Last time, I talked about some common Vietnamese foods. This time, I’ll talk about a few … less common foods.
I said that I’ve adopted a “Why not eat it?” attitude towards food. For example, why is it acceptable to eat pig, but not dog? Why is it acceptable to eat the muscle and fat of an animal, but not its organs? Why is it acceptable to eat chicken or duck before it’s fertilized (as an egg, obviously) or after it’s hatched (as meat), but not somewhere in between? And how much bonding and culture do you miss out on by turning up your nose at local food?
I hereby proclaim a declaration of independence from “normal food”! Join me!! Break free from your food conditioning! Liberate yourself from your narrow conception of what is and what isn’t edible!! Emancipate your diet!!!
(…just please don’t eat anything poisonous…)
Here are some foods that are more or less unusual to the typical American eater. And (shocker!) they are all surprisingly delicious. Get ready.
1. Lưỡi vịt (duck tongue).
Crunchy and flavorful, and bigger than I expected. Not much meat though.
2. Bạch tuộc (octopus).
Here cooked in ginger broth, its salty and fishy, once you get over the suction cups. Slurp it like noodles!
3. Vú heo nướng và đậu bắp (grilled pork nipple and okra).
Chewy, rubbery. Pork breast is much better.
4. Nhộng ong chiên (fried bee larvae).
Tastes exactly like a potato latke, with fish sauce instead of applesauce.
5. Cá chình chiên (fried eel).
Didn’t know there were bones to be avoided – I thought it was just extra crunchy. Oops! Learned my lesson for the next time.
6. Thịt bò với con kiến (beef with red ants).
It was actually pretty good … until I felt an ant leg caught in my teeth. Then I stopped eating.
And for the grand finale……..
7. Hột vịt lộn sốt me (embryonic duck egg with tamarind sauce).
At least mine didn’t have a beak and feathers.
My advice to those wishing to be adventurous eaters: eat first, ask what it is later (if you can’t tell by looking at it). A lot of the initial revulsion you might feel is only in your mind. Challenge yourself to step outside your food comfort zone! Question your culinary conditioning!
Or, if all else fails and you’re still really nervous, chug a beer.
To all my fellow travelers out there: what are some interesting foods you’ve eaten?