Rats, urine, roaches. This was one food debate that didn’t leave us hungry for more.
But it had us asking: why is blue cheese OK, but stinky, fermented tofu disgusting (for some)?
And why does the idea of insect vomit make us squirm, yet we adore honey?
Associate professor of culinary arts at Kingsborough Community College, Jonathan Deutsch, and food writer, Natalya Murakhver, want to know why the French love horsemeat but Americans find the idea horrifying, and why we pay $30 for an entrée of squab but would never touch pigeon. They’ve catalogued gourmet, gross and taboo foods in their new book “They Eat That? A Cultural Encyclopedia of Weird and Exotic Food from around the World” and last night had us questioning the limits of what we feel comfortable eating at a talk at the New York Public Library.
Consider a food you would never eat, and why you would never eat it. For many in the audience, the obvious choice was dog. For others, roaches, rats, kangaroo, fish heads. Yet for others, either out of bravado or fascination, there are no boundaries.
Take Casu Marzu, above, the maggot-infested cheese of Sardinia. The maggots are resistant to stomach acid and can eat through intestines – yet there are secret societies that gather to enjoy it, paying up to three times the price of regular pecorino for the clandestine pleasure.
Thomas Crowley, wine director at Bar Veloce, gave us an appetizing rundown on the trend for human placenta (the German and Dutch words for placenta translate as ‘mother cake’). Thanks to celebrities like January Jones, placenta is back on the menu – in her case, in a more-palatable pill form. It makes you think: could you? Would you? And you thought kale was a food trend.
Exotic food is something we travel across the planet for (or in the case of New York, to another borough). Balut, anyone?
One man’s trash is another foodie’s treasure.