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August 27, 2012 / amberwoodterracechiro

All the Weird Things I’ve Eaten in the Past Few Months

I’ve been eating Paleo for a few years now.  There have been moments where I ate things “not on the menu,” there have been many moments of “primal eating,” and there has been plenty of experimenting with new foods.  However, once I was pretty comfortable with cooking Paleo meals, I began to take on more.  The first thing I did was find a source of quality meat.  Once I solidified that, I began to make homemade versions of things I was buying a lot in the store, such as broths, ice cream, extracts, etc.  This was obviously my inspiration for “homemade month” a couple months back.  The next thing I began doing was trying things I have never tried before that  are extremely traditional, cheap, and a little “odd.”  Our grandparents all used to eat liver and onions and the marrow from bones.  Traditional cultures all eat organ meats, ferment their own food, and wouldn’t dare waste any part of a hard-earned animal.  So, I’m here today reporting on how I liked these strange things I’ve tried.

1. Beef tongue:  Thanks to my friend Chet, I was able to try some beef tongue a few months back at one of our infamous Crossfit parties.  First of all, it looked disgusting.  It kind of reminded me of really overcooked, stale beef.  So, I was a little hesitant to pick it up and put it in my mouth, but I thought to myself “what’s the worst that can happen?  It is nasty and I spit it out?”  In it went.  It was kind of tough, but pretty dang good.  I’m not sure if everyone knew what it was, but the entire thing was gone by the end of the party…so people may have eaten it without knowing, and that’s a true testament to “it’s not THAT bad.”

2. Raw oysters: I went on vacation a couple months back to visit my friends in the Carolina’s.  These are the kind of friends that love food as much as I do (although I wouldn’t say their typical menu looks like mine).  So, when I go to visit them, which restaurants we are going to try are top of the list!  They have an oyster bar out there called Pearlz, and I had never had oysters prior.  I have eaten a lot of shellfish; I get down with some mussels, shrimp, and I’ve even ingested crazy shellfish from my time in Vietnam, which made me swell up!  So, there’s a chance I may be allergic to some kind of shellfish…yikes…but I felt safe eating in a restaurant that wasn’t on stilts in the middle of nowhere where no one speaks English.  Nothing like trying to do charades to tell someone you are dying of allergic reaction!  😉  Anyway, when in Rome.  So, I decided that if I was gonna have raw oysters somewhere, South Carolina was the perfect place.  They are gross.  They taste like salt water, they are gooey, and they force you to make disgusting faces.  However, believe it or not, I went back for another.  It’s easier for me to eat something when I know how healthy it is for me, but when the waitress starts describing the different flavor profiles from different regions and offers you one that tastes like melon and cucumber, you gotta just do it.  Still nasty.  Next.


3. Beef liver: Liver has the amazing capability to nourish you and take stress off of your adrenal glands.  On top of being a nutrient powerhouse, it’s cheap.  So, my bright ideas forced me to cook some liver.  I couldn’t bring myself to eat what looked like a cadaver’s liver from my days teaching anatomy, so I decided to make pate because it would be like dip, right?  This one actually wasn’t bad!  I’ve been eating it on cucumbers and it has a slightly earthy flavor and creamy texture like that of hummus.  I can’t eat a whole ton of without thinking about the fact that it’s liver, but I can definitely use it as a snack! If you choose to try liver, make sure it’s from a pastured animal because organ meats can be a storehouse for toxic buildup if the animal was not raised appropriately.

4. Roe: Fish eggs….they look like little tiny orange specs all over your sushi roll.  Delicious.   They are prized in many cultures for fertility, and highly recommend trying this one!

5. Ground Cherries: This year I decided to invest in an organic CSA down the street from me called Rise Up Farms.  They have given me some interesting things that I have never tried up until this point.  I began getting what they call “ground cherries” in my box almost every week, and they have a very unique flavor.  They are in the gooseberry family I believe and the taste is a cross between a tomato and a pineapple.  I’ve never tasted anything that has a similar flavor, so it’s hard to describe.  Definitely a thumbs up.

6. Sweetbreads: These are animal glands.  I will admit that I ate them at the prompting of my friend, Ben, on that same trip to South Carolina.  Like every other organ meat, they are nutrient powerhouses, but let’s face it, who wants to stare down a thymus gland and eat it?!   So, we were at a very upscale French restaurant who prepares everything from scratch, and once again, I thought, “When in Rome!”  It was breaded, which was a huge hurdle for me to overcome to put it in my mouth (even more so than the fact it was a gland!), but I did it.  Anything fried tastes pretty good for a couple reasons, you have breading competing with the actual flavor, and it softens the unpleasant texture that comes with slimy, squishy foods.  I’d eat it again, but probably not anytime soon.

7. Bone Marrow: In all of my cookbooks, there are recipes for bone marrow.  This is not something you find just sitting at the store, so it wasn’t until I started ordering all my meat from Honored Prairie that I encountered marrow bones that I could purchase.  Once again, nutrient powerhouses that cultures have prized for generations that we currently turn our nose up at.  They were cheap, I knew I could use the bones to make stock after I was done, and I knew my dogs would LOVE me to hate the marrow.  Sold.  I baked them, took the marrow out and ate it with parsley salad, and decided the texture was too much for me.  I ate every last bit because I knew how nutritious it was, but I started hiding it in things like mashed potatoes.  LOL.  The flavor was great, the texture was like eating mushy animal fat, that was so rich, you could only take a couple bites.  I probably won’t make it again, but at least I can say that I’ve tried it.  There is a blog that I follow too called Mommypotamus, and she posted a custard recipe that used marrow for some of the creaminess!  I could stomach that for sure.  If I’m being honest though, not at the top of my list.

I’m sure there are tons of other things that I’ve tried which I neglected to mention, and I’m sure there are tons of things that are just normal to me now!  However, I wanted to write this post because I want people to see that even I am encountering new foods on a regular basis.  I didn’t wake up one day and decide not to eat grains, dairy, legumes, refined sugar, and instead replace them with kombucha, homemade stock, almond butter, and pate!  I used to pick up one new spice every week at the grocery store and then would find a recipe that I could use it in.  After so many months, I had a well-stocked spice rack, and I was familiar with tons of different flavor profiles!  Then I would walk through the produce section and pick up one piece of produce that I had never tried before.  Doing so, I tasted things like Ugli fruit, turnips, brussel sproats, kumquats, mango, many different tropical fruits, and parsnips!  Many of those things turned into regular items on my list.  I never would have known I like them if I hadn’t tried them.  Doing it in small increments if very helpful; don’t overwhelm yourself by trying all new things at once.  Eat the things you like, and throw in an item here and there to experiment with.  If you hate it, no problem, it’s just one thing; if you love it, add it to your rotation!  Before you know it, you will know exactly what you do like, what different foods taste like, and you will be able to whip up several different foods in no time, which will keep things interesting.  Food should be enjoyed.  There is no reason to sit around eating crappy tasting food “because it’s healthy.”  There are TONS of foods that are healthy and my guess is that you will easily find the ones you like.  EAT THOSE!

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