You may recall that a few years back I paid a visit to Shanghai and had some of their stinky tofu (aka chou doufu in Mandarin). At that time it was pretty much the only variety of stinky tofu I really knew of because I had spent a year living in that city. Stinky tofu, however, seems to come in as many flavors as bread or pasta, with Taiwan claiming one of its own.
If you saw something like this growing in the wild would your first thought be to eat it? Mine wouldn’t be, but I would regret that decision because this here is a dragon fruit. Originally from the Americas, the dragon fruit has somehow become a fruit much more associated with Southeast Asia. And while it is striking on the outside, it’s even more striking what it looks like on the inside.
While riding our scooters back to Isabel in Vieques, we couldn’t help but be stopped by some street food. The street food in this case turned out to be Pinchos, which is basically a Spanish word for skewer-grilled meat. Or, at least that’s what it means in Puerto Rico.
After taking a camel ride in the Sahara, it almost seems wrong to have sought out camel meat in Marrakesh. Yet, that’s exactly what I did because I’m a man of the people and my people are unvegans. I found what looked to be a camel hump in a stall in the Medina and knew I had come to the right place. For those that are wondering, yes that is a hump in the picture and no, the humps are not filled with water. In fact, they are mostly fat.
At night in the Djemaa El Fna (Big Square) in Marrakech’s Medina, the street food comes to life. Of course, the place is still full of street performers and snake charmers, but the food looks oh so much better. The only trouble is the insane amount of people working in the stalls that badger you about as hard as possible to stop by their stall. My favorite line, though, was “same shit, different stall.” And he was right, it all looked the same, so I stopped by one to see what they had.
By day, a stall just down the street from my riad (hotel) in Marrakesh was perpetually busy. Not with customers, but with workers grinding beef, putting together sausages and butchering away. It was interesting to watch, but didn’t exactly whet my appetite. Yet, when I returned later that night I found the place bustling with locals jockeying for some food. At this point I knew whatever it was had to be mine.
Throughout my time in Western New York, I saw a great many signs for “Chicken BBQ.” They would often appear on weekends as fundraisers for churches and the like. Eventually I learned they were using Chiavetta’s Marinade and while the chicken itself was ordinary, I found the existence and cultural phenomenon of Chiavetta’s strange enough to turn Chiavetta’s Chicken into a strange meat.
The first time I laid my eyes on natto was while studying abroad in Japan. To me it was nothing short of disgusting. Fermented soybeans? A raw egg? A simple stir with the chopsticks that made strands that looked like spiderwebs? For breakfast? It was not a pleasant experience, but it was certainly an experience to be remembered.
You know that whole “tastes like chicken” thing that was popular back when The Matrix came out? Yeah, I thought it was annoying too. However, when it came to eating guinea fowl (also known as bush chicken), I was eager to put that old adage to the test. My opportunity to dine on this fowl came in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and perhaps the best part of eating guinea fowl for dinner was the fact that I saw flocks of wild guinea fowl wandering the grounds of the restaurant earlier in the day.
Have you ever accidentally swallowed a fly and been told it’s good protein? Well, it’s true and flies aren’t alone in the bug world as a good source of protein. And in some places the bugs are eaten deliberately. I’ve seen scorpions and tarantulas eaten in China, heard about eating silkworms in Korea and now have my own bug-eating experience in Zimbabwe.