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Gastrointestinal delights

  1. Sep 11, 2006 #1


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    Staff: Mentor

    Mmmmmm, mmmmm, good!

    (Caution, this thread is not for the weak.)

    Here are some "favorites" from around the world, ok these first few are from Iceland. :surprised

    Hakarl (Rotted Shark)

    This is without a doubt the most pungent and dubious thing at the table. Tastes like a combination of dodgy fish and strong French cheese with a hint of ammonia. If you are new to shark and are offered some, it is wise to take the darkest piece you see (the lighter the colour, the stronger the taste). The shark is prepared by burying it in sand for about six months. Served cold in little pieces, be careful not to eat too much as it can result in diarrhoea.

    Note - do not attempt to prepare rotted shark at home! If you do it wrong or don't leave it in the ground for long enough, it's quite likely that you will die in agony from eating it, as it is full of neurotoxins and ammonia, which are filtered out using the process described above.

    Hrutspungar (Sour Ram's Testicles)

    Ram's testicles, pickled in whey, put in gelatin, pressed either into a cake with garlic, as a jam, or as a kind of pâté that tastes sour and spongy, with a texture reminiscent of pressed cod roe. Guidebooks comment: 'Not bad if you don't think about it too much, especially in pâté form.' Or you could just take their word for it.

    Lundabaggar (Sour Lamb)

    This is a tough one to explain - it is made from secondary meats, like colons and other such stuff, rolled up, boiled, pickled (made sour in mysa, more commonly known as whey), sliced and held together with string. Very fatty, it may be a good idea to cut away the fat before eating, as sour fat usually tastes bad, but it won't leave you with much meat on your plate.

    Selshreyfar (Sour Seal Flippers)

    The flippers of those adorable animals, made sour in milk and salted. They taste sour, salty and slimy. These are rare, except at some family feasts where the participants have hunted the seals themselves. Quite revolting.

    Hvalrengi (Sour Whale-fat)

    Made sour with milk. Tastes like sour papier mâché, and probably not very healthy either. Fresh whale blubber is stringy and tough, but apparently pickling it makes it soft and more easily digestible.

    Kæst skata (Rotted Stingray)

    Made in the same way as the shark, but not as pungent and offensive to the nose as the rotted shark. It has a strong smell of ammonia about it. Sometimes it is mashed, then it is called skotustappa. Usually eaten as a main course, with potatoes.

    According to some sources, Skata originates from the Western fjords in the eighteenth century when the brighter lights of society, on þorláksmessa (the day before Christmas), gave their humble hired help 'Skata' so as to assure that until the next þorláksmessa, anything would taste better (!) while they themselves stuffed themselves with hangikjöt (see below).

    Svid ('Burned' Sheep-heads)

    Stuff that most people associate with devil-worship. A sheep's head that's been burned to remove the wool, cut in two in order to remove the brain, boiled, and either eaten fresh or pressed into jelly (Svidasulta, 'sheep-head jam'). Despite the rather gruesome appearance, these taste quite good.

    Even though they look quite serene and peaceful, some people can't stand the thought of eating a burned head. Many people eat only the lower jaw and the tongue to avoid 'eye contact.'

    As long as anyone can remember, Icelandic children have then used the lower jawbones as playthings, usually pretending that it was livestock such as sheep. However, after the 1940s, the jawbone became a gun in children's games, and cowboys and Indians became quite popular. Today the jawbone has been replaced by videogames.


    Fugu is the Japanese term for a fish native to the Pacific Ocean. The name comes from fuku meaning 'to swell'1. It is the generic term for any fish in the Tetraodontoid family; these are the 'puffer' fish, also known as blowfish or balloon fish. It is a rather unattractive fish, which has the ability to puff its body up to 300 times its usual volume and extend spikes for protection. The fish pumps air or water into the first two thirds of its stomach. The skin is able to stretch due to collagen fibres that reinforce it, also providing strength. If it is caught and eaten, it has been known to inflate after it has been swallowed, killing the predator, and then gnawing its way out of the stomach. If this doesn't work, the predator will die from the toxin.

    It has a beak-like mouth with a toothed plate on the upper and lower biting surfaces. The arrangement of the muscles in the jaw gives it huge amounts of crushing force, but little speed or suction.

    Some of the fish's organs - the ovaries, testicles, skin, muscles and particularly the liver - contain tetrodotoxin, a powerful poison. Tetrodotoxin is 1,200 times deadlier than cyanide, and one fish contains enough poison to kill 30 people. Acting mainly on the nervous system, the symptoms in order of severity are:

    Physical discomfort
    Prickling or tingling of the mouth
    Subnormal temperature
    Rapid weak pulse
    Respiratory distress/arrest
    There is no known antidote.

    This fish is considered a delicacy in Japan.

    Extreme Eating

    Chefs have to be specially trained and licensed to prepare and cook fugu, as there are many different types of fugu and the poisonous parts vary. There is a written and practical test; only a quarter of applicants pass the written test, and the practical test includes eating the fish that has been prepared.

    The preparation requires a 30-step process, leaving just enough of the tetrodotoxin so that the mildest effects tantalise the diner, yet leaving them safe from the devastating and irreversible effects of a fatal amount. Deaths do, however, still occur. From 1974 until 1983 there were 646 reported cases of fugu fish-poisoning in Japan, with 179 fatalities. It is a continuing problem in Japan, with between 30 and 100 cases of poisoning reported every year, although most of these cases are caused by home preparation.

    The rules for preparing fugu are extremely strict. There are rules for cleanliness and preparation, storage of the toxic parts, and careful reporting on the amount of fish handled and the distribution of the internal organs. People with poor vision or who are colour blind are not eligible to train as fugu chefs.

    There is a certain ceremony to eating fugu. The fish is shown to the diners, and then the chef takes it back to the kitchen where the fish is opened and the organs removed. The fins are cut off, fried and served in hot sake. The fish is skinned and the spikes removed, the skin then served in a salad. The head is cut off, the fish filleted and then paper-thin slices are served raw.

    Due to the metabolism slowing down so much when the poison is ingested, breathing and heartbeat are often imperceptible. This can result in the victim suddenly 'returning from the dead' when the effects have worn off. The houngan of Haiti use a powder made from a similar fish in their zombie rituals. Hollywood hype would have us believe that zombies are raised from the dead, but the victims are 'killed' using the powder. Victims are conscious of sound and sight while their bodies are paralysed. The houngan retrieves the 'corpse' and revives it, keeping the victim sedated. This makes it appear that the body is alive but the soul is dead. The zombie is usually hired out as manual labour, so making it profitable for the houngan.

    The attractions of this fish are many and varied. Some say that the delicate flavour is the main attraction, others say that the testes in a glass of hot sake are a powerful aphrodisiac. Part of the experience of eating the fish is the warm tingling and slight numbing of the lips that is one of the symptoms of eating the toxin. But without a doubt, the biggest thrill is the kudos gained from eating a meal that could cost your life, and surviving.

    Lutefisk - Norwegian meal made of dried fish

    Take some fish, preferably cod.
    Hang it in the sun for a month.
    When it's rock hard, take it down.
    You now have "tørrfisk", which is dried fish. Smells awful. Tørrfisk can be kept for years. As long as it's kept dry.

    Whenever you are in the mood for lutefisk, just get the tørrfisk from wherever you have stored it. Submerge the hard, dead, dried, smelly fish in caustic soda and leave it for 24 hours. The smell doesn't improve, but at least it becomes soft. (What doesn't become soft after a day in caustic soda?)

    'This must be wrong!' you might think. But no, this is how it is done. When the fish looks gooey, heat it in warm water. Do not boil it, mind you. Boiling makes it rubbery, and you don't want that, it's bad enough as it is. And that's it! You have made yourself lutefisk.

    This sounds horrible. And most people agree1, it does taste like old, dried, dyed and re-heated fish. Norwegians use years of their life to get used to the squishy, semi-transparent piece of fishlike food wobbling on their plate soaked in grease, so do not give in on your first try. Keep your spirits up!

    The question that pops to your mind now should be 'Why? Why do Norwegians use so much time to get used to eat something that obviously never was intended as human food?' I guess there are several answers to that. One is that you're not a 'real Norwegian' if you don't eat lutefisk, so the honour of the whole nation rests upon them. And since Norwegians are very proud of their nation, they do whatever possible to avoid embarrassment.

    The second reason are the 'accessories' that go with lutefisk. 'Accessories' in this case doesn't mean the potatoes, grease, fried bacon and everything else you need to make it edible. The main accessory to lutefisk is huge amounts of beer and aquavit2 .

    So if you eat your lutefisk, you'll get some glasses of aquavit as a reward. This makes lutefisk extremely social and fun. Try it!

    Researcher's Note: I prefer to eat my lutefisk meals without the fish. No pain, just sheer fun.

    1 Even most Norwegians will agree that lutefisk tastes bad, but you'll need to pour huge amounts of aquavit in them to get this confession.

    2 A clear Scandinavian liquor made by re-distilling neutral spirits and then flavouring them with caraway seeds.



    The quintessential Dutch food experience is the FEBO snack automat. These are great walls of heated compartments, all clad in shiny chrome, brightly lit and impeccably clean. Drop a coin in the slot and the door of your chosen compartment flicks open, disgorging some lump of tasteless deep-fried mystery-meat apologetically sweating grease into its cardboard carton. Nowhere illustrates better the Dutch love of scrubbed cosiness and efficiency and their total indifference to the pleasures of the palate. This sense of culinary anticlimax is everywhere in the country. I will never forget buying what I hoped was a spicy pasty in Rotterdam, only to find that it was filled with nothing but white sauce. Likewise the day a Dutch flatmate cooked us what she swore was a delicious traditional dish, then brought in a pan of reconstituted powdered mash, kale and tinned frankfurters. Even the more appealing Dutch treats, such as double-fried chips with mayonnaise, are spoilt by lack of care: the oil for the second frying is often stale, while the mayo is a form of sickly, watery industrial run-off. Thankfully, the Dutch Indonesians have improved things a little by injecting much needed care and spice into the national diet.

    Czech Republic

    Lard-loving Czechs damn anything they find boring as "neslany, nemasly", which means "not salty, not fatty". Happily for them, little meeting that description finds its way on to their plates. Plonked goutily in the middle of central Europe's dumpling belt, the Czechs' take on bowel-paralysing Euro-stodge lacks the occasional delicacy of the Austrians or the tangy seasonings of the Poles. A typical Czech plateful consists of great slabs of greyish flesh slathered with fatty, tasteless gravy, mopped up with dumplings that taste like kitchen roll dipped in egg. Still, what Czech cooks lack in imagination, they compensate for with meat - lots of it. Telling a Czech you don't like meat is like expressing a dislike for oxygen. The bezmasa ("without meat") section of a typical menu does not contain vegetarian dishes, but ones that have an ever so slightly lower tonnage of meat in them that the rest of the card, as the Czechs think that eggs and vegetables must be lonely without pork fat to keep them company. That people with standards so low for anything savoury can produce such exquisite cakes and beer is one of Europe's great mysteries.


    We still have little to be smug about. Although we pride ourselves on our little gastro-boom, the British still eat more rubbish than any other European country. Eastern European staples may be heavy, but at least they are made of food. Our diet, by contrast, is plumped up with over-processed industrial gunk, awash with flavour enhancers, stealthy trans-fats and hidden glucose syrup. Some enjoy a shriek of horror at Turkey Twizzlers, but middle-class bottled pasta sauces, pre-packed Thai curries and supposedly luxurious ice-creams are scarcely much purer. Such a junk-filled diet hardly surprises when good eating is thought so dispensable that a 20-minute lunch break is the national average. It is not as if traditional British food is worth the nostalgia we squander on it either. Cod is officially the world's blandest fish; Yorkshire Pudding tastes of nothing whatsoever; and a country that considers a Bath bun a sensuous treat must be dead from the waist down. Thank goodness for immigration.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/food/Story/0,,1783596,00.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2006 #2
    United States

    • Wendys
    • Tacco Bell
    • McDonalds
    • KFC
    • Panda Express
    • Burger King
  4. Sep 11, 2006 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    I LOVE PANDA EXPRESS!!!!! I call it the "Screeching Panda". The Sesame Orange chicken is to die for. So is the broccolli beef. :grumpy: How dare you disparage the Screeching Panda????? :surprised
  5. Sep 11, 2006 #4
    I'll eat fugu if someone will go with me.
  6. Sep 11, 2006 #5


    I hate fast food of almost every variety (and every last chain variety).
  7. Sep 11, 2006 #6
    I dont even know what to say here...................I thought you had taste :redface:
  8. Sep 11, 2006 #7
    Seriously though, who wants to go get fugu with me?
  9. Sep 11, 2006 #8


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    I'll get fugu, if they don't leave the toxins in.
  10. Sep 11, 2006 #9
    Go fugu yourself (not you evo).
  11. Sep 11, 2006 #10


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    I have taste, this is yummy mall food.
  12. Sep 11, 2006 #11
    That right there is a contradiction.
  13. Sep 11, 2006 #12


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    Staff: Mentor

    Let's go British and get some blood sausage with tongue. And some steak and kidney pie made the traditional way with suet.
  14. Sep 11, 2006 #13
    I want to find a place around here where I can get a sausage, sour kraut, potatoes and a beer....but no luck so far.
  15. Sep 11, 2006 #14


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    Staff: Mentor

    I'm great at cooking that, come here.
  16. Sep 11, 2006 #15
    I've got chicken alfredo cooking :biggrin:
  17. Sep 11, 2006 #16
    You live to far, :frown: and I can't find Centralis on any map.
  18. Sep 11, 2006 #17


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    Staff: Mentor

    A friend just had a birthday, so I flew smoked and plain wild alaskan salmon from Alasaka to him along with shrimp, lobster, trout, and alaskan crab, packed in a wooden rowboat.. I'ts a boatload of fish. :biggrin:

    He made the mistake of telling me he prefered fish to steak.
  19. Sep 11, 2006 #18
    At the University of Arizona's student union, there is a panda express. Over the summer, I got hooked. I don't know what it is about the orange chicken that makes me LOVE it so much! :!!) :bugeye:
  20. Sep 11, 2006 #19

    :yuck: .
  21. Sep 11, 2006 #20


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    A suprise may be in your fridge right now. Look waaay in the back of your fridge. Find that tupperware bowl filled with something that you have totally forgotten about.

    If "it" has been in the fridge long enough "It" usually appears as a substance that is not recognizable as anything known to man. Gray and brown seem to be the predominate colors.

    These nasty things resemble a small slimy dead critter and could probably even qualify to be an entirely new food group. I just call them tupper stuff.:biggrin:
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2006
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