5 Eats that Require a Brave Belly
by Mikka Wee
Do you dare take your taste buds on an adventure they won’t forget?
In my line of work, it’s very important to keep an open mind (and a brave stomach) when it comes to food. Even though the sight, scent, or texture of a certain dish sends shivers up and down my spine, I need to try it at least once, even if this means biting into deep-fried creepy crawlies, crunchy (and very alive) worms, and slimy unidentified edibles.
For someone whose career mainly lies in the food industry, it comes as a shocker to a lot of people when I profess my aversion to sashimi. Yes, that’s correct. I snob the favorite section in Japanese buffets, and I get all squeamish at the idea of eating raw fish. And though my family and friends have time and again tried to convince me to pop that darn sliver of freshly-shelled uni into my mouth. My tongue and taste buds seem to protest relentlessly.
This month’s theme is all about courage. And even when it comes to food, there is some level of conquering one’s fears to be observed.
I’m not kidding when I say this! Think of how most Americans chicken out (or duck out, rather) when presented with an unborn alien-looking bird! Or how about escargot (snails)? One of my closest friends just can’t stand the thought of eating them, but snails rank high in my list of favorite food in the world.
Below is a short list where I’ve compiled 5 of the grossest food items in my book. Some I’ve tried, some I’m willing to try, others I do not want to try ever. Deep breath now. Keep a barf bag handy just in case! (Okay, I’m just kidding about that part.)
I’ve tried this when I was in high school and was dared by my biology professor during my sophomore year. Of course, how could I say no? With all my classmates looking at me, I didn’t want to back out from the challenge. It’s just eating a live worm, right? No big. I just thought of Timon and Pumbaa and how delicious those caterpillars and earthworms looked like when they were being devoured in The Lion King.
But in that moment, I picked up the tiniest mealworm I could find (but it was still pretty darn huge), closed my eyes, bit into it, swallowed, said it was no big, then rushed to the girls’ room after 5 minutes.
2. Escargot / Snails
A lot of people seem to gag at the mention of eating snails. But snails are very, very delicious! In the Philippines, they’re cooked in gata and eaten with a toothpick. The French way of cooking them is with lots of butter and garlic, and topped on slices of buttered baguette.
I think how I feel about people who hate escargot is the same way people feel about me when I tell them I don’t eat sashimi. But come on, let me convince you for a minute. Snails have a great bite to them. They’re a bit chewy but just enough that they aren’t rubbery. They have an earthy flavor that pairs so well with garlic. Just don’t think they’re the slimy, shelled slowpokes stuck to the pavement (or Spongebob’s pet) and you should be fine!
3. Casu Marzu
I LOVE CHEESE. In all-caps. Cheese made from sheep’s milk (like Pecorino, especially if it has tartufo/black truffle) drives me nuts. But check out this hunk of dairy from Sardinia, Italy. Casu Marzu is a sharp-tasting sheep’s milk cheese that has been intently… infested by a cheese fly.
It’s also illegal to consume, mind you, but is considered a local delicacy in Sardinia. Would you dare?
4. The Fugu
For adventure seekers out there, are you ballsy enough to try the Fugu? This tiger blowfish made a cameo in the first Charlie’s Angels movie with the disclaimer that if it isn’t prepared right, it can actually kill you. It takes an expert chef to serve this rare and risky delicacy because the slightest error in filleting can cause fatal damage. Yikes!
At a glance, they might look like grains of rice. But these carbohydrate imposters are actually cooked ant larvae. It’s interesting to know though that these ants are harvested from the roots of the agave (tequila) plant. Just so you know, I’m willing to try this, especially if served in a taco since they are reported to have a buttery flavor. Yum(?).
Have you tried any of the dishes above? What dish are you mustering the courage for? Any interesting eats that seem scary on the surface, but are pure bliss to belly?
Let us know in the comments section below!
Born with a heart for food, travel, and words, Mikka Wee co-runs and writes for the food blog Pepper.ph. Also writing as The Tiny Traveler in her personal website, Mikka loves to go on adventures and to share her learnings and experiences about the art of getting lost, growing up, and trusting your gut. Get in touch with her via Twitter and Instagram.