Weird Food

Husband’s parents both grew up in eastern Ohio on the the border with Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  He grew up eating far different foods than I did.

Husband loves mush, especially cornmeal mush and grits. His mother served it to him for breakfast. He doesn’t object if Cream of Wheat, Cream of Rice, or  Maltomeal are on the menu, either.  I can sometimes eat polenta, but the others are a real challenge. I think it is a texture issue on my part.

Last weekend, Husband made Scrapple, a Pennsylvania favorite, and his ultimate treat, since it combines cornmeal mush with pork. He used Julia Child’s recipe ( Who would have imagined she had a Scrapple recipe??) It is sort of yellowish brown. You can see it in the header photo.  After it was baked and cooled,  he sprinkled slices of  it with cornmeal, fried them, and ate them with blueberry syrup. I just stay out of the kitchen when he gets it out. It is too weird for me.

What is the oddest food you have ever been served? What do you eat that others won’t eat? What food have you come to like that you never imagined you would?

63 thoughts on “Weird Food”

  1. People who hunt and fish sometimes attend “wild game feeds” where a wide variety of wild game is served. My experience with the two I experienced was that if you drink enough scotch you can eat snapping turtle, beaver tail and rattlesnake, but you won’t remember how any of it tasted. And that is probably a good thing.

    There used to be a chef in Walker, Minnesota, whose small downtown restaurant was internationally famous for serving odd wild game. That fellow once invited me to a banquet. It would be free. I don’t recall why he invited me, and I’m surprised that I agreed. I later regretted the whole thing.

    That feast featured about two dozen creatures from around the world. The three main dishes were Australian possum, grizzly bear and African lion. I was able to choke down some strange entrees, but I freaked out over the lion. I hated the idea of killing lions for any reason. I forced myself to eat some because of the weird ethics of being a free guest. I forget what the possum was like. The bear tasted like pork. The lion, served with a weird piquant sauce, tasted exactly like I thought cat meat would taste, although I had never before eaten cat meat and–believe me–never again did.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Robin and I were invited to partake in a similar feed, although it was informal. Some friends in Ely and their friends were emptying their freezers in advance of an upcoming hunting season and decided to have a sort of potluck. They had a sort of jury-rigged smoker with ample capacity and several barbecue grills.

      I remember we had smoked lake trout and smoked beaver tail, both of which was very good, and barbecued muskrat and pickled moose heart. The moose heart was OK in small portions. I would skip the muskrat next time. We’ve had bear served by those same friends but it was in a stew so I can’t characterize it distinctly.

      I’ve had haggis several times, both in Scotland and here, and would have it again but without much enthusiasm. It seemed like crumbly meatloaf to me.

      You never know what seems exotic to other people. I remember having cream of wheat and cream of rice when I was a kid and when we had shredded wheat, it was always with warm milk and butter. I never realized people ate it any other way.

      I suppose sashimi is still exotic to some people. I’ve been eating it since the’70s. The kinds served here are pretty tame, though. I think I might draw the line at things like sea slugs.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Your folks are Scandinavian, right, Bill? Perhaps the shredded wheat reminded them of kavring, a dark rye kind of rusk (a hard, dry biscuit or a twice-baked bread) that my dad would eat after dipping it in boiling water, then slathering with butter…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I hated coffee as a kid because when we ate out my parents finished the meal with coffee, and it seemed to take f o r e v e r ! I had my first taste of coffee in a coffeehouse when I was 23. I instantly loved the espresso coffee they served and have started almost every day of my life since then with strong black coffee.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. I started drinking coffee in college, but really came into the habit at the bakery. Of course the bakery also trained me to drink coffee in any state. If you poured yourself a cup of coffee, you never got to finish it while it was still hot. So if you wanted to drink coffee you had to learn to drink it cold..

          Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve never had scrapple, but I’ve heard people talk about it quite passionately. I’ll have to try it it I ever get to Pennsylvania again.

    I’m truly an omnivore, and have eaten some stuff in my day that many would consider odd, though I have never tasted any of the delicacies that Steve mentioned above.

    I grew up eating things like pork trotters, beef and pig’s heart, pork and beef liver, and beef tongue, so none of those seem strange or odd to me, and if cooked right, they are actually quite tasty. We also ate things like øllebrød, a Danish rye bread porridge, that most Americans would consider odd, I’m sure. Horse meat was a less expensive alternative to beef, and was very good.

    Later on I ventured into snails, chicken feet (I had no clue what they were when I put them on my plate), cod roe (a true delicacy), frog legs, and haggis. The snails were delicious, next time I’ll pass on the chicken feet. Not that they were bad, but there just isn’t much food there, except for the breading. Frog legs are actually quite good, the haggis, I think it depends on the recipe. What I had wasn’t awful, on the other hand I wouldn’t seek it out again.

    One of the things I admired about Anthony Bourdain was his willingness to approach the food of other cultures with an open mind. Some of the things he sampled I don’t think I’d be able to get past my lips. Actually I’m pretty sure of it.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. That’s so sweet of him, please tell him, thanks. While I wouldn’t call Hans a finicky eater, (he couldn’t be and still be married to me), he’s cautious about trying new things, and I have a hunch that scrapple might be a bridge too far for him, but I’m sure Chris’ scrapple is the best. His “vacation” at the Steger Homestead near Ely is drawing to an end, so my two weeks of foods he doesn’t care for are ending as well. Tonight I’ve cooked up a big pot of split pea soup with ham, enough to see me through the worst of this arctic blast.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. i loved snails
    i enjoyed pheasant
    ribs and corned beef were among my favorite dishes
    french onion soup and thing i’ve looked for for years since called a cheese and olive broiler from a little corner restaurant at southdale that had its original location in minneapolis on hennipen ave and about 26th delarios i believe

    my nausea is gone today but i’m in the docs office trying to get my stomach started up again
    after surgery it shut down and i haven’t eaten for a week
    hopefully this afternoon i’ll be back in shape

    china makes wild game dinners look like everyday fare
    they love to impress the guest with the variety of critters
    the restaurants have a stack of cages and aquariums so you can meet your dinner before and after
    i’ve dreamed about how to domesticate stone crab to make it a sustainable food in a hydro farm scenario
    today i’d like a fried egg sandwich
    don’t ask about monkey brain

    Liked by 4 people

        1. I thought I had read all your books. What’s the name of the pheasant cookbook? Not that I need any recipes out of it but I like to think I’ve read all your tones!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Our native friend’s really like moose, but I have never tried it. I can’t eat wild game. The idea if it bothers me somehow. Most friends who grew up on farms can’t abide beef unless it is well done. I don’t think I could eat steak tartare.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I have never tasted moose either, but venison I don’t care that much for. I’ll eat it if it’s served at a friend’s house, but I wouldn’t cook it myself. I love steak tartare; it’s a rare treat, but both husband and I love it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Moose is easy to like, as are elk and caribou. Buffalo is a lot like beef, but cannot be cooked the same way. I can’t stand the smell of venison from woodland deer, but venison from western prairie areas is really tasty and totally lacking the tallowy smell of venison from timber. A friend who threw game feeds said antelope was always the favorite, even with people who were initially afraid to try it. Beaver tail is pleasant and not as exotic as the name might suggest.

        Woodcock is very flavorful, but good. Quail and ruffed grouse are heavenly: flavorful without being gamy. I once cooked sharptail grouse in a way friends still drool to remember decades later. My favorite bird to eat is Hungarian partridge.

        Ducks and geese are great, but you have to undercook them. My wife overcooked duck the first time we tried it, and I vowed I’d never hunt ducks again. Then we learned to cook ducks very gently, so gently we served them on a table lit by candles so the meat didn’t look raw.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I just made fox burgers last night. (the chopped up spam stuff). I am not an adventurous eater.
    Charcuterie was a big deal for me. And Sushi. I even tried a bite of octopus once. It was chewy and tough and that was enough for me.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m pretty sure that if I ever quit becoming a vegetarian, that Spam will be on a plate within the first week. I grew up with Spam and it’s one of the few things I actually miss. The current commercial with the spam cut up into little cubes and frying in a pan makes me nostalgic. Sad for a vegetarian to have to admit.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. I can’t recall eating anything weird that hasn’t already mentioned, but there is a chapter in Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking called “Repulstive Dinners: A Memoir” in which she details a dinner party in England where the hostess serve a medieval fish pie (a variation on starry gazey pie that she had never made before), which turned out to be whole baked eels. 🙂 It’s a hilarious read…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. When I went to Korea there was a meal that included a couple dishes that I couldn’t completely identify. The soup may have included baby octopus – it was a seafood soup and had something that looked like teeny tiny octopus legs in it. Another with raw ground beef, raw egg, and a bit of ginger – that was really tasty.

    For those outside of our family, the traditional Christmas Eve dinner when I was a kid seemed odd. My mom would make a version of Rømmegrøt – a Scandinavian porridge of sorts made from milk or cream. Our version was served with a pat of butter, cinnamon, and sugar. Really, it looked like cooked, thickened milk to the uninitiated. When Husband came to a first Christmas Eve dinner at my parents’ house, I sat down to our traditional meal forgetting that he was lactose intolerant… that was the last meal with our “milk mush” for Christmas Eve. Sigh.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. Well, I have never been an adventurous eater. I was a very picky child but have expanded quite a bit since then. Even that doesn’t mean a whole lot – I’ve added things like avocado, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, sweet bell peppers – very tame stuff. My criteria has been and remains no eating scary food (my definition of scary- could be scary looking, scary tasting, scary smelling). Some of it is texture related. The only seafood I will eat is salmon and maybe shrimp. Traveling in Japan was difficult food-wise. One of the scariest that I saw there was squid jerky.
    I don’t like sushi, sashimi, seaweed, etc. High on my list of “do not eat/drink” are coffee, beer, mushrooms, most wild game (have had decent venison once and buffalo burgers are OK), authentic Mexican and Indian, any really spicy cuisine, fish (salmon excepted), and beets.
    That being said, I have sampled some exotic food on my travels. I tried impala sausage in Africa – would skip it next time. Warthog was actually quite tasty. I also had kangaroo in Australia. Taste wasn’t too bad but it was dry and chewy at the same time. Maybe it would be more palatable if prepared differently. I could have tried Hakarl (fermented shark) in Iceland but passed. And I doubt that haggis would ever pass my lips. And whole baked eels……ick!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I find it intriguing, K-Two, that with all of the traveling you do, you’re not an adventuresome eater. To me, sampling the local foods is one of the most satisfying part of traveling.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For many people, food is the only thing worth living for – willing to try anything and everything. I am not one of them. For me, food is simply something to keep me alive. Going out to eat at a fancy (expensive) restaurant is a waste of money – often there’s not much on the menu I find appealing. Food has always been the most difficult part of international travel. I survived Japan and India by taking some easily packable and nonperishable food with me. There are some countries where the local cuisine is very good – Peru in particular as well as Thailand – and I enjoyed eating it. Give me a lot of fruits & veggies plus some chicken, turkey, or salmon and I am a happy camper.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. And Greece, and Italy, and France; oh forget it. Fancy (expensive) restaurants aren’t where you’ll find the best local flavors, in my experience. I get that some people live to eat, and others eat to live. I clearly align much more with the first category, but it’s a bit of stretch to
          say that “food is the only thing worth living for.” Let’s not give short shrift to all the other pleasures of the good life.

          Liked by 3 people

  9. I am absolutely not adventuresome either. And in fact it makes me very happy on multiple occasions that I am a vegetarian because it’s a built-in reason why I don’t have to eat some things.

    I would have to say the most bizarre thing I’ve ever eaten is the Durion fruit in Thailand. The taste itself isn’t actually that extraordinary but you can’t hold your nose shut tight enough to get the fruit into your face without the smell. Oh my gosh that’s awful.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. I didn’t mean you, I meant the first person to ever cut one open. By the time you showed up, it was pretty well established that they are edible.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. The first person was obviously certifiable. But maybe me too. I was much younger and I’m thinking that if I were presented with Durion fruit today, I wouldn’t be able to get it to the organic trashcan fast enough.

          Liked by 2 people

        3. Only related to VS’s use of the word “Certifiable”…

          Back when I worked at the civic center, they had declared anyone driving the forklift had to be certified. There was enough other people who knew how to drive one better than me so I wasn’t concerned about that and I think I had only driven once anyway. But one night, I somehow ended up riding on the fender while Jim drove the forklift. I sort of asked the guys in general, “Does this mean I’m certifiable?”
          Nothing. Crickets. So Jim asked, “Does this mean he’s certifiable??” Again, nothing. I guess they were just busy and not paying attention to us. We just shrugged.
          I’m still not certified. Supposed to be certified to use the scissor lift at the college too, but no one ever invites me to the training and no one asks if I am.

          Liked by 5 people

  10. People found it funny that someone who fished as hard and often as I did almost never ate fish. I was a catch-and-release guy. At the cabin we adored coho salmon from Lake Superior. The flesh was bright orange-red. We grilled it with butter and dill.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. When we were in Scotland, we stayed one night in a little place that was attached to an inn. The inn itself was partially below ground with a peat-fueled fireplace, two resident dogs and a clientele that mostly consisted of the local fishermen. We were very early in the season and the only lodgers so we had opportunity to chat with the proprietors. In the evening I was sitting at the bar, visiting with the owner and he announced he had something special for me. It was a fresh-caught scallop, raw with a dollop of orange roe. Having declared it special, I felt obliged to savor it. I had no problem with the scallop itself but I had to force the roe down. It was a texture thing, mostly.

    Liked by 6 people

  12. Bought a tin of hippopotamus from a Byerlys back in the 80’s. I don’t remember ever eating it nor do I know why a bought it in the first place.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. My grandfather worked for a rubber company and he had reason to travel to Asia quite often. On one occasion he and my grandmother were served a soup with eyeballs in it. They were not on board but ate it out of politeness. For the rest of there lives anytime he said he didn’t want to do something or didn’t like the idea of some movie or play she wanted to go to she would say “I ate eyeballs for you.” She would usually win with that card.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A live Japanese spiny lobster, that had had it’s shell peeled back, it’s flesh cut into easy to pull out chunks, but spinal cord left intact, so it was alive and crawling across the table. It was seen as a great honor to be invited to eat it, and my kind hosts had gone to a lot of trouble. There was no way I could not take a bite without offending, and that was not an option. I took a bite. I am now vegan.

    Like

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