Would you eat FUGLY!
Have you ever wondered who tried that first!!!
I think I m pretty brave when it comes to food! Over the years of privileged travel that I have managed to squeeze into my life so far, most of it has been based around my love of food and sharing it with others. Now this sharing is not always met with such optimism when suggestions arise in varying conversations at various destinations and at varying times of play.
I ve been an advocate of chefs like Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver, who at best have always been upfront about where the food on your plate came from. Lets face it, hiding the fact that the juicy rib eye steak that smells so sexy whilst grilling on the BBQ terrace and spilling its smokey flavors through the house, was in fact previously a cute four legged mammal in the rolling green, or that Xmas turkey that started as a family pet before it went feral as Christmas approached, never lasts, but I have to say, I d love them to venture out a little further, and trial some of what I have over the years.
Food is a visual; there is no denying that fact. You may have produced the best tasting dish, but if presented to you in a form that resembles cat food or indeed meat that still could possibly be live, it becomes a challenge to get fork to mouth for even the most hardened of food lovers.
So with all this in mind I decided many moons ago that I needed to pay attention to the details. I worked above an abattoir, which I will admit caused me more than a little stress, but once moved on to another location, the visions were replaced with that rib eye and lamb shank and the long line of orders on pins in front of my eyes whilst cooking in The Mole & Chicken. A new and inventive pub back then that allowed me to branch out and include some menu choices that I had acquired from my first 3 years of Caribbean sailing & American big plate culture.
I then worked nights for a shorter time at a very well know spice factory and learnt where said spices originated. I learnt how they were harvested, packed and shipped to us to be jarred and then sent for resale on our supermarket shelves, and I realized once again that some foods, are just not pretty. I knew I was going to continue to travel and explore further into food but I m not sure I was quite ready for some of my experiences along the way. I m going to share, because sharing is caring, and I care that maybe, some of you are a little fussy in your food choices. ;-)
The Conch! Have you ever pulled a conch from its shell. Its home the shell trumpet. If you searched on Wikipedia, conch comes up trumps in the musical department before food. Conch, however in the West Indies is a much loved dish and Conch frittas, conch salads, grilled conch & Conch ceviche are all sort after dishes, but removing that conch from its shell is no fun task.
After managing to break a seal between conch and shell, you then get to pull out what can only be described as FUGLY! Its like a giant snail with two eyes on long storks somehow managing to follow your every eye movement. You know how portraits have this ability although not living, to follow you around the room! Conch has the same ability. Whilst your pulling its live body from its home of ten years and trying to keep hold of the slippery sucker that quite frankly is not the prettiest of beings, it still manages to stare you down right up until your lopped off its head. I lie, it still capable of twisting its eyes on stalks in your direction and at that point you ask yourself, WHO decided this was an animal worth eating.
The “Angulas” young eels in Spanish. These are so sort after and expensive that the Spanish have introduced a cheaper version called Gulas…would you believe it. The caviar of Northern Spain. Lucky Lucy was given a whole tapas style dish all to herself in Mallorca one time by the ever lovely parents of a Spanish boyfriend. Wooden fork at the ready, in they went and slipped on down without even the slightest movement of my mouth. No chewing involved. Quick, sharp, bobs your uncle fanny s your aunt! I volunteered the open mouth to show said boyfriend they were not wasted and realized afterwards that was rather bad table etiquette. I was proud. We are still friends.
I love smoked Eel. How does that work. I would choose Eel or Unagi at any restaurant. Is this mind over matter.
Tripe! I can’t even bring myself to post a picture. Edible stomach lining they said. It should remain as stomach lining in my opinion and never have ventured onto my plate. This could have ruined me for life! Hardened as I have become to many foods, Tripe remains as one of my Not on your life, ever again lists. I can’t explain the smell or texture that I endured on the streets in Naples, in stew in Turkey and again in Spain. If there has to be a winner then the Spanish won, it was at least bathed in tomato. Be warned, if you Wikipedia tripe, there is a list the length of my arm which includes its’ main ingredient as tripe. Clever.
Witchetty Grub, another classic Australian fare. Ok so I tried this or something very similar whilst casually passing through Vietnam and Cambodia. I ask myself, am I eating larvae or a moth. It tasted like almonds with a sort of crispy skin, but whilst I m not sure it would be my choice of street snack, it was not too bad.
Crickets, I think. A Cambodian treat. They eat them like nuts scooped into cut coke cans and inhaled like peanuts. Cheap, and actually not that bad. It was like eating a deep friend prawn leg, which I seemingly love. Have you ever stared at a prawn long enough before eating it. Its really no different to that Witchetty grub without legs but for some reason, someone sold it to us mere mortals that a prawn is delicious and expensive, but a roach is definitely not! Where do you stand?
This was me after a triumphant chew half way up the Mekon River.
I have never been the same.
Frogs legs & snails fall into the same category for me. Both unattractive, both things I would never had looked at and thought, ooooh lets eat you! Frogs legs look like frogs legs, taste like …you guessed it sweet chicken, and snails….well they taste like whatever you want them too. FUGLY.
The Scotch Bonnet Pepper. To be fair to whoever tried this baby first, It is pretty! I made the mistake of being fooled into thinking my first taste of this sweet red pepper was a seasoning pepper. I felt every second for the rest of the day and more. There is hot, and then there is uncomfortably numb. Its an easy mistake.
Spiders – Jane Roelvinki if your reading this, I blame you for a life long blip on my most treasured holiday ever. We tried, to taste the local spiders on the menu. There I was expecting a platter of deep fried spiders, a little like white bait we have here. I had visualized it and prepared myself for it and was ready to dive in, until the table next door was taking stock of its order. There on a plate was one bloody great Tarantula, all be it deep fried, sitting in the middle of the plate. It was a sharing dish apparently, one that you tore off the legs one by one, before finally equally splitting the body left in limbo. Now I know that I was unable to stay seated at the table in that moment. I sent Jane to cancel the order asap as I would have cried and wet my pants in one uncontrollable second, but there is still a blank moment of time between that and a whitened Jane arriving back at the table after venturing into the kitchen to save the Spider from an untimely wasted death!! It was like my head was a balloon as the Roelvinki explained there was a box of live spiders in the room next door all waiting to take a plonge, but it ruined my appetite.
So Spiders 1 Lucky Lucy 0!
Live! Oh NO, not a chance. You can keep the celebrity Jungle. I am not entering that dragons’ den. I m out!