Odd Foods

By Alexa Boyce
I recently read an article about a Beijing restaurant called the Cat Meatball Restaurant shutting down due to animal rights protesters. The thought of cat meatballs disgusts me as an American, but I'm sure to some Chinese people (obviously not all of them), it is an inexpensive or tasty dinner. I came across a website that I just had to share. It is called www.weird-food.com and discusses the various "strange" foods that are eaten around the world, and how they may not be so strange to those in the culture. They state that these so-called weird foods are eaten not because of sacred scripture or sanitary reasons, but in order to distinguish your culture's "insiders" from outsiders. They made a point to state that the foods on their list are there not because they are unpopular (ie eggplant) but because they are cultural identifiers. Here are some of my favorites:
* Tarantula (Cambodia): The practice of eating these fuzzy arachnids apparently started during the reign of Khmer Rouge when food was scarce. But now, the town of Skuon sells hundreds of the spiders daily as a sort of 'fast food'.
* Gusano Worms (Mexico): These worms live on the agave plants and are purposefully placed inside bottles of the more "authentic" brands of tequila. There is even a type of tequila manufactured in Mexico and sold in 2-ounce bottles called "Dos Gusanos", or two worms. For those who can't get enough!
* Witchety Grub (Australia): Eating these insect larvae was a staple in the diets of the aborigines. Now it is served as a delicacy in the finest restaurants as a patriotic dish!
* Monkey Toes (Indonesia): Deep fried monkey toes, eaten right off the bone. This one sounds like a joke, doesn't it?
* Pig's Blood with Eggs (Hungary): Apparently when Hungarians kill the first pig of the season, they collect the blood and add scrambled eggs as a celebration.
* Squirrel Brain (southern USA): Cook the whole cleaned squirrel, then crack the skull using your fingers and dig the brains.
* Nozki (Poland): Nozki is what the Polish call Jellied Cow's Foot. Buy a cow's foot, chop into pieces and cook for hours in water and spices. Then pour into a flat pan and refrigerate. You will be left with a grey jelly with a layer of fat on top. Serve with horseradish.
* Criadillas (Spain): I actually had a friend who attended a 'Testicle Festival' in the Western US, where they are apparently called 'Prarie Oysters'. The Spanish serve them sliced with garlic and parsley.
* Baby Mouse Wine (China): Whole baby mice in a bottle of nice wine. Also common in China is Snake wine. Same basic concept, but open the gall bladders and drain into the wine.
* Clay (US South, Africa, Worldwide): Apparently eating dirt/clay that is rich in minerals, either to settle your stomach or as a mineral supplement is more common than one would think.
* Scrapple (USA): I had to include this one. Scrapple is made up of all the leftover pig parts including lips, snout, organs, etc. Formed into a gelatinous cube with cornmeal, sliced and fried. Here in Philadelphia, its often served with Maple syrup and eaten for breakfast.
Check out the page for recipes on how to make these 'delicacies' and more!

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