Rude foods are finally bringing the fun back into snacking. Organically produced muesli and porridges packed full of tasty fruity bits and extra textures are jostling and finding space in daily breakfast tray, disproving the cynics who thought that such cereals were boring.
Weirdness is all sweet and savory
We all love deliciousness of certain words. These are the words that bring everyday food to life. Even something as modest as a chocolate could make you salivate when dressed with warm adjectives like rich, thick, gooey, creamy, silky or frothy. Appetizing words like simmering, browned, roasted, spice tempt you to try out a newer recipe each time you visit a non-descript out of the way café with equally tempting offerings.
The cake fluffy as a pillow, toasty brown bedecked with plum colored cream swirls, looks like a homespun triumph. The cream of mushroom is all butter laden cognac kissed charm. Succulent and plump shrimp sautéed with chili flakes and served with salad of oyster mushroom, cucumber and corns, all fresh, vibrant and crunchy, is just spicy enough to make you sit upright.
More lightweight than a brittle these are the foods that work wonders over a cup of coffee. If you could soak all day in these awesome foods, then what is this ‘double entendre ‘all about?
May be it’s about a food—even the one you normally like—that can be described in a way that totally robs the joy of eating it.”Yucks!! this food’s worth a second taste “you would describe a tomato if you don’t agree that a good tomato is ripe, sweet and juicy. “Slimy, jellylike substance around the seeds, thin skin and grainy pulp” would keep you at bay from even a salad staple. And it sure wouldn’t inspire anybody to rush out to a nearest oyster bar and stay calm when faced with a plateful of barnacled, irregular and slimy oysters on your table. Aesthetics of devouring shellfish would give way to horror in no time and you will never manage to extract oysters from their watery home!
Food that we consider inappropriate for consumption is usually a sell-short version of undercooked, overcooked, burned or mystery portion in an old margarine tub at the back of the fridge; lamenting veggies weeping at the bottom of the crisper or the leftover of greyish congealed gravy with fur and fuzz sprouting from things. The kind of stuff nobody would want to or ever should eat. Adjectives like grisly, withered, rubbery, curdled and moldy perfectly make for a food that is beyond its prime. This is what plain ‘ugly’ food is all about.
But have you wondered that what the French consider delectable- snails in a sizzling garlic sauce– may well be another culture’s nightmare?
But what happens when a flavorsome food is named weirdly?
From coddled eggs to Witchetty grub, it’s not unlikely that the weirdness of names themselves would keep even the most enterprising foodies at arm’s length. For one coddler is a porcelain cup with a lid and none would dream of eating pottery and anything ‘ witchy’ sounds downright dangerous and equally distasteful.
But the fact of the matter is that weirdest foods are not always that weird. Coddled eggs are in fact lightly steamed or baked (in hot water bath) rendering only the whites to be slightly cooked. Likewise Witchetty grub is the larva of a moth that feeds on wild bush called by the same name. Packed with proteins it can be eaten raw or soft cooked and tastes like scrambled egg and for some it even reminds of chicken.
So why not call them by the name everybody is familiar with ? Why not just use words like “sausage” instead of “mystery meat”? For a few it could be for fun’s sake but for most it’s akin to putting punch back into the very act of snacking.
Here are some of the freak foods that are ubiquitous and grossest at the same time. Known passionately and devoured eagerly, these dishes are not entirely inaccurately regarded as ‘mystery foods’ and often carry even weirder ingredients.
Bubble & squeak
If you think that this food hails of something close to a living creature that bubbles and perhaps squeaks when served on your platter, then you couldn’t be more far from truth. This food has origins in Great Britain and actually contains leftover fried veggies. Loved as a side dish to morning breakfast, it’s meant to sound awful because the dish made from cooked potatoes and cabbage when mixed together and fried literally ‘bubbles and squeaks’ while over the fire.
The Imam Bayildi (literally Imam fainted)
Now this one is far weirder and you couldn’t possibly have the slightest idea of what could there be in the dish. It’s actually a recipe from the Turkish cuisine and is generally made from whole eggplant, garlic and tomatoes and simmered in olive oil. Imam bayildi could also be made from baked tender aubergines with aromatic tomato and onion stuffing. Legend has it that it was so delectable that it made even the Imam faint with pleasure at the delicious flavor of this dish.
Bat Milk yogurt
This weird brand of yogurt made from cow’s milk comes from Brazil and certainly has nothing to do with bats. From a Brazilian brand Batavo, this yoghurt created a fusion of two words by combining a Portuguese word, “batter“, with the English word, “milk” hence creating one of the offensive words, “BatMilk.” Even then who would want to have BatMilk ?
Only Puke crackers
Words often mean different things in different languages, as this awfully adverted food proves. This Chinese snack is actually known as Only Pukeet and is oddly named because the last two letters on the bag were horrible prints making them virtually invisible. These honey bean crackers remind people of vomit and couldn’t possibly really make you want to eat them either.
There is no way you could even dream of eating a 100 year old egg. But when you do eat, you are actually eating an older, rotten, black version. This recipe calls for eggs being preserved in clay and ash for few months. Once ready, these turn into a savory comfort food. Of course, no health issues here. Intimidating but it is a convenience food.
Bangers and Mash
The English always have had a penchant for weird names. This eat also known as sausages and mash, quintessentially has British-Irish origin and consists of finger sausages served with mashed potatoes drizzled with gravy. Including one of a variety of flavored sausages made from pork, lamb or beef, this is a dish you’ll find anywhere in the fancy restaurants and pubs across England. It blends well with other luxury ingredients and is super delicious too!!
Based on name you wouldn’t have guessed it right. This in fact is a desert pudding made of sweets stuff like dough, dried fruits and sugar, all held as a dumpling within a strip of parchment and fabric. The name clootie comes from the cloth it‘s boiled in, as cloot is scots for cloth. Traditionally you would boil the dumpling straight on the cloth rather than lining it with paper first. You can also steam it in a pudding basin if you wish to experiment.
It’s hard to win you over as an exciting believer of this ‘complicated ‘dish. It is neither a sweet nor a piece of bread and contains animal meat as the key ingredient. Sometimes also known as ‘Offal’, the thymus or pancreas of the animal is behind one of the main ingredients. Many sweetbreads come from veal meat or lamb but beef and pork sweetbreads are the revered ones.
If you think that it is a rabbit dish from Wales, then you are in for a surprise! This one is in fact a vegetarian dish and for some odd reason has been so weirdly named by somebody who was either incredibly clever or mighty confused. No rabbits; it is rather melted cheese over toast or crackers. The English nonetheless brandish a fancier version with actual rabbits.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
These are not oysters and neither seafood. Purposefully but so inaccurately named, these are actually testicles from animals like goats, sheep calves. So, how did this dish come to be? At the end of the day most big ranches would end up with hundreds of these and just to make economic sense out of it, make use of them by cooking and eating. For few it may go off well but for most it is an ugly food, absurdly described that fails to whet appetite.
No! You have guessed it all wrong. It’s not a savory dish made out of okra pods but a delicious little dessert. These are in fact low density, dry egg based sweet sponge biscuits cakes made out in the shape of a large finger. Essentially, they’re dip-able, finger-shaped cookies that are so delicate that even Keats had to write about them. Ladyfinger cakes are undoubtedly an intricate creation and are considered to be one of the rare bakers’ arts.
Crunky Ball Nude
One of the most hilariously named Korean candies, this is a provocative confection made with hazelnut paste and malt covered in crisped rice and chocolate. It looks more like an unsophisticated version of a Ferrero Rocher. These candies come packaged in a plastic barrel with a flip-top, which is quite a fun. Each ball is about the size of a grape and covered in tiny rice crisps.
There’s very little chocolate though that could show through. The rice crisps are nuttier and taste almost like cornflakes or sesame seeds and are within each ball too. The chocolate is thick with dusky hints of malt. The texture pairs well with the airy puffs of rice.
Even infamous is sometimes delightful
With names like Pee cola, Cream colon biscuits, Golden gay time cookies, instant ramen ‘Soup for Sluts’ and ‘Urinal’ hot drink, at first glance these foods could put you off when feeling impish. But words mean differently for different languages. Some of the most delectable spreads are the most unfortunately named foods in the world. It’s not surprising that the idea of adverting these nasty named foods as an epicurean delight is fast catching up since they mate so well with the duality of happiness and health. It’s startling that even the most weirdly named cuisine is not considered a redemption dish anymore!!
If you haven’t tried one of these freakish sounding foods so far, it’s time to reach out. The queerness is just the result of terrible branding or probably their awkward names are a result of their true name meanings having lost track over the time.
Whatever…names apart, you know how to pull it off when gravies and curries, sweet and savory and traditional and classical meet the challenges to keep the textures right even after a long journey–from wok to platter.