One (Wo)man’s Poison Is Another’s Delicacy

Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre FoodsDo you know the television show Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern? We love it, and I may or may not have a secret crush on the host.

Ahem.

In Italy, the show is called Orrori da gustare, literally Horrors to try/taste.

Sure they could’ve used the word bizzarro to describe the food, but the translators went one step further to demonstrate just how, um, eeeeeeew some of the things that Andrew eats really are–bites of lamb’s eyeballs, beating frog hearts, all kinds of rotting meat and fish and more. YUM!

So you would think that P and I wouldn’t have too much of a culture clash regarding this show because we *all* agree these foods are bizarre, if not true horrors? Right? Right? Hmm….

Through my recipes, I think I’ve demonstrated here that I like an awful lot of Calabrian food–I can get with wild boar (cinghiale) and rabbit (coniglio)–but I make no secret of my dislike of many traditional Calabrian foods, i.e., those you probably won’t be seeing on What’s Cooking Wednesday, such as:

  • u suzzu: random pig parts (tongue, lungs, heart, stomach, etc.) in gelatin with peperoncino and vinegar. I like my gelatin in Jell-O thankyouverymuch.
  • e frittule: boiled pig parts, especially the skin, that give off a smell I won’t even begin to describe to you because it’s turning my stomach just thinking of it.
  • ghiro: dormouse, usually in a tomato sauce (illegal to capture, actually).

Eyepatch guinea pig by Benimoto on Flickr

I should be perfectly clear that I have tried three of the five on the list (care to guess?) and will probably eventually try them all if/when they are presented. I’m proud to say I’m quite Andrew Zimmern in that respect.

I *hate* when people say they don’t like something without trying it, so I practice what I preach.

And then I spit into my napkin if necessary.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

All of this is a lead-in to a conversation that P and I had the other night:

We were starving and only starting to prepare dinner as I flipped the channel to Orrori da gustare.

I quickly changed the channel.

“Oh we shouldn’t watch this now,” I said, meaning that we would be so disgusted that we’d lose our appetites.

“Yes,” P agreed.

“It’ll make me too hungry.”

Thus proving Andrew’s mantra, “One (wo)man’s poison is another’s delicacy” once again.

[P.S. Andrew, we got some poison “delicacies” for you in Calabria!]

This is all the more ironic because P is so against most “American” foods that he won’t even try them, or will only do so after I beg and plead.

Peanut butter took six months of cajoling. SIX MONTHS!

Mah.

So tell me, do you and your Other Half agree on food?

What foods gross you out?

What’s the most bizarre food you’ve ever tried?

P.S. Be sure to check out some decidedly delicious food–
Mary’s Crab Cakes at The Flavors of Abruzzo
for La Buona Cucina Americana!

Buon weekend!

54 Beans of Wisdom to “One (Wo)man’s Poison Is Another’s Delicacy”
  1. 05.09.2008

    That dessert was sounding pretty good until the pig’s blood came along. Gross!

    I’m not very adventurous about trying things, although compared to the other half I’m practically Andrew. If it’s not a burrito, a sandwich or plain pasta, it’s exotic in his book. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but not by much. I’ll try different things, but I’m more of a vegetable person than a meat person.

    But I once ate snails…that we caught, cleaned and cooked in 7th grade science class.

    softdrink’s last blog post..Manual Labor

    Mmmm snails. P goes crazy for them. I’m kind of on the fence–a lot of work for not a whole lot of reward IMHO. And I will say that if you’re more of a veggie person, your choices of “exotic” are much more limited πŸ˜‰

  2. Stella Devine
    05.09.2008

    I’m of the Try Anything Twice school of thought. I’ve happily munched snails and spiders and frogs’ legs on my travels, and at home, I willingly cook, serve and eat kangaroo, crocodile, rabbit, eel and goat. Not only do they taste great, they are less damaging to the environment than the traditional alternatives eaten here (beef, lamb and pork). Unfortunately, my husband is rather averse to anything out of the ordinary. It’s all in his head. How do I know? Because I lie to him. ‘Great beef stirfry!’ he compliments me, eating his second plate of wallaby. I figure the environmental brownie points cancel out any bad karma.

    Stella Devine’s last blog post..Culture shock

    Ooh I’ve had snails and frogs’ legs too–I prefer the latter. That’s too funny about your hubby. I think I’ve pulled that on P a few times, but more about what’s *not* in a dish. He doesn’t like butter so if I use it, I just don’t mention it…and he hasn’t realized it yet (thank goodness he doesn’t read English) πŸ˜‰

  3. 05.09.2008

    I have tried Emu, Kangaroo, Crocodile, Camel and Eel, I enjoyed them all !
    My husband is like me and is happy try anything at least once.
    Fortunately or is that unfortunately not many foods gross me out ! πŸ˜‰

    I am going to check out if we get that show here, it sounds great !

    Vee’s last blog post..Noddy

    I hope you do get the show Vee–it’s really fabulous! And you and hubby been quite adventurous…complimenti πŸ™‚

  4. Gil
    05.09.2008

    I figure that you have tried the first three as the last two would be “too cute” for a lady to eat!

    You’re 2/3 right Gil (although yes, the latter two are awfully cute)….

  5. Christina
    05.09.2008

    6 months for peanut butter? Did he like it? He must have, right?
    I’ve heard of the Americans here bringing presents of Lipton tea and peanut butter to bribe with. My hubby isn’t very adventurous in his food; I love trying new Sicilian things!

    P was rather unimpressed with peanut butter. Doesn’t get the fuss, which is fine by me, b/c there’s more for me then πŸ˜‰ Glad you’re into trying new Sicilian things at least–isn’t that part of the fun of getting to live in different places?

  6. 05.09.2008

    Why, oh why did I read this while eating my breakfast?! *enter scrunched up sour face* I’ve never heard of that show before. I will now be on the hunt for it, just out of curiousity! Is it on Skye? I used to be a big fan of Fear factor but at some point my stomach started to become weak every time the second challenge came up. I dunno, something about watching people bite into animal’s eyeballs, scrotums, & drinking their blood was unappealing to me! πŸ˜‰
    But still, I am curious to watch this show.
    At least you got P to taste PB eventually. My husband wont even go near it! Fine by me, that just means there’s more for us around. πŸ˜‰
    I am guessing that you have had u suzzu, u sanguinazzu &… porcellino d’india? Poor, poor, porcellino. :p

    Oh I could never do Fear Factor. There’s just something different about Andrew trying these things out of a pure passion for food that appeals to me.

    The show used to be on Discovery Travel & Living up until like a week ago. Now I don’t know when it’ll be back πŸ™

    As for your guess, you’re 1 for 3….

  7. Hilary
    05.09.2008

    I once had a traumatic experience with donkey salame. No big deal to Italians…but I didn’t know it was donkey and this cruel girl kept making the heeeewwww hooohhhh noise after I found out what it was. It was especially traumatic as I have fond memories of a donkey on one of the islands close by that brings all the water and supplies up to the little town. I couldn’t look at him the same after that…

    My husband thinks peanut butter is disgusting too, but mainly because it’s too sweet.

    Oh Hilary, that’s horrible! I love Eeyore! I’ve had horse salame (unwittingly) though.

    I think your hubby and P are on the same page with peanut butter. P thinks it’s ruining a perfectly good nut πŸ˜‰

  8. 05.09.2008

    u suzzu, e frittule & ghiro? That’s it, no more guessing, I promise. lol

    Hah, no more guessing necessary πŸ˜‰

  9. Mary
    05.09.2008

    Well, O doesn’t like Peanut Butter either, but I’m with you on this one, that just means more for me. Especially since it’s a rarity around here.

    As for disgusting foods, I think the nastiest I’ve had here is scapece. In case you don’t have it there, it’s fish pickled in saffron vinegar and it’s eaten cold. They have stands at all the fairs and even though the smell of it nearly knocks me out every time I’ve gotten near it, I have tasted it (mainly because I too am of the opinion that you can’t say you don’t like it if you’ve never tasted it.) You can be sure that I won’t be tasting it again. Ugh!

    Mary’s last blog post..Made in America – Crab Cakes or Tortini di Granchio

    Mary, I haven’t heard of that but you’re really making a case for it πŸ˜‰ I’m not a huge fan of pickled things in general, although there is an *awful* lot of it around here. Kudos to you for being adventurous!

    *Also, I’ve edited–honestly I didn’t even notice it until you pointed it out!

  10. you are much braver than me πŸ™‚ I’m not sure what the grossest food I’ve had is though. Did you see when Andrew Zimmern did the Asia tour…that was some weird stuff

    erin :: the olive notes’s last blog post..antiques in arezzo

    I agree Erin; a lot of the Asian foods were the creepiest to me too. I think that’s where the rancid meat was. Ew.

  11. 05.09.2008

    Yes, there are definitely some strange foods in these parts. Coratella, for instance. Coppa is another; sorry but pig snout and cheek-bone is not appetizing in the least. I can see eating it from necessity during the war years and such, but it’s a new day! I’ll try stuff once, but there are few second chances on things like this. Too many other good things to eat instead.

    Valerie’s last blog post..April Showers Bring May….Snows?

    Coppa I’ve heard of but haven’t tried, coratella I haven’t heard of. And yes, I agree with you–when you *had* to eat it, that’s one thing, but I personally don’t choose to waste my fat and calories on some of this stuff πŸ˜‰

  12. Joanne
    05.09.2008

    That was too funny! My hubby and I have watched that show too and rather enjoyed it. We agree on most things except Middle Eastern and Indian food. He doesn’t like some of the spices, but he will happily try anything once. I’ve even got him drinking ‘cafe americano? – as long as it is the flavoured kind (french vanilla), in a small mug, with cream πŸ™‚

    Joanne’s last blog post..Savory Strudel

    I don’t think P would go for a lot of the spices either–of course he doesn’t really like the “chili” flavor of chili either, so there you go….

    Good work on the coffee! P has tried American coffee with milk and didn’t spit it out, so I call it a success. Of course he’d never *request* it. I’ll have to try some french vanilla on him, although since he doesn’t like sweet stuff perhaps that wouldn’t go over well. We’ll see πŸ˜‰

  13. Scicchi
    05.09.2008

    sanguinazzu! My Dad’s uncle said he absolutely loves it! I believe he said they put chocolate and nuts in as well. I’d love to try it. My Gram also said one of the first “tests” of getting into the family was she was given a bucket of blood(from I pig I would assume) from her father-in-law(my Great Grandfather) and was told to prepare it. She proceeded to heat it in the pot until it was one giant ball, then sliced it and fried it for them(and watched in horror as they devoured it-very happily). She was a favorite ever since. Little did they know, her mother-in-law taught her how to make it days before πŸ™‚

    There are also stories of my Great Grandmother’s family eating rats before they came over , but thankfully I have no other details πŸ™‚

    I can’t say I had many bizarre foods yet but the most disgusting food for me, honestly, would have to be liver. I like nothing about it whatsoever and I tried it numerous times(although never made it myself).

    My wife cannot eat polenta. Hates the texture, the taste, everything about it. The boys love it though.

    Yes I’ve seen recipes for sanguinazzu with chocolate and nuts as well–btw, you might also see it as “sanguinaccio” which I suppose is more “standard” than what they speak ’round our parts πŸ˜‰ In any event, I haven’t had it. I guess people just don’t make it as much any more?

    I can just see your grandmother watching them eat the ball o’ blood! Would love to hear her tell that story…I might have, actually πŸ˜‰

    As for the rats, yes, they ate pretty much anything they could find here–that’s why the ghiro is so rare and hard to capture (and expensive to buy!) these days, I’m told.

    I’m not a huge liver fan either. That texture is just, well, an acquired taste. My mom loves it, and no, I’ve never made it either.

    Polenta took a while for me I have to admit, so maybe your wife will come around πŸ˜‰ Kudos to your boys for even trying it at their age!

  14. 05.09.2008

    Michelle, you have a crush on Zimmern? Well, one woman’s delicacy…; ) I’m on Team Bourdain, btw. Now that is one hot foodie!
    Since moving to Europe I’ve tried loads of things I wouldn’t have dreamed of eating in Canada. Let’s see, I’ve had horse, donkey, snails, raw beef (carpaccio), raw sausage, tripe, black pudding, real foie gras, lardo, wild boar, tongue, frog’s legs, rabbit, etc. Of course, I love Asian food and have tried lots of Indian and Korean specialities. My Italian hubby and I will try everything once and he loves Indian food. The spicier the better. But wouldn’t you know it, he hates peanut butter too!
    We’re not on the same page when it comes to offal or strange body parts. He loves tripe as well as nervetti, which is a calf’s foot and veal shank salad. Ewww!

    Linda’s last blog post..Paris – Day One

    Oh I like Bourdain too, but there’s just something about Andrew’s excitement over absolutely the most disgusting things–just seems so agreeable πŸ™‚

    Your list is impressive–I forgot about tripe. Perhaps on purpose. Blech. To me offal is simply awful πŸ˜‰

    So funny about the peanut butter! I think they’re just stubborn πŸ˜‰

  15. 05.09.2008

    My beautiful wife and I do indeed agree on food.

    As for the oddest thing I have eaten, it is probably cow brains. It was prepared by a chef in a restaurant that I was a waiter over 20 years ago. It was delicious.

    Now my beautiful wife, she sucks the eyes out of grilled fish. I still can’t bring myself to that.

    running42k’s last blog post..Double pooped

    I haven’t had brains, but I’ve heard they’re lovely and would like to try them. Eyeballs, though, I don’t know….

  16. 05.09.2008

    Yeah, can’t really watch that show. I am not adventurous in that way at all. In fact, I know I wouldn’t be able to try rabbit, unless I was tricked into it. I won’t even eat venison. I would do the cinghale though.

    Chris is a vegetarian…but I don’t think he’d eat bugs or anything. I think he tried a dog biscuit once πŸ˜‰ Does that count?

    Just curious…did P like the Peanut Butter???

    My Melange’s last blog post..Travel Photo Friday

    Rabbit’s a regular around here, bugs–nah. I don’t think I could do that. P’s been wanting to try them though. Dog biscuits…um, sure they count!

    As for the peanut butter, let’s just say P was underwhelmed πŸ˜‰

  17. 05.09.2008

    Eww. Ewwwwwwwwwwww.

    That’s all I got right now.

    Dory’s last blog post..The Big 50!

    I don’t blame you Dory. Not one bit.

  18. 05.09.2008

    Can I just say I LOL at P’s comment. Soooo funny. Girl, you know me. I am like Robin – I barely got through your written desciptions! Did you tell everyone you had spleen?? I’ll vouch for her folks – she does try new things!

    Cherrye’s last blog post..Pazzi for Porcini

    Yeah for spleen! See that’s not even exotic to me any more πŸ˜‰

  19. alexmom
    05.09.2008

    When I was a kid I once found in the freezer half a *calf skull *. I ran screaming and terrified to tell my mom. Apparently, my grandfather was saving it for a special occasion, to broil with olive oil and herbs. In dialect they called it *ca-poot- sell* (not sure of the spelling) The skull served as the natural *plate* from which the brains were eaten. YUK! My husband loves to cook (and eat) tripe. YUK again. Other gross stuff: eels and weeds, specifically dandelion leaves.
    Buon appetito…….not!!! Just give me chocolate and peanut butter…..

    Oh dear, the skull as a plate? Yikes! I’ll have to ask P about that one. Good thing your hubby cooks his own trippa πŸ˜‰

  20. 05.09.2008

    I have eaten fried ants (big ones) as they are considered a delicacy in a region of Colombia, I have tried many things that I wouldn’t eat a second time, but I would say we take some “risks” with our palate… one exception if it smells bad it is never going to make it to my mouth! There is a reason why nose and mouth are in such proximity!

    Beatriz’s last blog post..La cucina di Nicola: Cheesecake!

    *Excellent* point about the nose and mouth Beatriz! P would love to try those ants….

  21. Rosa (something...)
    05.09.2008

    Il Ghiro reminds me of an episode where an Australian married to Mum’s Calabrese cousin went to visit his family in Delianuova Calabria. As guests of honour they them served this delicacy’ Il Ghiro,’ with the head and legs still on it. Marge, try as she could to be polite, could not bring herself to eat it and on her return to Australia used to mimic this thing sitting on the plate with it’s teeth sticking out and little paws beside it. We would laugh so much – just as long as its sitting on someone else’s table that is !

    Oh that is too funny Rosa–I can see the impression in my mind! Poor ghiro!

  22. Maria
    05.09.2008

    I am way too familiar with all of those bizare dishes! My uncle loved the sanguinazzi, I remember eating it when I was little not knowing what it was when we were making salami. It definitely had the chocolate and nuts in it…guess that’s why I ate it! PUKE right now just thinking about it. During the time of salami making, the frittulle are a ritual. My mom LOVES this stuff but then complains after she eats it cause its so fatening! DUH! The Coratella, GROSS!!! We call it spezzatino, it’s basically organs of an animal (could be pig, my mom does it with lamb) and its freaking NASTY!!!! The smell alone makes me leave the house! My husband ordered this dish when we were just in Rome, he obviously didn’t know what it was, and I didn’t know the name “coratell” well you could just imagine the look on his face when the presented a bowl full of lamb organs in front of his face…he almost puked at the table!!!!! The best is when my dad goes to town on a lambs head…gotta love those days of depression…ik! All I say is thank God we didn’t grow up in that era!

    I’m definitely with you on that last sentiment Maria! I’ve heard of spezzatino, but haven’t had it. Thank goodness P doesn’t bring this kind of stuff home unannounced (he knows better) πŸ˜‰

  23. 05.09.2008

    My husband thinks peanut butter is the most disgusting thing ever. I like it though. Pretty much anything that exists outside the Italian realm of cooking he looks at with suspicion. I FINALLY convinced him to try Thai food and he likes it ok. I pretty much put off any Italians I know with my eating habits, like drinking milk after anything other than a cornetto and mixing food on my plate. I am open to all foods and will try anything at least once. In the last month I have tried smoked horse and coda alla vaccinara (ox tail stew, a Roman specialty). I think the nastiest things I have ever tasted was fried crickets and intestine (cow I think?).

    Jessica in Rome’s last blog post..The 5 Worst Books Ever Written About Italy

    Another adventuresome girl! Woohoo! And yes, I’ve given up on even trying to adjust my eating habits…God help any future kids who drink milk with dinner πŸ˜‰

  24. 05.09.2008

    Andrew Zimmern is from Minnesota and is a regular visitor on one of the radio stations here, but oddly, I never saw his “Bizarre Foods” show until last weekend. He ate a fish head. Ew. Guess I’m just not adventurous enough.

    Six months to try peanut butter?? What the heck was P afraid of??

    stefanie’s last blog post..It’s a good thing no one expects me to be her wingwoman

    Oh who knows what P thinks would hurt him in harmless peanut butter after eating some of the stuff he has (and hopes to!).

    And I’m not jealous of your Andrew nearness. Not at all.

  25. 05.09.2008

    Thankfully, my Italian and I are in one accord when it comes to what I refer to as “un-meats”. we like normal boring stuff like beef, chicken, fish and pork – don’t go for alternative proteins.lol

    He really likes most American food. He would incorporate bean burritos into every meal if he could. HA however, I can’t bring him around on the peanut butter issue (I think the ‘butter’ throws him off) or brownies. BROWNIES?? what the…? who doesn’t like brownies??

    stacy’s last blog post..Mother-in-laws are fun!

    Brownies?! Really?! That’s just insane πŸ˜‰

    Another one afraid of peanut butter; you may have a point about the “butter” part since P hates butter….

  26. 05.09.2008

    You are one brave gal. I recently got “bold” and tried some gator bites- little bits of fried alligator. It was ok, but i couldn’t get past the chewiness. My other half…he loved them, and has apparently eaten squirrel. However, it takes me begging, pleading, batting my eyes, and holding the world tiniest bit of the food right near his face before he’ll eat it. I have gotten him to like broccoli, zucchini, and mushrooms….nothing too wierd or crazy there. But he’s eaten squirrel????

    Andrea’s last blog post..Top Five Friday

    I know right–squirrel, sure! But mushrooms are “exotic?” Too funny. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  27. 05.09.2008

    Wow. This a first–the first time one of your posts didn’t make me hungry. πŸ™‚

    Diane Mandy’s last blog post..What I didn’t blog about this week

    Nah, really Diane?! πŸ˜‰

  28. Avril
    05.09.2008

    On one of my visits to Rome, I was forced to try oxtail…it was delicious!! I have also had escargot and seem to remember that they were pretty tasty, although I was a child and probably was just excited that I was in Canada eating in a restaurant that revolved…so anything probably tasted good at that point!

    I’ve had the tail of something–I just remember a lot of bones πŸ˜‰ Too funny about the Canadian experience! Thanks for stopping by and sharing Avril πŸ™‚

  29. 05.09.2008

    So Coratella is a central Italy thing? Lucky us, heart and lung of lamb. Mm-hmm. Tastes as bad as it sounds. Around here spezzatino is yummy and normal – chunks of chicken and pork (or lamb or beef depending on the cook) that have been marinated and then stewed. Normal chunks, mind you. Everyday recognizable parts. It’s frequently served with roasted potatoes.

    Valerie’s last blog post..April Showers Bring May….Snows?

    Yeah I don’t know–hearts and lungs just really don’t sound appetizing to me Valerie….

  30. 05.09.2008

    I think that’s so funny about P. and peanut butter! It’s the one thing that I brought with me for my 6 week stay in Italy!

    Janie’s last blog post..And There’s More (that I’m missing)

    You brought it with you? That’s awesome. And smart πŸ˜‰

  31. 05.09.2008

    My boyfriend and I are literally opposite with eating. I am a vegetarian so would never dream of eating any of the above…he however is a ‘buona forchetta’ and will try anything, and eat mostly everything. He ate kangaroo in Australia and being Calabrese I am sure he has eaten all of the dishes above. However these days he eats so little meat as we don’t buy any…so he is in Calabria now packing his case full of salami and the like to bring back to Rome!

    Leanne’s last blog post..Goodbye clean air and affordable prices

    Oh that’s too funny about his taking so much back from here…although I have to admit I think I’d even do it now too πŸ˜‰

  32. 05.09.2008

    H and I agree on most foods. And we are both pretty willing to try new things. However, H hates mac and cheese. I did not know it was possible to hate mac and cheese, but apparently it is.

    -R-‘s last blog post..Ask H: Part 1 of ?

    Wow, I wouldn’t have known that either. It’s one of my favorite dishes in the whole world!

  33. 05.09.2008

    I’m with you, but partly because I’m not a big meat eater in any case. I’ve had soda made from grass in the former Soviet Union – it was really, really good. I’ve had fried fish brains in Guadalupe. Also, delicious, but I didn’t know what I was eating when I ate them, and might have, honestly, had a different reaction had I known.

    Guinea pigs were originally raised solely for cheap food. Of course, given my love for them, I couldn’t ever eat one. Period. But I know many, many people who have. I also realize that it’s totally hypocritical of me, but there it is.

    D and I don’t actually have disagreements over food – our tastes tend to be the same. The big exception? Brie or camembert cheese – I love any runny cheese and he doesn’t. The other exception is red flannel hash, which I can eat, but it’s not my favorite. Oh… and I do like pate or chopped liver very, very rarely, and he won’t touch it.

    jen of a2eatwrite’s last blog post..Punk’d

    Oh Jen I absolutely thought of you when I was writing about the guinea pig…I don’t think it’s hypocritical at all. Most of us draw our lines somewhere.

    The soda sounds interesting; fish brains less so πŸ˜‰

    I don’t think I’ve ever had chopped liver. I’m pretty sure I could do without it, but you never know I suppose πŸ˜‰

  34. 05.09.2008

    Oh, that is too funny! It sounds like P’s tastes are even pretty exotic by Italian standards. Doormouse? Guinea pig? There must be laws against eating animals that cute!

    While I also try to keep an open mind, there are some things my better half eats that turn my stomach too. For example, being a good northern German he loves his fish – in particular things like canned mackerel, pickled herring and anchovies…for breakfast! Ooh, I feel faint just thinking about it. Luckily he’s a pretty equal opportunity eater when it comes to American foods – even peanut butter. He loves the stuff more than me!

    By the way, I was fed some frittole in Amantea. Let’s just say I did my best to forget that meal ever happened…

    Melissa’s last blog post..Balkan Beauty

    Ciao Melissa! My mom is of German descent, so she’d be right alongside your better half on those fish–she fondly remembers mackerel for breakfast.

    Sorry about that frittole in Amantea. I should’ve warned you!!!!!

  35. 05.09.2008

    Oh this made me laugh! I am a woman of Irish /Ukranian descent, so growing up I never ate an eggplant or a calamari. I meet my Calabrian husband and I was required to eat all sorts of unusual foods — yes, I’ve had all those pig dishes and “stocco fish” was the very first thing they made me eat — which smells like something long dead…lol
    BUT, when husband’s relatives came to my house they absolutely refuse to try anything with mustard on it and would gag if they even saw it in the jar. So weird!

    Pat’s last blog post..Manhattan African Burial Ground

    Stocco and baccalΓ  certainly do have a certain, um, smell, you’re right Pat πŸ˜‰ Mustard, though? P *loves* our mustard, meaning French’s. They have it here (senape) but it’s really not nearly as good as French’s πŸ˜‰

  36. 05.09.2008

    I am not convinced, Michelle. I traveled all through Peru where they eat those lil piggies and I did not order one. The ghiro I knew from Roman history, but I had no idea anyone still ate them!

    The weirdest things I ever ate were dog and lizard, but I didn’t know until afterward. That’s the clue for me. If someone deliberately fed me something disgusting and then told me they would not be forgiven… ever.

    Judith in Umbria’s last blog post..Made in America: Crab Cakes!

    Oh, the poor dog. And I agree–there is no forgiveness for having me eat something without coming clean on what it is. That’s just wrong.

    Judith, I can’t even tell you how excited P is when there’s ghiro around. It’s a serious delicacy around here.

  37. vanessa
    05.10.2008

    hmmm where to start?

    I think of myself as a boring eater, but actually i’ve eaten quite a few weird things. Kangaroo, crocodile, frogs were all OK. Absolutely disgusting were BBQd sheep balls and any organ meats. My mum has a thing for Lambs fry (liver or kidneys i don’t know both totally gross!!) and when she was in Rome ordered a WHOLE baby lamb for her dinner one night. Poverino! DId you by any chance make it to the ‘meat market’ in palermo while you were there? They sell all sorts of weird things, like lungs still attached to the windpipe and they even have a giant cauldron of ‘organ soup’ Yeech!! I have a great photo of a butcher (complete with bloodstained apron and cigarette dangling from his mouth) standing in front of his ‘wares’ there.

    There are a few Maori delicacies that i haven’t tried as they sound gross. Rotten corn and fish heads to name a few. Also, not sure who buys these, but some supermarkets in NZ sell chicken feet!! I so wanted to buy a few dozen and stick them out of a pie! ha ha ha a.

    My italian husband is grossed out by…… wait for it…… Milk!!! Also he doesn’t like marmite but fair enough, it’s an acquired taste. He thinks peanut butter is OK.

    P really doesn’t like milk either. In fact, the only time I think I’ve seen him have it is when I put it in American coffee for him to try. He won’t even have a cappuccino.

    We didn’t see that market in Palermo; sounds pretty interesting though (how’s that for an understatement?) πŸ˜‰

    P insists that chicken feet are awesome, but I told him I won’t eat the feet of anything–pig’s feet were big in my mom’s German heritage as well (I also know they’re popular in the American south). I think that just may be where my adventurous line is drawn.

    I haven’t had Marmite, but Vegemite is certainly something that I wouldn’t *ask* for…then again, I’m not a fan of salty anything.

  38. Wait you can get that show here? I don’t have a TV yet but when I do I might have to pay up and get SKY. Are there other shows from the Food Network/Travel Channel.

    I have had snails, tongue, frog legs. Dormouse was also a delicacy during Ancient Rome. I only know this because I watched the making of the mini-series ROME on HBO. I don’t think I will be trying that.

    I used to love this show back in the States. Of course during half the episodes my eyes would be closed. He is very adventurous. ha

    nyc/caribbean ragazza’s last blog post..Randomissimo – film shooting on my street.

    NYC, Sky is *fabulous* for all those “extra” channels like History, Discovery, National Geographic…and yes, lots of stuff from the Travel Channel and possibly the Food Network (not sure where the stuff we get originates from)–we do get Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson, lots of Italian cooking shows of course.

    I haven’t had tongue. Stomach turning just thinking of chewing tongue!

    Don’t tell Andrew, but I watch a lot of that show covering my eyes as well πŸ˜‰

  39. 05.10.2008

    I grew up eating weird food, my mom was the daughter of a butcher and I remember bbq-ed cow tongues curling up on our grill as they cooked. My french/italian husband won’t eat peanut butter or cinnamon, which I sneak into my desserts anyway…causing much nose wrinkling around here.

    meredith’s last blog post..We love “sand”wiches

    Hey my grandfather worked at meat packing plant…that combined with his German heritage I’m sure has played into my, ahem, adventurousness πŸ˜‰

    Thanks for that image of the tongues…gah!

    Cinnamon? Really? Oh that’s tragic Meredith….

  40. 05.10.2008

    I agree.

    It’s very important to try everything and to perfect the art of napkin spitting.

    Devon Ellington’s last blog post..Saturday, May 10, 2008

    Especially that last part, I say πŸ˜‰

  41. 05.10.2008

    My true love and I eat totally differently from each other. He is hypoglycemic and has to eat a small amount of protein every three hours. I am more of what I call a Siberian camel; every bit of food I eat stays with me for a very long time, because this winter may have been okay but next winter there might be a famine, or such is the belief encoded deeply in my ancient peasant genes. I not only don’t need to eat every three hours, I simply can’t. I eat about twice a day comfortably, anything more being well classified as “gorging.”

    Mostly I eat fruits and vegetables. Mostly my true love eats meat and whatever comes with it, preferably rice or potatoes and some kind of sauce. Occasionally he eats what I eat, or I eat what he eats, more often the latter because I do all the cooking while he does most of the paying. When I eat what he eats, I try to sneak in a lot of fruits and vegetables, which he often snubs.

    Generally I think of myself as having a broader palate than my true love, though he eats pork and I prefer not to simply because the idea of eating someone smarter than my cat appalls me; also I really shouldn’t eat shellfish, ever, and he occasionally does, and he loves avocados where I can’t abide them, tolerates green bell peppers where I can’t even swallow them let alone digest them, and happily puts pickle relish on his hot dogs where I find pickle relish an abomination, generally (though I will eat the occasional beef hot dog; go figure). Oh yeah, and he likes thousand island dressing (shudder). And baby animals.

    Okay, maybe I’m the one with the narrow palate. πŸ˜‰ But then he’s not so crazy about kalamata olives and has very narrow tastes in mushrooms.

    Nothing on earth could induce me to eat baby animals of any kind (yeah, no lamb or veal, no kid or certainly suckling pig). Likewise I would rather starve than eat a bunny or guinea pig. And dog or cat? Never, never, never. I don’t eat venison or boar because I’m an American, and we buy our meat at the grocery store, don’t hunt for it ourselves because our lives depend on it, just go buy it, pre-slaughtered and cleaned and neatly cello-wrapped in styrofoam trays. It’s a morality thing I can’t get around, even when the boar, deer, and other animals are farmed. I just don’t really feel we need to be looking for more different kinds of animals to kill and eat, certainly not in this country where we already have and waste so much food of so many kinds.

    /soapbox

    Will you think less of me if I confess to liking, nay loving Thousand Island dressing?

    I had deer meat growing up, a function of hunting, but I always (hypocritically, I know) say that if I had to kill it, I would definitely be a vegetarian. I don’t eat much meat as it is, but P is a carnivore through and through. Even raises rabbits if you recall. By the way, he asked one day if I could help with the “preparing” process. Let’s just say he let me off the hook when tears welled up in my eyes within minutes of seeing one of the furry ones recently relieved of life.

    One thing I can say about Calabria, at least, is that not a whole lot is wasted (see list above) and I don’t know of anything that isn’t raised or grown organically, so there’s at least that positive aspect.

    P.S. I *love* all kinds of ‘shrooms. Does that make up for the Thousand Island thing? Maybe?

  42. 05.10.2008

    Oh, please. My own mother liked thousand island dressing! hahahaha

    You know, a lot of people would read what I wrote and think, “Oh you’d change your tune in a hurry if you were starving.” Truth is, I have starved. I once went two whole weeks without any food at all in an apartment crawling with mice and cockroaches. I know people who, in similar circumstances, would have killed the mice and cockroaches — the mice, anyway — and eaten them, but that ain’t me. I can now say for sure that that ain’t me.

    But yes, Calabrian food culture is totally different from American food culture. Hence the pigs’ feet pickled in jelly. (tripple-gross-out-yuck-a-pookie; agreed) And of course you can get those here, too, but most people who wanted them here would go to a store and buy them in a jar, not raise the pig themselves, slaughter it, and then prepare every ounce to either eat themselves (or share with family and friends) or sell at their own shop or market stall. Really not the same.

    And then on a totally different branch of this tree there’s P, Mr. Bizarre-Food-Makes-Me-Hungry, who, as you’ve told us, won’t eat strawberries — and neither will his mother. So.

    As the French say, Γ  chaqu’un son goΓ»t.

    I hear you Sara. I’ve never been in the position of having to choose between cockroaches or nothing (knock on wood), but I *really* think I’d be starving there with you. No I can’t say for sure, of course, but that’s just what I feel.

    I almost forgot about the strawberries. Thanks for reminding me πŸ˜‰

  43. 05.11.2008

    I’m so glad I finished eating my supper before I read that post **shudders**!! I have to admit to being relatively picky when it comes to food. My taste buds are just really, really sensitive and I have some boundaries. You are so brave to even try those things if put in front of you…I would not. Makes you a better person than me : )

    Erin’s last blog post..Heartwarming

    Not better, Erin, just a bit more crazy πŸ˜‰

  44. 05.11.2008

    We watch that sometimes, love the Italian version of the name
    (You mentioned Heroes once before, do you get many U.S TV programs there? Do you get them the next year or the same year we get them here?)

    I feel bad for the little dormouse tucked into her tomato sauce. I couldn’t eat her, or at least I hope to never find myself in such desperate circumstances that I would.

    No I am not bold at the table.

    Funny conversation you shared πŸ™‚

    Bob and I are pretty much the same, or rather the same sorts of things. The only thing I eat that I wish he was willing to try and eat, is Indian food, and I don’t mean anything unusual, I mean stuff like chicken korma and pav bhaji

    We do get a lot of American programs here, yes; we don’t get them simultaneously, but some come faster than others–the new season of Lost, for example, came just a few weeks after it debuted in America.

    P wouldn’t be big on Indian/Asian food at all. Except for the insects, I guess. Ew.

  45. 05.11.2008

    Thanks for the comment support last week! I made my donation today.

    smtwngrl’s last blog post..BlogHers Act Donation Challenge Results

    Awesome! Excellent work πŸ™‚

  46. 05.12.2008

    I think I’m very open minded to trying new things and I have eaten/tasted a lot of different foods. Some that wouldn’t classify as food to most. I also hold to the saying don’t say you don’t like it unless you have tried it. However, I am not going to try things just for the “gross out” factor but if I truly feel inspired/interested, if you will, to try something foreign to my palate then I will. At this stage, I’m not interested in eating something just to say “I did it”. I think the only thing that sounds ok to me on that list would be the guinea piggie. Poor little piggie.
    In the end it’s all about what we are use to and what we were given growing up, for the most part, until we experiment further and discover the wonderful world of food and all there is to consume. It’s almost strange to think peanut butter (and let me say I’m not a huge fan but I like it when in the mood) seems too different yet pig organs are fine. I’m just imagining all the different delicacies that exist in all of the cultures. Just goes to show how we have all developed our tastes in such different ways.

    cheeky’s last blog post..words that resonate

    So true Cheeky; all a function of how our palates develop and then with how much we are willing to stray from that. I think you’d like Andrew’s show…it’s not just about the grossness of the food at all. He really gets into the cultures and the traditions of eating these things, how they’re prepared–he’s often in the kitchens with the elderly women getting the real deal πŸ˜‰

  47. 05.13.2008

    I have had the Abruzzesi version of pigs blood pudding (sanguinaccio) and it was rather nice – tasted like Christmas pudding…

    I used to hate some of the traditional dishes back home – tripe and trotters foremost – mostly for its appearance and how it smells when cooking… Otherwise I guess people would frown at other stuff that is eaten in SA such as fried or curried fish roe, smiley (boiled sheeps head), etc.

    Robert’s last blog post..Dare I Say It?

    Oh yeah, boiled sheep’s head is definitely not making it on my dinner table any time soon. I also have an issue with smells…they can be *really* hard for me to get past….

  48. I can’t watch that Bizarre Foods show… It really does make me ill. πŸ™ I have such a weak stomach anyway (I often have trouble right here in the good ole US of A) that the very idea of some of the stuff he pops into his mouth without hesitation is enough to freak me out!

    Jessica, Italy Logue’s last blog post..Italy Photo of the Week: Quiet Canal (or Not)

    Jessica, believe me, I definitely cover my eyes at certain parts and I have a pretty strong stomach!

  49. Tina
    09.18.2008

    guinea pig? Cute wittle fuzzy wittle guinea pigs? no no no! πŸ™ Poor things.

    Then again, I know someone here whose ex came from a very, very, very, very, very poor family out in the province (and here, poor means.. reallllllly poor).. and when they were kids they sometimes ate…. are you ready…. cats and dogs! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

    One older porteno I know, upon hearing that I like to make ravioli by hand, said, “oh, what do you put inside the ravioli? My mother used to make them when I was young, and she put brain in them.” AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

    The food here is great but Argentines really like their weird animal parts. I can’t bring myself to eat kidneys (weird texture) and blood sausage.

    Tina’s last blog post..On a Mediterranean kick…

    I’d have to turn down the brain ravioli, I’m afraid, but cats? Yeah I’ve also heard tales of cat-eating around here in the lean post-war times πŸ™

  50. I did a lot of research before the first trip I took to Calabria with my husband. I decided the best time to go would include being their for their annual festa di San Pasquale the third Sunday in September. We got there after it was dark, but my cousin’s bar was full of people. No, I didn’t notice they were all men. But it was later explained to me that everyone ate this dish to celebrate this feast day. Lots of people came to the store and took some home. But I didn’t notice that, It looked good, like a dark minestrone. My cousin had the sense to tell my husband and I to sit in the back because by now we realized everyone was staring at us. I’ll never know if it was because we were stranieri, or because I was the only woman in the place. He gave us small bowls of tripe! TRIPE is their extra special treat to eat just for this holiday! It wasn’t very good, tasted a bit like cheap chili con carne. But I ate it.

    I’m not a tripe fan either; here they normally do it in a tomato sauce/broth, and it’s actually not *too* bad if you don’t know what it is…or think of it like calamari πŸ˜‰

  51. 01.08.2011

    Hm – I think compared with you all I am not a food explorer although if I can force myself I first try everything before turning it down.
    I can just offer pretty normal stuff like oysters, octopus and stuff.

    Craziest food ever offered: Roasted lamb brain rolled in a pancake, but I did not eat that. I couldn’t stop my brain from thinking about what it was.

    Peanutbutter: I am too European for this as well. Over 10 years ago a friend made a peanutbutter jelly sandwich for me and if I would not know she loves me I would have thought she wants to kill me. Felt like I had salty / sweet cement in my mouth which would never ever go away again.

    But I like peanutbutter filled pretzels (we have something very similiar in Croatia / Bosnia / Serbia) and I love SatΓ© and other Thai food with peanuts as well. Weird – I know.

    I think you just got a bad batch of peanut butter; if you get a good kind, it’s not so cementlike, but I know what you’re talking about because I’ve had some bad stuff too πŸ˜‰

  52. Nell
    01.09.2011

    Hey there Michelle , you should have made peanut butter cookies first to intice P to try the taste , then lured him with peanutbutter and Nutella sandwhich and then all out plain peanut butter.
    It took my husband almost 6 months to eat spaggetti, after we were first married.He kept saying to my father they looked like wet red worms, and he hated the taste of it.
    We finally got the truth that his mother only gave him canned spaggetti and he hated it , she was an Irish Mangecake mom who did not like to cook much.

    Hahaha wet red worms…too funny! I’m afraid P doesn’t like sweets very much, so the cookies would be even less likely to go over well. I know. Strange tastebuds πŸ˜‰

  1. [...] What’s Cooking Wednesday recipe is fresh off the “Bizarre Foods” discussion on Friday ... bleedingespresso.com/2008/05/whats-cooking-wednesday-roasted-rabbit-potatoes.html
  2. [...] although Calabrians are known to eat some weird stuff, don’t worry–they (we!) have a special... bleedingespresso.com/2008/08/anything-but-turtle-soup-per-piacere.html
Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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Recipes

 

Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake