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Foods that, upon eating, surprised you most?

So I just came back from Brazil, and try to make it a point to sample the local cuisine and what that particular area is known for when I travel. When I travel, I just want the best of whats out there. That said, Brazil is pretty carnivorous-- all about the meat and fruit. Being that I don't eat pork and very rarely eat beef and like to eat lighter, I was a little skeptical. Since Brazil is all about the Rodizio and Churrascaria's, I decided to go anyway, even though they generally just bring around huge slabs of different beef cuts.

I tended to pass up most various cuts of beef-- I thought that though the quality of the beef was probably better, it was probably nothing so different that I couldn't obtain in the U.S. I also wanted to leave room for other food because they bring it around fast, and they bring around a LOT. Then they came around with the chicken hearts. This was something I wasn't sure I would try again, and so couldn't pass up the opportunity. I said yes to the chicken hearts, tried it, and was surprised at how much I really, thoroughly enjoyed them. A little burst of intense chicken flavor, the texture was not at all what I thought (only a tad bit chewier), and perfectly seasoned.

Next up for me to try: cow eyeball tacos. I live in Chicago, famous for it's Mexican food. On Maxwell Street is a place that serves cow eyeball tacos. I've had tongue before (which is not so unusual, and liked it), but never the eyeball. Skeptical, but I'm willing :)

Any other experiences where you were surprised by a specific food item? Either it was strange, not what you expected, or any other variation that comes to mind?

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  1. Susan Spicer's sweetbreads, Bayona, N.O.. Made the mistake of telling my wife what they were and enjoyed her amazement when she tasted them.
    Bob

    2 Replies
    1. re: SonyBob

      Close, for me anyway. Chef John Besh's sweetbreads (Restaurant August). Now, with the exception of foie gras, I am not a fan of most internal organs - the gizzard, liver (excluding seared foie gras), heart, brain, pancreas, kidney, etc. One night, these were on the tasting menu, so I just went with it. Big surprise. These were so crisp on the outside, just pudding-like on the inside, and did not have that “organ” taste. I will possibly never find any others, that were up to these, and will probably not seek them out (though one of our dining buddies has sampled them in almost every restaurant that we’ve been in together), except when they are part of a larger prix-fix menu.

      I guess that the next frontier will have to be blood pudding, or haggis, next time I’m in the UK.

      Hunt

      1. re: Bill Hunt

        Yo Hunt... you need to get down to my DF... to sample some "Machito" tacos (not to be confused with Monterrey style Machitos which are goat testicles) these are "threaded" sheep intestines... deep fried until crispy on the outside and supremely tender, meaty & juicy on the inside. Very few bites of flesh surpass this:

        http://www.aquiestatexcoco.com.mx/web...

    2. Marrow. I've heard foodies and TV chefs proclaim repeatedly how wonderful it is, so I expected to love it. I found it disgusting and I was unable to eat much of it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rockandroller1

        thank you RR1. Jfood thought he was theonly foodie who found marrow overrated. never got it.

      2. headcheese. even though i love offal and weird cuts of meat, i was always a bit scared of it. then i tried it at lupa, and wow. i totally fell in love.

        4 Replies
        1. re: wleatherette

          Ditto on sweetbreads, had them in SF and enjoyed them a lot. I'm not sure if I could bring myself to try headcheese, though... Next time I'm in NY and dining in Lupa, I'll contemplate it...

          1. re: wleatherette

            I had to google headcheese. And what an answer I found.

            "a jellied loaf made from chopped and boiled parts of the feet, head, and sometimes the tongue and heart of a calf or pig and molded in the natural aspic of the head"

            1. re: yamalam

              And headcheese is absolutely delicious from where I sit. I was just a kid when I was introduced to it. Was decidedly against, but my dad gave the ol' shrug and said "well, more for me." I thought it would be awful, but one bite and I have never looked back. So surprising it was in the mix of textures and flavors. I'd honestly take it over any other charcuterie than, perhaps, perfect proscuitto. Next, I have to muster the courage to try making my own.

          2. Believe it or not, just a few years ago I had my first taste of that holiday favorite, yams with marshmallow topping. I found it overbearingly sweet and inedible. Frankly, I don't understand the fascination with this dish.

            6 Replies
            1. re: sandrina

              Me neither! The marshmellow/yam combo always befuddled me. As if sweet potatoes aren't good enough on their own?

              1. re: ShikaSfrn

                OMG this is how I feel about the green bean casserole! Disgusting!

                1. re: rockandroller1

                  This past year I tried grasshoppers at a Mexican place in my neighborhood. They were crunchy and took on the flavor of the spices. I just couldn't get past the fact that the dish looked like the critters. I would have been better off if they were chopped up or something.

                  1. re: rockandroller1

                    I am about to try my very first green bean casserole tonight - the kind with the canned mushroom soup and the fried onions. I'm bracing myself.

                    1. re: mordacity

                      make sure to drink lots of water. the sodium content of the soup/onion combo is off the charts, not for the low-Na diets.

                    2. re: rockandroller1

                      I actually love GB casserole, I think it was such a staple growing up and a Thanksgiving tradition that it's very nostalgic for me. First time I went for Thanksgiving at my husband's family they did not have it. I felt as if it really wasn't Thanksgiving!

                      As for surprised foods, I did have battered and deep fried dandelions and thought they were wonderful!

                2. I had my first falafel when i was about 20 in college. I expected to take a polite taste and gag, but I loved it. I usually prefer them over fast food burgers now.

                  There are many exotic Asian dishes and ingredient that i didn't expect to like, but I now love.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Kelli2006

                    I've always liked but never loved falafel, until I tasted it at a little stand in Jordan. I was amazed at how much better it tasted than any falafel I had ever had in the states! It didn't think preparation variance could make that much difference, but I was wrong.....