linguini_clam_0We all have food aversions. I get that. Some people can’t stomach Brussel sprouts, which just happen to be a favorite vegetable of mine. Some people get green at the thought of linguini and clams, another favorite of mine.

sign warningEven the innocuous strawberry or peanut can instigate allergic havoc in some people sending them to the hospital and causing a flood of warning labels to spring up on just about anything you can think of…like this warning sign.

But what got me thinking about the foods we choose to eat was the meal Nettie and I put together on Friday night, or more accurately, the two appetizers we began with…oysters on the half shell and fresh sea urchin. Both of these creatures are alive when you start to prepare them. I know there’s nothing particularly exotic about fresh oysters, but eating live sea urchin at home is not exactly an everyday affair.

uni quail eggSea urchin, or uni as it’s called in a sushi restaurant, is Nettie’s favorite dish; and when we saw them live on sale at Whole Foods, we both had images of the sushi presentation of this creature, which Nettie normally tops off with a raw quail egg.

Few sea urchinNeedless to say, the uni I prepared looked a bit more ragged than anticipated, and getting at the creature took a pair of shears and gloves to protect my hands from the crazy-sharp spines.

Once I got it opened and looked in at the black goo and finally found the rather paltry amount of edible orange flesh (it’s actually the animal’s gonads), I was struck by just how much effort is required for so little.

In fact, I had to got to YouTube to help guide me into the curious innards of this creature. Here’s a link if you care to see how it’s done: Cleaning a sea urchin

Messy hole sea urchinThen it occurred to me…who the heck thought of eating this creature to begin with? It hardly looks edible from the outside; it’s difficult to gather from the ocean floor; it’s dangerous to transport without getting pierced; and it has no “open here” sign to let you know where to start.

I suspect it was a sea otter that got early man thinking about cracking into that spiny-thingy clinging to the rocks.



Anyhow, after I finally got the uni spooned out and served on tiny wedges of lettuce with a drop or two of soy sauce, it was delicious, with a delicately nutty taste, sweet and certainly marine.

We could, of course, have then moved onto other exotic foods, fried tarantulas for instance or various chocolate treats like crickets or cockroaches. They seem reasonable enough because they’re crispy and sweet, disguised by the batter and chocolate coating.

Instead, though, we moved onto our main course, an inappropriately food pairing of a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich on sourdough bread that we’d been hankering after for some time.

It also was delicious, but one could ask when did anyone think it sensible to cut open a pig and slice up its rear leg into elongated rectangular strips? For that matter, who came up with the idea of incarcerating a calf moments after birth for six weeks in a pen so tight it cannot move, causing its muscles to atrophy and its flesh to become that tender pink texture so ideal for veal scaloppini?

Perhaps I’m being silly now…perhaps not, but I have come across some particularly disgusting foods that I think all you would agree should never have been considered as meals for humans, and yet they’re eaten rapaciously in certain locations in the world. Incidentally, images of these “foods” are too disgusting to post but you can google ’em if you’re interested.

Let’s start with a certain live tiny octopus that wriggles down your throat and suction-cups to your stomach as it’s slowly digested.

Or perhaps you’d like to sample the beating heart of a cobra…yep, it’s just what it sounds like with delicate whirls of squirting blood to season it. Or maybe you’d prefer a bowl of Witchetty Grubs, 4-inch long worms, bigger than your index finger with a grotesque-looking mouth and a segmented body that undulates over roots and rocks and sewage. Yummy!

fruit bat soup


Or how about fruit bat soup in a simmering cabbage broth? Lovely for a quick pick-me-up. Okay, I couldn’t resist…I have to show you a picture of this delicate dish.

Or maybe you’re hankering for a baked duck embryo. Why baked? Because a raw duck embryo is a bit too much even for the adventurous pallet.

Or maybe a sautéed tuna eyeball is more to your liking? I hear it makes a great appetizer…though its grim stare takes some getting used to.

For the brave of heart, I often suggest a braised ox penis…no comment necessary for this one.

Elephant Dung BeerAnd finally, to wash it all down, I’d recommend a chilled bottle of Elephant Dung Beer from Japan. Rich but not too filling with little or no after taste, which is a good thing for a dung beer to be!








2 Responses to Who The Heck Would Think Of Eating That?

  1. Mary says:

    Hey, those live Witchetty Grubs are staple food if you go bush Down Under! I can see I’ll have some serious meal planning to do if you two come to visit! XX Mary

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