And yeah, I know some of you may disagree. Some of you may consider turtles a wonderful delicacy. After all, even though I think calves are absolutely adorable and have the most beautiful eyes, when driving past a field of them, I may or may not have said a time or two, "Oh, look at all the veals!"
I know. Crass.
But if you think about it, we humans eat a lot of strange foods. I mean, I love raw oysters, but you've got to wonder about the first human who thought to himself, I'm going to crack that thing open and eat whatever I find in there, no matter how slimy and disgusting it looks.
|You must admit. It doesn't look very appetizing.|
- In Sardinia, people eat something called casu marzu, which is cheese riddled with insect larvae. Appropriately enough, it is also called maggot cheese. Yum, huh?
- In Indonesia, fried monkey toes are considered a delicacy.
- In Hungary, a favorite dish is comprised of fresh pig blood and scrambled eggs.
- Talking about blood, in Sweden, blood dumplings are made with flour and reindeer blood, and the Polish have czarnina, a soup whose not-so-secret ingredient is duck blood.
- Ever hear of head cheese? It looks like a nondescript mish-mash jellied lunch meat, and can be found in many delis. Did you know that isn't just a cutesy name? That it's actually made from the head of a pig? A whole head, which has to be shaved, and has to have the wax removed from its ears, prior to cooking? If you have the stomach for it, you can see how it's done here
- Americans traditionally eat some pretty weird stuff, too. How about scrapple, which is allegedly made from every part of the pig but its oink? I also read that some people in the South eat squirrel brains, although I can't say I've ever seen any of my neighbors so indulge, and I don't plan to serve them at our next dinner party, either.
- In Eastern Europe, there's a dish called p'tcha which is a translucent "jello" made from calves' feet.
- Oh, and while we're talking about feet, let's not forget pickled pig and cow feet. (There are two jars of pig feet lurking in my pantry now.)
- In France, they eat calf's head; in Slovenia, they eat stewed dormice; in Italy, they eat cibreo, which is cock's combs; and in Thailand, they eat rats.
- You've heard of Chinese birds nest soup? It is literally made from swifts' nests, and lest you think those nests are made of twigs and grass, they aren't. They're mostly made of saliva.
- In the Philippines, balut answers the age-old chicken-or-the-egg question. This dish is made of fertilized eggs, which are cooked just before they hatch, so when you eat it, you get both the chicken (or duck) AND the egg.
- One of Korea's favorite dishes is sannakji. Octopus. No big deal, you say? You've eaten octopus many times, you say? How many times have you eaten it while it was still squirming on your plate? That's right. This dish is reeeeeeally fresh. While it's still alive, the octopus is cut into pieces and sprinkled with sesame oil, and the tentacles are STILL MOVING when diners pop it into their mouths. It poses quite a challenge, too, because those little suction cups on the tentacles stick to whatever surface they touch. So the diner has to pry his dinner from his chopsticks, and once it's in his mouth, the tentacles latch onto his teeth, his tongue, and the roof of his mouth.
- And then, there's the national dish of Scotland. Haggis. This is a sausage-like dish which contains what they call the pluck of a sheep: its heart, liver, and lungs. (Takes a bit of pluck to eat it, too!) When all the ingredients are combined, they're traditionally sewn into the sheep's stomach for cooking, with the windpipe hanging over the side of the pot. Modern recipes, however, may call for tongue instead of lung, and sausage casing instead of sheep's stomach.
- This love-it or hate-it food comes to us from the UK:
In closing on this whole weird foods of the world idea, I'll let these following pictures speak for themselves:
|bugs on a stick|
So, what's all this mean? It means there's simply no accounting for taste. People like what they like, and hate what they hate. Just because I tried chocolate-covered ants when I was a kid (they're crunchy) doesn't mean I'd ever choose them over a Hershey bar. Just because I ate snake once (it really DOES taste like chicken) doesn't mean I ever want to eat it again. And just because most of the world loves chocolate doesn't make you wrong if you hate it.
And here we go: Rejection from any given agent or publisher doesn't mean your writing stinks. All it means is you haven't submitted it to the person with the perfect palate for it yet. The work of any creative person is every bit as susceptible to personal taste as a still-moving chunk of octopus or jar of pickled pigs feet. I'll betcha even Michelangelo had his detractors. (the artist, not the ninja turtle)
OK, time to take a look at (ta-DA!) the
Weirdest News Stories of the Week
** After a scant week on the job, Japan's new reconstruction minister had to resign because of offensive remarks he made about the country's earthquake and tsunami victims. His explanation? No, he didn't say the devil made him do it. He blamed his insensitive behavior on his blood type, alluding to a widespread Japanese belief that associates blood type with certain character traits. He says his behavior stemmed from his type B blood, although there was no mention of Rh factor. Judging by his unkind remarks, I think he may ... B negative.
** In a follow-up to last week's story about Nathan's Hot Dog Eating competition, for the fifth year in a row, Joey Chestnut won the Mustard Belt ( I kid you not) and ten thousand dollars (that'll buy a LOT of hot dogs!) by scarfing down 62 dogs and rolls in the span of ten minutes. The winner among lady competitors? Although I can't imagine where she put 'em, Sonya Thomas, who is 5'5" tall, and a mere 105 pounds, managed to pack in forty dogs and buns. In an interesting side story, Takeru Kobayashi, a one-time Mustard Belt holder who was banned from the competition because of his refusal to sign a contract, held his own event. From atop a Manhattan rooftop, and in front of witnesses, he ate sixty-nine dogs and buns within the allotted ten minutes. Alas, although it would've broken the official record, there'll be no mustard belt for him. But I'll bet he ate with a lot of relish.
If you have time, check out the blogs of Dianne Salerni and Marcy Hatch today. They've thrown me into the back of their trucks and will be toting me across the tarmac. That is, they'll be critiquing the first page of my novel. Go ahead. Let me know what you think about my haggis. So to speak.
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.