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Wednesday 13 February 2013

Are you an adventurous eater?

Note: vegetarians look away now... ;-)

So it seems that the horsemeat scandal is widening to encompass more countries and a wider selection of food producers. I think most people would agree that it's a shocking state of affairs all round, and everything that can possibly be said about the whole thing has probably already been said.

I have to say, however, that the big issue for me was the pure and simple fraud of it, rather than the any ickiness about it being horsemeat. You see, while I would never in any way condone cruelty to animals, I am not at all sentimental about them either. Guess what? I've eaten horsemeat, and it tasted quite nice.

In fact, when I thought about it, I realised that over the years I've digested quite a lot of what some people would consider "non-standard" meat items:
- snails
- alligator
- ostrich
- kangaroo
- crocodile
- reindeer
- elk
- just about most game you can think of
- goat
- eel
- most raw fish
...and pretty much every seafood/shellfish you can conceivably imagine.

I'm not a huge fan of offal, but I will eat it to be polite, and have probably had my fair share of liver, hearts, kidneys, tripe and tongue in my time. I've therefore always prided myself on how adventurous my palette is and it pains me somewhat when my eldest daughter in particular turns her nose up at perfectly un-adventurous food items!

In many ways, our diets have become more adventurous than in my childhood. My children have eaten a huge number of exotic cuisines from around the world that I wasn't aware of as a child. In a lot of other ways, however, some foods that were quite commonly found on our table when I was a child seem to have fallen out of favour completely - not only various animal "extremeties" (am I the only one who remembers eating giant bovine tongues, oxtail and pigs trotters?), but also meats like rabbit - wonderfully tasty, yet which has seemingly fallen prey to sentimentality about cute bunnies. Previous food scares obviously play a part, but also perhaps a certain "sanitisation" of our food that results in more processing and ironically a move further away from being able to tell what is in it.

It seems you have more chance of being adventurous with food with non-meat items these day. A quick perusal of recent recipes list the following items that I hereby confess to never having tried:

Chia seeds (never even heard of these before)
Quinoa (ditto)
Goji berries

...although perhaps I may be forgiven as most of those are not home-grown traditional UK produce.

Quinoa. (Apparently.)

Perhaps we're on safer ground with these of course, although pesticides and genetic modification also mean that there is never any guarantee that things that we don't expect also end up in non-meat items. Other that growing your own there is no real fail-safe way of knowing what you are consuming.

Anway, all of that is a convoluted way of asking what the weirdest thing is that you've eaten? I'd love to know!


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