We all drank milk from a boob at one point so why all the fuss about a bit of horse meat? They eat it all the time in France, and besides, we Britons eat a lot of things that other nationalities find bizarre. Ever tried explaining a sausage roll to a visiting American student? After explaining the definition of the word “stodgy” you then have to get them to understand why it is a good idea to wrap up some ground up grey pork in pastry so flaky it resembles eczema. There’s a reason why Marmite hasn’t made it across the pond.
And what about the British obsession with ridiculous names for tasty food items, so that they make sound as appetising as licking an old man’s toes. Spotted dick, anyone? Toad in a hole?
Yet everyone is going crazy about digesting some equine. Maybe we’ve just been missing out on a perfectly tasty animal? And why end with horse meat? Let’s expand our taste buds to embrace all the other wonderful food that the world has to offer. With food prices rocketing and arable land being overworked, we should all open our horizons.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure where to start, though. Here at Cherwell, we’ve compiled a list of the planet’s delicacies that might not have made it to the white cliffs of Dover.
First stop – continental Europe. We already know they’ve got some weird stuff over there, because they already eat horse meat, so it should be no surprise that the bizarre delicacies don’t stop with Black Beauty.
SPAIN: CALAMARES EN SU TINTA
“Hey honey – what’s for dinner?” “Oh just some squid stewed in its own ink. Nothing special.” “Mmm my favourite!” Said no British couple ever. But who knows – maybe next week we’ll discover that blackberry juice was actually just flavoured squid ink and we’ve been eating it all along. Calamares en su tinta looks like worms wallowing in crude oil and yet it’s all the rage over in Spain becuaes of the salty flavour and dark colour that the ink adds to the squid. Don’t worry if you’re not sure where to buy squid ink from. You can harvest it yourself if you don’t mind squeezing it out of a whole dead squid. Yummy! It’s often served with rice, so could be an alternative to the Friday Indian takeaway… or not. Let’s go with not.
How to explain weisswurst? Well, the description of this white sausage doesn’t sound too bad on the surface. It’s a mixture of ground veal and bacon, flavoured with parsley and onion that’s rolled into a sausage shape. Nowt wrong with that. Until you then see that they encase it in something that can only be adequately described as a condom. Supposedly it is a form of clear pig skin, but it looks like a condom and it feels like a condom. It’s wrapped round the sausage and is brought to the table where the end is cut in a special condom opening ritual, before the sausage is sucked out through its skin/condom.
A special mention should also go to the other Bavarian treat of leberkäse. It literally translates as ‘liver cheese’, which is very misleading as it is essentially a slightly congealed pork loaf that tastes of neither liver nor cheese. It’s normally had with a bread roll and is surprisingly tasty, but I still don’t expect Subway to start selling liver cheese any time soon.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer had a very shiny nose, and if you ever saw him you should butcher him and boil his flesh in a soup. Reindeer is all the craze in Norway and let’s face it – deer are just horses with stupid hats. It probably isn’t long until Britain follows suit and Magdalen’s deer park will stop being a tourist attraction and start being a place where people flock to choose their dinner like lobsters in a tank. It turns out that reindeer is a very versatile meat. Norwegians have reindeer steak, reindeer stew and even reindeer pizza. Rudolph better watch out next Christmas…
ICELAND: COD LIVER OIL
Iceland the supermarket has been involved with the horsemeat scandal, and when it comes to dodgy food, the country closely follows its namesake. We’ve all heard about the health benefits of cod liver oil, but the Icelandics take this even further and pour the stuff all over their breakfast. Aside from the fact that it tastes like re-digested vomit, cod liver oil has been linked to increases in IQ along with a huge variety of other health benefits. I’m not saying you should pour it over your Shreddies like milk, but if you want a taste of Iceland it could be a good place to start.
ICELAND: DUNG SMOKED FISH
Iceland is also home to another delicacy that must surely be destined for our shores sometime soon. Dung smoked fish is a fine fresh fishy treat that is famed for – believe it or not – its dung smoked flavour. There’s only so much time that us Brits can continue with the luxury of smoking salmon over oak chips. Dung is where it’s at… apparently.
ITALY: CASU MARZU
We’ve all been there – that expensive piece of cheese you bought a couple of weeks ago has started to grow its own colony of bright green mould and rather than throw it away you just scrape it off and continue munching. Well, imagine if instead of scraping off mould you are brushing off maggots and – hey presto! – you’ve got the Italian speciality, Casu Marzu. Despite tasting quite similar to pecorino, it is made by actively encouraging worms to make their home among the cheese. As they begin to decompose the cheese, the best flavour is released. It gives a whole new meaning to cheesy spaghetti.
Far away and known for bringing spiritual experiences to middle-class, over-privileged teenagers on a gap year, the different environment and culture makes for some very different food.
THAILAND: DEEP FRIED CHICKEN FEET
In today’s recession, more people are buying chicken thighs and legs as opposed to the hugely more expensive chicken breast. Meanwhile in Thailand they’re one step ahead of the budget game and eating crispy, breadcrumbed chicken feet. Think of all the chicken feet we must throw away as a country every year? Who knows. Maybe this time next year we’ll be buying the Chicken Feet Bonus Deluxe Box from KFC for that extra crunchy bite.
INDONESIA: CIVET CAT COFFEE
Everyone likes filter coffee, right? Well, would you still like it if it was filtered through a cat? No? Well then civet cat coffee isn’t for you. Pound for pound, these are the most expensive coffee beans known to mankind. The cats eat the coffee beans, then some poor soul has the job of going through their delightful droppings in order to remove the beans from the poop. You can rest assured that the beans are cleaned before being put into a hot drink, but all the cleaning in the world will never undo the knowledge that it has been inside a cat’s anus.
How do you like your eggs in the morning? If the answer to that question isn’t “fertilised”, then we could have a problem. In Vietnam, they leave a fertilised duck egg to grow for up to 21 days until the little duckling is at optimum tastiness before it is cooked like a hardboiled egg, cracked open and eaten with a pinch of salt and pepper.
THE BEST OF THE REST
Outside of Asia and Europe, there’s still plenty of food to feast on.
Corn! The Americans love it! It makes popcorn! You can have it on a barbecue! And don’t you love it when it starts to go off and develops that dark black, potent mould that’s just so great with a meal. It’s so tasty you just want to keep it in a can.
Oh wait – no. Black corn mould in a can is one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever heard of. Why would you want to eat that? Sorry Mexico. Burritos are great and all, but even the comparison with horsemeat isn’t going to make this sound appealing.
CONGO: FRIED GRASSHOPPER
There are plenty of reasons as to why we Britons should start embracing the afternoon snack of fried grasshopper. Firstly, the fact that it’s fried means it’s dead before you eat it, because nothing’s more annoying than when you’re trying to eat something and keeps jumping off the plate. Secondly, grasshoppers are green so it probably counts as one of your five a day. Thirdly, the Congolese have tons of them so they probably they wouldn’t mind exporting a few to our shores at a reasonable price. I’m sure the streams of gap year students would revel at the chance to have fried grasshopper arriving in their care packages from mummy, as it reminds them of the time they were volunteering in an undiscovered African tribe.
EGYPT: GOAT’S BRAIN
Egypt have got the double whammy here of unfamiliar foods. Despite goats being a popular feature of our petting zoos, they are a rare feature on our plates. Given that people seem incapable of telling apart horse and cow, I’m sure most people would have no issue eating goat if they were told it was lamb.
The brains part might be a harder sell. Often served in a hollowed out skull (of the goat, I should add), it is more the lack of taste that proves a problem, but it coulds still probably be a very popular budget option amongst the student population one day. Who knows, maybe digesting some brain cells will somehow undo the damage done by last night’s trip to Wahoo.
Humans eating crocodiles is a good thing. How else will those snappy post-modern dinosaurs know their place? The main problem with getting crocodiles to feature on the menu in England isn’t their taste (they taste like very tough beef/horse) but they’re rather difficult to hunt and kill (it’s something to do with their man-eating tendencies). Still, as we human beings get better at hunting, crocodile steaks (alongside fabulous handbags) will surely find their place in the British home in no time.
Try it out?
Forget everything I said in the beginning – the rest of the world is just crazy. It would be great to be able to see something positive come out of this whole horsey experience and say that from now on we would all expand our taste buds and embrace all the other wonderful food that the world has to offer, but no. Just no. Let’s face it – horse meat isn’t that bad. We might have been eating it for ages without anyone noticing, but I can’t see how anyone would not notice if their Eggs Benedict had been made with an unborn duckling. Scotch eggs and haggis might be a bit weird, but at least we don’t drink coffee that’s come out of a cat’s rear end.
There is one good thing, though – now if ever the worst does happen and there’s a worldwide shortage of bangers and mash, we know exactly which countries to avoid in our hunger-driven quest for food.