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.
The ostrich is a strange creature. A relic of a world ruled by birds, it is both flightless and the largest bird on Earth. These factors combine to make it ideal for food, and if it weren’t the fastest bird on the planet, I have a feeling its meat would be a bit more ubiquitous on the dinner plate. Ostrich is certainly not the strangest of meats, as it can be found as beef alternative in healthy burgers. Yet, it is unquestionably abnormal.
On the first day of our safari, we spotted something strolling around the hotel grounds. To an untrained eye like mine, I thought it was a deer. But hey, I was in South Africa and deer are boring. It turned out to be an antelope called kudu. Kudu are pretty common, which is why, when I found myself being served kudu a couple days later I was only somewhat concerned that it was the kudu I had seen bumming around the grounds.
It’s not often you get to eat one of your favorite characters from childhood, but on my trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe, that’s exactly what I did. I took down Pumbaa, at the first possible chance. And I didn’t just do it once, it was so good I kept coming back for more.
Is it a nut? Is it a fruit? Is the question of whether or not it’s a nut qualify to make the lychee a strange fruit? I sure think so, but if that’s not enough for you, consider that the lychee is the only member of the litchi genus. That’s right, it’s an orphan, which automatically makes it strange. While canned lychees can be found pretty much everywhere, they really don’t do the fruit justice. It must be eaten fresh to truly appreciate its strangeness and flavor.
Once upon a time, I was biking through the rice paddies of Yangshuo, China, when my local friend stopped at a small tree to pick the strange, small berry-like fruits off of it. She handed a few to me to try and told me they were called kumquats. Growing up in Michigan, I had heard of kumquats before, but had never seen one with my own eyes and had no idea what one should look or taste like. This was a strange fruit, indeed.
For my birthday, my lovely girlfriend got me something called a beer class at L’Epicerie Market [EDIT: Now Closed] in Culver City. This was exciting as it turned out to be a multi-course set meal with a glass of beer per dish. Yet, as exciting and delicious as the beer and meals were, there was a particular course worth its own blog. It was one of the strangest meats I had ever eaten: frog legs.
In a world full of apples, pears, bananas and peaches, it’s comforting to know that out in the crazy world of ours, there are still strange fruits waiting to be eaten. I’m sure it seems weird to be reading an article on an unvegan website about fruit, but I must confess I am a huge fan of fruit. After all, this is a site against vegetables, not fruit. Who could really hate nature’s candy? While in China I came across two fruits that break the mold of those average, everyday fruits: the Durian and Mangosteen. They are also known as the King and Queen of fruits, respectively.