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Fearless eaters, where do you draw the line?

I’m think of myself as an adventurous eater. I love raw fish in sushi, raw beef in tartar, liver, sweetbreads, bone marrow, sea urchin, snails, octopus…. what I will call the beginner gross out foods. Then there’s the jellyfish, sea cucumbers, veal brains, tongues from various creatures, the noodle of a freshly killed conch, odori shrimp and so on that I’ve tried. Not necessarily stuff I will have again, but I ate them. Then one day looking at a menu there was something described as cod milt - cod sperm. Just couldn’t order it despite the aforementioned noodle (time for bad jokes and a rim shot). For the adventurous eaters out there where do you draw the line?

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  1. Cannibalism?

    But seriously, I don't eat nervous tissue (brains, eyes, spinal cords) not because of mad cow but because I've worked on EAE.

    Fish sperm is supposed to make you "strong".

    4 Replies
    1. re: wattacetti

      Why no cannibalism? Afraid it would be too stringy?

      1. re: graydyn

        The organically-raised ones don't look particularly succulent and the commercially-raised ones are fattened with HFCS and additives. There doesn't seem to be a good in-between.

      2. re: wattacetti

        Ooh, I once ate a fish eye (from a whole cooked fish). Didn't think about anything like EAE. Now I don't think I'll be doing it again.

      3. Insects. And I know, I know, lobsters are related to spiders. But I can't get over the mental block.

        1. Eyeballs and Italian maggot-y cheese (cannot recall the name of it at this second). I can do raw but I would have difficulty with something alive clinging to or slithering down my throat (i.e. fat grubs).

          1. Fermented tofu, insects, arachnids, worms, fugu, durian, or anything that's still alive.

            2 Replies
            1. re: raytamsgv

              Agree with your list - except fermented tofu and durian. ??? No, not ever for you? I think these two are delectable foodstuffs, although I don't hanker for them.

              1. re: huiray

                I've actually eaten fermented tofu and durian before, but I won't do it again. But if you like it, more power to you!

            2. Anything delivered by a Sysco food services truck....

              1 Reply
              1. re: Leper

                Then what do you use for TP in the WC?

              2. I would struggle with balut, I think. Also I couldn't eat either cockroaches or spiders because I'm terrified of both.

                Agree on the casu marzu cheese, and anything that's still alive.

                1. Pork products, dog, cat, horse, reptiles (though I have tried alligator), rodents and insects. I am just not interested in trying these things. I am pretty open to trying most other things just to be adventurous even if I feel squeamish about them.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: luckyfatima

                    Is your aversion to pork products just personal or related to anything else? Just wondering.

                    1. re: huiray

                      I am a Muslim, I don't eat it for religious reasons.

                      1. re: luckyfatima

                        OK. I just wanted to be sure about that, rather than assuming it.

                  2. I would have trouble with dog, cat, whale, insects, arachnids and rodents.

                    I've eaten all the things on OP's lists, brains, snakes, alligator, eel (is that a weird food? To some, I guess), and would try most anything else. There was a Filipino thing with fermented shrimp that a friend from there got me to try (b'gung?? sp?). I kind of liked poi in Hawaii.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: plf515

                      That reminds me of something else - I am not keen on trying fermented shark.

                      1. re: chefathome

                        I guess I would TRY it. I've never seen it offered.

                    2. All I can say is: you are far better hounds than I. I only clicked on a post addressed to "fearless eaters" out of curiosity.

                      1. No endangered species.

                        Nothing that involves lopping bits off of live animals.

                        There are a few things I will avoid for safety reasons - I'll only eat blood if it's thoroughly cooked, I don't eat unrefrigerated night market sushi, no venom or poisons, I'm careful about uncooked foods when travelling in some areas, things like that.

                        I will admit that fertilized chicken or duck eggs squick me out to the point that I don't want to try them.

                        I may add to the list as experience presents itself, but all of the above rules are derived from personal experience, rather than hypothetical situations.

                        1. Food is like sex. If you're thinking about what you won't do, it means you secretly want it.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: AsperGirl


                            I'm borrowing that!!!!!!

                            1. re: AsperGirl

                              ....Once you've had it, you can't send it back.

                            2. I don't do bugs very well, though roasted grasshoppers I can do. Really tho - I draw the line at Miracle Whip, and fake,gross lunchmeats - those gelatinous interpretations of meats that some ppl like to call "Deli Meats"like "Deli Turkey." It most certainly is NOT turkey. Things like that totally gross me out. I'd probably go to Subway several times a week if they would sell turkey or roast beef instead of that jello loaf stuff.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: gordeaux

                                Hmm, do you eat meats in aspic? (I make a nice shredded chicken with sliced hard boiled eggs and chopped scallions in aspic made with gingered chicken stock...)

                                1. re: huiray

                                  Meat in aspic is actual food in aspic. The things I was referring to are more like turkey broth whipped into a gelatin, molded into a ractangle, sliced, and passed off as turkey at an alarming amount of delis and restaurants in the U.S. I'm not sure who thinks turkey and roast beef are gelatinous masses, but those places like Subway have certainly found a market to peddle their interpretations of meat.

                                  1. re: gordeaux

                                    Ugh. I know exactly what you are talking about, but hadn't stopped to consider the process of creation. Ugh.

                              2. Tripe. Menudo.
                                I think the fish sperm might be of the list as well.

                                1. Monkey brains.

                                  Other than that, I'm willing to try anything once (and have). Insects? no problem... Zebra, camel, seahorses... I've tried just about anything weird I could get my hands on, but I've seen how monkey brains are prepared and I don't think I could do that.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: CarrieWas218


                                    (sorry, couldn't resist)

                                    I've eaten the canned brains in gravy--on a bet, never again--but I don't want cute little monkey faces looking up at me while I exercise my inner zombie. But I'm the type to whom you could slip me stuff and I'd eat it as long as I didn't know what it was. I've eaten many weird and wonderful things by the "here, try this, Mandy" method.

                                  2. I won't eat anything that looks back at you, has sucker feet, you have to also eat its last meal, or I know its name. Plenty of other stuff on this thread also just doesn't seem like _food_, to me.

                                    But what's inedible to me is probably some other culture's (or person's) staple diet. Good thing we're not all fighting over the same larder contents, I guess!

                                    1. Eating the brain of a live monkey which is clamped to a special table so that only the top of its head is above the level of the table.

                                      Oh and insects. I ate an insect once which had an inch of chocolate all the way around it. It tasted like a rice crispie, but I just can't bring myself to think about chowing down on a plateful of stir-fried crickets.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                        Oh. My God. Is that genuinely done in certain places?

                                          1. re: huiray

                                            Very interesting links - especially the second one. Thanks!

                                      2. Any animal that is alive while being eaten.

                                        Worms (or worm-like creatures - so that casu marzu is out).

                                        I'll probably have snake eventually but have not been able to convince myself to yet.

                                        Certain insects that still look like insects. (I'd be able to do insect-derived protein cakes, but not whole insects or whole insect parts.)

                                        Raw eggs.

                                        Any food that has a revolting smell (one of the reasons I hate tripe; probably would be a reason for me not to try colon, as well, but haven't actually encountered it before).

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: racer x

                                          I just remembered that I HAVE had snake before! -- it was in a supposedly-Hunanese restaurant in Shanghai. The snake dish obviously didn't make that huge an impression on me. The snake bits seemed just too full of bones to be worth the trouble. The other dishes I ordered were much tastier.

                                        2. Interesting that almost everything that is being mentioned in this thread is an animal or animal product. So far, seems like the only exceptions are tofu and durian.

                                          I'm sure that if the question were put to the general public, there'd be more veggies on the list ("okra is just too slimy," for example).
                                          But for "fearless" chowhounds, it's mostly an issue of animals.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: racer x

                                            I've got a non-meat thing I won't touch: natto. The strange, almost coffeelike smell, the beans coated in mucilaginous goo, aargh. One of those cultural things I think.
                                            I haven't been offered endangered species, unless you count practically any fish over here, but I'd pass on the whales, tigers etc

                                            1. re: pippimac

                                              I've tried natto - it tastes just as vile as it looks and smells. Never again.

                                          2. As long as everyone else is partaking I'll give just about anything a go. If it's offered and everyone is watching to see if I'll eat it I'd get apprehensive.

                                            1. I will eat no cat before its time.