Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Why we should be environmentalists

I think it was the weekly Slactivist post on Left Behind that sent me on yesterday's Wiki and Google hunt, but I can't for the life of me remember why. Or maybe it was because I wanted to know if durian and jackfruit were the same thing. (They're not.) Regardless, I ended up spending several fruitful hours learning about "delicacies."

Or rather, SOME people's delicacies.

Have a look:

This site has references to most of the foods I'll talk about, if you want to see other peoples' impassioned opinions.

First off, there is kiviak. Posts here and here attest to at least to its existence. You live in Greenland. There are lots of auks around and not too much in the way of preservation methods. So you make pouches out of fatty sealskin, add dead bird, and bury until Christmas. Result? Gooey decomposed bird paste? No, silly, that's what you call kiviak. Yum.

Century eggs look like something out of a monster movie. Or what would happen in a bachelor's kitchen if his mother or girlfriend never cleaned out the back of the fridge. Brown and green, they supposedly taste like sulfur and ammonia, which must be particularly appetizing.

(Aha! I remember. I was given a piece of fried fish to eat yesterday that turned to ammonia in my mouth. Fried, crunchy ammonia. I googled it to make sure the woman wasn't trying to poison me. In her defense, she wanted to know if I thought it tasted funny...)

But my favorite, besides "Three Squeals," which you'll have to look up on your own, was this savory Sardinian cheese: Casu Marzu.

If savory to you means fermented, seeping with decomposing liquids and crawling with cheese fly larvae. Larvae which can jump for distances up to 6 inches. I can see this affecting my sandwich. Who wants their wormy cheese to actually wriggle off the bread? Also problematic is the fact that said larvae don't digest too well and have been known to BORE through intestinal walls. Chew, chew, chew!

I can see why most of these foods are traditionally consumed with copious amounts of alcohol. Which leads me to several conclusions.

1. These foods exist because of poor food conservation options. Fermentation, pickling, salt, decomposition...all ways of eating food when preservatives and refrigerations didn't exist.
2. I would prefer that such foods remained eccentricities, delicacies to be enjoyed by a select majority. I sincerely hope that in my lifetime, we are not all forced to enjoy fermented, rotting meat of any species! I'm guessing many others share this
3. PROTECT THE PLANET PEOPLE! Because if we run out of things to fuel our refrigerators, its going to be century eggs and rotten cheese for us all! And the Evangelical Christians (who sometimes, sometimes act like environmental responsibility is rather stupid) will be in a pickle, because they're not going to take too well to the idea of downing those copious amounts of liquor!


Susan said...

I looked up the three squeals.
Wish I hadn't...

Julie said...

Durian is so disgusting and so smelly that it is illegal to carry on the metro in Singapore. Jackfruit isn't quite so bad, but still isn't my cup of tea.

Century eggs are delicious. I had some in my Cantonese soup today at lunch and thoroughly enjoyed every bite.