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In yesterday’s FridgeCam, Ben finally decided to take a bit of revenge on Jamie, Mike and Barry, by making them try some delightfully weird and wonderful foods from around the world. Watching the boys cringe as they reluctantly tucked into a 5-course meal presented by smug-faced Ben was simply priceless, but today we’d like to actually shed a bit more light on each of the dishes they tasted, all of which are really eaten in various countries.
Our research quickly showed us that what might be seen as weird or disgusting to some, can be perfectly normal or even considered a delicacy in other cultures...
The culinary journey started off with Ben serving up shrimp that had been sun dried and shrunk to thumbnail size. We’re used to eating fresh fish in England, so the concept of dried shrimp is strange, but it is used in many Asian cuisines, primarily Chinese, for its sweet and unique ‘umami’ (or so-called “fifth taste”) flavour. Examples of the types of recipes that dried shrimp can be found within include soups, braised dishes and dim sum.
Next on the menu was fish maw, which is an internal gas-filled organ (also known as the swim bladder) that contributes to a fish’s ability to control its buoyancy. In China, this collagen-rich dish is a gourmet delicacy served in soups and stews. Fish maw is usually dried or deep-fried and can be a good texture ingredient, enhanced by cooking with other strongly flavoured ingredients.
The third course had us quacking up ... it was duck tongue! Another Chinese delicacy, this dish is usually prepared by stir-frying, braising or deep-frying. The duck tongue is fully edible except for the bone, and the contrasting texture of the succulent meat and crunchy cartilage at the tip is enjoyable to many. Famous roast duck speciality restaurants in Beijing serve up multi-course banquets in which all parts of duck are eaten during the meal.
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From one bird to another, the next item to be sampled was chicken feet, or even ‘adidas’ as the Filipinos commonly know them (named after the popular sports brand)! Chicken feet can be eaten hot or cold, in restaurants and bars or as street food, in several countries around the world, which is why Britain and America are increasingly exporting them! To mention just a few examples, chicken feet are enjoyed as takeaway food in the Philippines, part of spicy sauce in Mexico, a soup ingredient in Jamaica and you can even eat ‘chicken feet chips’ in Bali! They are most commonly consumed in China though, where they can be served as a beer snack, cold dish, soup or main dish. Most of the edible tissue on the feet consists of skin and tendons, with no muscle, giving the feet a distinctly different texture from other chicken meat.
Finally it was time for dessert, which was inspired by a number of your responses to our Bushtucker Trial video posted about 18 months ago (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FpXHj19pJA), where Ben and Jamie tried dragon fruit and custard apple. This time Ben served the boys durian fruit, which is regarded by many people in Southeast Asia as the "king of fruits". It is distinctive for its large size, strong odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk ...the inspiration behind the design of Singapore’s Esplanade building, also known as ‘The Durian’! Mike definitely struggled to get past the smell, which is the reason that durian fruit is actually banned in several public areas within Asia, but for those that can overcome the odour, many actually find that this fleshy fruit has a pleasant and enjoyable taste!
Well there you have it! ... Hopefully we’ve been able to give you a bit of background into some new and unfamiliar world foods that might thoroughly disgust some while simply delighting others!
Are there any delicacies from where you are that you think we should try? If so, please let us know below!