Something For Everyone
For a meat eater what’s more inviting than a juicy steak or a plate of barbecue? For a vegetarian, drooling begins with one whiff of a pan of sauteed broccoli, mushrooms and onions. And Vegans eat anything that doesn’t have a face, and contend their overall spirtual, mental and physical health is worth the omissions. Whatever your dietary preference, there’s a way to make a delicious meal that satisfies even the choosiest palettes.
If you’d like to go off on a particular and peculiar tangent that is not necessarily diet driven, then let’s take a limo ride down culinary row. Here are four of the most bizarre gastronomical adventures you can take that ain’t chicken:
The Vietnamese have an extraordinary approach to an unique duck soup. Tiet Canh soup is made up of the raw blood drained from a newly slaughtered duck. Fish sauce is immediately added to keep it from coagulating. If still a bit too thick for your liking it can be thinned with a little of the broth rendered from cooking the ducks innards.
However, some patrons of the bright red soup prefer the texture to be more gelatinous. Served either ductile or delicate, the birds internal organs are mixed in to enhance the flavor. It is traditionally garnished with chopped peanuts and fresh herbs such as coriander or mint. While it is certainly fowl – it ain’t chicken.
Iceland is full of surprises, not the least of which is their taste for rotten shark. While it is a national dish that has likely graced the table of most Icelanders, it is apparently an acquired taste. In the Land of Fire and Ice they take the body of the sleeper shark also known as the Greenland Shark, and let it ferment for months. If eaten fresh the meat is poisonous. The first curing is done after the fish has been decapitated and gutted. It is buried in a sand and gravel pit with heavy rocks on top for 6-12 weeks, depending on the season.
After this period of time, it is dug up, and cut into strips then hung to dry for several more months. Reeking of the smell of ammonia due to its natural chemical make-up, it is served as bite sized chunks to be enjoyed with a pinched nose and a shot of Brennivin. Chicken of the sea it ain’t.
Brain Sandwich, Anyone?
In parts of the Midwestern United States early settlers learned not to let anything go to waste. When they butchered a cow or pig every part of that animal served a purpose. Early German and Dutch settlers brought their penchant for fried brains to the American table. Ostensibly it is best served when using fresh calf brain and young pig. Once harvested, the brain is sliced, dredged in flour, egg, another coat of flour and deep fried. Seasonings vary, but certainly salt and pepper along with specialty flavors that have been handed down in families for generations. If this “delicacy” is calling to you, you better get your brain sandwich soon as the US Department of Agriculture is banning the sell of cow brains for consumption due to a case of Mad Cow disease discovered earlier this year.
To a north American pallet the name conjures up images of very old eggs. To some who have indulged in these rudimentary hen feasts, it’s been reported that they taste as if they come by their name from the fact that have been around for at least a hundred years. Considered a Chinese delicacy, duck, chicken or quail eggs are used to get the final taste sensation. The ovums are preserved in a mixture of clay, salt, ash, quicklime and rice hulls for many weeks or even months to get just the right flavor.
The eggs are fermented naturally, but because of the sulpher smell the yoke emits, those not accustomed to these culinary tidbits cannot always get passed the strong aroma. While this is a more mundane addition to this list, Century Eggs are still exotic enough that it’s unlikely they will land on most dinner plates anytime soon. Afterall they ain’t chicken.