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Saturday, October 15, 2005

What weird food have you tried?

Each paragraph will tell you about one particular food item that is considered weird. It was ordered from the not-so-weird food to the most-weird. This post is inspired by Steve: Don't Eat It! Do you have any suggestion of other weird food that I should try, beside what I wrote here?

Avocado, is not really weird food. But the way Indonesians eat it, may be considered weird to western standard. Indonesians eat avocado with sugar or chocolate syrup, cold, as dessert. It tastes heavenly, especially if the chocolate syrup is a bit bitter. And I really like it mixed with coconut, red ruby, sea fruit (kolang kaling), jack fruit – all mixed up as es campur (mixed ice). When I told my French host family about this, he went like, “Ewwwwwww avocado with sugar… “. That was the first time I saw someone eating avocado with french salad dressing, I was like, “What the heck?”

Image courtesy of queenfisher

In 2001, I tried Vegemite, introduced by Jeremy Wagstaff. I liked it so much that I even nibbled it. Later, I tried the original: Marmite, and I liked it even more, both to be nibbled or on top of my toast. People around me hated Marmite. I don’t know why. But I think I’d rather eat Marmite than peanut butter.

When I went to Germany with my brother in 1995, we had a difficulty finding a ‘kosher/halal’ wurst to be taken as souvenir. Pak Minki, our host, took us to horsemeat butcher in Munich market, and it was our first time trying horsemeat. In 2004, when Indi and I returned to Munich, we went to the same place. Horsemeat really taste delicious, I think. It is not as fatty as beef.

One of my weird food habits from my childhood is to eat powdered substance without diluting it with water. For example, I love to eat milo powder or milk powder. I had baby food powder or soup powder directly from its package.

I also love to nibble seasoning such as chicken stock cube, terasi / blachan, soy sauce, etc. I know it’s bad for my health, but I’m a sodium addict.

One of my favorite food is cow tongue. For breakfast, I’d eat smoked cow tongue fried in Blueband Margarine, eaten with hot steamed rice. My cook, Bik Wat, often cook cow tongue as Semur (soy sauce soup). Tongue is a different from ordinary meat. It does not have a strong fiber structure; hence it is easy to chew, but it has a strong meaty beefy taste. It was excellent.

I also had a taste of Australian Bushmeat (crocodile, kangaroo) in the form of jerky. I can’t really tell the difference, because all jerky taste the same: salty.

My first experience eating raw fish was when I was still in elementary school in Bandung. One day, my dad took the whole family to a restaurant in Cihampelas called Eden Café. He ordered Sashimi, at that time it was Rp 15,000 to Rp 30,000 which was a lot of money at that time, equals to 10-20 US dollars. We fell in love with sashimi instantly, and I became a wasabi addict as well.

I tasted a good quality raw oyster in Seattle, 2002 for the first time. Indeed Seattle was one of the oyster capital of the world. It was really fresh and it doesn’t contain any unpleasant taste, unlike when I ate raw oyster in other part of the world.

Durian, is the fruit that is uniquely Asian. I think I have always liked durian ever since I am born. I can’t understand why people don’t like durian. Even my husband hated it, I don’t know why. Aside to fresh durian, I also have tasted durian crisps, durian ice cream, durian candy, and durian dodol a.k.a. lempok (traditional south Sumatran snack). Even fried durian seed I have also tried. The only thing that I have not tried, and really would like to try, is rotten durian sambal. It is basically a sambal made from ground chili cooked with rotten durian and other spices.

My family had a weird habit of eating raw shrimp crackers. There’s a story behind it. In the sixties, my mom and dad has no money to buy cooking oil to fry the crackers, therefore they eat raw shrimp crackers. This habit is passed on to their children. The reason I love raw shrimp cracker is that it is tastier and last longer in your mouth. It also expands in your stomach, so you would feel fuller compared to eating fried crackers. You can control how you’d like it to be diluted in your saliva. Watch out, too much of it can cause mouth ulcer, that can be treated promptly using Albothyl (ouch!). I don’t think this habit is good for your teeth too.

Growing up in Sundanese land, life is not complete without eating cow’s innards. Intestine, tripe, liver, lymph, you name it. None of the poor cow is wasted. It is cooked with spices, brown sugar, some tamarind, over small fire until the innards are well cured with marinade. Then, it is deep fried and served with fried shallot. Eat it with hot rice and sambal terasi. There is nothing disgusting about it, really.

My mom, a Minang, often bought cow’s brain curry from Padang restaurant. Yellow and immersed in coconut milk curry, this brain taste like heaven. You gotta try it. Other way to cook brain is to dip it into batter and deep fry it. The exterior would be crispy, while the brain inside it would melt in your mouth. In Singapore’s Chinatown, there are a stall that sells mutton brain in ginger soup. It taste really good too.

I had raw beef cuisine in 1999, in Arana Korean Restaurant, Newgate St, London. It was called Yukhoe, and was served with pear. The next year, I requested Adi Wicaksono (soon to be famous chef from Indonesia) to cook me Tartar Steak. The one he cooked contains loads of mustard, and I love it! In 2002, I went to a French restaurant in Georgetown, DC, with Lila, and ordered Tartar Steak. This one was not so spicy. For me, as a spicy food lover, it was not up to my taste.

Image courtesy of sfood

Ingredients (for 1 serving): 300g of ground sirloin, 1 pear, 1
teaspoon of crushed garlic, 1 egg yolk, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of
sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of sugar, a dash of crushed pine nuts and black pepper.
1. In a bowl, place finely ground beef.
2. Add soy sauce, garlic, sugar,
sesame oil and pepper. Mix with the beef.
3. Slice the pear into long, thin
strands. Spread them around a plate.
4. On top of the pears, gently place
the seasoned meat in a ball shape.
5. Put an egg yolk on top. Sprinkle
crushed pine nuts on top and serve.

When I was little, I have this unhealthy hobby of eating marinated raw chicken when my cook made satay (Kids, don’t try this at home, you don’t know what bacteria you can get!). I was lucky to stay healthy now. Those chicken meats are marinated in sweet soy sauce, butter, and kefir lime. Somehow I just liked it. Now I don’t dare to eat it, at the risk of salmonella and bird flu.

The first time I saw rabbit satay was in Pasar Seni ITB in the 1980s. However, we didn’t have the time to try it. Later, in 1998, after film screening at SOS Kinderdorf Orphanage, me and my friends went to eat rabbit satay around Lembang. It was cooked just like traditional satay. It tasted just like chicken, only sweeter. I think we also ordered roast rabbit and my impression is that the meat really tasted good, although there are a lot of small bones in it.

An interesting east Javanese food is Rujak Cingur. It is basically a vegetable salad mixed with buffalo lips and eaten with shrimp paste sauce. The buffalo lips really add rubbery texture to the salad.

When I went to Japan in 2002, I wanted to try whale meat, just to see what’s so big about it. I went to Kujira-Ya in Shibuya, Tokyo. I think I ordered whale tempura (the cheapest menu, I was a poor student at that time). It tasted so… ordinary. It tasted like beef, the texture was like beef, red meat, with a bit of fishy taste to it. It was so unlike my favorite fish: tuna and salmon. I support to stop whaling because the whale meat was not extraordinary at all anyway. Why bother eating it in the first place?

Image courtesy of bento

When I was in Hawaii, Mitsuyo took me to Ono Hawaiian restaurant in Honolulu that serves traditional Hawaiian food. It was my first time trying a cup of aged poi. Poi is made from ground taro and is kept in room temperature for three days until is aged (a.k.a. rotten and sourish). My tongue hasn’t been used to its sharp, tangy taste yet. I swear, the next time I return to Hawaii, I would eat poi with laulau.

Image courtesy of theworldwidegourmet

I also have tried animal food. Let me emphasize here: I ONLY TRIED IT AND DID NOT MAKE IT INTO HABIT! I tried cat/dog biscuit and fish food pellets. Of course, prior eating it, I would look at the ingredients list. If the list looks sensible, I try the thing. And it didn’t taste so bad. Especially the fish food, it tasted like condensed nori, which I liked.

In Australia, 1993 I tried the tequila candy with worm in it. The candy tasted just like any other candy: Sweet. The worm, clearly tasted like peanut. It was crunchy and a bit salty.

Image courtesy of saucegirl

The first time I tried goat testicle was in Soany’s house, around 1999, when we celebrated Haj day. Soany’s cook served us with goat curry that included the innards. Then I saw this round thing, and I bite it. It has something that looked like glands. I was sure it was the testicle. The next Haj year, I specially ordered testicle to be taken from the slaughtered goats. My cook made it into satay and curry. It really tasted good. I don’t understand why people don’t like it.

In early 1996 my dad brought home a delicacy from east java, called Botok Tawon. It is made from beehive that contains the bee larvae in it, cooked in coconut milk and spices over small fire in banana leaf. Gosh it tasted really good! Those larvae, they looked like grubs or tiny caterpillar, and really tasted good, like peanut but not crunchy. Those larvae have a firm skin, but once you bite it, it will explode with warm tasty peanut-like liquid. It’s like Javanese caviar.

Image courtesy of roctronics

Weird Food that I Have Not Yet Tried… but I will if I have the chance - are Grubs and Insects. I would love to try any other kind of meat (except what’s written below).

Image courtesy of Time Magazine Online

Weird Food that I don’t think I’ll try are Dog, Cat, Rat, and Human meat.

Image courtesy of Bill Irwin


At 15/10/05 21:05, fistfulofpixels said...

omg, you're the champion weird-food-eater! gue baru coba the typical indo fares (durian, cow + chicken innards, etc) + french (tartar, escargots) + scottish haggis (yum yum!) + raw fish + european sweetbreads... no bugs, no free willy for me thank you...

At 15/10/05 21:06, uprit said...

weh, hebat juga ya eksplorasi makanan lu... hahaha... salut deh...

At 16/10/05 17:06, hera said...

There's a word for you: Nggragas! hehehe. Tapi hebatlah pengalamannya. Yang paling aneh sebenernya ada di Bandung: Leunca, combrang (apa kecombrang?) dan rebung. Sudahlah rasanya tak istimewa, baunya rada aneh pula :( Oya, gue juga pernah ngrasain abon uler. Biasa aja sih rasanya,kayak abon sapi, tapi serasa ada yg meliuk2 di leher:D

At 13/4/06 15:47, Anonymous said...

Mind you, I believe that the very first reason they hunt those poor whales is for the fat. Meat comes second or third, and just as by product. Well, I can be wrong.

- YD -

At 20/4/06 14:18, Anonymous said...

Wow, this is a great list of strange foods. I can't wait to try some of these! You should check out my list of stuff I've eaten....

At 20/4/06 14:19, Anonymous said...

At 30/3/07 11:17, Anonymous said...

Great page. i really enjoyed reading this have eaten some strange stuff in my life. Tokyonodoko has some strange stuff too, lot of back street Tokyo food and Japaneses weirdness. Great Page.


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