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cooking, culture, food, humor, Uncategorized

Are you really going to eat that?

It all started with brussles sprouts. I was at the grocery picking up things for dinner when I decided to make my famous roasted brussels sprouts. I headed back to produce with my friend to pick up a package, and as I stood in the asile blocking traffic scanning the ice-packed rows of veggies, I spotted what appeared to be sprouts growing from a three-foot long stalk. Yes, I’m aware that brussels sprouts do not grow in styrofoam packagaes in the wild, but the giant, unweildy stalks threw me for a loop. I wrestled a stalk into a ridiculously small produce bag and asked my friend who she thought the first person was who decided to eat the suspicious-looking branch of baby cabbages was. Her reply was a blank stare that clearly said, “Why would I wonder that?”

This is not what I was expecting.

Food is much more interesting than it gets credit for. I know most people probably don’t wax poetic over their bacon and eggs, but I just can’t help it.  It intrigues me. Have you really ever looked at what you’re eating? I don’t mean have you looked at your plate to make sure the waiter got your order right, I mean have you ever really looked at the actual food you’re salivating over? I’m betting you haven’t, and I’m not talking grease-burgers and hot dogs (you probably wouldn’t want to look too closely at those anyway), I mean real food- fruits, veggies, seafood- food that’s just naturally odd looking.

Since the brussles sprout epiphiny, I tend to look at food a little differently, wondering (silently now) who the brave, gastronomic pioneers were who paved the way for the delicasies we enjoy today. I’ve been making a mental catalog of pecuilar looking foodstuffs over the past couple months, and decided to look at some of the oddest things that we eat.

Eggs. Eggs have given us so much: They’re in your cookies, your fried rice and on top of your $18 gourmet burger, not to mention eggs benedict, deviled eggs, migas, quiche and the fact that poached eggs are a pure delight when cooked properly. But that doesn’t change the fact that they’re pretty weird if you think about what they are and what they look like. I realize that hunger was the driving force behind food selection aeons ago, but I seriously doubt that I would have been the first person to snatch an egg from a nest, crack it open and scramble the mysterious contents on a hot rock.

Really not all that appetizing.

Pomegranites. In their defense, pomegranites are really good. They also just happen to be really suspicious looking and it takes about three hours to eat a teaspoon of actual fruit. They’ve been around forever, but someone had to take the first bite, and I want to know who put in the hours to consume the first pomegranite. Crack open a pomegranite and take a peek at those sinister looking little seeds.

Looks like trouble to me.

Artichokes. If vegetables were dinosaurs, the artichoke would be a triceratops. This vegetable is neither aesthetically pleasing nor particularly inviting. It looks like it has armor. They are, however, pretty yummy when dipped in warm butter and when served on salads, pizzas and other wonderful confections. But that doesn’t discount the fact that should I have found myself wandering the ancient world in search of nourishment that I would have steered clear of the ominous-looking artichoke.

They're not exactly screaming, "eat me!"

Crawfish. There’s a reason they’re called mud bugs, and it’s not because of how delectable they look. First there’s the issue of catching them, followed closely by the issue of preparing them, and  I’m guessing that whoever ate the first crawfish did not do so after lovingly boiling it with bay leaves, cayenne pepper and lemon juice.They’re small, messy and a lot more trouble than the miniscule amount of meat is actually worth, but they’re darn good. So thank you to the person who took one for the team and opened the door for that miracle that is Cajun cooking. 

This is likely not what the first crawfish feast looked like. Also, they probably didn't have Abita. Shame.

Saffron. One of the most distinctive flavors out there, saffron is also one of the most difficult spices to harvest (read: really expensive). Plucked from the saffron crocus, each flower only yields a couple of strands of saffron, which seems to beg the question: Who thought this was a good idea? Going off the assumption that hunger was the issue behind most of these food choices, harvesting saffron seems a bit superfluous. Then again, we’re still coughing up $10+ for an ounce of threads and upwards of $100 for the really good stuff, so it must have been worth it.

I could either buy all this saffron or pay rent for three months.

Mushrooms. Considering how many mushrooms are toxic, it’s a wonder that anyone survived the tate-testing phase to pass along which ones we could actually eat. I know I certainly wouldn’t have plucked a huge Portabella, taken a bite and hoped for the best, but I do appreciate a nice stuffed mushroom. Take a good look at the next mushroom you eat and tell me they’re not the tiniest bit strange.

Yep, they're edible.

Oysters. On a recent trip to New Orleans we treated ourselves to oysters galore,  and every time the waitress plunked a heaping tray of the delicious, briny bivalves onto our table, I couldn’t help but think: Who decided to eat these? First of all they look like rocks, and second of all they’re impossible to get into. I’m really glad someone did though, but I’m still curious who the first person was who identified an oyster, hacked it open (without the aid of a shucker, nonetheless) and said “I think I’ll slurp this down for dinner. Raw.” I’m guessing it was a man on a dare.

And this was the reward that first oyster-eater recieved for all his troubles.

I realize that my list excludes a great many questionable-looking foods, and that if I had infinite time that seafood would have a disproportionate number of entries, so for that reason I’d like to hear about any foods y’all think are particularly strange. I’m also curious to know if anyone else ever wonders about food, (mostly to make myself fee like less of a geek). Happy eating.

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About Rachel

www.aspenandella.wordpress.com

Discussion

5 thoughts on “Are you really going to eat that?

  1. Perfect captions on those photos.

    I’ve often wondered about eating the (seemingly) simplest foods. Who figured out how to make flour from grass growing in a field? Who first drank that liquid with the squash or fruit or wheat or whatever (beer)? Heaven knows it must have smelled pretty awful. These fish stink — hey, let’s eat them. Pork butt? Sweetbreads? If it stinks, call it brie. Maybe somebody just followed their opportunistic dog as it perused potential foodstuffs.

    Posted by Queen Linda | August 10, 2011, 5:13 pm
  2. Haha, this has really got me thinking! Definitely eggs and pineapple! What about coffee (she says, sat with her morning cup while reading this) Who first thought to grind those hard little beans down and make them into a drink? I suspect I will be doing this all day now! Incidentally, brussels sprouts – yuk 😉

    Posted by thepinkrachael | August 10, 2011, 7:25 am
  3. I always wonder who thought up eating things first. I guess if I was hungry, I’d begin to look at anything………..everything…………to see if there was a part of it that would be edible. Nuts, for example. They don’t look great from the outside…………but yumminess on the inside.

    Even a pineapple……….who would dream of what would be inside that prickly fruit? I always think of the Wow factor, the first time someone served a pineapple up!

    Interesting to ponder…………..

    Posted by stitchknit | August 10, 2011, 12:11 am
  4. Not only what the egg looks like, but the very location it comes from. I don’t think anything being delivered into the world in that manner would seem appetizing at all after the truth was first discovered.
    However, barring all the extremely bizarre exterior animal parts some people choose to eat (ie – Rocky Mountain Oysters) I would have to say the food I wonder about with the question of “Who first thought to put that in their mouth” is peppers. (Potatoes too b/c – just like eggs – they’re not really good raw. Someone had to figure that out through trial and error and they look and feel like rocks) but peppers like Jalapeno’s and especially Serrano peppers or Habanero’s. I can see the mistake in eating them raw once and that’d be it. I think it must have started out with some poor fellow thinking he’d plucked another fresh fruit. I don’t know why people eat the hotter ones today. I love my jalapeno’s but I wouldn’t if I’d eaten a freshly plucked one for the first time.

    Posted by Christine | August 9, 2011, 11:46 pm

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