My hubby has been in his hometown this week. His Grandma has been ill, and his sister and husband from Mississippi have made a rare and welcomed visit. So he decided to hang out with them for a few days.
I was feeling a little blue that we had to stay back, but it’s tough taking off from school and work. However, yesterday afternoon, Troy called, asking if we could make the couple hour trip (four counting return) for a special, surprise celebration for his Dad, who turns 75 on Monday. “There will be pickled herring,” he said, knowing I am a fan of this delicacy.
With no time to spare after school, I and the two youngest boys jumped in the van, grabbed our customary gas station drinks and meat sticks and headed to lakes country in Minnesota.
When we arrived, the party was underway, and the table filled with finger foods.
I helped myself to some braunschweiger coated with walnuts. Oh my! I haven’t had brauncshwieger in years! It was delicious.
We were pulled away for a bit to visit Grandma in the hospital, and by the time we returned, the herring had been depleted. Duped! But there were still oysters to slurp down. And soon the fresh, breaded walleye, being prepared out on the back deck, began coming in on plates, and everyone drooled and helped themselves. Our nephew Anthony, 9, declared that he’d caught the huge walleye that was feeding us all! It was delish!
Then the breaded fish-egg sacks came, and no. Just no. I couldn’t do it. The egg sacks were met with mixed reaction. Some loved them, but others didn’t like the texture and said they were dry. Those in that camp made a lot of funny faces. I did, however, have some of the fish cheeks that chef Michael Salonen had so lovingly extracted for our dining pleasure.
All this “weird food” got me thinking about some of the crazy things I’ve eaten in my life. My Dad started introducing me to crazy food early on. From a young age, I was lapping up things like sardines, pickled pigs feet (I know…) and a variety of strange concoctions he’d whip up for a late-night snack. The military had taught him to be creative in the kitchen, and with his tastes, I think.
Then there was my Grandpa Joe, who was a huge fan of escargot — a more refined weird food if you will — and eventually, I tried it (au gratin style) and found it quite tasty. That was during our honeymoon in Florida, where I also had the privilege of indulging in alligator nuggets. Not bad! “Tastes just like chicken!”
Growing up in northeast Montana, there was a lot of tripe and deer meat, and our local meat market carried pretty much everything you could find in a cow. I remember being eye level with the cow tongue when it dawned on me what that big lump of strange-looking “meat muscle” was. Ewwwww!
But some people love cow tongue and kidneys and, who knows, maybe even eyeballs. Dad was big on turkey necks and gizzards and hearts. Same with Troy’s dad, Roger. And his Grandpa John used to drool over head cheese. If you don’t know what it is, look it up. I’ve never gotten quite that brave.
When I shared about the breaded fish-egg sacks on Facebook, my friend Patti said she would have tried them. I asked her what other crazy things she’s eaten through the years. Rocky Mountain oysters (look it up – can’t do it), shark, tripe and heart, and even BEAR, she said. I think she has me beat. But she said she can’t do herring. Oh, but it’s so good!
Food is a funny thing. One man’s delicacy could be another’s “don’t even think about it.” Those of us who have tried some of these crazy things sort of wear it as a badge of honor. We’ve tried it and survived, and even kind of liked it, and in some cases, LOVED IT.
So what about you? What is the craziest thing you’ve ever tried, and lived to tell?