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Author Topic: Served With a Side of Bravery  (Read 1358 times)
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Mike Clifford
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« on: November 12, 2005, 11:33:59 PM »

It's not that we doubt horse rectum is digestible. It's that we doubt anyone would actually eat it outside the confines of reality TV. (Also note “Fear Factor” has a certain reticence about cooking techniques; even the biggest fan of cow intestine is going to retch if it's being served boiled and plain.)

The seven items we've chosen for our stomach-churning buffet are all legitimate foods somewhere in the world. Grab a fork and dig in.

7) Spiders. Entomologists might disagree, but the practice of eating insects doesn't seem nearly so bad as it sounds at first.

But the line has to be drawn somewhere, and arachnids seem to be a good place to draw it.  Spider-eating is practiced in a number of places, but Cambodia seems to be the place where it has drawn the most attention, thanks to a practice of eating meaty finger-sized tarantulas known in Khmer as a-ping. For about a dime per arachnid, you can get a cheap, ample meal of the critters fried up with salt, pepper and perhaps a bit of garlic. (Keep in mind that a full restaurant entree can be found in Phnom Penh for under $2.)


In the town of Skuon, on the road between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, you can pile your plate high with crispy critters and wash the whole thing down with a slug of spider wine (made from fermented rice, spider added later).

The practice apparently was born out of grim necessity in the dark days of the Khmer Rouge, but the taste has endured as the country rebuilt itself, eventually earning the tarantulas an unofficial reputation as the caviar of Cambodia.

Frankly, the more we think about it, the harder it is to differentiate between eating tarantula and something like soft-shell crab — equally creepy-crawly, just underwater. Many discerning tasters of tarantula actually swear by the taste.

On the other hand, tarantulas have some serious points in their favor, including a much longer life span (30 years or more in some cases) and the fact that some folks keep them as pets. The same can't be said for crabs. What it comes down to is that spiders are really rather helpful creatures, as the insect world goes, and so might inspire guilt that wouldn't come along with eating, say, chocolate-dipped ants.

Should you want to branch out, incidentally, other corners of Southeast Asia and South America will provide you with a full menu of insect grub.

To be continued.......
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Mike Clifford
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« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2005, 11:30:57 AM »

Hey, I don't write this stuff...I just pass it along.
LOL2

Quote
“It is distinctly phallic in appearance, a feature which is underlined by its habit of ejecting sticky threads ... when squeezed.”



6) Sea cucumber. The world's oceans are filled with curious items to intimidate the timid palate. Sea urchin roe (gonad, technically) inspires either rapture or sheer terror. I'm in the former camp, but I've caused the latter simply by bringing along the wrong person for sushi.  Ditto monkfish liver.

But it's hard to comprehend the charms of sea cucumber, also called sea slug, a beloved treat of China and Spain's northeastern coast around Barcelona.

Many Chinese delicacies are more appetizing than they might seem at first glance to the Western eye; duck tongue doesn't make a good case for itself until you taste it. But sea cucumber seems fraught with so many aesthetic issues that perhaps it really ought to be left slurping the gunk off the sea bottom.


One major issue, as the Oxford Companion to Food dryly notes: “It is distinctly phallic in appearance, a feature which is underlined by its habit of ejecting sticky threads ... when squeezed.”

But the real issue is the lack of pleasure most people will find in one of the creatures from the species Holothuria. Usually found in its dried form (except in Catalonia, where dishes made from fresh espardenyes will set you back a pretty euro or two), it must first be reconstituted. And then?  Says Stella Lau Fessler's “Chinese Seafood Cooking”: “Once the sea cucumber has been soaked and boiled, it becomes gelatinous and has a slightly rubbery texture.”

Appetizing, no?

To be continued......
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Cheech
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« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2005, 02:12:55 PM »

I've heard the average person eats about eight spiders in their sleep over a lifetime. Some even claim  the average is more like 4 per year :shock:  Have no idea how this is calculated, but I kinda doubt it :S
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