As host of "Bizarre Foods" Andrew Zimmern would say, "One man's weird is another man's wonderful," and he proves it every week on his television show aired on the Travel Channel..
Travelling from country to country, dining in every "nook and cranny" of the globe, Zimmern shows us what people of different cultures eat. His motto is always try a new food at least twice. Some of the fare would make some squirm or throw-up but Zimmern follows his advice ans samples everything regardless of how grotesque or pungent it might look or smell. Many times he is pleasantly surprised by how tasty something that appeared ugly or unappetizing is.
From worms, bugs, strange sea creatures, to poisonous spiders, dogs, live ants and octopuses and blood drinking, indigenous people's relish what you might have an aversion to.
Zimmern has brought us the tarantula delicacy in Cambodia, where folks there cook-up a pot of the deadly spiders as one of their favorite meals. Then there were the little land turtles in Australia where the Aborigine children enjoy catching and roasting the mud creatures.
Travel to Central Ecuador, where you will see little plump white worms cooked almost daily. The giant worms are the preferred delicacy in the Philippines and in Japan, the silk worms are a must have for the older generation. However, the younger ones, heavily influenced by western culture, shun them.
In Mexico, fried crickets are a delicious dish, where the little critters are fried very dry and sold in markets everywhere. Children especially love them.
From the continent of Africa, Asia, South and Central America to the Caribbean, some dine on dogs, frogs, doves, food fermented for five years, iguana, possums, monkeys, live bugs and pungent, rotten foods. Some even drink animal blood. Yes, it's enough to make the faint of heart gag.
Just as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, taste around the globe is very relative. If one is socialized or conditioned to enjoy what they eat, that gag factor does not exist. Children in Argentina do not have access to peanut butter, food that is a staple for us in the West. Zimmern gave some of the kids there a taste of the peanut butter and they found it revolting as we would find eating bugs.
I grew up in a place where we also ate what many might see as weird or bizarre. My dad was a hunter and a diver so he brought home all of his catch or kill. Poverty abounded and eating whatever we had was almost sacred.
So as a child I think I may have eaten everything that walked on land, swam in the ocean and rivers and flew in the sky. We ate iguanas, possums, armadillos, (we called them tattoos), birds, sharks, octopuses, rabbits, porcupines, crabs, squids, turtles, crayfish, lobsters, eels, "welks," sea eggs, conches or as we called it locally, "lambi," and everything in between.
When animals were slaughtered for food, nothing was wasted. The intestines, heads, tongues and blood were all used as food. Blood made blood puddings. The insides of animals like cows, pigs, goats, sheep and other parts, including the feet, made soups, stews or were "corned," a process where they were "cured" with salt and left to be used in later weeks.
Meat preservation with salt was used because many families like ours, didn't have access to electricity in homes-therefore refrigeration was only in a few select homes of the richer folks. Most of our milk came from cows, which went directly from the udders to teas or porridges or we drank right away.
Surprisingly, illnesses that exist today were rare or non-existent then so something must be said for the nutritional value of those "bizarre" foods.
Are there any bizarre foods you eat in your neck of the woods?