Both my mother and I were good cooks.
That brings me to my Dad’s spectacular contributions. (Original page – a MUST VISIT!) I added this only to begin a Weird food category.
1. Dirt simple, a hunk of bread heavily slabbed with real granulated pork fat “Shmaltz” (lard) and sprinkled with coarse salt. YUM!
2. German kimchi (or Kimchee) of sort that involved Chives and green onions. These were vinegared and set aside for a week or two in the fridge. I think I can replicate this although I would never want to taste it again. Breath killer ultimate!
I would call it Green Onion Kim chee, German style. German Schnittlauch. This is a recipe I could probably duplicate. It uses the milder chives which Schnittlauch means. Usually used as a garnish for many meat dishes, my Dad used it differently. Though I hasten to add, he used green onion tops mostly. This dish was NOT to be shared and I was very thankful for that. Read my Kimchee recipe and leave out the cabbage.
3. The worst I saved for last. It was some sort of Polish jellied pigs feet recipe – known variously as zimne nogi (which literally means “cold legs”), studzienina, zimne stopy (“cold feet”), galareta z nóżek (“jelly legs”) and was an old peasant attempt to make use of any part of the animal.
Call it nose to tail eating. My Dad sure knew how to do that. Jellied pigs feet exist in most Eastern European cuisines and in other parts of the world. I will try to edit both of the above but it too was put into a sealed glass container and allowed to gel over a few days in the fridge. Totally YUK!
Now we get to the third triage phase.
I must add that at that time in Vancouver we were dirt poor and some of the fish soups** we had barely had a skeleton floating in it. Meat of any form was in short supply. My father was also a fairly brutal man and not eating anything put on the table was verboten. I do however remember one exception. I had come home from school and found the closed cook pot simmering. Always curious, I took the top off and found that it contained a BRAIN! – blood oozing between the lobes.
When my father came home I tearfully told him that he could beat me now, but I was NOT going to eat what was being prepared. He took one look and agreed. I forget if we ate Speck sandwiches or what. My mother got to devour the simmered cow brain. Brain fritters anyone?
Brains as described earlier used to be a delicacy but sadly risky due to BSE. This was the food of our peasant ancestors when every bit of the animal carcase was used. They were left with the ‘grotty bits’ and had to improvise and make do while the prime cuts of meat were sold at the market to the rich. If you have the guts visit this site. It will explain my horror
In Mexico they still use brains or sesos tacos. Sesos is brains in Spanish.
Considering an expensive Cioppino – Fish Stew I just made, I must go back to those meatless and fish less soups we had in Vancouver. Bread soup was also a filler, made of old dried bread leftovers. (Stuffing like material that was saved with soup.) Add an onion or whatever was in the pantry and that was the soup.
I must admit that the worm didn’t fall far from the apple and I would include bugs, bee larvae and some Korean fare to my American palate. Pickled ducks feet, fish eyes and such.
Feel free to add your own Weird food tales! The Proper Use of Bugs as well as to McCricket or not! Unappetizing food combinations.
Most of the comments elsewhere were made (including my own) on the basis of ingredients or eye appeal – Balut or my boiled brains come to mind.
Taste is another matter and so is SMELL! Kimchi and Durian come to mind, although they taste OK. I wouldn’t want to be on a long air plane flight next to a passenger who had ingested a lot of Kimchi however.
However, fermented foods go to the extreme with Icelandic or Eskimo practices of burying whale or shark and letting them rot in the sand for a couple of months. Hákarl – rotten shark or the Korean Hongeo come to mind. In the somewhat anaerobic world of rotting ammonia is produced.
Two comments by chefs: Celebrity chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain said that hákarl is “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing” he had ever eaten. On Hongeo “A Delicate Mix of Outhouse and Ammonia”
What I have to ask is HOW did these cultures discover that this was safe to eat? Cold temperatures must be part of it as I don’t see digging up a dead cow and then safely consuming it.
I suppose it was simply a matter of discovering a fermented and buried fish carcass and finding the local idiot to try it. Hey Joe, why don’t give this a try? If Joe survived they would all dig in. If he didn’t, it didn’t matter much.
Sometimes it is rather remarkable though in how our ancestors discovered edible foods or seasonings. Google Vanilla bean processing and you will see what I mean. Sweating and curing of the Orchid bean to become something delectable. Same with Coca. http://www.varanashi.com/vanilla_processing.html
(C) Herb Senft 20014