I don't know who is to blame for my strange attraction to weird food. It might be a case of early expose to Jules Verne, whose heroes would eat whatever strange local food happened to be available wherever they went. Or some other accident of childhood. Either way, I enjoy trying things that other people don't really want to try.
I've decided to document some of these things.
Trippa alla Fiorentina
Trippa alla fiorentina is a traditional Florentine dish, which appears to be fairly popular in, well, Florence.
We eat a lot of tripe soup where I'm from, so I expected this to go very well. I gotta say, after eating our hearty, well-season tripe soup, trippa alla fiorentina is a little bland. I wish I could say I liked it, but I guess it's not quite my cup of tea.
I tried it at Osteria De' Pazzi, a very charming place which I heartily recommend. (I think I ate like half the things on the menu there, those people are amazing).
I ate frogs at a local seafood restaurant. They taste pretty much like chicken, which is to say they're good, but not necessarily my cup of tea (I'm more of a pork kind of person). That being said, I'd definitely eat that stuff again.
Turned out to be less weird than I expected, too. The only odd thing was that their tiny little feet had creepy little toes.
The toes taste just as good as the rest of the legs.
Well, they're exactly what the name says. The ones I ate were seasoned with various Mediterranean herbs.
I'm not sure what to say they tasted like. The herbs were pretty strong. I suppose they taste a little like beef?
This is what the buggers look like:
I was on a fairly restrictive diet when I got a package of these things, so I couldn't test this assertion, but I think they go well with beer.
The andouillette is a sausage made with tripe and pork intestines, typical of the French cuisine. It's popular (in its niche, I guess...) in mainland France, but I ate it in Martinique. You never know when the God of Sausages is going to give you a sausage...
Andouillette has a very characteristic smell. I have no idea how to characterize it elegantly. It is an anything but subtle combination of unwashed teeth, unwashed intestines and pork shit. According to the American section of the blogosphere, it doesn't smell bad, it's just a thick sausage. I suspect that's an American form of andouilette. Because trust me, the ones that my French host praised earnestly and sincerely, had the worst smell that I've ever smelled in my whole life. I would rather sniff the unwashed toes of a half-putrified hobbit than smell that thing again.
I am not sure what to say it tastes like, partly because the only way I managed to eat the damn thing without vomiting was to drown it in sauce. It came with a mayonnaise sauce. That's how bad it smells: mayonnaise actually makes it easier to stomach.
Much like pu-erh tea, I guess, this is something that you have to learn how to enjoy. Clearly, I still have a lot to study.
I suppose that the fact that I like pu-erh now suggests that this is not hopeless. However, whereas pu-erh has a very subtle, distant flavour of horse manure, my plate of andouillette and fries smelled like an eco toilet that had been singed by the rays of the Saharan sun for two weeks.
After managing to finish this thing I'm actually optimistic for my encounter with surstromming.
This is what the damn thing looks like:
Note: seriously now, it is my understanding that what I had
is, however, a very good andouillette, whatever the hell a
good andouillette is. 5A, in fact, which is the highest rating that
Given that my account above is anything but positive, I'll keep the name of the restaurant under silence, so as not to be interpreted as a bad review, or give any innocent (but superficial) bystanders the wrong impression.
But let me be clear: my host was very gracious; I ate there several times, and the food was very good; I asked for the andouillette, I was warned, and I was repeatedly given the chance to refuse it (but hey, it was on the list! I can't refuse something from the list!).
If you are curious about the place, drop me an email. I'd be happy to recommend it.
Want to eat
- Surstromming (top of the list because of course it is)
- Sheep head
- Casu marzu
- Crickets, beetles
Not weird enough for the list
- Utopenci. These are pickled sausages, a popular pub food in the Czech Republic. I don't have the words to describe how amazing these things are. I tried to make them at home, but I don't have the right sausages.
- Acorda Alentejana. This is a bread soup with a seafood base, fairly popular in Portugal. Served toppled with a raw egg because this is Portugal. I loved it. I guess it's weird the same way ribollita is weird, but certainly not in the same league as grasshoppers and putrescent shark.