The ”Year of the Goat” began on the Chinese calendar a few weeks ago. Yet, I still habitually find myself writing ‘Year of the Horse’ on my checks.
Back during the Year of the Rat, The Wall Street Journal—a newspaper that costs substantially more than this one—ran a story on how rats are becoming a popular food item. Maybe not in West Seattle so far, but vermin is good eats in places like Vietnam and Thailand right now. In fact, rat recipes go back 150 years in Vietnam’s farm country, and have been passed down for generations. In this country, it would be harder to imagine:
Mom: “Maggie, I want to give you this recipe for Rat Pot Pie.”
Maggie: “Gee, Mom, you shouldn’t have.”
Mom: “My aunt gave it to me, so now I pass it on to you.”
Maggie: “Isn’t that the aunt that died of food poisoning?”
Mom: “Bad fish, bad rat. It could have been anything.”
While rat used to be mostly eaten in rural Vietnam, it’s now starting to catch on in the big cities too. However, bear in mind that Vietnam’s big city restaurants also specialize in serving snake.
Diner: “What is your catch of the day?”
Waiter: “You have to choose between either rat or snake.”
Diner: “I KNEW there was a catch.”
But rat and snake seem like sensible fare compared to some of the other stuff people eat around the globe. A guy named Anthony Zimmern does a TV show where he travels the world eating the weirdest stuff he can find. But even he won’t touch lutefisk.
In Indonesia, deep-fried monkey toes are very popular—although not with monkeys. I mean, c’mon! Deep-fried monkey toes? Every foody knows that monkey toes should always be steamed to keep in that yummy monkey toe taste.
Indonesian people will also eat bats. Not the baseball kind. Termites eat those. Apparently bat wings taste pretty good, but the drumsticks are kind of skimpy.
In a pinch, when those other dishes aren’t available, people in Indonesia will settle for chicken. It is said that chicken sort of tastes like bat.
Brains are eaten by people who apparently don’t have any of their own. Pig brains, sheep brains, cow brains—you name the brain, somebody will eat it. (Light-eaters prefer mouse, hamster and goldfish brains.)
Headcheese is not actually a cheese, but something made from the brains of sheep or calves. (Cannibals have been known to eat head-cheeses of companies, but that’s a different matter.)
It is said that camel is a delicacy in China, but only on ‘hump day.’
Jellied cow’s foot is a savory selection in Poland. While the idea of eating a cow’s foot might normally be appalling to some people—if it’s jellied, we should give it a try.
Centuries ago, somebody in Scotland—probably the same guy who came up with the kilt—invented ‘haggis.’ Haggis is a sheep’s stomach, stuffed with oatmeal and then steamed. Yum!
Haggis TV commercial: “Hey, Mom! Having trouble getting your children to eat their oatmeal? Simply cram it into a sheep’s stomach and watch the kids gobble it down!”
Southeast Asians have been known to ‘wok’ the dog, from time to time. And supposedly Newfoundlanders have been known to fix up a dish called ‘Seal Flipper Pie.’ That’s because Newfoundlanders know that the flipper is the best part.
Tribal peoples in Africa and South America think nothing about eating bugs. As it turns out, bugs are loaded with protein. So when you drive to Spokane during a hot summer day—that stuff that winds up on your windshield? It’s protein.
Meanwhile, lots of kids in the U.S. eat gummy worms—which are not real bugs, but are real nauseating.
The truth is, before we Americans get too cocky about our supposedly more refined tastes, it’s worth noting that we invented ‘Spam’—the luncheon meat that comes in tins. We also treasure bleu cheese, which is a bacteria-infected mammal secretion. You must admit, a salad is rather bland without some bacteria-infected mammal secretion poured over it.
Better wrap this up. My wife is calling me to dinner. She found a great recipe on the Food Network for monkey fingers. She says they taste a lot like toes.