Hey, I don't write this stuff...I just pass it along.
â€œIt is distinctly phallic in appearance, a feature which is underlined by its habit of ejecting sticky threads ... when squeezed.â€
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: â€œIt is distinctly phallic in appearance, a feature which is underlined by its habit of ejecting sticky threads ... when squeezed.â€
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 â€œChinese Seafood Cookingâ€: â€œOnce the sea cucumber has been soaked and boiled, it becomes gelatinous and has a slightly rubbery texture.â€
To be continued......