for a Korean…but the musty, old, dead and dying smell on his breath, turned me off completely. They look like small cockroaches, and there is no way I would eat a cockroach by choice, either.
I keep adding this ‘by choice’ as there have been times in my life, where I have eaten something with delight, and later discovered what it was and never eaten it again, by choice.
When teaching in China, to students who did not not have a single word of English, I dined regularly on ‘chop’ which I rather liked. In fact it tasted like the beef I know, and I rather enjoyed the ‘stew’ and it was often ordered for me. Imagine my chagrin when a few months later, after I had taught the students to speak English, we were guests of the Director, and they told me I was eating dog….
Recently another visitor to China explained that she was given the delicacy of Frogs Blood Soup, which she had to eat. It sounded appalling. I did not even know frogs had blood, let alone enough to fill a soup dish. She also mentioned pigs Eyeballs, and steamed almost mature chickens, complete with their feathers and some of the albumen. The local cafeteria features a special stall where they sell all the parts of the pig. You can have sliced pigs ear, a special delicacy, and also pigs penis, and other unnameable parts. I look and pass on by. The dried, salted ducks hanging out to dry just outside my window look rather sad amongst the other lines of washing, and there is no way I can suck, even delicately, on a dried chicken’s foot. It looks too much like a shrunken mummy’s hand, or worse, the hand of an ailing but cherished Aunt.
Marguerite 2008 What foods would you not eat by Choice? What food would you not eat? What is the strangest food you have eaten?
Create your own list of the top foods you would not eat by choice. I would not eat dog, mice embryos, silkworms, live octopus and anything living that is looking at me, and I do not eat rat, even if it cultivated in the Bayous of New Orleans and in Asia. I refuse duck blood soup, and gag at coddled fresh blood, and there is no way I would eat a cockroach, even if it is delicately spiced and cooked in the finest of virgin oils.
This is just my choice, and I know these items are delicacies in other cultures.
Author Maggi Carstairs