Have you ever imagined sitting in a far-away land and tasting some really weird stuff? Celebrity Chef Anthony Bourdain does more than imagine… he’s goes out and eats whatever is put in front of his nose. And most of it sounds really awful! Now, you can read all about it, in A Cook’s Tour: In search of the Perfect Meal.
How about a little sip of clear juice from a bottle filled with snakes, coiled around a beaked bird still dressed in all its feathers? It’s popular in Vietnam. No? Well, then. Maybe a nest of hardened spit from a Chinese swallow appeals? Bird-nest soup is the most expensive dish in China, where they’ve been enjoying it for hundreds and hundreds of years. If you are brave enough to taste it, Anthony says it’s like noodles, pretty ordinary. “The chunks are the problem,” he says. “They come from hacking up a whole pigeon. Meat, bones, eyes, beak, and all go into a drained coconut shell, and are then cooked with the nest, medicinal herbs, dates, scallions, ginger, and the swallows’ eggs.” Lots of folks like this dish. Maybe you would too? Perhaps you would even classify it as the perfect meal?
Dipping into chef Bourdain’s travel book takes a pretty strong stomach. But if you can stand it, he also dishes out some tips for great places to travel to. It makes for adventurous reading, for foodies and nonfoodies, alike.
And while we’re on the topic of trying new foods, there are folks out there who band together to do just that. The Gastronauts is one such club, and they’ve tried the strangest things… tripe, tongue, even live drunken shrimp.
Just saying, next time your mom serves up parsnips or Brussels sprouts, in comparison, it shouldn’t seem that bad to taste a few bites. Just imagine you’re Anthony. Or out with the Gastronauts. You might just learn to like a new veggie! Remember, the more kinds of food you try, the better your chances of getting all the nutrients you need for a healthy body and a sharp mind.
And in case anyone is still wondering what they’re serving in the photo at the top of this story, it’s just a tasty monkfish on the Costa Brava in Spain. Fish is a great source of magnesium, which protects your heart and helps prevent stroke. If the waiter says you can eat the eye, don’t listen to him!
A Cook’s Tour
Raincoast Books 2006