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.
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.
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.