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Friday, October 28, 2011

For Your Halloween Dining Pleasure: Weird Wild Foods

        After being challenged by Susan Kane at thecontemplativecat, I have been digging through my brain archives to think up some weird foods that I've tried that were surprisingly good.   As I began thinking about this I was taken back to my mid-twenties when I was on a national tour with the Ken Griffin magic show.

         In a post in June of 2010, I told how Ken Griffin was the one who first introduced me to menudo.  I had always thought of myself as a pretty adventurous person when it came to food, but once I started being around Ken Griffin I was introduced to some foods I had never considered.

        Ken had been around a lot in his life.  He grew up near Deming, New Mexico not far from the Mexican border.  He'd spent years as a saddle maker and leather craftsman in the ranch country of Montana.   He and his wife had toured Viet Nam entertaining the soldiers during the war.  In his broad range of life experiences he had also encountered a lot of different foods that I had never tried.

         One of the favorites that he was known to whip up in a crock pot in the motel rooms was chicken hearts and gizzards.  The thought of these did not appeal to me at all.  However, he doctored them up with onions, an assortment of spices, and other ingredients that I don't recall and set them cooking all day in the crock pot.  I was pretty adamant about not trying these at first, but after a while the aroma started smelling pretty good.  They weren't the best looking things in the world, and I'll warn you if they're not cooked right it's can be darn close to eating rubber, but after twelve hours or so cooking in the crock pot they were tender and savory in taste.  Haven't eaten them since, but enjoyed them several times with Ken.

          He also talked me into trying pork brains and eggs.  I guess I was up for anything back then.  It's not your normal restaurant fare--you're not going to find these at Denny's or I-Hop--but when we stopped at some truck stop and he saw them on the menu he knew what he wanted.  And though I wasn't too enthusiastic about it I let him talk me into ordering them too.  Maybe I was just so hungry that anything would have tasted good, but I downed the plate with no problem and with no bad after-effects.

        Then there was the time in Indiana when a friend of Ken's invited us to a local bar where they were having a happy hour special of sorts and were serving lamb fries.  The place was rowdy with congenial working folks chowing down on platters of lamb fries and downing them with beer.  Everybody seemed to be enjoying them so I got a platter.  They were thin sliced, batter covered. fried crispy golden brown discs that looked similar to home fried potatoes.  They had a pleasant chewy texture with a light meaty taste that was maybe closer to clams or something like that.

         As I enjoyed my lamb fries and was working on my third or forth beer, I asked our host what lamb fries were anyway.  He informed me that they were sheep testicles, sliced thin, battered, and deep fried.  That momentarily gave me pause.  Then I looked around the room and saw everyone happily munching away.  What the heck!  They tasted darn good and I still had beer to wash them down with.  We ordered another platter and some more beer.  I was hungry.  And my philosophy is that if I see a whole bunch of people eating something and enjoying it then I'll be willing to try it too.

        I hope I'm never in a bar full of cannibals or worse yet, zombies.

         Have you ever tried lamb fries or rocky mountain oysters?    Do you have a good recipe for hearts and gizzards?   Does it unnerve you when you're having breakfast and the group of unkempt half-dead looking people at the table next to you tell the waitress they want brains?




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29 comments:

Miranda Hardy said...

You are far more adventerous in that arena than I. Yuck! Just the thought makes me sick.

Of course, our standard cultural eating habits are sure to sicken other cultures as well.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Not being very adventuresome in the kitchen perhaps I ought to try a little harder.
Yvonne

YeamieWaffles said...

Excellent post as usual buddy. It's kind of weird that I don't have the answer yes to any of your questions although the last one gave me a good laugh so maybe that's all that matters!

Melissa Bradley said...

You are far more adventurous than me. I can't even look at a chicken wing, leg or thigh, let alone any other non-breast part of that bird.

I do love exploring taste combos.The weirdest things I eat are like vanilla frosting on Ritz crackers. I can't get enough of the salty sweet.

Jules said...

I must say I have tried them all and like none of them. I did like rattlesnake though. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

I'm afraid I'm not very adventerous when it comes to food. It doesn't take much to make me queasy. A little queasy right this minute actually.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee .. I have tried quite a few - and inflicted sweetbreads on my family guests for my 21st .. not sure why - they were delicious! I do like the usual kidneys, liver, brains and heart .. I'll usually try most things. Wish I'd tried tripe when a friend cooked it years ago .. one day I'll give it a go again.

Interesting .. and now there are so many new alternatives - bugs, insects, etc ..

Love this post and the comments - thanks Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'll pass on the lamb fries. I probably tried some wild Oriental foods when I was younger, but I don't remember.

Arlee Bird said...

Miranda -- I guess it comes down to which kinds of foods we were raised with.

Yvonne-- You probably aren't missing all that much.

Yeamie-- Glad I got a laugh from you.

Melissa -- I've never heard of the frosting and Ritz crackers, but I can see where it could be kind of good.

Jules -- The lamb fries are especially popular in your part of the country aren't they? I haven't cared much for my samplings of rattlesnake.

Delores-- Yeah, none of this sounds too good to me at the moment either.

Hilary -- I've heard about kidney pie but haven't tried that yet. If things are well-prepared they are probably okay, but a lot of them probably require acquiring a taste for.

Alex-- You should try the lamb fries. They are good for virility and memory and they might help with the latter.

Lee

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee .. Steak and Kidney pie is a staple of English food - absolutely delicious ... rich gravy, delicious pastry, fullsome melting steak pieces and kidlies! .. and a few veggie - usually carrots and onions ..

A definite warmer on a cold bonfire or winter evening ..

And kidneys roasted in their suet are delicious too ..

Cheers for now - just had salad for lunch! Hilary

Kelly Robinson said...

I can't remember where it was exactly --somewhere West-- but it was when I was on the Snow White tour that I tried a buffalo testicle. It was also deep fried. I've tried many unusual things since (like huitlacoche --corn smut, or raw monkfish liver --yum!), but it's the buffalo testicle that still amazes people.

Susan Kane said...

You go, mister! Loved this! I have eaten a lot of things similar to your description. I have not eaten pig brains, that I know of; my mother may have cooked them, and I wouldn't have known.
Have you ever watched a show called "Diners, dives, and drive-ins"? The chef for TGIF drives around the country and goes to places who can whip of a mess of...just about anything!
Thanks for mentioning my blog!

LD Masterson said...

Nope - we're talking total food coward here. No adventure at all. Unless we want to consider what's REALLY in a hot dog.

Val Thevictorian said...

I love chicken gizzards and livers. Never tried lamb fries, but I wouldn't turn them down. The one thing I absolutely would NOT try is pickled pigs' feet. My grandpa kept a jar of them in his refrigerator. I could not even open the door for fear of the feet.

The Golden Eagle said...

Nope, haven't tried them . . . I've never actually heard of lamb fries or rocky mountain oysters. Most likely wouldn't eat them if I got the chance. :P

becca said...

i've eaten some strange things in my lifetime so now i'm very careful before putting things in my mouth

Ciara said...

Oh, my. You are braver than I am. :) Okay, I think I would have lost it when I found out what Lamb Fries were.

Arlee Bird said...

Hilary-- Someday I'll have to try steak and kidney pie--I've heard so much about it.

Kelly - I was more adventurous trying new things when I was on the road. I guess I missed the buffalo testicles, either that or my memory is just shot.

Susan -- I do enjoy that Diners... show. And thanks for the inspiration for this piece.

LD -- Hot dogs probably has all food beat in the categories of weirdness.

Val-- I had a post last year about pickled pigs feet. I once had some that were kind of good but my blog review experience was not so good.

Golden -- You never know until you try!

becca -- I'm not as adventurous as I once was, but I'm still more so than my wife.

Ciara-- I was hungry and drinking beer so it didn't matter much at the time what I was eating--and it did taste good.

Lee

Carol Kilgore said...

Fun post! I used to be a much more adventurous eater than I am now. But I will still try a lot of things.

Happy Weekend!

Joanne said...

No I have never had lamb fries, but I have had blood sausage...wasn't bad.
Blessings, Joanne

Pat Tillett said...

Great post Lee! There isn't much that I won't and haven't eaten. Just last night I had a plate full of frog legs. The people I was with, wouldn't even try a bite. Frog legs are mild and I think anybody who tried them would like 'em. They are so good!

Paula Slade said...

Brains I will not eat - even if you paid me a million dollars. :-D

However, I have eaten and enjoyed frog legs, tongue and gizzards. I think I'm the only one in my family that likes tongue and gizzards.

Crock pot is the best way to cook gizzards along with a bit of sherry or wine, :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Gross!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So glad I am a vegan.

Roxie said...

Kanagaroo tastes sort of like a big desert rat. Not bad with a long simmer in a rich wine sauce. Crocodile tastes like chicken. (Ranch-raised crocks are fed chicken all their lives, so it's no surprise.) Ostrich and Emu taste like veal. Elk is milder than venison or buffalo. Horse is sweeter than beef. Wild turkeys need to be simmered slowly or they are too tough to chew. Quite flavorful, though. Cavy rates like rabbit.
I have found that just about anything,if prepared badly, is nasty, and just about anything, if prepared well, is delicious.

I didn't make it to the top of the food chain to become a vegetarian.

Draven Ames said...

You've got some real guts one you. I wouldn't try half of the stuff you tried. I've never had gizzards, brains or lamb fries, but I have had heart before. It was pretty rough and hard to chew, but it wasn't bad.

Gregg said...

Loved this post. I have not tried lamb fries or rocky mountain oysters. I have never tried chicken gizzards. I have tried some strange dishes in various places. Still would pass on balut!

Madeleine said...

Pork brains & eggs and gizzards eeyeuw!
I have to be careful what I eat as I've had so much food poisoning and food allergies that even my fav foods were a problem at one time.
I often read novels that describe meals and end up feeling ravenously hungry. Angela's Ashes describes food so well because he was starving so much in his childhood.

sue said...

It reminds me of the food of my childhood. I don't eat any of it now though - more and more vegetarian food is on the menu these days. I tried bullfrog last time I was in China - it was ok as long as I didn't think about it - I avoided the jellyfish, that seemed just too horrible to think about. Sue

Arlee Bird said...

Carol -- It's good to keep at least a somewhat open mind.

Joanne -- Blood sausage doesn't sound very good, but maybe I'd try it under the right circumstance.

Pat -- The frog legs I had tasted like chicken. Not something I've eaten often, but I have tried them on a few occasions.

Paula -- For a million dollars I guess I'd try just about anything that didn't kill me or hurt me in some way.

L Diane -- Vegan is certainly healthy.

Roxie -- You nailed the real point here. Prepared correctly and tastily anything can be good if it's edible. It's probably best not to dwell on what you are eating and just savor the experience.

Draven -- Tough and hard to chew doesn't sound all that good. The heart probably wasn't prepared well, but then again beef jerky can be good but tough and hard to chew. Maybe you had heart jerky.

Gregg -- I forget what the balut is but I recall thinking it sounded pretty disgusting.

Madeleine -- I enjoy reading well written restaurant reviews. Those writers can do such a great job of describing meals.

Sue -- I've watched some documentaries about China that talked about some of the foods. Some, like the snake, sound and look very unappetizing. It's amazing some of the exotic things people in other parts of the world eat.

Lee