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Weird Foods: New Items

Feb 2, 2005 -- Coming soon. I'm editing the last four months of entries. Here's the first few items. Only 430 to go... -- andreas

Vegetable

  • Patatas Korv (Sweden): There is "patatas korv" (potato sausage). This is ground potatoes and ground pork, seasoned with salt and pepper. Some people also add diced onions. We steam ours in a "waterless cooker" but usually the pork-potato mixture is stuffed into sausage casings and then boiled. Either way it is delicious. This is definitely Scandinavian. And there are also potato dumplings. Ground potatoes, mix in enough flour to hold it together, make a ball of it with a ball of ground pork or sausage. Put them in a big pot of boiling water and boil. Eat with lots of butter. The leftovers (you make a big bunch of them so you have plenty left over!) are very good (perhaps even better) fried and, again, eaten with lots of butter. I really enjoy these but you sort of have to grow up with them to really enjoy them. They are heavy. My uncle Hjalmar called them "bombs".
  • Indian Ice Cream (India) Among the Tanaia of S central Alaska and (particularly) the Indians of coastal British Columbia, Indian ice cream is made using the soapberry plant (Shepherdia canadensis). The sour bitter tasteless fruits contain a (soapy) saponin that allow it to be whipped into a foam resembling soapsuds. They usually add sugar and cream to this. Definitely an acquired taste; the saponin gives it a very bitter aftertaste. They also use the plant medicinally to treat cuts, swellings, stomachache, constipation, heart problems, arthritis, gallstones, and tuberculosis. The soapberry berries will not whip if there is even a trace of grease.
  • Baby Octopus in Soju (Korea): You are given a bowl of live baby octopuses and a plate which is covered in soju (Korean alcohol). You pick one octopus up and wipe it in the soju which puts it to sleep and then eat it. More fun near the end of the meal when there is less soju on the plate or the octopus doesn't go asleep and starts to fight as you're eating it.
  • Raw Beef and Onions (USA): Another Christmas staple at Grandma's house. It was raw ground beef, close to 100% lean, spread on dark rye bread and topped with slices of raw onion. This went on for decades and, believe it or not, nobody ever got sick. I don't know where this originated; it was common holiday fare in my east-central Wisconsin hometown.
  • Matzoh (Jewish): I grew up eating matzoh with butter and ketchup. That tangy/sweet with butter just tickles the taste buds. My family is not Jewish but my husband is. When he found out I liked butter and ketchup matzoh, he thought it was the grossest thing he ever heard of!
  • Romergrod (Norway): Notice that you didn't mention Romergrod (with slashes through the o's)... I had it in Norway - it's some kind of wedding porridge. I still remember this clogging, mucus suffocating sensation as I tried to eat it (no option except to eat it as we were being treated by my friend and her Norwegian relatives. ) We tried dumping lots of sugar in it, too, without much success.
  • Vinegar Pie (USA): I imagine that it goes back to the days when apple cider could only be preserved as vinegar. There is a restaurant on I-85 in South Carolina that advertises it but I have seen it all over the South.
  • Fried Food (USA): Fried pickles, fried squash, fried eggplant, fried okra, fried green tomatoes, and (but of course) fried ice-cream in a corn flake batter.
  • Ube Ice Cream (Philippines): This purple concoction is what makes a lot of Filipinos homesick until they find it in their own local Asian Market. Ice cream made with purple yams. Tastes like heaven!

Fish

  • Squid/Octopus-flavored chips (Korea): available in most ethnic shops worldwide... These are actually shaped like tiny squids!
  • Lutefisk (Sweden): My mother has told me about this. It is a traditional Christmas dish in Sweden. And I understand that you can find it in stores (all lye-soaked and ready to cook) in stores in Minnesota and other Swedish/Scandinavian-rich areas at Christmas time. Mom says they always served it at home at Christmas time, but they never forced her to eat any. They lived in Nebraska, so I think grandmother had to make theirs from scratch.
  • Dancing Shrimp (China): Large live shrimp are taken from a tank and plopped into a scalding hot clear soup broth and served with a side of red pepper paste. Shrimp prepared in this way are usually served in a large glass bowl with a lid. They need the lid because they bring them to the table quickly and the shrimp are still "kicking" and jerking. You bite right into the shells and bodies with your teeth and chew the meat out and then spit out the shells and legs and such. I couldn't bring myself to eat one since I had just seen them moving.
  • Sea Slug (Korea): While in Korea (and slightly inebriated from drinking soju), I tried a sea slug. They were kept alive in a large tub. The old lady who sold them took one out, sliced it into pieces (she threw the guts away) and gave it to me with a yellow sauce in a cup. It was surprisingly crunchy, and tasted sort of like a radish. I would eat one again, but they just don't sell them here in the USA.
  • Lancaster Perch Rolls (Canada): Served like a hot dog, but only with the top split buns. The buns must be buttered and browned on the outside. The perch is a locally caught pan fish, usually dusted in white flour and then fried in a pan with butter. It's the sauce that makes the dish! Vinegar, cream, sugar and various ingredients like mustard, garlic etc. I still enjoy a couple of Perch Rolls any time I am in the area.
  • Hakerl (Iceland): Glad to see you mentioned hakerl - my husband works for an Icelandic company and has gone there on biz trips several time -- he ate whale meat, tried to keep up with the incredibly hard-drinking Icelanders (incl. some vile schnapps), and nibbled on something he describes as "pink guts", but his hosts took pity on him and didn't force hakerl on him.
  • Giant Barnacle (USA): At Alma de Cuba in Philadelphia, I had the opportunity to eat a giant barnacle. It was as big as a softball, but shaped like a volcano. The shell was bright white and the "beak" (which is removed to get to the animal inside) is replaced after cooking. (Kind of like a lid). The consistency and color is that of a very light egg soufflé, very delicate. The flavor is its own (no, it does not taste like chicken!) but it wasn't fishy at all nor salty; very ocean-like and fresh. There was also a light breadcrumb topping under the beak. It was absolutely delicious and if I ever have the opportunity to try it again, I definitely will!
  • Smoked Eel (USA, Maryland): Smoked eel is one of my favorite foods. It is not cheap: $8 to $11 per lb. After smoking the eel, one skins it and takes out the spine. Many little bones might remain but if one works around them you have a very rich delicacy and texture. I can only locate it at some Jewish stores or high-end specialty food stores. If one can get past the thought of eating a sea/river snake, as I call it, its taste is quite good and not, at all, unpleasant to the smell and taste. (Note: This is also Japanese. I love smoked eels. - andreas)








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