Strange Foods

People (collectively) will eat anything. But one mans’ meat is another man’s ugh. This color-rich volume features the strangest (to us) foods served in the world. It highlights two global trends: a hunger for increasingly exotic foods, and the worrisome increase in hunting bush meat from endangered and rare animals – at crisis levels in parts of Africa and Asia. None-the-less, the full variety of things-humans-eat, in all their strangeness, are captured in fine photography and readable history here. The author also provides sources and recipes for farm-raised exotic foods and meats. This guy, at least, has tried everything.

-- KK  

Strange Foods: Bush Meat, Bats, and Butterflies an Epicurean Adventure Around the World
Jerry Hopkins
1999, 232 pages
$17
Periplus Editions

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:

When I tell people that I took the placenta home following the birth of my son and the next day served it as a pate, they generally (1) don’t believe me or (2) recoil in horror, calling me a cannibal. My wife was to return home the day following and my plan was to cook the placenta and make it into a pate to serve visitors who had been invited to meet the baby. When I asked, the doctor agreed in wonderment, but then didn’t know what to put it in for transport to the flat. Unlike restaurants, medical clinics don’t have Styrofoam “take-away” containers for leftover food.

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Bird’s nest soup is one of the true culinary enigmas, a high-priced delicacy that is made from the nests of swifts, found in bat-filled caves in Southeast Asia. The nests are made of seaweed, twigs, moss, hair, and feathers glued together by the birds’ saliva and the spawn of small fish. Is this something you would pay up to US $300 a bowl for?

Why so expensive? Well, first of all, it’s considered by many to be an aphrodisiac, a word – some say myth – that is driving many animal species to the edge of extinction. For centuries, Chinese have given their children the soup, believing it will help them grow. Others consume it to improve their complexion and defeat lung problems, or as an all-purpose tonic.

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Two handfuls of rats that will either be eaten, or sold for one-and-a-half rupees each under a program set up by the Oxfam Trust and India’s Department of Science and Technology.