As a kid, I was a fussy little brat who enjoyed munching on potatoes all day, the only vegetable I liked. Even today, I hate vegetables with a passion! I detest every bit of those green-leafy ogres from hell! I dislike everything that doesn’t taste like meat or fish. I love animals, every single one of them. They’re really adorable, cute and cuddly and innocent etc. Unfortunately, they taste so freaking delicious! Well, most of them. The mere thought of a succulent tandoor chicken garnished with freshly crushed coriander makes your mouth water, doesn’t it? But what if I were to talk about deep fried tarantulas with tomato sauce? You’re reaction wouldn’t be that revolting if you were from Cambodia. Not disgusting enough? I’ll run you through a course of the most unpleasant (sometimes appalling) recipes from around the world.

So, what’s for breakfast? While the rest of the world is busy chomping on cereal, people from Sweden are satisfying their hunger by feasting on blodplättar or blood pancakes. Imagine eating cooked blood with butter or jam and washing it down with warm milk. When they don’t find pigs they use reindeer blood instead (poor Santa!). Anyway, moving on, hypothetical scenario A: You’re in Philippines, it’s 11am, the weather is sort of intense, you’re stomach growls, what do you feed it with? Answer: Baalut or fertilized eggs. Yes, a baby duck, like the one in Tom and Jerry, but dead. Not an egg or a duck but an embryo. That’s just sick, right? Go tell that to the Filipinos!

Before starting with our main course, let’s look at some side dishes or hors d’oeuvres. The Chinese have a popular delicacy known as “thousand year egg” or pidan. They are eggs preserved in ash and rice husks for several months till they turn dark green. Why? Because freshly hard-boiled eggs are just too mainstream for China. Still more acceptable than Koreans who eat silk worm grubs as crunchy side dishes (as in papads, but worms). Fancy some Italian cheese? How about I over-ferment it to a point that there are maggots crawling in it? Visit Sardinia for some stomach-turning cheese, Carzu Mazu, made from sheep milk and…err…live worms. Delizioso!

You’re full, eh? But we haven’t enjoyed our “exotic” lunch and dinner yet. In India, we have thalis for lunch that contain salad, dal, rice, roti, vegetables and a sweet dish. In several parts of China, a main course may consist of anything ranging from fried cockroaches, crocodile paws, dog heads, octopus, toxic fugu fish, starfish, rats, monkey brains, roasted frogs, more like anything that moves and isn’t human. Genitals of various animals like bulls and dogs are considered culinary delights in Thailand. (And here I was, wondering how Americans had the courage to eat ox tongue sandwiches!) The renowned Scottish poet, Robert Burns, loved haggis (sheep stomach stuffed with its own vital organs) so much that the Scots celebrate “Burns supper” on 25th January every year. He even wrote an ode, “Addressed to a Haggis”.  Coming to deserts, Micronesians enjoy a dish called “Fruit bat soup”. I’m guessing “keep calm and call Batman” doesn’t work for bats! If the soup does not do the trick for you, have a bite of jellied moose nose from Canada.

In case you have a strong gag-reflex, you might want to wash everything down with some Chinese baby mice wine. About this “liquor” the less said the better. Vegetables don’t sound that bad now, do they? Bon Appetit!

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Adwaita Bhagwat

Adwaita Bhagwat