Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Unusual Foods

Today I went to lunch with some work colleagues.  They took me to a seafood restaurant here in Singapore.  Since we are still in the lunar new year celebration period, we started with the Yu Sheng (Prosperity Salad), followed by many other courses--some I recognized, some I did not.  One of the courses was a roast chicken--the chicken had been cooked with the head still connected.  It was then split down the belly (do chickens have bellies?) and spread flat across the plate.  That is, all was flat on the plate except the head, which was sticking straight up out of the plate.

At one point in our lunch conversation, we started discussing how differently the Chinese and Americans prepare and present food.  The chicken with its head sticking up out of the plate was one example.  Several of my Chinese and Singaporean co-workers have told me they eat just about every part of the animal, and I agree.  The local hawker centers (open-air food court) and restaurants offer a wide variety of options including pig organ soup, chicken foot soup, fish head curry, etc.  Many times I have been told that they think American food is bland and unexciting.  This may be true.  As a general rule, we don't use a lot of strong spices in our cooking and most Americans stay away from cooking internal organs and extremeties.  Our food is usually prepared in an almost sterile manner with many parts removed.  Of course, there are some exceptions.  However, I don't recall ever seeing a chicken head presented as part of a dish in the USA.  In fact, I think we prefer to stay a little "removed" from the source of our food.  We like boneless, skinless chicken breasts--there is no visual link that indicates our chicken patty used to be running around carefree before its head was chopped off.

Talking about this topic at lunch got me thinking about the variety of foods I have had through my life.  I decided I would make a list of the "unusual" foods I have had.  I know some people may consider these foods as completely normal everyday items.  I list them as "unusual" because they are not a normal part of my everyday diet.  Some of these foods I would not mind having again.  Many items in this list I do not care to try another time. 

This list is roughly in chronological order according to the first time I tried each item.

Venison steaks, liver, and heart (Deer) - Cedar City, Utah
Buffalo - Cedar City, Utah
Fried pig feet - Orlando, Florida with Columbians
Sopa de pata (pig feet soup) - Orlando, Florida with Columbians
BBQ pig intestine - Orlando, Florida with Uruguayan
Menudo (beef stomach soup) - Orlando, Florida with Mexicans
Fried and boiled pig skin - Orlando, Florida with Mexicans
'Gator nuggets - Gatorland in Kissimmee, Florida
Rocky Mountain Oysters (bull testacles) - Cowboy Grub Restaurant in Salt Lake City, UT
Rattlesnake sausage - Cowboy Grub Restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah
Kangaroo - Sydney, Australia
Calamari (breaded and fried squid) - Sweetwater Restaurant in Fairfax, Virginia
Goat - Houston, Texas with Mexicans
Escargo (snails) - Perry's Steakhouse & Grille in Houston, Texas
Foie gras (duck liver) - Hon Flor, France
Horse steak - Antwerp, Belgium
Chili Crab - Long Beach Seafood Restaurant in Singapore
Chicken foot soup - Hong Kong Cafe in Singapore
Duck soup - Krabi, Thailand
Sushi - Tokyo, Japan
Sashimi - Tokyo, Japan
Prawn soup (whole prawn including very long whiskers sticking out of bowl)- Tokyo, Japan
Shark Fin Soup - No Signboard Seafood Restaurant in Singapore
Abalone - Singapore
Durian (fruit found in Asia) - Singapore
Fish head curry - Singapore
Fish roe (fish eggs) - Imperial Restaurant in Singapore
Sea cucumber (sea slug) - Imperial Restaurant in Singapore
Baby octopus (very small whole octopus) - Singapore
Fried squid - Singapore
Duck clavical - Singapore with Chinese Intern
Hashima (fatty tissue from frog fallopian tubes/ovaries)

Some of my work colleagues are telling me next I need to try the fermented stinky tofu.  Something about the name tells me that it will probably not make it to the top of my favorites list.

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