Son of Grok

Not so bizarre foods

June 19th, 2010

Cable television channels have several shows where celebrity hosts travel the globe in an effort to educate the viewers on the culture and lifestyles of people who live in other countries (it’s obvious this is targeted for American viewers).  I think one thing that makes these shows so appealing is the “weird” and “gross out” factor some of the foods of other cultures can have on the average viewer. However, we must think a little more open minded and realize that what may be “bizarre foods” to us, may be part of an ordinary and common menu to another group of people.  Whenever I watch these shows I actually end up having the desire to travel and try new foods that I have never been exposed to.

So why is it that we are so nervous when it comes to trying new things? Most of us have no problem frequently eating conventional meats such as beef, pork, chicken, and fish. Most of us do it without hesitation or thought about what it is and where it came from. So what is the difference between eating the meat from a cow and the meat from a bovine and the meat of an amphibian? Not much. Even when it comes to some of the more common unconventional meats (rabbit, ostrich, bison), I am surprised at how many people have never tried them. I challenge everyone to try something new and let others know what your reaction is to it and encourage them to do the same if your experience was good. 

The picture at the top of this post was taken several months ago from when I tried frog legs for the first time. I simply seasoned them and pan fried them in olive oil and garlic.  They actually sat in my freezer for a couple months before I was brave enough to try them one night, so I’m guilty of the nervousness to try new things as well. My point? I should’ve had nothing to be afraid of, they were delicious! Try something new and be brave about it because you never know, you may discover a new favorite food.

My father recently gave me some escargot that I am eager to try, so that is next on my list. Other animals on my “primal BBQ wish list” are  kangaroo, alligator, rattlesnake, cuy, mealworms and other various insects.

What unconventional meats do you like or dislike? What would you like to try, and what have you tried?

-Roger De Rok

32 Responses to “Not so bizarre foods”

  1. RSG

    Mealworms, get some at the pet store. You probably need to feed them for a few days to cleanse them. I’m not a doctor.

  2. Curiousfarmer

    Lamb, for the first time in my life. I prefer lambburger to hamburger now.
    How did you prepare your wild turkey?

  3. Kat

    Weirdest food I tried was probably fish stomach. It was pretty good, a bit rubbery. I have had rattlesnake and didn’t really notice, I thought it was fish. I’m lucky enough to have an exotic meat farm here that has all kinds of stuff including alligator and kangaroo. I’ll try some eventually!

  4. Jason

    Lamb is definitely awesome, had some lamb salad with lamb meat juice as salad dressing today and it is one of my reoccuring favorites.

    Obviously #beefx1000 is the best unconventional meat I’ve ever had. It beats just about everything.

  5. Roger De Rok

    Lamb is good, although it’s not my favorite ground meat. I think Jason said it best when he said #beefx1000 (ostrich) is probably the best of what I’ve tried.

    Curiousfarmer, SoG’s wife oven baked it, it was delicious!

  6. Liz Toll

    Down here in the south, frog legs can be found in many restaurants, breaded and fried alongside the chicken and fish. I first sampled them years ago on the farm when my dad and older sister hunted them in our pond. I remember thinking they tasted like chicken. Dittos when I tried squirrel (smells a little musky but tastes like chicken), wild rabbit (except it was all dark meat, unlike our domestic rabbits which were all white meat) and alligator tail (although next time I had it, it reminded me more of fish.) I’ve eaten goat, which tastes a lot like lamb, duck and goose, which again, remind me of chicken except they’re mostly dark meat.

    I used to peel shrimp, which have stingers and exoskeletons just like insects. I keep telling myself there’s little difference but the fear factor is pretty strong for me where eating bugs is concerned…just haven’t gotten over it yet. You’re a braver person than me to try escargot, although I suppose with enough garlic butter anything could be made yummy :)

  7. Arlo

    I don’t know, I haven’t tried too many “exotic” foods, but I do try to eat anything unusual if I happen to come across it. I’ve always said that were I somewhere like Vietnam and they were serving dog, I’d try it. Mind you, I don’t want to eat my dog or your dog, but I’d try it if it were already being served.

    Just today though I was speaking to someone in the meat department of the grocery store where I work and was shocked to see that when they get chicken breasts with back and skins, they just rip off the skin and throw it into the garbage to make “skinless” breasts.

    So now I have a big tray of free chicken skins sitting in the fridge. You should have seen the looks from people at work when I told them what it was. It doesn’t have to be exotic to be considered unconventional. :D

  8. Liz Toll

    MMMM those fry up nice and crispy, kind of like bacon….

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  10. Bill

    Shrimp and jalapeno stuffed froglegs wrapped in bacon. Might be on tomorrow nights grilling adventure. Now where did I leave my gig?

  11. Steven

    Eel is delicious. I’ve only had it back in my pre-primal days as sushi, but I thought it was great. Kangaroo, on the other hand, was less impressive. Maybe it was just prepare badly, but the meat was incredibly gamey.

  12. TPSW

    I have had alligator but it was like tough chicken. I think the preparation is key. Liz Toll mentioned shrimp in relation to bugs and I was reminded that mudbugs are a weird and exotic to people not living on the Gulf Coast. What is a mudbug you ask? Why crawfish of course. They are quite common here, right now you can get 100 lb sacks of them live at the grocery store. A crawfish boil is a wonderful event although I now pass on the corn & potatoes that are cooked in the boil with the crawfish. Well, I minimize the potatoes but they taste so awesome with the mudbugs. And don’t forget to suck the juices out of the heads (that is what the “suck head” t-shirts around here are referring to) if you have a chance to go to a crawfish boil!

  13. frankifries

    Exotic for me depends on whats local. We eat alot of what most people would throw away like chicken gizzards, feet, beef cheeks, hearts. Im so in love with Chicken hearts right now its not funny. our poultry co-op slaughters like once a month and no one but me gets hearts. they are divine when marinated, skewered and grilled.

    @Arlo, Im all about those chicken skins too. They are a good replacement in a recipe that calls for bacon crumbles.

  14. Marc

    I really like fish liver.
    My dad brings me tins from Holland…i don’t really see it anyhwere here.

    I ate frog leggs a lot when I was a kid in Europe. There it used to be on the kid menu.

    Nice post Roger.

    Marc

  15. Smoke

    Groker, I’m all for odd foods like frog legs (had some last weekend) and eel and pretty much anything else…until I came up this…

    The Rock Creek Lodge Testicle Festival (www.testyfesty.com)

    A veritable plethora of balls…sheep, cow, goat, bull, and maybe even turkey. Anyone up for a Grokdom road trip to Clinton, Montana?

    later

    STBF

  16. Betty Groker

    My husband was going to buy octopus yet bought instead giant squid “octopus style” I googled to find how to cook it & just boiled it for a min then drained the water & fried it in butter & garlic. Delish! Just a little chewy if you cook it more than a min or two. I served it w/ peas, carrots & a side of tomatoes & cooked onions. Also had buffalo meat little more cooking time but delish. Our son (7) loves squid.

  17. Kepo

    Speaking of bizarre foods, I recall a recent episode filmed in Main (I think) they had a bizarre foods competition and the winner was made June Bugs in multiple ways.

    When I was in Costa Rica we hunted an iguana with a local friend. The meat was tough but we cleaned the plate. Also (don’t hate me) we ate sea turtle eggs. The locals can gather them like one month out of the year or the buzzards will get them. Well they crack them into little cups put a few splashes of hot sauce on them and take it like a shooter.

  18. ChiaLynn

    Love frog legs. And escargot. And Rocky Mountain Oysters (which is what calf testicles are called in polite company).

    My husband is a big fan of “variety meats” like tripe and tongue. I still haven’t worked up the nerve to try tripe – it’s not that I’m grossed out by eating entrails (I wouldn’t go near sausage if I were), it’s more of a texture thing.

    We’re fortunate to eat a lot of game meat – my stepfather is a hunter, and fills up our freezer every autumn with deer, antelope and sometimes elk.

  19. TrailGrrl

    The local Mexican restaurants serve tripe and tongue and brain and goatmeat. Hubby swears frog legs are good. I’ve had gater in New Orleans, and octopus in Spain which is great once you get around the idea of the suckers on the tentacles. Escargot is a favorite of mine, you probably just need some butter and garlic. Sort of like mussels.

    Not sure about this mealworm and insect idea.

    TrailGrrl

  20. Joshua

    I’ve had gator before and liked it. Boar is also excellent, and not much different from regular pork. I regularly eat things like buffalo, elk, caribou, or deer if they are available. There’s all kinds of upland fowl that are excellent, if prepared correctly. I’ve personally tried grouse and pheasant. Lamb is ok, but I don’t prefer it.

    I’m on board with trying some of the more exotic things, like meal worms. I once heared that as Americans we are part of a world minority that doesn’t actually include any kind of insect or creepy crawly in our diets.

    Oddly enough, what gives me the heeby jeebies more than eating meat from non-conventional animals is eating organ meats. Any body out there eat haggis or gizzards? How about sweet breads (hint: not bread at all)? Many parts of the world still dine on the gut and brain of different species, and most of us are raised with the mentality that this is just gross, even though some of these meats are very high in essential nutrients.

  21. Jenell

    I love Bizarre Foods! I’m sooo jealous of Zimmern, and often try to imitate some of the easier recipes (like the marrow + mushroom sautee & the Sumo Wrestler stew). I’m very interested in mealworms. Super cheap protein, plus they are supposed to taste pretty good.

  22. Deanna

    My brother visited Scotland and tried their haggis. He loved it. And he used to be the pickest eater — fried chicken and french fries, only. Oh, maybe tater tots instead.

    I’m a fan of trying new things, so it’s hard to find something I wouldn’t try. I’m a sushi fan, so I’ve had all kinds of fish eggs, raw octopus (the tentacles are crunchy), squid, and the standards. I’ve eaten kangaroo and emu (prefer the emu), kidneys, chicken livers (okay, that’s not so adventurous), and bison (not that adventurous, either). I love it when my MIL’s boyfriend’s family hunt deer, because she won’t force her kids to eat it, so the meats are given to me. I only wish I got the organ meats along with them, too. That’s still uncharted territory for me, because I’m skeptical of eating organ meats unless I know where the animal came from.

    I draw the line at brains. And probably eyes. I participated in a pig roast once, and got a lot of props for being the only girl among the 40 of us living in the middle-of-nowhere Maine for having the guts to actually help cut the pig open, split the spine, and get the thing ready for roasting over a pit. Most of the organs were taken out, but the kidneys and brains were left. I tried kidney, but passed on the brain. Maybe I’ll work my way up to that one.

  23. Roger De Rok

    One thing I forgot to mention is turtle. I would totally eat turtle.

  24. Michael

    Great post Roger! My list is rather long. Lets see:

    alligator
    antelope
    kangaroo
    pig intestines
    neck bones
    chicken gizzards
    ostrich
    buffalo
    venison
    duck
    lamb
    sweetbreads
    chicken heart
    beef heart
    quail
    calamari (squid)
    octopus
    fish eggs

    And let me tell you, chicken skins are the bomb. You bake them until they are crisp and they are a great substitute for chips. Then you take the fat released from the baking and cook with at a later date or simply use as a spread. Outstanding! This is called schmaltz, and is a traditional fat.

  25. Vic

    I’ve tried turtle. I hate to say it, but it tastes like chicken. :-)
    Gator is actually pretty common here in FL and always seems a bit chewy. Also tried bison, buffalo, goat, squid, octopus, quail, eel and oxtails. Can’t wait to try the rest!

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  27. B-L

    I love trying new meat. SO far I tried

    Elk, Deer, Emu, Ostrich, Eel, Frog legs, escargots.

    There are some other stuff I do want to try like allegator.
    Great post and don’t be afraid to try new things.

  28. Ileana

    Great post.

    Even my stomach is kind of weak I have tried goose eggs, pig intestines, pigeon, and rabbit (all raised pastured). As well, wild caught snail, shark and marlin.

    Would love to try insects someday. You’d get surprise how things taste once you try them so don’t be afraid of.

  29. gcb

    I regularly partake in things like bison, kangaroo, and camel. I have a fillet of python in my freezer, but I’m researching the best way to cook it (I don’t want to end up with something more fit for making shoes than eating). I have an interesting butcher…

    FYI, rattlesnake (at least at my butcher) is 60% bone, so you end up paying a lot for very little meat. Might be cheaper if you live in snake country to go get your own, albeit probably not exactly safer.

  30. Craig

    I’ve been a lot of places and like to try what the locals eat. I was very surprised to see lamb regarded as a bizarre food, it’s a staple food in most parts of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

    This is not a definitive list (there are things I eat which you might think bizarre but are normal for me) but here are things I’ve eaten (or eat every now and then):
    - crocodile, wildebeest, zebra, springbok, kudu, ostrich … if it lives in Africa I’ve probably eaten it.
    - alligator
    - goose (wild & farmed)
    - water buffalo
    - sea urchin (delicious), abelone, mussels, raw oysters, cockles, periwinkles … anything from the shore.
    - most things that scuttle in the sea: crabs, shrimps, lobster, crayfish
    - seaweed (nori, sea lettuce etc.)
    - frogs legs, escargot
    - bison
    - camel (steaks and stew, nice with dates.)
    - goat
    - green ants (taste like lemon candy)
    - mopani worms (dried.)
    - kidneys, liver (chicken, sheep, calf, pig etc and usually for breakfast.)
    - lamb’s brain (both boiled and fried, fried was better. Like a rich Camembert cheese.)
    - lamb’s testicles (taught my 10 year old to eat them.)
    - springbok testicles
    - ox-tongue, ox-tail, ox-brain (not as good as lamb brain.)
    - shark, stingray
    - fish eyes and fish cheeks

    Would like to try:
    - crumbed scorpion
    - dog (as done in Thailand.)
    - honey ants
    - Witchetty grubs

    Will probably avoid:
    - Cat (I don’t like them at all.)
    - Balut (boiled egg with partially developed embryo, from the Phillipines.)
    - Andouillette (very smelly sausage made from pig’s intestines.)

  31. jawatokyo

    raw horse
    raw whale
    raw crab’s liver
    sauteed locusts
    raw sea urchin
    raw carp (goldfish)
    ferns
    canola flowers (kale, rapeseed)
    emu
    kangaroo
    crocodile
    whole raw egg, including shell (it’s a party trick!)
    bear soup
    wild boar
    venison
    rabbit
    goat
    eel
    shark
    seaweed
    fermented soybeans
    squid legs in its own stomach juices (it is foul)
    heart of chicken grilled
    lamb’s brains, fried
    chicken cartilage
    haggis (yuck)
    shrimp eggs
    beef cheeks
    chicken’s feet
    pig’s trotters
    whole raw garlic
    celery leaves
    nasturtium flowers
    grape leaves
    cherry tree leaves
    weird slimy thing that grows under lily pads
    turkey
    quail
    pheasant
    duck
    suckling pig
    breadfruit
    custard apples
    choko
    snails
    frog legs
    goat cheese
    sheep cheese
    buffalo cheese
    blue cheese
    baby chicken in its egg (balot)
    beef tongue
    beef scalp
    chestnuts (they are WEIRD!)
    beetroot
    avocado
    soy milk broth
    tofu skin (yuba) its texture is sublime
    sugarcane
    chewing gum
    erasers
    telephone book paper
    lipstick
    pencil graphite
    crayons
    fingernails, etc

  32. [email protected]

    i have seen them in the store and they look a little intimadating in the food sense. look better frying in the pan some how. guess if you are looking to squat 3x your bodyweight or more, why not eat the protein of an animal that can?!

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