Sunday, March 25, 2007

Eating Weird Stuff

My BelovedEngineer accuses me of having no sense of adventure when it comes to food. Not so, I may not like pickled eels, but at least I tried them. I may prefer my grape juice unspoiled and inexpensive rather than in high dollar wine bottles, but I've tried wine. I will admit to never having tried sauerkraut -- how can anyone get that nasty stuff close enough to their nose to put it into their mouth?

I have eaten plenty of weird things in my life. Grass, of course. What kid hasn't tried grass. The little soft area at the base when you pull a segment out of the lower segment is pretty tasty. When I was really little one of the neighbor kids had a wooden wagon that her dad made for her. It had a little wooden cargo box built onto the back with a stray nail poking up. During crab apple season, we would pull each other around, filling the cargo box with crab apples, then puncturing them and sucking out the sour juice. It was a double contest to see who could suck the most crab apples and make the horriblest face while doing it. Lotsa fun and I imagine we got our day's iron requirement, plus some, from the rusty piercing nail.

I have tried Milk Bones -- not bad, though rather dry. Chocolate covered ants and grasshoppers -- the ants were too sour, but the grasshoppers were a little like a very robust Nestle Crunch bar. I like calamari quite well, especially the crispy little tentacles.

I tried a new food last week. I often do that when I see something strange at the grocery store. This time it was the grain, quinoa. I bought about a cup of it from the bulk food aisle.
qui·noa /'kinw?, ki'no??/
noun -
a tall crop plant, Chenopodium quinoa, of the goosefoot family, cultivated in Peru and Chile for its small, ivory-colored seed, which is used as a food staple.

Or, if you'd like more information:

The seeds in the little plastic bag looked like something a bird would eat, small, round light grayish brown. I decided to go basic and steamed it using two parts water, one part quinoa -- just like rice or oatmeal -- for about 15 minutes.

The quinoa about doubled in size during cooking and became translucent. It also developed what looked like little tails wrapped around the grains. At first munch it had an interesting texture but not much flavor. Eating a little more brought an odd after taste to my attention. I don't think I will eat it again, but it was an interesting thing to try.

My sister has me beat however as far as eating bizarre food goes. She went to the Philippines with Youth for Understanding when she was in high school. Her host family was very proud of her because she was the only American kid who would eat balut.

I looked for a picture of balut. Found quite a few. Decided they were way too gross to post up on my blog. Also found a blog that made my food adventures seem as homey and mundane as granny's rocking chair. Here's the URL for Deep End Dining, it goes straight to their balut page.

Might be a good idea to keep one of those airline barf bags close at hand if you go view this...

1 comment:

Melanie said...

Quinoa naturally has a coating of saponins, which makes it taste bitter. While most packaged quinoa is washed first, you should still rinse the quinoa at least two times or soak it for a few hours then rinse to remove the saponins. I suspect that is what gave you the strange after taste. Quinoa usually has a nice, mild nutty flavor.

PS -my sister and I used to taste every flower in our yard when we were younger. Even though they are supposedly edible, I remember the rose petals tasted the worst.