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Jun 29, 201708:05 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Things I Will Not Eat

And a Story by Georgia Ruth Peyton

Hákarl

food-info.net

I asked my daughter, Georgia, to assist me with my blog this evening. She suggested a story. Towit: 

Once upon a time, there was a chicken at a farm. The chicken laid eggs, and there were babies inside of the eggs. The truck didn’t know there were babies in the eggs, and dropped them off at the store, and people bought them. 

One day, a little girl just like me was helping her mother make scrambled eggs for breakfast, and they found a baby chick! They owned it as a pet. 

The goldfish had a feeling the dog would eat the baby chick. The goldfish was right! The dog chased after the little chick, and ate it! Then, he threw up. Then, the chick was finally happy, and dog was very sorry. 

The end. 

I have translated this from the 5-year-old to some extent. Had I not, each sentence would have started with “And then…” Also, in the original telling, the dog dies. I felt that was a bit morbid. 

I confess I have not eaten much lately, and certainly nothing of note. I was at a loss about what to write, and figured asking my daughter for help was as good a way as any to get my creative juices flowing. 

It did that, though perhaps not as I intended. The concept of fertilized chicken eggs reminded me of balut (Fair warning, that link may disturb some folks, though it is technically “safe for work.”), which is a thing I have never eaten, and will almost certainly never eat. If I wanted to, I could pick some up at Hong Kong Market, where chicken and duck varieties are usually on offer at the counter near the registers. 

I recognize that there is nothing inherently wrong with eating balut, but while there are very, very few things I won’t at least try once, that’s one. 

I was reminded of another when a colleague told me she was traveling to Iceland soon. It’s called Hákarl: fermented shark meat. The wiki I’ve linked to includes the observation that “first-timers are sometimes advised to pinch their nose while taking the first bite, as the smell is much stronger than the taste.” 

Again, there are things that I eat which a native of Iceland or devotee of balut would likely find repulsive. Ultimately, everything in the universe is made up of tiny particles that, on some level, are indistinguishable. What one person finds delicious, another finds disgusting. That is all true, but I am not eating ammonia-scented shark pickle. 

To demonstrate that I am not culturally-biased, I have been trying to think of something we eat regularly that would, from another perspective, be seen as unpalatable. One thing that came to mind was the story I recall from my youth about an acceptable level of rodent poop in hot dogs. The story is true, to an extent. The FDA does allow certain levels of contaminants in all sorts of food products, but that’s hardly unique to sausages consumed all over the world. My guess is you’ll find less adulteration in products here than in many places.

I presume some would look askance at our consumption of crawfish, but those people are silly. I’d consider the “typical” American fast-food diet in this category, but, again, in one form or another you can find such restaurants just about anywhere. 

I hate to admit my own food-myopia, but can anyone think of a local food or ingredient that lots of people from another culture would find repugnant? I suspect I’m simply not imaginative enough tonight, and that someone will give an example in the comments. 

But could it also be that “American” food has been so widely distributed that people all over the world are more or less ok with eating chicken “nuggets” and pork meat formed into the shape of ribs and slathered in a tomato and corn syrup-based sauce? Or has “American” food has become so homogenized that we simply lack the sort of distinctive food that would turn stomachs elsewhere? 

 

Food for thought. 

 

 

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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

about

Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived here his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.

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