anything left to eat?…

So, if any of you have been checking my site lately, you’ll notice that I’ve been mysteriously absent in posting. This is because I have been undertaking a “secret eating” mission (more to come later…). Suffice it to say for now, I embarked on a eating journey that took me half-way around the globe on a digestive olympiad that certainly has made my stomach a champion machine.

So, in this past week, I have eaten the following animals and their parts (not all inclusive, and in no particular order): salmon, veal, beef, sea bass, shrimp, sea scallops, prawns, mussels, clams, chicken, duck, quail, cow brains, lamb’s tongue, beef tongue, pork, venison, tuna, caviar, buffalo, rabbit, blood pudding, tripe, kid sweetbreads, veal sweetbreads, bone marrow, squid, octopus and cod.

If you think I’m trying to gross you out – I’m not. But perhaps I assume too much about my readers… were you grossed out by the thought of eating any of the items I listed?

This got me thinking: Americans are awfully closed minded about food (don’t take this as insult if you are either an American or/(and) were disgusted by my list of foods), and I think embarrassingly so. When my servers took my orders, they would often marvel quizzically at my bravado – an American eating sweetbreads? tongue? offal of any sort? My first reaction was, “of course we do, silly.” But, then I realized, no, we don’t… on a whole, Americans are the gastronomical cowards of the world. Health safety concerns aside (ie. horomonally intoxicated chickens and mad cows), really, what is there to be afraid of?

A lot of people chum up their fears to “texture” – it’s a ubiquitous excuse… I think. Sure, there are foods that I don’t really don’t like the texture of, but none that I would discount automatically – certainly not without first trying it!

Except for my food allergies (which, thankfully, are very limited), there’s nothing that I wouldn’t put in my stomach. I’ve eaten everything I can think of: jellyfish, elk, gazelle, “rocky mountain oysters” (ie. cow/goat testicles, horse, turtles, goat, eel, worms, insects, and even the deadly blowfish. I’ve had raw ground beef (steak tartare) with raw eggs. I love offal and am a huge fan of liver, kidney, heart, tripe and sweetbreads. There’s nothing better than hot gelatinous chunks of beef tendon in a warm noodle soup. Perhaps the strangest thing I’ve ever experienced eating was conch – while it was still alive. And these are just the animals… have you ever heard of durian? I love it.

So, is there anything the Ulterior Epicure hasn’t tried? Well, a lot. For one thing, I’ve always wanted to try snake, but never have had the opportunity. I’ve heard squirrel is chewy but palatable, and rat can be rather tasty when prepared the right way. Although many gasp (and may from now on boycot my blog), I honestly say that I would try dog.

I guess it would be too much to ask most Americans to eat at the adventurous levels that I do. But, what about trying some new things. I applaud Heidi at Letter of Marque for her posting on trying new foods.

I’d love to hear about the exciting discoveries that people are making regarding food! Here’s to hoping y’all challenge yourselves and have some good eats!

~ by ulterior epicure on March 6, 2005.

18 Responses to “anything left to eat?…”

  1. Maybe I’ll make one of my sea story entries about some of the different foods I’ve tried around the world. Included are most of the items in your list, but I would also add, among others, dog, cat, and monkey. Cat is horrible, dog and monkey are both pretty good.

  2. I’ve had snake in soup – it’s nothing special. The texture is quite rough, and tastes a bit like chicken (I know, the old joke!).

    Have you had pig blood? It’s generally served in congee (in cubes, a la tofu), and is quite tasty. The other thing that you may like to try is frogs’ legs – very tender.

  3. Durians are vile. I used to leave home when my parents were eating them. Legend has it that they grew where some famous Chinese general …

    Stuck in AA

  4. This post has been removed by the author.

  5. sarni: i know that the chinese eat snake both in stews (soups) and fried (as they do in the southern parts of the u.s.). i hear that the fried version is better – perhaps for the same reason you lament the toughness in the soup version.

    yes, in fact, on this recent trip, i had blood pudding. it was pork blood, but instead of firm, it was whipped into a pudding… served with whipped goat cheese, it was delightful!

    i have also had frogs legs – many times, they are best sauteed with butter and garlic – YUM!

    anonymous: i’m sorry you don’t like durian. however, i do understand that it is one of those peculiar things that evokes either love or hate… but at least you tried it? or did the smell alone make you run?

    u.e.

  6. I grew up in a durian eating country, but have never ever been able to bring myself to try it.

    Btw, have you tried Le Bernardin? I ate there last week, but was underwhelmed. I’m off to Per Se next, and hope I won’t be disappointed!

    Stuck in AA

  7. stuck in aa.

    yes, i have been to le bernardin… await my review – but i will say that my experience wasn’t too far from your own sentiments.

    per se – well, i am envious – you must report all!

    as for durian – i think you should try it… even i think the stuff stinks, but once i ate it, it was love at first squish… er, bite… what country did you grow up in?

    …btw, with le bernardin and per se… how are you “stuck in aa?”

    u.e.

  8. i’m glad to hear someone shares our sentiments about le bernardin. oh, and i also tried cafe gray (by gray kunz of lespinasse) and was also disappointed. the view was nice, but views only go so far.

    i am stuck in aa because i have to attend classes. my fiance lives in ny and i flee as often as i can. among other things, the pastry situation here is dire! i can’t walk to fauchon!

    stuck.

  9. stuck in aa.

    1). what did you have at le bernardin? i had the chef’s tasting menu – which changes seasonally…

    2). what program of study are you pursuing in ann arbor?

    3). what does your fiance (or what do you do) that enables you to dine so well? of course, i understand if you would rather not answer.

  10. 1. i had the prix fixe – fluke ceviche, shrimp ravioli (tasted like a good chinese shrimp dumpling), and white tuna. he had the hamachi tartare (first rate), something else, and snapper.

    2. jd (i’m denise’s classmate)

    3. food is a big priority for us, and constitutes most of our spending. (i’ll tell you more about myself only if you’ll tell me more about yourself).

    Stuck

  11. 1). i also had the hamachi, i though it was good, but otherwise unremarkable. ripert’s “famous” scallop/uni/caviar dish was totally a disappointment… the size of a dime, i hardly got a taste before it was gone! the shrimp ravioli were a bit dry, i thought – but the rich truffle sauce (which they poured generously) helped. the white tuna was my favorite – in fact, i think the highlight… i love it when meat is poached in olive oil… and it was barely cooked – which is how i like it. i also had salmon – which, i found rather disappointing. i also got to know the sous pastry chef, so i got two desserts – neither of which dazzled me… although laiskonis’s “egg” was very charming.

    2. lawyer-to-be… i don’t envy you… sorry…

    3. fair enough – i can’t make any promises – but what do you want to know? i’ll try my best… again, no promises…

  12. 1. I thought my dessert (the chocolate layers) was very good. I’m really fussy about dessert, but hoped that Le Bernardin would live up to it’s name – their pastry chef used to be Bellanger of Fauchon NY, so there was promising precedent.

    2. Are you not in the law school yourself?

    3. For starters, are you in AA? If so, I could use a eating buddy.

    Stuck

  13. 1). I’m not a sweettooth – generally, except when it comes to ice cream/gelato (as you will discover from my posts)… i had the chocolate tart with cashews – it was good. my second dessert was a “berry tomato” – vanilla infused blackberries with heirloom tomatoes, verbena peach broth and creme fraiche sorbet… i would characterize it as “unique” – but by no means spectacular… perhaps odd?

    2. sorry, no answers on my occupation.

    3. sorry, no answers on my location either… and if we were ever to meet for a meal, my anonymity would be moot, wouldn’t it? besides, we should save the occasion for after you are married and we are able to meet up somewhere fabulous…

  14. stuck in aa.

    do you have a car? if you do – you should go try the common grill in chelsea. i have one of chef common’s cookbooks and find that he has thoughtful combinations.

    i will say that the service and atmosphere can be rough (a cross between an american pub and french bistro)… and i think his execution can be rather rough and crude… but you should give it a try…

    u.e.

  15. i have been there, and i’ve liked what i’ve had (the paella and some toffee dessert). thought, as you say, the execution is somewhat crude. that said, the place isn’t pretending to be le bernardin.

    btw, do you like asian food besides japanese? you haven’t talked about, say, chinese.

    stuck

  16. stuck.

    are you kidding? i absolutely love all types of asian food – with the exception of thai (to which i hold a minor hesitation on the sweeter dishes and those with peanuts). i sometimes go days stark raving mad if i can’t get a hot dolsot bibimbap. i could sing the praises of good chaat for days. and i don’t think that a month goes by out of the month that i don’t absolutely crave a dim sum feast.

    that being said, it’s hard to get good asian food in some parts of the country.

    are you particularly fond of chinese?

  17. i am partial to chinese food qua everyday food. unfortunately, i have not found really good chinese food, not even in new york (i’m not ruling out the possibility that there is such a thing to be found though). in aa, i get by on middle kingdom (ask for the chinese menu). as for dim sum, i used to have it on a weekly basis. sadly, i’ve not found even good (as opposed to really good) dim sum in the us. maybe san francisco? new york could really use some posh chinese restaurants like those in hongkong and singapore.

    Stuck

  18. I told my family about this post the other day. Boy and GirlChild raised their eyebrows at some of the foods you listed, but TFL kept nodding and saying “uh huh, yeah, had that…”

    Bibimbap is one of his favorite dishes, after spending 6 weeks in Korea. I like it when it does NOT have seaweed in it, because I despise seaweed due to one of my many childhood food traumas.–>

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