Across the Cafe Table #11
Welcome to Across the Cafe Table, where every 2nd Wednesday of the month we have a discussion topic. This month’s topic is one of our favorite things! Food! Let’s discuss the weird, odd, good, or bad. Learn more here about our monthly cafe chats.
The buck or donkey stops here, dining in Lombardy
Have you seen the Food List Challenge app on Facebook? The 100 must try food items include everything from bird’s nest soup to crickets to Moon Pies! Supposedly your average person has tried around 20 items. I clocked in at 69, which seems to be about average for most of my Facebook friends who have accepted the challenge.
One of my favorite food items that made the list is raw oysters. I have often worn the fact that I swallowed my first when I was about four years old as a badge of honor among the foodie set. I have come to two conclusions about trying an “adventurous” food item at an early age: 1) it makes that specific food more palatable 2) trying something that at first repulses you at an early age makes you more likely to try new foods in general.
But where exactly would it stop for me? Thankfully, I’ve never been faced with trying crickets, but I have tried my fair share of things that many would turn their noses up at. Well I finally found out this past September while on the Travel Belles’ trip to Piedmont, Italy.
It wouldn’t stop with eating raw meat in Piedmont, but would stop with eating a certain cooked meat in neighboring Lombardy. It would stop with the animal that led Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. It would stop with Eeyore. It would stop with Ravioli of Donkey Ragu during a lovely visit to a rice plantation. Americanized palettes will probably be glad to know, donkey is not on the Facebook food challenge list. But it was on the menu at Corte Visconti. I was visiting the rice plantation and its restaurant with Kathy Ayer. The name of her blog is Food Lover’s Odyssey – you can read her account our adventurous foodie visit here. Needless to say, she didn’t hesitate. Joining us was equally will-try-pretty-much-anything foodie, Krista Bjorn, the Rambling Tart.
The pressure was on and I reluctantly took a bite. Frankly the taste I took was so small, I am ashamed to call it a bite. Hell, it was hardly even a taste. It was Eeyore! Texture, taste and smell aside, he didn’t even have a chance to win me over.
For the record everything else was divine, and nothing for the more adventurous foodie than I to sneeze at: Goose Salami and Fennel, Lard with Honey and Rosemary, and three kinds of risotto, of course, one that was made of frog (lots of frogs in the marshands, apparently.)
I am not an adventurous eater. When I was a child, my parents used to joke that I ate like a prisoner: bread and butter with a glass of water, please. Well, that wasn’t so far off from reality. There was even a time when I didn’t like chocolate. Yes, chocolate.
Over the years, I grew out my extreme pickiness, but throughout college – where the only kind of culinary discoveries offered by the dining hall are the bad kind – I subsisted mainly on bagel sandwiches and simple salads. That is until I spent a semester studying and living with a host family in Spain.
Now, Spanish food isn’t exactly exotic and sometimes it can be downright bland. But that semester successfully transformed my eating habits; I knew I had to chow down whatever was put in front of me and do so with a smile to avoid offending my very caring host family.
During those four months, I had my first beef burger (I know, I’m crushing your American stereotypes here), fell in love with my host mother’s perfectly prepared judías verdes (green beans) and began to appreciate the savory leg of cured ham that sat on the kitchen counter.
When I returned to the States, I brought along a more refined palette and my newfound willingness to try almost any food once, which resulted in a great deal of shock on the part of my parents. And since then, I’ve continued to happily awe those who once knew me as the pasta-with-butter girl by trying things like bull tail in Spain and horse tripe in Rome. After all, being a traveler means tucking into the local delicacies once in a while, no matter how frighteningly exotic they may seem at first.
Now how about you? What are some foods you’ve tried while traveling? Link up below (and link back to this post) or answer in the comments!
Unusual eats in Asia