The Worst Thing I Ever Enjoyed Eating
A Foodtribe campaign for our Tribe to share our dodgiest eating experience that left us happy
As we're just getting started on here, we're kicking around ideas to encourage sharing of your food experiences. It first occurred to me that we could all present the Best Thing We Ever Ate, and we still could, I guess. But isn't that kind of trite? Then, the Grossest Thing We Ever Ate came to mind. Well, shoot, while I was growing up in the 70s a big YA title we all read was 'How To Eat Fried Worms' by Thomas Rockwell. So yeah, at one time all of us ate a worm at some point. I covered mine with about a half bottle of yellow mustard. I held it down, though. But I am not a trout, so it was not food; it was not in the least bit enjoyable, and I'm not sure that's the route we want to go.
But how about something you were hesitant to try, and ended up enjoying? We all come from different backgrounds. Someone in Asia right now is nom-ing on the feet of a bird, which blows my mind. Of course, I'm sure there are billions of people who would call me a wasteling for frying up a couple of pounds of bacon and doggin' that pile one delightful, crispy strip at a time. I know where I can get some chicken feet, but I haven't brought myself to order some. Who knows? It might be tasty. What have you held off on trying, based on smell, appearence, textural issues or deep-seated prejudices against the food in question?
So to me, that's interesting, knowing what you thought was dodgy but turned out ok. Here is my experience, for reference:
What is the thing I have eaten and enjoyed thus far that still creeps me out?
I have not been to Dawson in the Yukon. I did not have a drink with a pickled toe in it. I only got as far as Carcross, where I ate a caribou burger. It was ok. I did once drink Mezcal in Mexico with the worm at the bottom. I did not enjoy it. I've eaten a raw oyster (one) as well as one single solitary snail. Won't do either again. It really doesn't get too exotic here in flyover country. I didn't enjoy the collard greens and chitlins I was once served at an African-American Thanksgiving. Sorry John & Angie. I am not fond of frog's legs, alligator or honestly any amphibian or reptile. I do love lobster even though I am convinced they are giant bugs. I thought I liked tripe until I understood what it was. Then I experienced a retroactive spat of vomiting, even though it was weeks after the offending meal.
No, the worst thing I have ever enjoyed really isn't exotic at all, but do know as I type this article, half my gullet is up in my throat from disgust.
Pictured: vegetables; slop
I grew up in a coal mining town mainly populated with the descendants of the immigrants brought in to work the mines from Bohemia as well as the Piedmont region of Northwest Italy. Bagna Cauda, or "hot dip" is an Piedmont recipe that in my town was co-opted by the Bohemians and as a result the recipe morphed slightly from generation to generation due to tastes and availability of ingredients. I am neither Italian or Bohemian, but any gathering I ever went to in town included a big stinky pot of Bagna.
Here is the general recipe for Bagna Cauda as it existed in my youth: 2 tins of Anchovies; some olive oil and/or butter; heavy cream; and All. The. Garlic. Simmer it and dip things in it. A dish meant to serve 4-6 people utilized several HEADS (not cloves) of garlic. And before Cuisinart, all of this garlic had to be peeled, and minced by hand. I imagine the Italian moms in town could whip through that in a jiffy. My Irish-American mom had never even heard of garlic until some time after I was born. Thus it took her hours to mince, and the house stunk like garlic for weeks!
It boiled down until it resembled the tureen of slop above. I like garlic, now. I didn't back then. I've never to this day seen an anchovy where my skin didn't crawl. And does that look good? I contend that it does not. It took me several years before I got up the nerve to stick a piece of Italian bread or a cabbage leaf into the bagna and chew it up.
Hey? This isn't too bad. It is so rich that I could not imagine eating this with a spoon. But as you may know, olive oil, garlic and anchovy were created by our Lord to work in harmony in our most savory dishes. As the years went on, I learned to love bagna cauda at neighborhood poker parties, men's stags, and anywhere cold beer was served. If you had an Italian girlfriend, they'd serve bagna before Christmas Eve dinner. That was only one year, and damn dinner was fine that night.