Image: Paul Mannix
I personally can’t watch Heston Blumenthal on TV without screaming something along the lines of, “Why are you putting snails in porridge!?” Then I turn over for fear that he is about to pop a slug in a yoghurt.
However, around the world people are enjoying food so bizarre that it makes even Heston’s cooking style seem conventional.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
They don’t sound too bad do they? Until you find out that they are the testicles of bull calves. That’s right, bull’s balls!
The bull testicles are usually served as a starter in the American West. Bull-calves are castrated and the folks of the Rocky Mountain region are not the type to waste meat. Generally the testicles are peeled, washed, rolled in flour, seasoned and then fried in a pan or deep fried. Sort of like the rugged cowboy version of chicken nuggets.
It is widely believed that locals of the Skuon began eating tarantulas known as “A-Ping” to avoid starvation during desperate times, nowadays it is considered a regional delicacy.
The spiders are fried whole until their legs are stiff, usually with salt and garlic and sometimes sugar.
The legs and head are said to taste like a mixture of chicken and cod, and many believe the spider to have medicinal qualities helping to ease asthma and back pain. The abdomen contains a brown paste consisting of organs, excrement, and possibly eggs. If you do suffer from asthma and back ache and are planning a trip to Cambodia you may want to take an inhaler and some paracetamol.
Urine Soaked Eggs
Picture the scene, you are making a delicious omelette when a nine year old Chinese boy strolls into your kitchen, climbs onto the worktop and urinates into the pan before climbing down and leaving via the front door. You will probably change your locks and then throw away the now “ruined” omelette, but according to many in the Chinese city of Dongyang you should be thanking the boy.
The urine of young boys is collected from schools and then eggs are boiled in said urine, once cooked the shells are cracked and the reintroduced to the urine. The process takes a full day, many believing this gives the eggs great health properties (as well as a distinctive odour and salty taste!)
If you are ever in Norway and see smalahove on the menu, steer clear unless you like to look your meal in the eye as you devour it. However you may wish to actively encourage a friend to order it, just for the look on his or her face when the sheep’s head appears from the kitchen. It looks more like a threat from mobsters than a meal. You can helpfully inform your friend that traditionally the eye and the ear are eaten first and then the head is eaten from front to back working around the bones of the skull.
If you wish to make smalahove at home you simply need to torch the fleece and skin of a sheep’s head, pop out the brain and then boil the head for a few hours. Voilà!
And to Drink…
May I recommend the Baby Mice Wine? This is a Chinese / Korean “health tonic”.
To make it: take a few handfuls of baby mice, shove them in some rice wine, allow to drown and ferment and you have yourself a healthy (allegedly) alternative to pinot grigio.
Even if you avoid taking in a lumpy bit on your first taste the chances of spraying the wine over your new PVC tablecloth are quite high as it is said to taste like petrol. Although, have you ever tasted petrol?
So while in the UK we wince just watching bush tucker trials on “I’m a Celeb…” it seems the rest of the world are taking inspiration perhaps thinking they’ve just tuned into Masterchef.
What is the most unusual food that you have ever come across?
- License: Creative Commons image source
Alan survives on a diet of mainly pizza. He would choose fish fingers over lobster and if you gave him squid he would try to subtly feed it to the dog. He writes here for Wipe Easy Tablecloths.