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Any REALLY obscure food that you know about, that others probably don't?

Hello. I have recently begun trying new and different foods that I was previously unfamiliar with,(chayote, kholrabi, etc) and was discussing that with my husband's collegue who studies obscure food. She is very adventurous and has had just about everything. All the foods that I mentioned were something that she had eaten (even muskrat!).

I wondered about any REALLY obscure foods. Ones that even she had not heard about. I figured that you chowhounds would definitely know of a few.

Anyone know of any?

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  1. tiger nuts? They are a Spanish tuber from the Chufa plant grown in Valencia, Spain. Eaten as a snack or to make Spanish Horchata.

    1. Somebody in an earlier post was confused about Salsify. Of course, I knew what is was.

      http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mg...

      TT

      1 Reply
      1. re: TexasToast

        If you've ever wondered why it wasn't cultivated commercially all that much, the answer might be tied to its digestive effects. Beans have nothing on salsify.

      2. How about "yamamomo", which is a Japanese fruit literally translated as mountain peach. I ate it once in Japan, and recently it turned up in one of the dishes at Nobu, a restaurant in NYC. There is nothing peach-like about it to me. It's small, red, berry-like with a unique texture that's hard for me to describe. IIRC, the flavor was sweet and tart.

        7 Replies
        1. re: chowmeow

          I've had the same thing at Nobu malibu and it is used to cleanse the palate. We had one between each courses.

          1. re: Veggietales

            Yep, been there done that. Must be a Nobu thing.

            TT

            1. re: TexasToast

              A feel a yamamomo trend coming around...will it be the next yuzu? ;-)

          2. re: chowmeow

            So I did a google search on yamamomo to see if I could get the fruit and I came across this link:

            http://www.cannibalholocaust.net/yama...

            I guess their diet may fit this thread, but I would consider it un-chowish :)

            1. re: rcheng

              Whoever created that page screwed up the URL. It should be Yanomamo (I'm an anthropology geek). Yes, they might have some rare food to share, but it's not quite as horrible as the link makes out!

              1. re: Saccade

                Have you tried the special sauce made from Toad skin?

          3. Oh, I just remembered another one, also from Japan. I was in a yakitori joint one evening and ordered "tamahimo" for the heck of it, not knowing what it was. With my rudimentary Japanese I knew it literally translated to ball - rope, but had not idea what this could be. All I knew was that it was some part of the chicken. What appeared was a stewed hardboiled egg on a stick with a few pieces of chewy organ meat underneath, one of them attached to the egg. The yolk was unusually large; the egg white was just a thin covering around it. Are you guessing what this was? It was an unhatched chicken egg still attached to the fallopian tube.

            Finally, in Taiwan, I was treated to an expensive delicacy called Crystal Snow, or Snow Jello. It was actually frog ovaries, which my cousin had painstakingly soaked and cleaned for hours.

            3 Replies
            1. re: chowmeow

              What do frog ovaries taste like? Are they served cooked or raw?

              1. re: ponocat

                Have you ever had bubble tea? The ovaries are small, gelatinous pieces similar to the tapioca balls in the tea, but softer and less chewier. They seem to be flavorless, and take on the flavors of whatever it's in. My cousin served it in a warm dessert/medicinal soup, which also contained white fungus, dried dates and sugar. It is sold dried, so you have to soak it for a while. I'm not sure if she boiled it for a long time, or just threw it into the pot. If she hadn't made such a big deal about the fact that they were frog ovaries, I would have just thought they were some tapioca product.

                1. re: chowmeow

                  We had the frog ovaries at Shau May in a delicious mango coconut smoothie. They are rather flavorless and yes, reminiscent of boba.

            2. I'm surprised no-one's mentioned dog yet, as it's quite the delicacy in Korea. My Korean friend says they breed special dogs just for eating and sliced thin, you'd never know what it was!

              TT

              2 Replies
              1. re: TexasToast

                I visited Korea thirty years ago and saw cleaned, cooked dog on the meat vendors rack for sale, along with pigs heads. I was pretty surprised to see the dogs, but as you say, they were considered a delicacy.

                1. re: TexasToast

                  well, the topic is any foods that people don't "know about." not tried :)

                2. My sister used to date a guy from Newfoundland and he offered me pickled seal. Being somewhat adventurous, I tried it. I have to tell ya, it's great. It's got a beefy fibrous texture like a brisket or flank steak with a very definite fish taste (In a good way) to it. If you ever get to try seal, I'd say go ahead.

                  DT

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Davwud

                    Were they seal flippers--a well known (in Canada) delicacy from Newfoundland. There are other strange foods from that place. It is the cuisine of fishermen, and people that were rather isolated on their island and not of great means. It is a wonderful heritage and culture.

                    1. re: faijay

                      I couldn't really tell you what part of the seal the meat came from. It was just darned good is all.
                      I've had a couple NF dishes but nothing too weird other than that.

                      DT

                      1. re: faijay

                        I'm from Newfoundland, and still travel home several times a year, and while I agree it is a wonderful heritage and culture (hell yes), the food's not really that much stranger than other dishes that cropped up in other places over the years gone by. People eat all the parts of the fish, be it sounds, "britches", cheeks, heads etc. I'm sure I've seen that in other cuisines, right alone wild game, sea birds etc. (I'm not being defensive btw, I just chuckle a little when I see the quaint, isolated outport references sometimes)

                        I'd say that was bottled seal you had Davwud ? I only ever tried seal once as a very young child. My Dad will still have it on the off times someone else is willing to cook it (Mom doesn't like the way it smells up the place). From what I gather it is very much down to the cook, how it turns out.

                      1. re: Cheese Boy

                        Dude, nobody in Acadiana really eats nutria. The state of LA tried to get people to eat it, to no avail...those damn things are chewing up our marshes something awful. I've tried it; unremarkable...didn't even taste like chicken.

                        1. re: Hungry Celeste

                          grew up in sw la, is trapping for nutria hides allowed? our family home is being washed away.

                          1. re: omnivoreswanderlust

                            I want to organize a Nutria hunting expedition with friends. I think it could be prepared well.

                            There has to be a way.

                            1. re: therealbigtasty

                              Trapping for hides is allowed, but the price for skins isn't worth the trouble thanks to the overall depression in the fur market (thanks, PETA!). So the state of LA offers a bounty on nutria tails...actually pays trappers something like $4 per nutria tail turned in. And it isn't a protected species in any way, it is classed as a nuisance, so you can shoot 'em with impunity as "varmints" (like rats, etc).

                              Like I said before, no one wants to eat 'em. The state mounted an extensive campaign, went to various high-profile chefs, recipes were created, published, tastings held, etc. And the resounding response was "yuck". When a whole bunch of Cajuns just won't eat something because it doesn't taste very good, I think it will be a REALLY tough sell to anyone else on the planet.

                              1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                I'm just really curious to try it for myself.

                                I actually researched it and it's kind of expensive for an out of stater like me, although I have a few good friends who are from south Alabama. They say I could do without permits pretty easy.

                                It's a lot like Cuy, the humble guinea pig of the Andes, another thing I want to try.

                                Call me crazy, but...

                                1. re: therealbigtasty

                                  Not really like cuy (which I would eat, happily, esp the ones marinated in beer then fried). Nutria are aquatic, eat lots of different wetlands vegetation, and sort of taste like swamp--and not in that good way that crawfish sort of taste like swamp. I'll look around...if I see the meat for sale anywhere, I'll post. As for shoot-your-own, have at it. No one will mind. In fact, a few years back, the sheriff of Jefferson Parish sent his SWAT teams out at night to conduct target practice on the damn things, which were gnawing on vegetation that stabilizes the banks of the parish's drainage canals.

                                  1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                    Wow, that's interesting.

                                    But, it is a really sad thing, as it is similar to the problems in Australia with rabbits, cats, and cane toads, eh?

                                    I'd be happy to go down there and see for myself.

                                    So, it tastes really dirty? Damn.

                      2. You seasoned Hounds are probably aware of insects that are considered delicacies in many parts of Latin America. My husband, a Colombian native, raves about the fried ants he ate as a kid. Apparently they are pretty big, juicy ants--they're called "culonas" ("big butts"). In Oaxaca, Mexico, grasshoppers are a delicacy. Women sell them (dried) in little baskets in the market, and I saw kids scampering road-side to collect them. Admittedly, I have never tried either. . . .

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: laurie

                          The supply of big butt ants seems to be drying up and prices are rising.

                          http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/0...

                          1. re: Humbucker

                            Humbucker, thanks for sharing the article. My husband will get a kick out of it. Who'da thunk that roasted ants would command twelve bucks a pound?

                          2. re: laurie

                            I had those at a Oaxacan restaurant in Guadlajara. Tasty.

                            1. re: laurie

                              The Oaxacan grasshoppers are called chapulines. They taste a little like dried shrimp--perhaps that is just the universal taste of exoskeleton.

                              1. re: laurie

                                Don't forget Escamoles...aka Mexican Caviar... Ant Larvae... typical sauteed in butter & herbs:

                                http://www.ajc.com/living/content/liv...

                              2. I'm Peruvian and a national delicacy there is cuy - deep fried guinea pig. Whole - head on, complete with face of death and yellow teeth. Yummy.

                                Also anticuchos, which are beef hearts marinated in chili and vinegar than grilled on a skewer. These are actually delicious. The cuy...never had the guts to try it myself.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: 1HotTomato

                                  I've been offered beef hearts in Colombia (I politely declined) and I've heard about the guinea pigs. I was also offered an organ meat in Mexico that I think was a sliced pancreas. I politely declined that one, too.

                                  1. re: laurie

                                    Antichuchos are pretty trendy in San Francisco these days.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      beef heart is delicious - very tender, and very "beefy"

                                      1. re: Biggie

                                        I grew up eating beef heart in the SF Bay Area, just as normal dinner meat, like chicken or ground beef. I had no idea that it wasn't common until just now, when I saw it here!

                                      1. re: therealbigtasty

                                        I've had plenty. The Andean preperations I've eaten were nothing special,
                                        it looks and feels like small chunks of undercooked bacon except with
                                        no bacon taste or saltiness whatsoever. Served over rice often in a cream
                                        sauce of some kind. The main advantage is you get to come home and
                                        tell your friends you've been eating guinea pig.

                                        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                          Cuy can actually be pretty tasty. In Ecuador it is limp, but around Cuzco, where plump cuy are roasted with black oregano and garlic until the skin becomes as crisp as suckling pig, it is delicious. And the deep-fried cuy in Bolivia are pretty good too.

                                  2. Apparently camel urine is a reasonably common beverage in some muslim countries.

                                    Also, there's supposedly a restaurant in China that prepares dishes with human breast milk.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. Re: Camel Urine -

                                      http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adv...

                                      In the book, Riley describes being so thirsty that he is driven to drink camel urine. Did you get a chance to try camel urine yourself?

                                      I did not taste camel urine, but I did inquire about it. One of my guides was quite loquacious on the topic and said that yes, indeed, they do drink camel urine on occasion, particularly the urine of a pregnant camel because it has certain nutrients and is believed to help cure stomach ailments and mouth sores. And, of course, if you're dying of thirst you will drink any kind of camel urine. The fact that Riley reported that the nomads preferred camel urine to their own was somewhat shocking, but once you get over there, you find out that it's not that uncommon.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: ZinGal

                                        I've read great deal of survival stories where people have to drink their own urine. Camel urine actually sounds less repulsive to me, first of all because they're not carnivores.

                                      2. Now that we're getting into the Fear Factor realm of food oddities, I need to ask if anyone can verify the following story told to me by a coworker: In some Asian country (I can't remember which one), he claims that a local delicacy involves diners sitting at a table with a little hole in the middle. The top comes off the hole, and out pokes a monkey's head. The little guy looks around, mystified, right before his head is cracked open and the diners scoop out and eat his fresh, warm brains. I didn't believe it, but my coworker claims he saw it in a documentary. Fact or fiction?

                                        16 Replies
                                        1. re: laurie

                                          i cannot cite any sources, but i once asked someone who had lived in china about that. apparently he has seen it.
                                          there is also the practice of slicing flesh off a swimming fish, and letting it continue to swim.

                                          1. re: fara

                                            To continue along these lines, on a recent trip to China, my brother was invited out to dinner to a seafood restaurant. Beforehand, he was asked if he liked "fresh" seafood. He answered, "of course." A platter of fresh shrimps was put on the dining table along with a hot pot of broth. Unfortunately for my brother, he could not eat them because they had been skewered alive and were still writhing and wiggling on the skewers. He was instructed to just place the skewers in the boiling broth and he couldn't do it. I guess that's pretty much how one feels when you have to boil a live lobster.

                                            1. re: sandrina

                                              Deependdining has a video of a dish called "drunken shrimp". The shrimp are doused in alcohol and eaten alive.

                                              http://deependdining.blogspot.com/200...

                                              And speaking of lobster, here's a video of live lobster sashimi.

                                              http://deependdining.blogspot.com/200...

                                              There's a lot more freaky stuff on that site if you look through the archives.

                                              1. re: Humbucker

                                                There's a scene about live shrimp in the film Tampopo. I think it was "drunken shrimp."

                                                1. re: Humbucker

                                                  The shimp thing reminds me of whole, live baby octopus, put on a skewer, and then dipped in sauce and eaten whole.

                                                  TT

                                                  1. re: Humbucker

                                                    My better half had a similar lobster in China as a grad student - they were at a banquet and out came this big block of ice with live lobster on it. They basically cleavered it in half and pulled each end apart so the goodies inside could be eaten. He said the front half of the lobster kept trying to crawl off the block of ice and he had to keep surreptitiously pushing back on with a chopsticks.

                                                  1. re: laurie

                                                    Laurie, if you can sit through most of the rest of it, see this for some monkey-skull-crushing video. I don't recall why they say it's "fake", maybe a Peta thing?
                                                    Looked pretty real from what I remember.

                                                    IMdb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077533/

                                                    Quote: ... 'the infamous (but fake) monkey brains sequence,'

                                                  2. re: laurie

                                                    I believe that "documentary" was one of the "Faces of Death" movies that came out in the mid 80's. I remember the scene in question, I don't know if it was real, but there was a lot of monkey shreiking going on.

                                                    1. re: laurie

                                                      fact..and it's considered a huge offense to refuse to eat.

                                                      1. re: laurie

                                                        when i was little, people would make fun of me saying that chinese people eat monkey brains... i asked several family members, they all said true, my aunt has actually eaten it... she said they cut the monkey's cranium then stick the monkey in the hole, pour hot oil on it, and then dig in...

                                                        1. re: laurie

                                                          This was in the "documentary" called Faces of Death that came out in the late 80's. I just looked it up in Wiki and it says the scene was fake. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faces_of...

                                                          1. re: laurie

                                                            I seem to recall that's in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!

                                                            1. re: laurie

                                                              This is too close to cannibalism for me. Shudder.

                                                            2. When I was a young my mother made stuffed miltz (spleen) which I loved. I would still love it, but for some reason I cannot find a source for spleen and I think I would only use Kosher spleen. My mother would stuff it with a mixture of rye bread (her innovation) onions and schmaltz and then braised. Great unknown dish.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: faijay

                                                                Spleen (in a traditional bar-snack sandwich in Palermo) might be the most obscure thing I've eaten.

                                                                I want to make this Fergus Henderson recipe for pig spleen, found a source but I'd have to order a 25-pound box or something like that.

                                                                1. re: faijay

                                                                  Maybe it was spleen and not pancreas that I was offered in Mexico. What does spleen look like? What I offered was very squiggly-looking.

                                                                    1. re: laurie

                                                                      Do you remember if the name was Espinazo? Very delicious cut of meat!

                                                                  1. Okay, since we seem to be drifting a little on the original topic, maybe my fellow hounds can help me on this. Years ago, I read a story in the WSJ about cheese in Italy that is buried in the ground and not eaten until it is literally putrid. The story was stomach turning. I think maybe the practice has been outlawed but people still do it. First of all, does anybody know what cheese I'm talking about and more importantly, has anybody eaten any of this?

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Velma

                                                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casu_Marzu I think this must be what you are thinking of Velma. I don't think its something I want to try and clearly one of the most strange foods I have seen on this post so far. Apparently they are still making this. I presume this to be an acquired taste.. but not for me.

                                                                      1. re: ZinGal

                                                                        Oh dear, I think you found it. Just as revolting reading about it the second time around. I've been known to eat some pretty stinky cheese but when I have to dodge jumping maggots, I draw the line.

                                                                      2. re: Velma

                                                                        Speaking of unique cheeses, I once saw a documentary about a cheese (forgot which country this was in) that was fermented by use of fly larvae, and served really fresh w/o aging -- live larvae still squirming all over it. Anyone know what I'm talking about? I've forgotten both the name of the cheese and the town/country... its supposed to be "illegal" even there!

                                                                        1. re: Velma

                                                                          They do that in Norway with trout. It is supposed to be really delish. oops now I see that posted below.

                                                                        2. I was surprised to learn about salty black licorice from Scandanavia.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: saraeanderson

                                                                            hm, well I have a store that sells about 200 kinds of salty licorice from all over- not just scandinavia but Holland & Germany. Salmiak- it is really nice- if you are a licorice fam!

                                                                          2. Muktuk is fermented whale blubber eaten by some native people in the canadian arctic, in particular in the territory of Nunavut. I've got a friend who was a radio reporter up there who tried it. Said she kept tasting it over again for days. Sounds kinda putrid, but it's fairly high energy, which is a requirement if you're going hunting for hours in minus-40 weather.
                                                                            --tuqueboy

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: tuqueboy

                                                                              Reminds me of surstromming (Swedish fermented herring): http://www.allscandinavia.com/surstro...

                                                                              Actually not so bad, but best to open the package outdoors.

                                                                              1. re: Saccade

                                                                                yeah. had surstromming when i lived in stockholm. knew it was bad when all the cats in the neighbourhood ran away, and we had to bury the leftovers in the back yard. tasted ok, but we did have an awful lot of aquavit. my exchange pal's dad once had a can of it confiscated at canadian customs -- they told him he could pick it up on his way out of the country, but he didn't bother. he still giggles about it to this day, imagining the can ripening in some warehouse before it goes kaboom.

                                                                                1. re: tuqueboy

                                                                                  oh thank you for that story; i needed that big laugh!

                                                                            2. Ziger is a Swiss whey cheese. The version I've had is snow white, firm, and with a flavor that is almost bland. We ate it sliced with honey drizzled on top.

                                                                              Here's a fascinating description of cheesemaking in the Alps in the 16th century:

                                                                              http://www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD...

                                                                              1. Pickeled pork rinds, cuitlacoche, silkworm pupas, it's all here.

                                                                                http://www.thesneeze.com/mt-archives/...

                                                                                1. I visited Sweden about 10 years ago and we were served wild reindeer. Preferred the smoked preparation the best. Flavor was alot like deer meat.

                                                                                  Also visited Norway and in the Lofoten Island area (North of Artic Circle). We had an appetizer of cod fish tongue. Our Swedish hosts ordered appetizers that we all shared and they had difficulty explaining what was in the appetizer other than we understood it to be fish. Actually tasted alot like and the texture of scallops. The next day at a fishing museum they showed an odd contraption and told the story of how children in the 19th and early 20th century earned money by using the contraption to help make it easier to cut out the tongue of the cod fish. When we asked what the cod tongues were used for they explained it was a delicacy. Our Swedish hosts then told us that was what our appetizer the night before was and they were trying to describe to us. Never would have ordered it or eaten it if I knew what it was beforehand, but it was quite good and would order it again if the opportunity ever presented itself again.

                                                                                  1. caphe cut chon - coffee beans that have been shat out by a civet cat.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: floydramp

                                                                                      Also known as "kopi luwak" - the most expensive coffee in the world (for fools willing to part with money...)

                                                                                      Have had fried maguay worms (taste like potato sticks) and grilled bull testes (chewy, between a flank steak and a portabello, but bland - need to sauce it) while living in Mexico, both pretty good and not odd at all in country.

                                                                                      I know a guy who did "government" work in the Arctic Circle - and ate a lot of the blubber that's buried for months like kimchee to ferment - sometimes it was all there was to eat. But boy did he hate it. Just listening to him tell of eating it brought up a gag reflex...

                                                                                      1. re: floydramp

                                                                                        I think we have a winner! Definitely beats the rotten woodcock (becada) that I was going to mention...

                                                                                      2. After a few years in Africa you come across a few wierd things, and lose much squeemishness about eating it. In Zimbabwe I regularly dined on Sadza na Mopane. It was mopane worms (more like grubs), dried and salted, cooked in a tomato onion sauce and served with hardened corn meal porridge.

                                                                                        South Africa served me up a "smiley". It was a grilled sheep's head (after grilling the teeth are visible and it looks to be smiling).

                                                                                        In Uganda I regularly had nsenene (grasshoppers) as a snack. The legs and wings are riped off while living, than they are boiled and finally fried or roasted with spices. They are actually really good with a cold beer. I also encounterd people eating sugar ants, straight off the ground; flying termites, don't know the preperation; and one man named Juma who ate the white abdomen off termites straight off a fence post while talking with me about how deep to dig a trench to go around the garage, he piched them by their hard heads and just sucked off the body.

                                                                                        Also had numerous new fruits like chocolate pudding fruit.

                                                                                        1. The Rangpur Lime, a citrus cross between a mandarin orange and a lime. It packs a super-powerful lime punch.

                                                                                          Black Sapote - a fruit with a sweet, gooey, black interior.

                                                                                          1. Hákarl, which is putrefied shark; lutefisk, which is essentially fish jelly (it's actually dried cod that has been reconstituted with lye); huitlacoche; czernina, which is duck's blood soup.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                              That reminds me: (not obscure at all, but delicious!) canard a la rouenaise - duck with a sauce made from its blood and liver.

                                                                                              1. re: limster

                                                                                                And that reminds me of a rabbit stew, thickened with its own blood (which you mustn't boil or else it'll curdle).

                                                                                                TT

                                                                                            2. geoduck is definitly strange...mostly strange looking, very creepy.
                                                                                              http://troyandgay.com/pix/Geoduck0624...
                                                                                              Ive heard of the civet cat beans, and seal flipper pie as well, apparently not so tasty

                                                                                              1. Any my friends think purslane is obscure!

                                                                                                1. Horse sashimi, a local delicacy in Kumamoto City on the Japanese island of Kyushu. Particularly popular during the Drunken Horse Festival. Tasted like tough beef....

                                                                                                  Brennivin, the unofficial Icelandic national drink, a caraway-flavored schnapps lovingly nicknamed "black death" and "burning wine". The combo of caraway with 38% ABV is quite unpleasant (no wonder not many outside of Iceland have heard of it).

                                                                                                  1. I've tried Poi, the Hawaiian fermented taro past
                                                                                                    and
                                                                                                    Halo Halo, a Filipino drink made with various things (creamed corn, milk, ice and who knows what)
                                                                                                    and Bagung (sp?) which is Filipino fermented shrimp.

                                                                                                    None are anything I am rushing to eat again :-)

                                                                                                    1. I mail-order a few unusual items; Yemenite Z'hug (a hot, spicy condiment), dende oil (palm oil from South Africa), and recodo from Belize (a red, anchiote paste).

                                                                                                      Whenver I use these items in communal meals, there are the obvious questions like, "what is this unusual flavor that I'm unfamiliar with?" and the like...

                                                                                                      1. how about st. louis snouts? has your friend et any?

                                                                                                        1. At some point I remember seeing a film about people who eat dirt. The dirt was almost bark-like as in a chocolate bar...but it was dirt...does anyone else remember seeing this?

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                            many people spontaneously eat dirt when pregnant. get the urge to because their bodies realize they are short on trace nutrients. talk about catching someone in a wacky situation, standing over the kitchen sink eating handfuls of dirt from a houseplant. i'll never forget it! LOL (i was the catcher, not the catchee, btw)

                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                              I read that preganant women in the South commonly consume mud... most likely because their bodies are craving minerals... but sadly it can be very toxic and cause serious birth defects.

                                                                                                              1. What about natto? I'm surprised it hasn't come up yet. It's fermented soybeans, and tastes something like the icy grip of death's cruel hand. It's also the consistency of chunky snot. I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater, but natto is really gross. Apparently it's eaten for breakfast in Japan.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: scoobyhed

                                                                                                                  Here's a video I made of me eating Natto.

                                                                                                                  http://therealbigtasty.com/natto.avi

                                                                                                                  I'm still trying to make myself like it.

                                                                                                                  1. re: scoobyhed

                                                                                                                    ooh yuck, i agree, and fortunately, my various japanese hosts were not surprised of my dislike of it....

                                                                                                                    1. re: scoobyhed

                                                                                                                      I made the mistake of thinking some friends were talking about the 'regular' soybeans with salt and said oh I love those! They promptly took me to get natto. It was h@ll in a bowl. Absolutely the most vile thing I have eaten. And the smell matched the sight of the stringy fermentation (ha! that's mold!) that was like gooey melted cheese. ugh. The sake helped.

                                                                                                                    2. Sadly, I feel uninformed compared the rest of our chowhounds knowledge; Bottarga is the closest i could come to a unique food no one else has heard of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bottarga

                                                                                                                      but then i am reassured that of the 104 employees at my current job had ever heard of duck confit. Come on people, we work in the food industry!

                                                                                                                      1. Rice-field rats and deep fried sparrows in Burma, dog chicharon in the Philippines, smoked lung (bofe) here in Colombia, emadashi (reallly hot chilis with a little cheese on top)in Bhutan, and my favorite Japanese dessert that the hakujins don't seem to eat--yokan.

                                                                                                                        1. for further adventures in the carnivorous world, some of you might enjoy "Unmentionable Cuisine", which is a cook (and gross out) book heavy on the Old English eccentricities.

                                                                                                                          I saw a vegetable a couple of weeks ago at the Chinese grocery that looked like a sea creature or a bat. Evidently it is special for the Autumn Festival, and is rather like a water chestnut.
                                                                                                                          It is a Two Horned Corm, according to "The Asian Grocery Store Demystified: A Food Lover's Guide to All the Best Ingredients (Take It with You Guides)" THAT is a useful book.
                                                                                                                          http://www.powells.com/biblio/61-1580...

                                                                                                                          http://www.asiafood.org describes the little bat in this way
                                                                                                                          " . . . the shiny black nut of a floating water plant (Trapa bicornis), named for two horn-like protuberances that give it a rather sinister appearance. Probably just as well, since in its raw state it can contain a parasite that is harmful to the digestive system. Safely edible only after an hour's boiling, they also are eaten in China, combined with other ingredients, preserved as sweetmeats or made into a starch, similar to water chestnut starch. "

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                                                                                                                          1. re: pitu

                                                                                                                            Llama udder at a Radissio in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It was tasteless and very very chewy. Its supposed to be a local delicacy.

                                                                                                                            1. re: pitu

                                                                                                                              Funny that you should mention these...I saw 'em for the first time this weekend at an asian grocery store and was instantly fascinated by the appearance.

                                                                                                                            2. PUT DOWN THE MOUSE AND GET AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER!!

                                                                                                                              To think that I was disgusted by people double dipping at a Tapas bar. You guys have taken this to an H-N-L (That's Mad TV talk for "'Hole 'Nother Level").

                                                                                                                              I do not think there is one thing on this list I would even think of trying.

                                                                                                                              You guys are waaaaaay better than me.

                                                                                                                              1. I was watching a food-centered episode of GlobeTrekker on PBS a week or two ago and one of the foods featured was seal excrement, which they eat in Arctic Canada. I knew that people that region consumed almost every part of the seal (thanks in part to Anthony Bourdain), but I had no idea that they consumed the fecal matter as well.

                                                                                                                                The matriarch of the family they visited mashed the stool with her fingers in a tupperware container until it looked like chocolate pudding and then the host had to taste it.

                                                                                                                                Yum.

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                                                                                                                                1. re: Humbucker

                                                                                                                                  Someone once told me the Hmong use cow excrement in soup.

                                                                                                                                2. balut which is a filipino delicacy... its a duck embryo in the shell that is boiled, sometimes the bones, beak, and feathers have started to form

                                                                                                                                  i still can't stomach things like pork blood, but its popular among many cultures, they make sausages, cake, stews, etc.

                                                                                                                                  stinky tofu is a taiwanese delicacy, it smells really bad, like really bad sewer in the big cities or the alleyways in the big cities... you smell it in all the markets, and its extremely horrible when made at home; however, its extremely delicious if you get past the smell

                                                                                                                                  bird's nest (not the fried noodles they make at restaurants) which is supposed to be really good for you, and is extremely expensive, you can buy these tiny bird's nest at the chinese herb shop

                                                                                                                                  thousand year old eggs which really isn't thousand years old (not sure how old), preserved in dirt, sand, or ash and when opened, the white part of the egg is black and has a jello like consistency, and the yolk part is quite mushy and creamy

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                                                                                                                                  1. re: mabziegurl

                                                                                                                                    Although balut is filipino, the Vietnamese also eat the same. Eighteen days is best: more feather and beak.

                                                                                                                                  2. As anyone ever tried "pickled tongue"? It's a beef tongue, cooked, skinned, and pickled in a sweet/sour vinegar marinade.
                                                                                                                                    I believe it's Pennsylvania Dutch/Amish in origin. My mother used to make it, I am not fond of pickled meats, before pickling it tastes like beef, very tough beef.

                                                                                                                                    Tim

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                                                                                                                                    1. re: twh1475

                                                                                                                                      twh, the french, and probably other europeans, cook tongue, slice it very thinly, and marinate it in a vinaigrette.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                                                        That would make sense, since the Pennsylvania Dutch/Amish
                                                                                                                                        immigrated from Europr, centuries ago.

                                                                                                                                    2. I am completely amazed by the variety of obscure foods! (and what exactly is considered food)

                                                                                                                                      1. OK, fess up: whose eaten ortolan?

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                                                                                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                          when someone brought up the maggot cheese i knew this would eventually come out.

                                                                                                                                          i've heard that way back when in europe it was custom to age meat as we do now, but they would keep birds whole... feathers and all and just hang it up.

                                                                                                                                        2. Caguama- A stew made from turtle meat which was served in the coastal towns of baja 20 years ago before the prohibition

                                                                                                                                          Morsilla-a soft sausage made of boiled thickened pig blood flavored with onions, pepper and salt

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                                                                                                                                          1. re: ickster

                                                                                                                                            I'm drinking Caguama brand beer right now!

                                                                                                                                          2. Gotta loves my Prairie Oysters!

                                                                                                                                            Bull Testicles, you can use lamb or even horse. Slice 'em into medallions and either bread and deep-fry 'em, hey you could toss them in hot sauce and call them Buffalo Balls, and you wouldn't be far from the truth. Or pan-fry them and add it to Jambalaya

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                                                                                                                                            1. re: newJJD

                                                                                                                                              Buffalo balls, that's a great idea! I had them at a restaurant in Texas and they served them with, ugh, ranch dressing!

                                                                                                                                              But ranch is bad anyway.

                                                                                                                                            2. "Grey peas served with sour milk" at a restaurant in Latvia. Sounded weird, looked awful, tasted delicious!

                                                                                                                                              1. I am guessing that the posts about eating live critturs are true. Many years ago my husband had a Japanese colleague who told us that in China he had been served live baby mice---the object was to hold them in your mouth and enjoy the feeling of them crawling around. He also spoke of a soup which is heated with a block of tofu in it and live fish swimming around. These are fish that prepare for hot weather by burrowing into mud, so, following that instinct, they burrow into the tofu as the soup heats. The gourmet then slices the tofu so he can enjoy sliced live fish.

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                                                                                                                                                1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                  Wow, how does one score an experience like that?

                                                                                                                                                  I've heard about these things and wow...

                                                                                                                                                  Wow.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                    Someone earlier mentioned eating live baby octopus... Well, I've had it in rural Korea. At restaurants they take the baby octopus out of the tank, throw it on a plate in front of you, sprinkle some pepper, salt, and sesame oil on it, cut it up into manageable pieces with scissor and it's dinner time. When I used my chopsticks to grab a piece, I couldn't get it off because the suction cups were still grabbing onto the plate. Yikes. In the same vein, these restaurants also serve a cooked version where they are seasoned differently and cut up into a pan. The lid has to be held down so the octopuses stay inside the pan (!!!) while it cooks. Double yikes.

                                                                                                                                                  2. I couldn't possibly be the only one here who's had iguana tail steaks?

                                                                                                                                                    Morcilla, mentioned above but spelled differently, is particularly good when
                                                                                                                                                    it contains rice. When sliced and fried, the rice puffs up into nice crispy nuggets
                                                                                                                                                    in the crumbly bloodsausage.

                                                                                                                                                    Kuheuter is a fairly common Bavarian staple (and a google image search should
                                                                                                                                                    make it clear which part of the cow we're talking about here).

                                                                                                                                                    1. this thread has morphed to obscure cultural delicacies.

                                                                                                                                                      To represent the veggies, these are things that aren't limited to a culture and have no gross factor, but just aren't widely known:

                                                                                                                                                      crones- I believe it's going to be the next it veggie in america, big in europe... just recently hitting tasting menues in LA.

                                                                                                                                                      spigharella- of the Kale family, haven't tried it myself.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Hardly exotic, but rarely seen outside Louisville--Benedictine.

                                                                                                                                                        Cream cheese, grated cucumber and onion, lemon juice, salt and ONE DROP of green food coloring. Most often seen as a Benedictine and bacon sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Caju- It's the fruit of the cashew tree....wierd but good, because it tastes great but makes your mouth really dry!

                                                                                                                                                          1. My son brought home something called Durian Fruit a couple of months ago. He found it in Chinatown in NYC, and was curious about it. But I never got to tasting it. The odor was so putrid I couldn't get past it.

                                                                                                                                                            1. I just stumbled across an interesting site... recipies for "weird" foods like cow udder eclairs, spider salad, and a spam shake to name a few. Dunno if this is a joke or for real... does anyone want to try?

                                                                                                                                                              http://bertc.com/recipes.htm

                                                                                                                                                              1. Kishke-that's yiddish for intestines.
                                                                                                                                                                "In the old days, kishke was made by stuffing the intestines of a cow with tasty pasty type foods."
                                                                                                                                                                I used to slice it and broil it. It was so delicious. Apparently, they don't make it out of intestines anymore. It had enough cholesterol in it to kill you.

                                                                                                                                                                1. somebody beat me to ortolan! from wikipedia:

                                                                                                                                                                  You catch the ortolan with a net spread up in the forest canopy. Take it alive. Take it home. Poke out its eyes and put it in a small cage. Force-feed it oats and millet and figs until it has swollen to four times its normal size. Drown it in brandy. Roast it whole, in an oven at high heat, for six to eight minutes. Bring it to the table. Place a cloth—a napkin will do—over your head to hide your cruelty from the sight of God. Put the whole bird into your mouth, with only the beak protruding from your lips. Bite. Put the beak on your plate and begin chewing, gently. You will taste three things: First, the sweetness of the flesh and fat. This is God. Then, the bitterness of the guts will begin to overwhelm you. This is the suffering of Jesus. Finally, as your teeth break the small, delicate bones and they begin to lacerate your gums, you will taste the salt of your own blood, mingling with the richness of the fat and the bitterness of the organs. This is the Holy Spirit, the mystery of the Trinity—three united as one. It is cruel. And beautiful. According to Claude Souvenir, chewing the ortolan takes approximately 15 minutes. [1]

                                                                                                                                                                  all this organ and intestine talk should come as no surprise, since until very recently no part of the animal was wasted.

                                                                                                                                                                  i'm surprised nobody's mentioned argan, from trees that grow only in morocco. goats eat the fruit, and excrete the seeds, which local women sort out and process into oil.

                                                                                                                                                                  also piballes, which are baby glass eels, thrown live and wriggly into hot oil. percebes, or gooseneck barnacles, also cooked live. funny that one poster's brother was freaked out by the live fish. has he never had oysters on the half-shell, or cherrystones? they're still alive. live scallop will make you swoon it's so delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                  a friend was served both bear paw and hummingbird in china.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. A number of years ago I had tepescuintle stew at a restaurant not too far from Tikal. Not sure, but I think it may be protected now.

                                                                                                                                                                    And I'll never forget the huge variety of smoked bats I saw in the markets in Papua New Guinea. I tried chewing beetle nut there, and I've eaten ants, snake, fried grasshoppers--but no way anyone was going to get me to eat smoked bat!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. I don't know of any that others haven't heard about. Of those that most Americans haven't heard about though: I have trouble finding huitlacoche, the corn blight that has been a delicacy in Mexico since before Aztec times. Would also like to find the ingredients for lap lap, this food I just saw on the Travel Channel's "Tribal Life" show, made by the Bunlap people of Vanuatu.

                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jd in baltimore

                                                                                                                                                                        Sweet pork with eggs is delicious. I know how to make it too. It's good. The sweet pork with eggs makes everyone come running back for more. That's all i can say.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. My mother would make deer brain soup (Chinese style) whenever my dad use to go hunting for deer in central Alberta, Canada. Apparently it's considered a Chinese delicacy because deer brains are so hard to get. And it's suppose to be good for headaches - ha!

                                                                                                                                                                        I also know someone who cooked and ate a porcupine. She told me that it was tough to eat, and she wouldn't bother doing it again.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Haven't read all the replies, so I don't know if anyone has mentioned native persimmons? In the country, though not too much now I don't think, persimmons were gathered after a frost and eaten. I believe they were made into a pudding. Because this was a family dish as loved my mother in law, I bought a food mill and tried to make persimmon pudding once. Wow, so many seeds and such an odor. I only did it once!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Here in the Rockies we have flowers called Indian Paintbrush. If you break the flower bottoms open, the have a really sweet part that looks like a short bean sprout. It is really sweet- kind of like a mild pomegranate taste. Kind of trail food but good food nonetheless for thousands of years. There is food everywhere if you know what to look for- sometimes it just can't be mass produced.