Saturday, February 02, 2008

Eating weird stuff

A while back I was speaking in Ohio and someone asked me what was the weirdest thing I had ever eaten on the foreign field. I replied that I'm from south Louisiana so I ate all the weird stuff before I ever left the US! Here are some of the stranger things I've eaten.
  • scrambled eggs and squirrel brains: The ultimate redneck dish.
  • live grasshoppers: This is kind of a performance art thing for me. It's one of those things (like preaching) that you can do if you were born to perform but you have no talent. It started when I was doing youth ministry. I had this theory that you have to be weirder than the students if you want them to respect you. Now I've got quite a reputation and whenever I'm outdoors with friends, they want me to do eat a grasshopper for them, and I always oblige.
  • rattlesnake: I've always wanted to try this, and I finally got my chance a couple of months ago. There's a steakhouse near the entrance to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon that sells a fried rattlesnake appetizer. It was kind of tough and stringy to be honest, but I guess no one eats rattlesnake because it's tender and tasty.
  • alligator:  Not really a big deal in south Louisiana.
There was a time when I would have included sashimi on this list, but that's not strange anymore. With our organization we live our life in cycles of four years abroad and one year in the States, so I get this kind of strobe-light look at American culture. I had a Chinese roommate in college who taught me to use chopsticks. Not so long ago that was a nifty skill that was mildly impressive to my friends. (Remember I'm talking about the Deep South here, not California!) But nowadays every $6.99 Chinese buffet in Mississippi has a sushi bar, so eating with chopsticks no longer marks me as a man of the World.

The only thing I've ever eaten in the Balkans that I really had to choke down was some chicken-skin soup that a Roma (Gypsy) family served in Macedonia.

This just in! I've got another one to add to the list. I got invited to a wild game supper at a Baptist church today, and they had (among other things) coon on the menu!

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