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Are you freaked out by the idea of eating eyeballs?

This struck me as a little provincial (http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013...), but then I was quite taken aback by cured tuna heart. I quite enjoy fisheyes but can't stomach (sorry) the gristliness etc of offal etc

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  1. I've had both. Tuna heart (as served at Incanto) is exquisite and not gristly at all - of course they freeze it and shave it.

    1. I try to never eat something, that is looking back at me. Eyeballs figure into that lot. Same for things, with a name (that I know). Just move along the buffet line.

      Here's looking at you, as you dine on your monkey brains...


      1. Yes and no - the idea of it bothers me to a degree, but I also know that eyeballs are considered a delicacy in enough different cultures and cuisines around the world to make me think I should try it.

        I probably would never seek them out or order them, but if they appeared on a plate in front of me, I'd eat them right along with everyone else.

        I'm pretty open-minded with food -- I figure if everyone else is eating it, it won't hurt me. I've eaten some pretty weird stuff (rattlesnake, alligator, emu, ostrich, bear, jellyfish -- even haggis!) and liked all of it.

        Beef heart has to be slow-cooked like all big muscles, but it's very tasty. Liver isn't ever gristly, and beef cheeks are considered offal, but make the best braised beef dishes you'll ever taste.

        I have to confess to really not being able to bend my mind around the concept of balut, though. Half-developed chicken embryos just don't have much appeal.

        9 Replies
        1. re: sunshine842

          I like a lot of foods too. Have you had poi? That is a strange food (to me, at least) and "harder to like" than haggis or jellyfish.

          1. re: plf515

            Never even had the opportunity (so far!) -- It seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it dish, though.

            1. re: plf515

              Actually, I find fresh-pounded poi to be a great dish. Unfortunately, most Mainland diners in Hawai`i only get to taste the canned version, that tastes like dirt, at least to me.


            2. re: sunshine842

              Your comment about not seeking them out but giving it a try if put in from of you is exactly my opinion.

              When it comes to trying new ingredients - I would say that I'm adventerous but more often in the realm of being willing to try new/different foods when they're served/offered to me. I had an ex who when we'd go to a restaurant would specifically look for an ingredient he'd never tried. I admire that degree of adventure, but admittedly don't often take such a proactive approach.

              1. re: cresyd

                the bison-emu-ostrich experience worked in my favor -- We were at the 96 Olympics in Atlanta, and all of the food trucks were always slammed at mealtimes.

                We discovered one food truck with short lines - they were making sandwiches and kebabs with all sorts of exotics, served with grilled veggies, and rice with the kebabs -- it was *very* reasonably priced, and because it was all exotic, there was never a line - so we ate all kinds of "oddball" meats for our entire visit at the Games. It definitely was a great discovery -- fresh, grilled meats and veggies (in a sea of deepfried whatever), good prices, and no lines!

                1. re: sunshine842

                  That sounds excellent - situations of necessity, traveling, and visiting other people's homes thus far has served me well in trying a wide number of new items.

                  In university, our provost was originally from Burma and would occasionally "take over" the cafeteria and make all sorts of fantastic dishes. That was the first time I tried goat and all sorts of other fantastic options not typically found in the cafeteria.

                2. re: cresyd

                  I behave like your ex.h

                  Sometimes, this leads me astray. BUT, on the other hand, I was an early devotee of sushi (started around 1978, with the waitress telling me "White people don't eat sushi!" and then helpfully pointing out the wasabi.

                  I mean, steak tastes like.... steak. Really good steak is good, but there are places that specialize.

                  1. re: plf515

                    The first time I tried sushi was when I was a teen at a wedding where there was a sushi bar. Not the greatest, but good enough to convince me to seek out better.

                    While I am not often very daring regarding restaurants and new ingredients, when it's offered I'm good at giving new things a go. Also, I am far more outgoing with new types of cuisine - just not specific ingredients.

                    If someone at a wedding, hosted dinner, etc. said "here are fish eyeballs" - I'd try one. But I wouldn't order it off a menu.

                3. re: sunshine842

                  I think the gristliness reference was to tripe in particular but there is definitely a little bravery involved for most people, inlcuding me, regarding kidney, thymus, liver and such. Interesting, the slippery slope form bone marrow to Rocky Mtn Oysters- or eyeballs

                4. I've eaten fish eyeballs - not something I'd seek out, but it didn't freak me out. Odd texture, not much flavor.

                  I haven't had tuna heart.

                  I like most offal and it isn't gristly. Different offal has very different texture, but I've had brains, sweetbreads, tongue, tripe, kidney, chicken hearts, liver of various animals.... and other stuff I am forgetting and none of it was gristly. If I think of "gristly" food I think of some bad steaks and other cuts of "regular" beef.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: plf515

                    gizzards can be pretty difficult to eat if they haven't been cooked right.

                  2. Eyeballs would be really, really tough for me to eat. I'd probably avoid it because I'm fairly certain declining something is preferable to gagging/retching at the table and I'm pretty sure that's what would happen.

                    1. Familiarity is all. 65 years ago in Argentina my (American) mother made marshmallows and proudly served them to our neighbors. We were delighted with the marshmallows, but the consistency was not what our friends expected: two people gagged and one quickly ran outdoors. So I guess that growing up with stewed eyeballs might make a difference in how you receive them. Personally, I will stick with marshmallows.

                      1. I'm just curious.

                        For those that are queasy about eyeballs, what about canned sardines or mackeral? Or soft-shell crabs?

                        You're eating eyeballs in those cases.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          you usually cut the head off a soft-shell crab with a pair of scissors before you deep-fry them, and I've always cut the head off sardines and mackerel and smelt.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            I don't know where you are eating soft-shell crabs, but in Virginia, Maryland, and DC they are always prepared by cutting off the face and removing the gills before cooking.

                            1. re: Virginian

                              that's how and where I was taught to prepare them .

                              1. re: Virginian

                                Same for the Gulf South.

                                Now the joke in South Louisiana, is that when one does crawfish, and suck the heads, the eyes should implode!


                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                I quit eating meat a few months ago and I have several cans of sardines in my fridge.They are beheaded:) I just fed some to my 13 pound kitty Lilly a few days ago.Just fat delicious looking little sardine bodies in there:) Actually my late Filipino father in law and husband dined on home made fish head soup all of the time that they prepared in my home.They loved the fish eyes.They were extreme eaters who hunted...gathered...foraged...fished.....etc. Their mantra was *waste not want not*. They introduced me to so many interesting foods. If only I had the appetite now that I had as a younger person:)

                                1. re: Lillipop

                                  At my house, we always saved the fish eyes for our elders (usu. grandparents). It was a sign of respect. If they weren't around, all bets were off.

                              3. I have had fish eyeballs several times. The taste was fine, I hated the texture.

                                Offal? Had it enough that I don't care for it and will politely decline to eat most for my remaining days.

                                We are close friends with a multi-generation beef cattle/ butchering family and the mother (in her 70s) shakes her head at what she refers to "garbage" meat cooking, she doesn't understand why people seek out offal.

                                1. Small eyeballs on sea creatures don't bother me, but I'm not a fan of most offal. Some things just seems very gamey or irony tasting.

                                  1. In Okinawa, the abasa, a non-poisonous blowfish, is served chopped up in large sections in soup. My bowl contained a portion of the head with an eyeball -- and what a big eyeball it was. I was dining with my cousin, who mentioned that her older sister liked the eye. I was a little skittish, but felt I should take the opportunity to try it. (Adding to my skittishness was the fact that I had early onset catatracts; I was "between" surgeries at that time, and it just didn't seem right to be eating an eye.)

                                    It was different than I expected. It didn't have a particularly strong flavor, but the texture, which I thought might be crunchy, or at least gelatinous, was actually pretty smooth, in an organ-y type way. I would have it again.

                                    Little fish eyes I don't even think twice about.

                                    1. Re- the title- Hell to the Yes! Will not do it no matter what if that's all I'm eating. If it's part of something, we can talk.

                                      1. Not sure if I really care, seeing as I've already eaten plenty of eyes whether in the form of the first photo of that npr link or as chirimen (little pilchards).

                                        As for the sheep eye in Octopussy, I think I'd rather cut it than eat it whole.