April 17, 2024

Good Things to Eat?

Oxford Companion to Cooking? My wife has expanded the cookbook collection…again! We have more cookbooks than a cooking school. The only time I get to eat is when I force myself to take a moment off from the never-ending job of building shelves for all the new cookbooks.

Yesterday, in a fit of curiosity, I put down my saw and hammer and actually took a moment to look at one of the books I was building these shelves for. I was amazed. I was speechless (some will count this as a blessing). I was fascinated. I was mesmerized. All of the above. Please allow me to quote to you a random selection of indispensable facts from my wife’s newest acquisition: “The Oxford Companion to Cooking.”

SKUNK – “The glands responsible for the horrible smell must, of course, be removed if the animal is to be eaten. However, if this and other preparations are carried out properly, it makes good food.”

BARFI is an Indian candy made from dried milk, sugar and various flavorings.

THE SCREWPINE – “Bears enormous fruits the size of human heads, which crumble when ripe into wedge-shaped segments which may be sucked, but only after roasting in the fire. This counts as edible, but its appeal is limited.”

LUPINS – Any fan of Monty Python’s Flying Circus will remember the lupin. Oxford reminds us that lupins can be ground into flour for lupin pasta or used for a lupin-tofu.

The PONYFISH is a small fish of the Indo-Pacific, noted for its covering of slime and, which upon death, exudes mucus. Ponyfish are widely used as food, but more often for ducks than for humans.

The starchy paste known as “FOO-FOO” is best made from yams, but must be vigorously pounded for at least 20 minutes to obtain the proper texture. The slightly elastic freshly pounded FOO-FOO loaf is torn by hand, then rolled into balls. Traditional FOO-FOO eaters swallow it whole.

“There has been, of late, a sharp decline in the use of whole undisguised animal heads on the British table.”

“Pacific Islanders have no pretensions to gourmet status as SPAM is held in high regard. Typical dishes include SPAM and eggs, SPAM and rice, SPAM sushi, SPAM musubi, SPAM lumpia, SPAM wontons, and SPAM tempura. SPAM is the motherhood-and-apple pie of Hawaii.” Another Monty Python favorite.

KUDZU is a source of valuable starch. In China it’s called GOK FUN.

LOCUST (the insect) is a popular food. In France, Schistocera gregaria is known as the dessert locust. Females are tastier than males. Fried locusts taste like whitebait stuffed with buttered toast.

“There are few records of porcupine being eaten except by gypsies and rural people who have nothing better.”

The STORK is now a protected species in Europe. However, in medieval times, storks were considered good eating. (Thus proving that eating stork proved to be an ineffective method of population delivery control.)

TOASTWATER is a health tonic made by pouring boiling water over toasted bread and drinking the cooled brew.

BOILED COW’S UDDER is doing “…a slow disappearing act – at least in Western countries. Prepared in Britain by tripe dressers, it smells faintly like boiled tongue, but is chewier.”

STARGAZY PIE is a traditional British pie made with small oily fish whose heads are left poking through the crust around the edge of the pie. This is described as “aesthetic” presentation, as if they are star gazing.

BATS taste like – you guessed it – CHICKEN! Restaurants that serve dog, often serve bat as well.

Termites are best prepared by drying in an iron pot over a gentle fire, stirring as if roasting coffee. Eaten out of hand, in the manner of popcorn, they are “delicate, nourishing and wholesome.” Pass the salt.

While BLACKBIRDS were actually baked into pies in the Middle Ages (as in the famous children’s rhyme), this practice is less popular in today’s world. (Writer’s note: Perhaps this is due to the blackbird’s scientific name, “Turdus merula.”) Good thing the Beatles used the vernacular singing in the dead of night.

In China, RAT SOUP is considered equal to oxtail soup. California rats are reported to be incredibly large, highly flavored and abundant.

Well, there you have it, food fans. My wife just called. The FOO-FOO is ready. I gotta go. Bon Appetite!

See ya around,


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