I like watching Andrew Zimmern (check out his blog) on the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods. I also like to watch Anthony Bourdain, host of No Reservations and occasional contributer to ruhlman.com, Michael Ruhlman’s blog (dang… was that enough links in a row?).
Besides the fact that Bourdain is an interesting character (or would that be a rascal?), they both engage in eating some really weird stuff. Take for instance a a recent episode where Zimmern went to Ecuador and ate that nation’s main protein: hamster. Weird… but I think I would eat it. And who cold forget Bourdain eating warthog anus with the bush people of Namibia. That I would not eat (and if you haven’t seen that show… it’s a classic!).
- Huitlacoche – A dish from Mexico that is the product of a corn disease, caused by a plant parasite that attacks crops. The pathogen causes kernels to swell as much as 10 times in size, distort, and darken in color as they bloat with spores from the infectious fungus.
- Surströmming – Soured herring from Sweden. How do you know when your surströmming is ready to be devoured? When the cans bulge around the middle, an effect caused by a gassy, bacterial byproduct of its lengthy fermenting process. Locals recommend opening the can under water whenever possible to contain the tantalizing odor of rotten egg, rancid butter and vinegar that results from the fermentation process.
- Bottled balut – A popular Filipino street snack, balut is a boiled three-week-old fertilized duck egg, eaten straight out of the shell. A well-aged balut lacks feathers, beak and claws (all the tasty bits), and instead provides a palatable rich embryonic broth, the creamy yolk (and of course, the fetus), sure to satisfy even the most ambitious appetite.
- Jellied eels – Caught from the murky depths of the Thames River estuary, boiled with salt and pimentos, set in gelatin and then served with a dash of chili vinegar, each bite is a gooey challenge for the average palate.
- Reindeer pate – Here’s the upside to snacking on Santa’s Little Helper — because the reindeer are farm-raised by Sami herdsmen in Sweden on a simple diet of moss and lichen, your dinner delicacy is delightfully hormone-free. Not to mention, this other red meat is incredibly lean, clocking in at a mere 2 percent fat content, making it one of the least-fatty meats in your cart. As an added bonus, there’s no such thing as mad reindeer disease.
- Haggis – Classic Scottish haggis has several variations, but a common cooking method involves stuffing oatmeal, onions, seasonings and a mixture of minced organ meats (think heart, liver, lungs) into the stomach of a sheep. That succulent sausage concoction is then simmered in water for several hours to produce the traditional treat.
Now that’s some good eats!