There’s Always Room for Haggis

I never participate in those surveys that people find so much fun on Facebook. Have you ever ridden in an ambulance? Do you prefer vanilla ice cream or chocolate ice cream? What is your mother’s maiden name? What is your favorite password? I will forever be convinced they are designed for someone in Nigeria to learn my passwords.

But I read them, and answer them in my mind. Yes, I’ve ridden in an ambulance. Chocolate ice cream all the way. No comment on the other two questions, but I know the answers.

Recently, one of the questions I read was What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten? That got me to thinking about what strange foods I’ve eaten in my nearly 67 years of life. Furthermore, it got me to thinking about how “strange” is in the eye of the beholder, or palate of the individual in this case. I, for example, have eaten oxtails on many occasions. It was one of my favorite meals made by my mother. Slimy, fatty, and delicious. Perhaps some consider that strange; I don’t. I also love me some escargot, though there are those who wouldn’t THINK about eating a snail. Yummy with lots of butter and garlic, and a bonus if puff pastry is involved.

I guess many would consider haggis to be strange. It’s hard to argue that it isn’t. After all, it’s the heart, liver, and lungs of a sheep mixed with oatmeal and fat and spices, wrapped in the sheep’s stomach lining, and boiled to within an inch of its life. I have eaten it on two occasions: once in Scotland, and once here in Denver when we attended a multicultural night at the grandkids’ school. Dave hired a bagpiper to “pipe” in the haggis, as is traditionally done in Scotland. It’s not tasty. Sorry Scotland. Stick to your whiskey.

My dad used to eat head cheese. There is no cheese involved in head cheese. What is involved is the ciced-up head (and various organs) of a calf or a pig floating in gelatin. My father loved it. It smelled awful. Simply awful.

One thing that I didn’t eat, but wish I had, was horsemeat in northern Italy. Again, the Italians don’t consider that strange at all, but I wasn’t brave enough to order horse meat on my pasta. I have regretted it ever since. It is on every menu during the spring in northern Italy.

The Asian countries take home the gold medal when it comes to strange things to eat. Lots of insects and worms and uteruses. (Uterusi?) As I perused a website featuring strange foods, I literally gagged at some of the photos.

My sister Bec tells the story of a friend of hers who served in the military in Vietnam. He dined one night with a native Vietnamese family. He was presented with a bowl of the soup they were all eating. However, as the guest of honor, his bowl featured the eyeball of the animal, with the retina holding it up so that it floated. They all watched him for his reaction. Not wanting to hurt any feelings, he ate the eyeball as expected. He told my sister, “I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings, but I also didn’t want to act too enthusiastic. After all, I knew there was another eyeball out there in the kitchen.”

It kind of makes a guy appreciate a good ol’ American hamburger, doesn’t it?

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