April 22, 2008

Get In My Belly...No, Wait

I am somewhat obsessed with two shows on TV - No Reservations and Bizarre Foods. In them, Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern (respectively) travel around the world soaking up local cultures and eating everything in sight, presumably whatever happens to land in front of them. I'm not sure why I'm attracted to these shows though I am interested in both history and culture and nothing speaks to history and culture like food. This got me thinking about my own gastronomical adventures. One - that I've most likely recounted here in the distant past - sticks out. For obvious reasons.

When I was a kid, my parents and I flew to Europe, spent some time with friends in London and Paris then rented a car and drove through France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. So, we drove a lot and we also ate a lot. Europe is a wonderful place to eat. You can pretty much find a sidewalk cafe anywhere and get a decent meal. Except Chablis. You know, where they make the wine. The three of us - my parents and I - pulled into Chablis, found a nice little place, and ordered some lunch. My dad ordered ham. My mom and I ordered something else. It wasn't quite clear what. But it couldn't be bad, right? We should have picked up on the reaction we got from the waiter. We didn't.

Fifteen minutes later, my dad's ham arrived looking lovely while our whatevers showed up looking much less appetizing. The whatevers kind of looked like purple snakes that had been boiled for eight days. It was vaguely sausage-like, very purple with traces of green. It had clearly been an animal at some point but not recently. But being true troopers and possibly too stubborn to admit that what we'd ordered looked like roadkill and we'd sooner eat the tires of our rental car, we each tried a bite. We tried to chew while my dad looked at us and murmured "well, that sure doesn't look good." Thanks, Sherlock. Meanwhile, the whatever was clearly not good. And by not good I mean putrid. We gave up, summoned the waiter and in a curious mix of French and English we asked the waiter then the chef exactly what we'd attempted to consume.

Dick. Yeah, dick. Purple cabbage-stuffed dick. We'd been served and tried to consume a big 'ol pig penis. Turns out that the wang formerly attached to my dad's ham had accompanied it to our table. As it turns out, I'll never be a Bourdain or Zimmern. For one thing, I learned young that I don't like ingesting genitalia. For another, I don't even ingest animals anymore. But it sure is fun to watch.

I ask you - what's the strangest thing you've ever put in your mouth? And please don't say a foreign exchange student who recited Shakespeare's sonnets while pedaling around on a unicycle. That's more about you than I want to know.

Posted by Chris at April 22, 2008 6:32 AM
Comments

One drunk and debaucherous night while living in Costa Rica, I actually consumed a sea turtle egg. Proud, I am not. Delicious, it was, though.

Posted by: Sir Henry at April 22, 2008 6:12 AM

I actually got to see Anthony Bourdain speak last month when I was in Pittsburgh. I am addicted to his shows, too, though not so much Bizzare Foods. Too much Ick Factor for me in that one.

I once ate bird poop for a dollar.

Good bet.


Still alive and a buck richer.

Posted by: Julia at April 22, 2008 6:33 AM

Who told you about the foreign exchange student???

:)

Strangest thing... probably calamari in Spain. I'd never had it, and the suction cup thingies weirded me out. Also, baby pig. Like, it came on the plate and you could absolutely tell what it was, because some people got the ear or some people got a leg.

Posted by: Kate at April 22, 2008 6:39 AM

This just shows how un-daring I am about food....I don't like weird things and I really don't like foreign exchange students.

Posted by: Cass at April 22, 2008 6:46 AM

So then you want me to lie?

Strangest thing? Probably tripe. (Intestines, in tomato sauce, with polenta.)

Posted by: SciFi Dad at April 22, 2008 6:54 AM

Nothing strange. I decided to be a vegetarian when I was like 8 and never really looked back. SO if I have had anything strange it would be vegetable in nature and really I stick to the basics in that dept too.

My dad however lived for three years in China (as well as Hong Kong which did not count because it was like living in the US according to him...) and he ate raw monkey brains, pigeon soup (whole pigeon included) and various other revolting sounding animal bits and pieces. He told me when they served dinner you just did not ask what you were eating. If you liked it and it tasted good you ate it and if you did not you just passed on it the 2nd time. I highly doubt he was sober for most of these meals and I guess if I were drinking I could possibly ignore the fact that I was consuming raw monkey brains??? UGH, nope, just made my tummy turn thinking about it!

Posted by: Christina at April 22, 2008 7:13 AM

Wow... You ate a dick!! Litterally! I'm afraid I am not so daring. I tried, on separate occasions, frog legs and fried squirrel. I wasn't overly fond of either, but I didn't die, so thats a good thing. Neither of the two were bad, but I wouldn't order them again.

Posted by: Suzy at April 22, 2008 7:16 AM

Hmm, I'm not THAT daring but I did suck up hot chicken wing hot sauce in college once, on a bet of course. This was in Buffalo (home of the chicken wing) at THE place to eat them, with signs everywhere warning people that "our medium sauce is hot, our medium-hot sauce is VERY hot and our hot sauce is lethal". So I had to drink the hot sauce through a straw. For $1. Yeah, I'm still cheap and easy.

The nastiest thing I ever actually ate was sea urchin at a sushi joint. It felt like a deflated lung in my mouth. Um, not that I've ever had a deflated lung in my mouth but it reminded me of what one might feel like. NASTY!

And sorry about the pig penis incident….that’s just wrong.

Posted by: Greta at April 22, 2008 7:20 AM

I just can't top the dick. And I don't think that I want to...

Posted by: Hope at April 22, 2008 7:26 AM

The strangest sounding thing I have put in my mouth on a regular basis has to be Liver Dumplings. My Grandma is of German descent and makes them for family functions. Mmm Mmm good.

Posted by: Josh at April 22, 2008 7:35 AM

Alligator! And frogs legs. If I remember correctly, I preferred the alligator. It tasted like chicken (har har) but lighter.

Is the dick why you became a vegetarian? ;)

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at April 22, 2008 7:40 AM

We tend to get sucked in "Bizarre Foods" at our house too. Except, I didn't find the Spain episode that bizarre at all. I thought it was pretty tasty.
Bizarre foods (by some people's standards, although not my own) include: Tripe, Brains, Crilladillas (bull testicles), Beef Tongue, Lamb tongue, squid, octopus, escargot, ummmm, I'm sure there's more, but I can't recall right now.

Posted by: Varinia at April 22, 2008 7:52 AM

I've eaten things like squirrel, rabbit, squid, octopus and alligator but nothing I've eaten comes close to your encounter. I don't think anyone can ever top the pig dick. Wow.

Posted by: Jennifer at April 22, 2008 7:58 AM

Sparkle Pants- alligator DOES taste like chicken!! That is also the weirdest thing I've ever eaten. In the Cayman Islands. It was very good, but we probably won't toss it on the bbq any time soon.

But Penis? NASTY. I wonder if it had been sitting in a jar in the kitchen for years, just waiting for a taker. Like those pickled eggs and pig's feet in bars.

Posted by: chatty cricket at April 22, 2008 8:04 AM

Back in school we had "Eat what you dissect day". I was telling my step-dad about the whole fiasco and mentioned that we ate octopus tenticles.
Dad: "Well, at least you didn't eat testicles! Har Har"
Me: "Er, well, funny you should mention that, have you ever heard of Rocky Mountain Blue Oysters?"
And so goes my story of eating strange things.

Also, when I was in St. Kitts I had an experience similar to your Europe experience. I still don't know what the hell I ordered but the homeless beach guy at the bar was kind enough to eat it for me.

Posted by: Mymilabean at April 22, 2008 8:10 AM

Rocky Mountain Oysters......look it up.

We were on a company trip to Denver, and I, being the only female in a group of some 24 men, felt like I had to digest as many Rocky Mountain Oysters as possible to "hang" with the guys that night. Thank god there was an endless pour of beer and wine that night.

They did not taste bad, and were actually quite salty if nothing else, but it was just the thought that made you want to gag as you swallowed. I wish they were real oysters on the half shell, now that is some good eats.

Posted by: Jen at April 22, 2008 8:17 AM

Well, it sounds kind of tame compared to some of the other commenters, but haggis. And it's not as bad as you'd think. If you put a lot of ketchup on it.

Posted by: alison at April 22, 2008 8:31 AM

I've never had a desire to try foods that smell or look horrible. I've had octopus and other slimeys, but the worst bite (and smell) I've had was cow tongue. I was young and impressionable.

Posted by: Brad at April 22, 2008 8:44 AM

Blood sausage. I'm gagging just thinking about it. I'm not a big meat eater, never have been. I was in grammar school at the time. My grandmother said I couldn't leave the table until I finished it. It took me several hours to choke it down.

This story is funny now, but I know I wouldn't have laughed at the time.

Posted by: Maria at April 22, 2008 8:49 AM

chicken feet! My grandmother was Bohemian so it was an old family recipe....pretty weird seeing the little feet sticking up in the soup. Didn't taste too bad. I kept trying not to think about the those little feet walking around in the chicken coup in their own crap all day.

Posted by: Linda at April 22, 2008 8:55 AM

Despite being fairly well-traveled,, I've led an incredibly sheltered life where food-adventure is concerned. I suppose leading the pack on 'strange' would be a toss up between black budding and haggis. One is made with sheep's blood and the other sheep intestine. I love Scotland and the Scottish and sweet pain-relieving whisky, but uh...they're not known for their culinary prowess. For excellent reasons.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at April 22, 2008 8:58 AM

I took an asian cooking course in which I promised myself to eat everything that we prepared. I guess eating a bowl of soup with a blue crab claw sticking up out of the mix wasn't really "strange", even though it had recently been crawling across the teacher's cutting board. Strangest thing in the course would actually have been the thousand-year egg... "Hey, let's cover a duck egg in clay, bury it for a month or so until it turns black and green, then see what it tastes like!"

Posted by: (slightly) less cynical at April 22, 2008 9:06 AM

I am soooo not adventurous in teh food department either. I actually have a series of rules that food must adhere to in order for it to enter my mouth. I am not too much of a picky eater but I am extremly picky about the texture and temperature of what I am eating....

okay, okay so I maybe a little bit picky.

Posted by: Kelly M. at April 22, 2008 9:10 AM

Quail. It's like really really greasy chicken.

Posted by: Stephanie at April 22, 2008 9:13 AM

Baby octopi. Their weenie heads explode in your mouth when you bite them :-)

Posted by: GreenCanary at April 22, 2008 9:15 AM

Well, I'm a chicken. I don't try anything I don't know about. Mostly because things most people consider normal - rhubarb sauce (feels like chunky nosebleed going down your throat. I had lots of bloody noses growing up), shrimp (veiny feels like it's still alive and squigling), mushrooms (tough/squishy - same alive feeling, I hate. Ack, ick. Can't stand it. Makes me want to vomit just thinking about it.

Except I tried dog food once. I thought it was carmel corn. That's about it for adventursome eating for me.

Posted by: k8 at April 22, 2008 9:19 AM

Ah, it was probably the summer I went to stay with my dad and his wife. His wife's mom had moved in with them, and she was this little ol' Filipino woman who liked to cook traditional style food. Most of the food was REALLY awesome, but one day, she made pigs' feet cooked in some sort of sauce that had peanut butter in it. I tried a bite, then took a pass and filled up my plate with rice. Ugh.

Posted by: sarah at April 22, 2008 9:32 AM

Um, ewww.

Of course, I've eaten mountain oysters, which isn't far from what you ate.

You know what mountain oysters are, right?

Posted by: Alissa at April 22, 2008 9:40 AM

Nothing I can offer will beat that. Nothing.

Although if you're still curious, I've eaten:

Kangaroo
Rattlesnake
Gator Tail (All the time actually)
Frog Legs
Snails
Octopus
Squid
Eel

Posted by: Tink at April 22, 2008 9:50 AM

i love both of those shows myself... although my husband and i have been joking during this season of bizarre foods that andrew has been eating a lot of penis!
i've got quite a few food issues. and texture is pretty much a deal-breaker. i can't think of any bizarre food i've ever eaten.

Posted by: kati at April 22, 2008 9:50 AM

OMG! We love Bizarre Foods! We learned of goober burgers from him!

Hmm strangest thing...probably Llama. Is that even spelled right? It was a very out of place restaurant here locally (not there anymore now!) and it was on the menu.

I can't remember what it tasted like...probably like chicken! LOL

Posted by: Michelle at April 22, 2008 9:52 AM

Pick up Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential if you love the man. It's AWESOME!

I had deep fried locus (my brothers dared me), tried ants "eggs" (or whatever it is), enjoyed homemade (as in backyard hunted) deer sausage in Texas, and I LOVE braised chicken feet and watching dim-sum newbies squirm at my table. HAhah!

Posted by: oakley at April 22, 2008 10:10 AM

I am totally addicted to both of those shows (I call Tony my BF! He is actually on my "list" yeah I know I don't get it either and yes TMI sorry) ANYWAY......... as for bizarre eats i am a huge "foodie" and will eat just about anything at least once mostly likely twice. I have eaten all the wild animals previously mentioned and liked most of them, though i find Kangaroo a little tough. Love headcheese, and when I was little we lived in a German/Jewish neighbor hood and after church (catholic) my mom would get all kinds of goodies for brunch including lox, herring, whitefish, smoked sturgeon and pickled pigs feet/knuckles. I remember loving those most, and I would eat them again if I could find them and if my fiancé wouldn't leave me on principle!

Oh to the girl who posted that haggis is not bizarre, yes it is it is made with every nasty bit, of a sheep or whatever animal, its blood and then stuffed into the bladder just for a little more icky factor then boiled!

Wow long post, sorry fingers are cramping must stop typing :)

Posted by: Regina at April 22, 2008 10:22 AM

I'm racking my brain here...but I can't think of anything too bizarre. Raw oysters are delicious, of course. And sometimes I like andouillette, which is sausage made of intestines (but there have to be fries and a whole lot of mustard).

One time my brothers, cousins, and I caught frogs from the creek (I mean, crick) and cooked them on top of a coffee can over a small fire. Tasted like chicken.

Posted by: Alison at April 22, 2008 10:22 AM

SO many places I could go with this. I need more coffee...

Posted by: Mr Lady at April 22, 2008 10:32 AM

I too am obsessed with those shows. Though some do have a major ick factor, and as I am usually eating when I am watching, have lost my appetite numerous times. Being of the hispanic persuasion, I have eaten some odd tings, but I think what did me in was the meat from the goats head. It was rather tasty though.

Posted by: Elizabeth at April 22, 2008 11:01 AM

My dad and I love those shows. I wish Anthony Bourdain would go to the Philippines, though.

I went to a restaurant in the philippines and they served me "iguana", but I didn't believe that it was an actual iguana. anyway, i searched for the tagalog name of the animal on flickr and this came up: http://www.flickr.com/photos/buboy1/1530295188/

and I've tried a little bit of the balut (underdeveloped chicken embryo) that my dad was eating just to see if it tasted awful. it wasn't that bad and I think I'll try to eat a whole one next time.

Posted by: Denise at April 22, 2008 11:03 AM

Ummm... honestly?
Horse Poo.

Long and slightly humorous story about a very pregnant shetland pony who tossed my smug teenage face into manure - mouth wide open. Luckily, it was very old and dry poo. Tasted like hay.

Posted by: SassyPants at April 22, 2008 11:41 AM

I love watching Bizarre Foods and watching for things I've previously seen that tragic year I became addicted to watching Fear Factor. Not my best year. And I want to be on Bourdain's crew. What a job!

We have some old Southern family traditions of cooking all of the animal. So it's not so strange to me. Think that's part of the larger American squeamishness over so many foods? Because as a culture, we've never really experienced widespread famine?

Posted by: OS at April 22, 2008 12:53 PM

Tongue. From a cow. But no longer attached. On a sandwich.

But you totally win with dick.

Posted by: Pammer at April 22, 2008 12:58 PM

Tongue. From a cow. But no longer attached. On a sandwich.

But you totally win with dick.

Posted by: Pammer at April 22, 2008 12:58 PM

Tongue. From a cow. But no longer attached. On a sandwich.

But you totally win with dick.

Posted by: Pammer at April 22, 2008 12:58 PM

Tongue. From a cow. But no longer attached. On a sandwich.

But you totally win with dick.

Posted by: Pammer at April 22, 2008 12:59 PM

Tongue. From a cow. But no longer attached. On a sandwich.

But you totally win with dick.

Posted by: Pammer at April 22, 2008 12:59 PM

Tongue. From a cow. But no longer attached. On a sandwich.

But you totally win with dick.

Posted by: Pammer at April 22, 2008 12:59 PM

I am a VERY picky eater and therefore do not consume anything unless I even know what spices are in it, but that last (or last before last) paragraph made me laugh so hard I spit diet coke on my new MacBook...so um thanks for that :)))))

Posted by: Shannen at April 22, 2008 1:30 PM

I am a VERY picky eater and therefore do not consume anything unless I even know what spices are in it, but that last (or last before last) paragraph made me laugh so hard I spit diet coke on my new MacBook...so um thanks for that :)))))

Posted by: Shannen at April 22, 2008 1:30 PM

See, it's already malfunctioning by posting my comments twice! Ok, kidding...that's just me being impatient :)

Posted by: Shannen at April 22, 2008 1:32 PM

Ew :P
I almost got to eat iguana but they couldn't catch one. I was 14 and in Guatemala, and I was very disappointed.

Posted by: Heather at April 22, 2008 2:58 PM

I've been a vegetarian for years but I did eat haggis and black pudding (not at the same time) as a child. But I live in Scotland so I don't think that's strange.

My mum once asked me to try a loaf that my grandpa had made. She thought it was a nut loaf. I tried it and it tasted very meaty. 'Wow, that's very meaty Grandpa,' I said. He then reeled off about 4 different meats that it contained. My mum was very apologetic.

Posted by: Katherine at April 22, 2008 3:06 PM

Cerulean Blue acrylic paint.

It did not taste good.

Posted by: jessica at April 22, 2008 3:33 PM

woodpigeon. with complimentary buck shot.

oh I guess muscles and sprats (tiny fish you dip in flour, fry and eat whole) would be weired if you hadn't have grown up on the coast.

pony nuts taste quite good but are a bit over chewy.

Posted by: mamacrow at April 22, 2008 6:16 PM

My two fave shows!!!

And the weirdest things are jellyfish and chicken hearts.

Posted by: Aurelia at April 22, 2008 10:24 PM

I don't think will top some of the things listed here but pigs feet. I did not know it at the time and never trusted my Grandmother again!

Posted by: Chrissie at April 22, 2008 10:36 PM

I don't think will top some of the things listed here but pigs feet. I did not know it at the time and never trusted my Grandmother again!

Posted by: Chrissie at April 22, 2008 10:36 PM

I don't think will top some of the things listed here but pigs feet. I did not know it at the time and never trusted my Grandmother again!

Posted by: Chrissie at April 22, 2008 10:36 PM

I don't think will top some of the things listed here but pigs feet. I did not know it at the time and never trusted my Grandmother again!

Posted by: Chrissie at April 22, 2008 10:36 PM

I don't think will top some of the things listed here but pigs feet. I did not know it at the time and never trusted my Grandmother again!

Posted by: Chrissie at April 22, 2008 10:36 PM

I don't think will top some of the things listed here but pigs feet. I did not know it at the time and never trusted my Grandmother again!

Posted by: Chrissie at April 22, 2008 10:36 PM

I am soooo sorry! My computer locked up and somehow it managed to list my comment way too many times. Ooops!

Posted by: Chrissie at April 22, 2008 10:37 PM

I'm addicted to No Reservations....completely.

Posted by: Kristy at April 24, 2008 9:24 PM

"Turns out that the wang formerly attached to my dad's ham had accompanied it to our table."

This is my most favorite thing you have ever written.

And apparently Chrissie has tried pigs feet.

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at April 28, 2008 6:42 PM

Set your life time easier take the personal loans and all you need.

Posted by: GlennKatrina at April 4, 2010 7:33 PM


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