January 4th, 2010

books hungry caterpiller

Not even on a bet

I try my best not to be ethnocentric, in theory, when it comes to food. I have the caveat 'in theory' there because while I try my best not to apply my particular ethics or tastes to what others choose to eat, that doesn't mean I want to put that theory into practice by actually trying whatever the hell it is. When it comes to food in general, I mostly stick to the basics and I don't exactly feel any particular need to broaden my horizons in most cases. If you need a clear example of this you can ask mock26, Richard, or Melissa about the time they dragged me to an Indian restaurant for the first time. Though I admit I was probably a bit more judgmental that time though that was wholly because I was actually expected to eat some of whatever was served up.

All of that aside, I recognize that the many different cultures of this world all grew up with their own particular idiosyncrasies of diet that those of us not of that culture would find repugnant for one reason or another. Sometimes it's clearly a moral or ethical dilemma such as whether you find the idea of consuming certain animals problematic. Other times it's not so much a moral issue, such as whether dog or guinea pig belongs on the menu, but revulsion due to the way something is prepared or how it is eaten.

I've realized long ago that I have very little room to throw stones in either of these situations as the Chinese, as a people, have probably consumed just about every single thing that creeps, crawls, swims, flies, or oozes across God's green earth, and many in manners that would turn a non-native's stomach, sounding like an marathon airing of Fear Factor. I don't subscribe to all of those culinary vagaries but I figure there's enough cultural/racial guilt to go around. All of that said, I have found what may be the most unabashedly repugnant 'delicacy' I've ever heard described. It's called Kiviak and I discovered it due to anime.

It's holiday 'Free Leech' on my favorite anime bittorrent server and so over the course of the past week and a half I've been filling up a terrabyte drive with ridiculous amounts of anime. I've pretty much run out of well-known series I want to see and have been plumbing the depths of the more obscure offerings, queuing them up for download now on the off-chance I'll actually want to watch it in 2-3 months when I work through my backlog. One anime that caught my eye was: Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture.

It's an anime about microbiology based off a manga about microbiology (who says comics aren't educational?). The main character enrolls at an agricultural college and has the rather unique ability of being able to see bacteria and microorganisms blown up to a visible size and is then able to actually converse with them. I haven't actually watched any of it (or even downloaded it yet) but the pictures make it look like a cutesy petri-dish version of pokemon.

You know you just want to give L. Bulgaricus a hug, right?

Anyway, the anime seems to take its educational role seriously and apparently spends a lot of time promoting the beneficial effects of microorganisms in our lives. One of the ways is through their use in varied food production. I stumbled across a clip from the anime which immediately gave me the willies and prompted this entry. Take a look:

For those of you who can't be bothered to watch the short video clip, here's a description of Kiviak from a food blog:

Kiviak is a traditional Christmas dish from Greenland. It seems to consists of whole small auks birds which are put in a freshly slaughtered seal and buried in the permafrost, under a flat stone, for seven months, then dug up around Christmas. Then they bite the heads off and squeeze out the tart guts, which are slightly toxic. It does not seem to smell worst than a matured Stilton cheese. Otherwise it tastes like a matured cheese and very pungent

There are so many things wrong with this I don't even know where to start. First of all, why the hell would you go through this when you just managed to snag a freshly slaughtered seal? Eat the fucking seal. Right?

Even if for some deranged reason you don't want to to eat the seal, what sort of twisted cuckoo reasoning would make you decide to stuff it with a few dozen pigeons, seal it back up, and bury it under the fucking ground for 7 months? All of that is practically sane compared to the idea that you then dig this up and suck out the asshole of those pigeons, ingesting the putrefied intestinal goo. Jesus Christ on a pogo stick! They don't even eat the seal meat or the bird meat. They're after the fermented goo that you get when you let internal organs and blood putrefy and ooze together over the course of half a year. WTF? Not to mention that the resulting goo is 'slightly toxic'. No shit, sherlock.

If you have ever heard of anything that sounds more noxious, I'd love to hear it because I simply can't believe this doesn't take the prize. I can just imagine eskimos or vikings or whoever came up with this ridiculous shit carrying around little fermented pigeon corpses on their belt, popping the head off of one to then take a refreshing pull of its guts. I can see a soda commercial in this.
oots shoeless god of war

Obsession, for men

There are times I wonder if I have a slower form of ADHD. I tend to flit from obsession to obsession, but over a much longer time frame. It's this personality quirk that keeps me from signing up for anything with a monthly fee since it's almost a guarantee that if I'm really interested in something this month, it'll be in the trash bin of obsessions past within another month or two. It's not not like I won't become interested in whatever it is again some point down the line, but it could be months or even years. I've had fixations on various video game systems, fantasy novels, audiobooks, anime, musicals, dungeons and dragons, board games, etc. No matter what my interest is at any particular time, it sucks up a tremendous amount of my processing power but I'll readily drop it like a hot potato when the next mental fad comes along. My room is absolutely littered with the remains of past fandoms, leaving with it piles of assorted video games, unopened ccg packs, a closet full of shrink wrapped board games, and all sorts of minutiae.

All of that is merely background to the fact that I just ordered a popcorn-popper from Amazon. Yep, I've decided that my current obsessive interest, as far as food goes, will be air-popped popcorn. Like other things in my life, I tend to fixate on certain foods. When I was living in Chicago, I could go weekss subsisting ham and cheese sandwiches or frozen pizza or hamburger helper, or, as it looks like might be the case again, popcorn.

I've never liked microwave popcorn for some reason. It just tastes, feels, and smells 'wrong' to me. The fact that it almost instantly dissolves the minute it touches your tongue is incredibly disturbing and artificial as far as I'm concerned. Air-popping your own popcorn yields a far better product in my opinion and you can add just the right amount of butter and salt to taste. For a time in Chicago I bought an air-popper and would proceed to make terrifying voluminous bowls of popcorn, which I would proceed to eat for meals over days. Food-based obsessions tend to die away pretty rapidly due to the 'sick of it' effect and I haven't thought about popcorn in more than a passing way for years.

It popped back in mind recently as I contemplated a bowl of Shelley's leftover microwave popcorn. What could be a better food than popcorn? I spend most of my nights watching anime or otherwise fiddling with useless crap. Popcorn would make for a great snack/meal all rolled into one as well as being a non-messy snackfood I could munch while watching my videos and lounging around. Just like that, the idea took hold and I've been thinking about popcorn for 2 days now. I gave some minor effort to trying to locate my old popcorn popper that I brought back from Chicago, but God only knows where it is now. Instead, I decided to just buy another one tonight on the spur of the moment and according to Amazon it should be here by Thursday. On Thursday I will proceed to locate a salad bowl large enough to submerge (at least his head) and drown a man in and fill it with a ridiculous amount of air-popped popcorn.

It's going to be wonderful.