Staying for dinner?

Category: By panda_eyed
The other night, I was talking to my friend and her sister, who are both vegetarian. They were interested by the 'weird' food I've eaten. Being Chinese, I guess we eat a lot of stuff that other people might think strange. Then coincidentally, I was over at Chez Pim's site (she's a food blogger) and was interested to see this article.

So let's test our weird parameters - what are the 'weirdest' things you've eaten, and what on my list do you consider weird? Let's see, I have tried:
  • Grilled frog (my cousin's wife apparently caught and grilled them herself in Thailand)
  • Chicken tendons and feet (pretty standard in dim sum)
  • Duck tongue and beak (pictured)
  • Pigs ear (crunchy, tendonous and yummy)
  • Snake (lots of little bones)
  • Eel and Conger eel (again, so many bones!)
  • The offal of various animals (inc. liver, heart, kidney, intestine, stomach)
  • Sea snails
  • Squid, cuttlefish, octopus (mmm..)
  • Abalone and all sorts of shell fish
  • Rabbit (in a paella)
  • Ostrich soup
  • Chicken bum skewers (bizarrely on xmas day in Taiwan)
  • Chicken blood (like black pudding)
  • Sheeps head (in Dubai)
  • Fish eyes
  • Sucked the (cooked) marrow from a bone of pork with a straw
Some of these things are pretty standard in Chinese culture. You see, the Chinese waste nothing, we eat pretty much all of the animal. You might be surprised to know that most things on the list were very enjoyable, except for the frog (my cousin had pond-breath, it was that fishy).

I'd quite like to try crocodile, I hear its texture is like that of a steak. I wouldn't mind trying kangaroo either. I would probably try pretty much anything, but I stop short at raw meat and fish, and insects. In China, I have seen street vendors selling buckets of large, dead cockroaches - yes, people actually enjoy eating them. I also hear that in South Africa, people relish eating Mopani worms - big fat squidgy grubs that live in dead tree trunks. And *gasp* in Korea and some parts of China, people still eat dogs. I know I will incur the wrath of all animal lovers (and don't get me wrong, I love dogs too), but I'm curious as to what it's like! I'm told that it's a strong tasting, tough textured meat that needs a lot of broiling (so my grandma says).

Even though I was born in London, I don't understand the reluctance of Westerners when it comes to eating anything other than the main cuts of chicken, pork, beef and lamb. Why the hesitance, and sometimes even disgust, of eating the rest of the animal? We honour the sacrifice of the animal by eating it all. Would you believe that before the 60's, eating spare ribs and duck was unheard of? It's pretty much the norm now. I wonder how our eating habits will change in years to come.

Your turn!

13 comments so far.

  1. Sunshine 3:01 pm, August 30, 2006
    eating bums and sucking bone from a straw.. ummm not for me thanks.. Ewwwwww.. I do try most things though Ostridge livers and wierd South African animals in dried meat.
    Done a few of those though.. Frogs legs and snails... but bone through the straw sounds so rank...
  2. panda_eyed 4:33 pm, August 30, 2006
    Sunny, the marrow was a bit gross, yes, but it's the done thing in China with a steamboat meal. They even provide the straws! Still, there's one I can cross off my list and say I've done.
    The chicken bums were really yummy, even though I hesitated at first. I'm glad I plucked up the courage to try!
  3. nikkipolani 5:10 pm, August 30, 2006
    I think it's just the general Western squeamishness - many don't even like fish! And not having grown up eating 'weird' food. I love the jellyfish served alongside other cold deli-type foods - the usual first course in a Chinese/Vietnamese wedding banquet. Those preserved ('1000 year') eggs are great in congee, aren't they?

    I have a co-worker who eats nothing but steaks, potatoes, spaghetti, and plain chicken ("none of that mushroom winey sauce, either, okay?"). No vegetables except corn; no greens whatsoever. She's from NY.

    One thing I'm not interested in is fried tarantulas - another co-worker went to Cambodia and had it.
  4. Olivia 11:30 pm, August 30, 2006
    Ewwwww, pond-breath! I can imagine! Ewwww!

    The Hairy Bikers (you have GOT to watch their show, you will love them) ate dog inadvertently in Vietnam (they thought he'd said it was "duck")

    I have eaten quite a few of the things on your list without thinking anything unusual was going on.

    I love eel on the sushi dragon roll.

    I love chicken and duck giblets - the craw and heart and neck, but not the liver, I hate liver. My mum used to fry them in indian masala like a dark dry curry. *drool*
    She would make it for me, but always disown me afterwards, saying I got the habit from my dad's dad - and I never knew him!

    As I like giblets and tempura squid, I bet I would like pig's ear. I had octopus in a salad this year...probably in Italy. It is more crunchy than squid.

    I have also fittingly enjoyed tripe cut into thin strips and prepared the same way as the giblets, at my cousin's house.

    When I was little I always used to eat marrow, but never from pork, always from beef or lamb. Mum had a thing against pork and chicken marrow.

    Since studying biology, I have avoided marrow of all sorts.

    My grandmother enjoyed working over a boiled sheep's head when she was growing up in iceland, where it is a delicacy along with sharks fin pickled in spoiled milk buried under the snow (I will never try it, they say it is RANK).

    I used to love fish eyes when I was a kid, getting down to the little calcium ball and then splitting it with my front teeth.

    Bugs? Nevah! Oh god, creepy things that make me scream will never go in my mouth, no matter how darned dead they are!

    My dad had alligator in Louisiana and said it was like chicken *rolls eyes*

    I had buffalo in Canada once. It is also denser than beef, rather unenjoyably dry.

    Last week my landlady talked about when she had Kangaroo in Aus, and my landlord had Ostrich in S. Africa. I am trying to remember what they said it was like - I remember beign surprised at the comparison, though. I had had a bit too much wine at that point....

    There are lots of emu farms in Texas and they sold the steaks in the stores. Lean, and denser than beef, they were deep purple in colour!!! Never tried any.
  5. Olivia 11:30 pm, August 30, 2006
    Oh my god that was long, sorrie!
  6. panda_eyed 9:05 pm, August 31, 2006
    Hey Nikki, mmm, you've got me craving jellyfish now. I''ll say no to those tarantulas though - oh my goodness! Still, better fried than alive eh? Lol!

    Your co-worker will get scurvy soon if she's not careful :)

    Livvy, pond breath of the worse sort *shudders*. Ooh I've seen a few hairy biker episodes, they're great! Didn't see that one though - how funny!

    I'll pass on sushi too, I'm not a big fan of raw stuff, especially sashimi. I have a phobia of getting worms from rare meat as it is!

    I love giblets, especially roasted and especially kidney. The dry curry sounds interesting! I might try it one day. I do think you'd like the pig ear, especially cooked the way Pim described in her blog.

    Lol at your dad. Coincidentally, I was going to name the post 'tastes like chicken', but changed my mind last minute :)

    Emu is deep purple eh? Well you learn something new everyday! And don't worry about the long comment, I rather enjoy them! :)
  7. Flighty 10:54 pm, August 31, 2006
    I am not a foodie. I don't have much sense of smell or taste now so eat fairly bland, routine food.
    I have travelled widely and eaten all sorts of things in the past. If it looked, smelled and tasted okay then I ate it.
    I've certainly eaten horse steaks, but generally I've not wanted to know what I'm eating if as I say its okay.
    Clearly what we eat is largely dictated by our upbringing and culture.
    Good entry Panda and one I suspect will generate a lot of very varid opinions.
  8. Youngmum 4:26 am, September 01, 2006
    I am big huge wuss when it comes to eating anything. I don't eat any kind of seafood (not even deep fried fish sticks).
    I only eat skinless bonelss chiken breast... no dark meat... I only eat prime rib or filet t bone steak.
    I don't do bones of any kind... although I will make an exception for VERY VERY well cooked (as in almost burned) chiken wings.
    I was practicly sick reading all the things you've eaten...but I still love you panda. I am just too westernized... is that a word?
    If we ever go for diner I'll just pretend your eating chicken :o)
    (( hugs )
  9. nikkipolani 4:54 pm, September 01, 2006
    YM - "pretend you're eating chicken" is tooo funny! But I still love you and will even eat with you! I guess I like too much variety in my diet to eat chicken breasts and potatoes for the rest of my days *shudder*
  10. Olivia 8:30 pm, September 01, 2006
    Oh yea, I just rememebered I had smoked, shredded horse meat in Italy this summer.

    It's odd how I am able to detach myself from food (never insects).

    Like the first time I prepared quails to roast, I wanted to cry, the little wee bodies were so cute, and quails are adorable clever birds. But I still have some a couple of times a year.

    I also eat veal, and I've had foie gras and would have it again.

    And yet, I had a couple of chickens as pets and couldn't even bring myself to eat the rich, pretty eggs they laid! However, it didn't stop me (or them) from eating chicken (they had our leftovers).
  11. Jia Li 12:44 am, September 02, 2006
    hey sweet pea I am back...ever have a silk worm bbq style...a bit like crunchy peanut butter
  12. Jia Li 2:03 am, September 02, 2006

  13. panda_eyed 4:01 pm, September 02, 2006
    Hi Flighty, hmm horse, I wonder what that's like? I'd think it would be a very fibrous, perhaps even tough, meat?
    It's true that what we eat is largely dictated by culture. They say that a child needs to try something an avergage of 20 times before they'll like it.

    Aww youngmum, aren't you sweet? If you come over for dinner, I'll make sure there's nothing too wacky on your plate :) I suspect though, you might like some of the things you mentioned, if you didn't know what you were eating!

    Nikki, I am the same. seeing some of the food you prepare in your 'kitchen' section of your blog, I'd love to come round for dinner! :) I'd travel the thousands of miles just for a cookery lesson! ;)

    Ooh Livvy, quail, I like that. I've also had pigeon, that's quite nice too. It's a bit like duck actually. When I was a lot younger, in Hong kong, my gran kept her own chickens, and she would occasionally kill one for dinner. Once she made me hold it whilst she got the knife to cut it's neck, and I couldn't do it - I dropped the chicken, and we chased it round the yard for ages!! Lol!

    Yay Jia! You're back! I have missed you :D
    No, I've never had a silk worm bbq *shudders* I say no to insects, especially worms! ick..

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