Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Culinary adventures

A careful reading of today’s paper might lead even the most adventurous eater to think twice about ingesting certain delicacies.
Pickled walrus flippers, for instance.

You knew how delicious they can be after a year fermenting inside a cocoon of blubber and walrus skin. You were probably unaware that a problem with the fermentation process can lead to botulism, severe gastrointestinal distress, and death.

And who knew that blowfish even had testicles? (Though if I did know, I might suspect they were toxic. Just a guess.)

And that brings us to bacon. Universally beloved, Universally reviled. Some clever fellows in Kansas City have concocted a Bacon Explosion that includes woven bacon strips, a whole lot of sausage, and more bacon. 5000 calories. 500 grams of fat. Deadly in its own way.

This subject is of more than passing interest to me because I was brought up with the dictum that - when in Timbuktu - eating the local delicacies was not optional. My father traveled widely and as children we were led to believe that a significant factor in his business success was his willingness not only to eat rabbit eyeballs at a Syrian dinner, but to ask for seconds. On his return from distant parts, we thrilled to hear how he had dined on corn fungus (huitlacoche) or sucked monkey brains through a straw.
And he survived.
The greatest danger to the eater these days is the Food-that-is-not-food, the processed quasi-edible stuff in a package that neither looks nor tastes like anything in nature.
Bring on the walrus flippers.

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