From deep-fried grasshoppers to smoked puffin meat, the variety of food that people around the world eat differs hugely from country to country. As the public are becoming more educated on what they are eating and where their food comes from, standards and norms on what is acceptable to eat are slowly starting to change. Where do your limits lie when it comes to accepting new and unusual foods into your diet?
Let’s begin with something close to home: Haggis, and we’re talking the proper stuff and not one of the many synthetic varieties you can get in your local supermarket. Many people find the idea of a sheep’s liver, heart and lungs cooked with spices inside the sheep’s stomach repulsive, but it is eaten on a frequent basis in Scotland. Offal in general is something that many of you might not want to try, but our ancestors were probably eating and enjoying it on a regular basis. Black pudding, made with congealed blood, is one you are probably more familiar with, as it finds its place on breakfast menus around the country.
It is beneficial in terms of reducing food wastage to eat all parts of an animal but let’s see how far we can take that ideology…
You may say you like chicken, and if you’re a meat-eater then chances are you eat chicken a few times a week? But where do your limits lie when it comes to which parts of the chicken you will eat? Cockscombs, which is the fleshy growth on top of a chicken’s head, is a vital part of a famous sauce in Italy, as well as having an important place in French gastronomic history, where they used to be used as garnishes. Chicken feet are served in China and are considered a delicious and somewhat crunchy snack.
We have been raised to view insects as pests. We give them off-putting names, calling them ‘creepy-crawlies’ and trying to get them out of our homes. But what if this hadn’t been the case? What if we had been raised to view insects in the same way as we view meat or fish – as a food that can provide us with a tasty form of nutrition and sustenance? Let’s talk Entomophagy! The UN has recently started to encourage people to learn to eat insects, as they are filled with protein and fibre. It is much cheaper and more efficient to raise insects in comparison to meat or fish, and scientists have already begun extensive research on whether or not insects could be the food of the future. Most cultures around the world, about 80% of the population, already eat insects, and many view them to be a tasty delicacy. In fact, it is said that some larvae tastes just like bacon.
Reptiles are another creature that is commonly eaten around the world. Frog juice, made from blended frogs, is considered an aphrodisiac in Peru, while turtle meat is sold in Nicaragua. Cobra is eaten in Indonesia, while snake meat is a traditional part of many regional cuisines across China. Some people in Taiwan even eat cobra eggs and embryos believing they will bring then good health. In many parts of the Middle East, certain lizards are eaten, as their blood believed to treat diseases. Snake wine, made with rice wine and a snake, is a popular drink in Vietnam.
Puffins, what some would consider to be a cute looking bird with a playful character, are eaten in Iceland. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay found himself to be on the receiving end of many complaints after he was filmed eating a puffin heart in Iceland for an episode of The F Word. Puffin heart has been considered a delicacy in Icelandic cuisine for centuries.
In 2012, a new and slightly shocking trend arose in the ‘luxury’ coffee market. It was called civet coffee, and got its name from the Asian palm civet, a mammal that lives in Southeast Asia and looks a bit like a cat with a long nose. The civets eat the coffee plant fruits, and then the beans are gathered from their faeces. The coffee has had a surge in popularity all over the world. It isn’t the first animal dung-derived coffee, either. Black Ivory coffee is made from beans that are collected from the dung of Thai elephants, and coffee made from the beans found in the faeces of the South African Jacu bird has been around for some time now.
After the horse meat scandal here in the UK a couple of years ago, many people started to question exactly why they do or do not eat certain meats. There are many butchers and farmers markets around the country which do sell items that we may at first have not thought about eating from kangaroo to alligator
Let us know where your own personal limits lie when it comes to food, and do share your stories on the most unusual things you’ve eaten! Or share you DISGUST at the thought of eating and of the interesting dishes from around the world.