Monday, April 25, 2005

Foods Even I Will Avoid

I think of myself as a fairly adventurous eater. One of my favorite types of experience is eating something new and having it surprise me with taste, or texture, or whatever else makes it different from what I had eaten in the past and from what I expected. Others have been known to recoil from foods I seek out. But there are things which I will not happily eat, and these are them:

1. Eel livers. Not "eel liver," because when one orders these, they come many to an order. Many too many. I have to admit that I've only tried them once--at Decibel in Manhattan, one of my favorite spots--so I may return to eat my words (and I'm always happy to cross something off this list)...but I'm doubting it right now. Mealy only begins to tell the story, compounded by a musty flavor that is hard to choke down because of the texture. A small bowl beat me--I couldn't finish. I ate at Nanbankan two nights ago and saw eel livers on the list of specials. I did not order them. If anyone has had a different experience with this particular eel part, I would be happy to hear about it, and it might persuade me to give them another go. If I get no such stories, I'll take it as a sign.

2. Premature chicken eggs. Premature chicken eggs. Premature eggs. I really don't have to go any further, do I? I mean, i'm going to, but the name alone does the job of telling why I will cross the street to avoid this item. I've done 'em twice, and both at yakitori joints. Both times, my server looked at me funny, and it wasn't the regular "but you're a white guy" funny--it was more like they were disgusted with me. When I got the things, I saw why. It's like you're eating a poultry abortion. The things won't even stay on a skewer, so they have to be served in a bowl. A bowl of aborted chicken foetuses. I'm not trying to be gratuitous; I just need to convey the badness of this dish. Grey-green orbs with purple veins running around them, that sort of half-crunch, half wetly explode in your mouth. And those are the good ones--the others that didn't hold together while being cooked, and you get treated to a visual of unborn chicken viscera and even a little face if you're lucky: well, those are the bad ones. There is nothing redeeming about this dish, except as a fraternity hazing ritual.

3. Testicles.

4. Anything combining Jello and raisins. Ditto Jello and any dairy product that's not whipped cream--think cottage or cream cheese and you'll get the idea.

5. Spleen. The meat that masquerades as a mushroom. I encountered spleen in sullongtang at Han Bat (4163 W. Fifth St., Los Angeles). The soup itself was quite good--mild bone-broth with some various meats--tripe, liver, brisket, tongue--and some noodles. But the spleen was nasty. And, like I said, I thought it was a mushroom at first, until I...well...realized it wasn't. It was like this half-offal, half-vegetal awfulness that managed to be at once dry and slimy. I strenuously object. Spleen, consider yourself vented from my diet hereforward.

6. Intestines. So these aren't really the worst thing in the world--they're kind of rubbery on the outside (and not in a good way, like octopus or squid) and pasty on the inside. Now, pasty on the inside is not something I seek out in an organ that transports what these do. But again, they're not terrible when done well--cooked quite a lot over charcoal, like at Soot Bull Jeep, would be my preference. No, what I object to most about intestines is that they're served to me WHEN I DON'T EXPECT IT. To wit: Soot Bull Jeep treated me to gigantic two-foot lengths of ropy intestine in a bowl of water, when I had ordered tripe. That is usually how it happens--certain people define "tripe" differently, and some define it as intestine. I think of tripe as stomach lining, and specifically as "honeycomb" (which I have since learned is "mino" in Korean) or "book" tripe. I can't really complain about this communication gap, since I'm as wrong as anyone in the equation--even my favorite taco stand (see post below) serves intestines when I ask for tripe, too. You just don't want to be snuck up on with intestines, is all I'm saying.

There's the list. It leaves off things like Wonder Bread and well-done steak and crap that is not bad in its platonic form but is just badly prepared or of poor quality, since those are no-brainers and anyway feel different in kind from the things I've talked about here. As for the list, though, you've been warned--if you bring any of these things over for a dinner party, I may not eat them. Or I may give them another try. Except the testicles. You can have those.


Blogger Palty said...

This is hilarious. HAHA...premature chicken. Damn, the asian swallow those down like water. I tried it and yeah, it is pretty gruesome. I feel like i'm a fetus killer. LOL...

1:16 PM  
Anonymous sarah said...

yeah, i pretty much don't eat ANY organs, internal or otherwise. *gag* leaves out fois gras, too.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous c said...

Re: testicles
Will you/have you/ tried shirako? That is a fish's sperm sac according to the dictionary. Or is that not really a testicle per se?
Fish spawning season is almost upon us... caution to the sushi bar!

2:16 PM  
Blogger dwg said...

yeah, i'd do shirako. it's not the reproductive capacity of a thing that puts it beyond my pale; it', those are some poor animal's nads. i mean come ON.

2:47 PM  

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