Archive: Gross Traditional Edibles
Lutefisk and haggis...every European country seems to have its food of penitence. These edible traditions are kept alive by the old folks so the young ones won't forget their suffering. Any warnings? Favorites?
Durian — and opinions
No one has mentioned durian, the stinky fruit popular in Singapore. Yummy! I am spoiled by living in a foodie haven (San Francisco Bay Area). Without leaving my hometown, I have eaten lutefisk (I can leave it), haggis, durian, carpaccio and tartare, calamari, shellfish in the shell, sashimi, goat/kid, and tripe soup (menudo!). I have, however, not yet faced the major challege of local Filipino cusine — crunchy embryonic chicks. In preparation for travel, I would advise practicing 1) dining somewhere other than McDonalds and school cafeterias, 2) ordering things other than over-cooked ground beef topped with Processed Cheese Food, 3)using phrasebooks for food words and guidebooks to identify local dishes, and 4)visiting food markets to learn about ingredients and read labels. This would do much to reduce shock, surprize and hunger. Please leave announcements of your "food issues" at home. I had several meals in Greece nearly ruined by my tour compatriots' discussions of their diets. I don't care why you are never eat mousakka, I find it greasily-delicious and our hosts should hear what they are doing right. If I hear one more pseudo-vegetarian denegrate fava beans, zucchini or eggplant (or the local olive oil they are cooked/dressed in) I will send them from the table! Local fresh produce, which you can see in the market — what a treat!
San Francisco, CA USA 03/29/03
Sheeps' Eyes & Snails
When i was in France i had the chance to try Escargot or snails. So i did! Eating snails was weird as you dont want to swallow it. But i did. Then I got the chance to eat sheeps eyes! How revolting!
London, England 03/26/03
Another Lard Appetizer
I was in Krakow this winter and my favorite resaurant, Chlopskie Jadlo, served a wonderful pork fat with bacon bits. Now I would not eat it here in the States, but boy it was good on cold Krakow days.
Doug Vukson-Van Beek
Minneapolis, MN USA 03/25/03
Last year my husband and I stopped for lunch at a very quaint looking roadside restaurant in Germany. While he ran off to the men's room I observed a group of locals enjoying (what looked like)a special honey and nut spread that they slathered on their crackers and bread. Since a bowl of this spread was on our table too, I put some on a cracker and had a taste... It was horrible! I'm pretty sure it was lard. Of course when my husband returned to the table I told him how great it was and encouraged him to have a mouthful. Which he did, then nearly spitting it out on the table. I don't suppose it was nice of me to laugh out loud, but I did anyway.
Bloomfield Hills, MI USA 03/23/03
I think it's so funny that people are so squeamish about raw fish — I *ADORE* sushi, and if you think about it, things like lox and ceviche and pickled herring etc. are just different forms of sushi... :D My weirdest food experience was with something called "lamb's melts". There is a local grocery store that carries a number of "ethnic" foods, and the meat section is particularly interesting sometimes... I saw these and was intrigued by their shape but had no idea what they were... I asked a woman nearby if she knew how to prepare them. She said she served them sauteed with onions & lemon. So I brought them home, and continued to look them up on the internet as I prepared them as suggested... turns out they're lamb testicles. As I am an adventurous soul, I did manage to get down a few mouthfuls — but it was just too...gah. The flavour wasn't awful, but it was strange enough that I couldn't finish. Oh well.
Los Angeles, USA 03/01/03
Raw herring in The Netherlands
I tried the raw herring dipped in raw onions at a street market in Leiden, The Netherlands. An older local man said he ate this treat every Saturday and he never had the flu! The taste was good, but I couldn't get past the texture. . .Still, I'm glad I tried it! (and to be honest, I split the fish with a friend, and she ate every bite.)
Den Haag, Netherlands 02/19/03
Arriving in Interlaken late in the day after 3 weeks in Italy, our hostess advised us to have dinner immediately because Swiss restaurants close so early. We hurried to a local place she recommended serving German dishes. We all ordered from a waitress who was obviously not pleased to have last minute customers. The dishes were individually cooked and when she started to serve me, she pulled the plate back and said, "Oh, you did not order Stroganoff." Well, I hadn't but I like stroganoff and if I had seen it on the menu, I probably would have besides, they weren't all that happy with us already, so I assured her it was fine. Throughout the meal she kept coming back all smiles asking if my meal was OK. I kept telling her how delicious I thought it was. Two nights later we ended up in the same restaurant and I looked in the menu for the stroganoff and there it was. I just hadn't noticed it before because I had just skipped over the page headed "Horse Meat". It was still delicious.
Tallahassee, FL USA 01/31/03
Fungus on my Pizza
I am Scottish living in America and let me tell you lot something. When I first came here I was 98LBs today I am , well lets just say I'm "twice the woman I was." While growing up and eating all that innard food in Scotland I was as slim as a bean pole, then come here and what happens? You lot fill me up with these disgusting pizza's imagine my disgust to find "fungus" on a pizza, ewwww. And try eating that hard shell of a Taco for the first time, well many many tacos fell into my lap I can tell you that . Irn Bru , now thats the best there is to drink. You poisoned me trying to make me drink that stuff root beer, sorry but that tastes like thinned out Pepto Bismol as far as I am concerned . The first time I had a hamburger it came with this salad on it that was falling off the bun, and I never asked for salad by the way. I prefered my "beef burgers" boiled, thank you very much . Oh and lets not talk about confusing me with your back to front and upside down candy bars. Haggis? I can take it or leave it, would sooner have a nice greasy scotch pie fresh and hot from the bakers with the grease running down my arm. I honestly think that the food manifactures here add fat to their product, even that bottled water. But before you all get your knickers in a twist, I have lived here now for 22 yrs and have become acustomed to the foods, although my body hates it. Now I just pick that fungus off my pizza, and thank goodness for the soft taco. God bless America! (even if we are a chubby nation). PS.. hubby was stationed in Dunoon on the USS Holland AS-32
Roy , Ut USA 01/18/03
Many years ago, I visited Australia and had dinner with a fellow American. He made me his favorite dish, chilli. When I took my first bite, I could believe how sweet the meat tasted. When I commented on how good it tasted he said, "I'm so glad you liked it, I made it with kangaroo meat". Horrified, I dropped my spoon and ran to the bathroom and got very sick.
St. Cloud, MN USA 01/17/03
I always like to try the local specialties, so while in Scotland I had to try haggis, and I loved it! After our first experience, my companions and I ordered it every chance we had. Don't be afraid to try something different.
Ann Arbor, MI USA 12/30/02
Sweet Ketchup is only one kind...
In an entry below someone talks about sweet ketchup, but actually ketchup began as a Malay/Indonesian food that comes in several flavors, all characterized by sweetness. The most common is ketjap manis, a sweetened, thickened soy sauce that Indonesians seem to eat on everything. Banana ketchup is also very popular in not only Indonesia but in the Philippines as well, and is often very pepper-hot as well as sweet. So in many places if you want tomato ketchup, you'd better say so, and don't be surprised if it's real sweet!
Naperville, IL USA 12/18/02
Americans crack me up! You will fry a pork chop or hamburger and scrape up the findings from the bottom of the skillet and eat it with relish... and you know what it is? It's the BLOOD from the meat... cooked. So what's wrong with blood sausage? You'll eat hot dogs which are made from every, and I mean EVERY conceivable part of an animal. You'll chicken ova as long as they're partially cooked. You will eat curdled fermented milk (cheese), veal (baby cow starved and fed only milk), mushrooms (a fungi that grows on dead stuff), mayonnaise (grease mixed with raw eggs), and any and every type of meat (which generally has been grown in crowded, dirty, inhumane conditions, and killed in the same way. They often hang live chickens by their feet until they are either beheaded or dipped live into boiling water. This is in the good old United States. But as long as the meat is not recognizable (i.e., no head), you feel it's ok. Weird...
It seems to me that to KNOW that the animal you are eating is giving its life is to hopefully nurture a thankfulness for the seriousness of having to eat another living thing to survive. And whether it be a cow,dog, horse, chicken, or a broccoli, tomatoe or spinach... why discriminate? Having a face is not a requisite for being "alive."
And regarding cleanliness... my mother always said "a little dirt is GOOD for you..." She was RIGHT! We Americans have put so much anti-bacteria agents into our soap that now the bacteria are mutating and even penicillin doesn't work anymore. We have absolutely NO natural defenses built up from light exposure to the germs. In our quest to be clean, we're killing ourselves.
Just go to a new place, try their food ( or eat at McDonalds). But don't complain or say "eeeeewwwww..."
Portland, OR USA 12/13/02
Traditional Haggis — Scotland
While in Edinburgh, Scotland we went into one of the tourist shops right before you start down the Royal Mile coming out of the Castle. We went in as there was a sign for a free sample of the traditional Haggis. This is from sheep, but it has innards, from the sheep. I am happy to say that I am one to smell everything before I taste things, and it definitely didn't smell good. In my opinion it smelled more like dog food (no offense to any Scottish, please) My husband took a big bite. They had put the Haggis on a craker. It looked like ground beef. Sad to say my husband could not even get it down. He had to run outside and find a corner to spit it out. Luckily no one saw him do this. Even though this is one of Scotland's traditional foods, it had to be one of the worst we tasted, smelled on our visit.
stationed Heidelberg, Ger USA 12/03/02
Ordering in France is tricky because most of us don't encounter french food outside of gourmet type restraunts. Andouillette Sausage is not at all similar to the Cajuin sausage with a similar name. The cajuin version is a spicy smoked pork sausage. The Andouillette in france is a sausage casing stuffed with tripe (stomach). My boyfriend ordered it not knowing this and ate it anyway even though it tasted strange. He spent the rest of the evening in the bathroom. When in doubt ask the waiter what things are.
San Francisco, CA USA 10/25/02
South African Delights
On our first night in South Africa, we encountered a strange menu item that we steered clear of for many months — Monkey Gland Steak. Since we were to live there three years, we checked out this local fare and found that it was merely some kind of beefsteak with a brown mushroom sauce and it was tasty. It may have had some monkey in it a hundred years ago, but I doubt it now.
While traveling around the country, we ate eland and ostrich, and went to an oxbraai where they roasted a whole ox on a spit. We tried different kinds of biltong (jerky) made from anything from warthog to giraffe but found little distinction in flavor.
There was some kind of orange rat the size of a cat that was said to
be a delicacy near Durban, but we never saw it on a menu. Maybe it was
a myth, but many people swore to its veracity. We are adventurous diners
but I don't know what we would have done if confronted with rat stew.
Trumbull, CT USA 09/20/02
A few days ago my friend and I were spending our last night in Germany after a wonderful two weeks. Because my friend is a vegetarian (no meat, although he does eat fish and shrimp), we had avoided going into any traditional German restaurants, but finally I thought we would try. Well, we made a bad mistake. My friend was happy to find there was a fish section on the menu and ordered... Matjes's (sp?) fish... which turned out to be big fat juicy slimy smelly pink RAW herring. I'm not judging the people who like that sort of thing, but for the rest of us, a warning: Don't order it!
My friend and I were not about to cause a scene or be rude, so working
together we made ourselves eat about 3/4 of the fish, even though we were
both about to puke. I felt sick for hours afterward. Truly I do wish the
menu had said HERRING or NICHT GEKOCHT or something! Ewww!
Atlanta, GA USA 09/16/02
When we were in Paris, we went to a restaurant on the Ile de Cite and I knew they were famous for this type of sausage. To me, andoille sausage is a cajun kind of spicy thing — yum!
So my friend was going to be adventurous and order the andoillette sausage entree. The waiter, who spoke little English (though much better than our fractured French), tried to dissuade him by saying "It's very special."
When that didn't seem to do the trick, he said "It's very, very special", meaning "You will not like it, very very much!" My friend chose something else, and both of our meals were divine.
Also at that restaurant, there was a table of Americans, older parents
with a child of about 4 — obviously a budding gourmand, because when he
got up to go to the restroom, he put out his finger and sternly told his
parents "Don't eat any of my French food while I'm gone!")
Duluth, MN USA 08/23/02
Taking my parents on a triumphal return to France (they lived their 40 years before) we ended up in a small working class restaurant in Paris. I got the special of the day, which my mom dimly remembered was "something lamb". Yup... lambs brains. Five or six little boiled grey matters staring back at you, with pommes frites and mustard; not even a nice cream sauce to go with them. I mucked them down since I had ordered them, but never again.
Apple Valley, MN USA 07/23/02
The worst pastry ever served in Rothenberg
Edmonton, AB Canada 07/23/02
It may seem tame, but beware of chicken soup in Budapest, Hungary. It came as one big pot for the table, and consisted of a nearly whole chicken. (I think the head didn't make it in.) I was trying to discretely eat around the unidentified organs floating in it, (hey I don't like the gizzards) when I spooned up a foot. Our hosts all smiled, it's good luck to get a foot in your bowl. I was expected to suck the skin off the toes, but I just couldn't. My Dad saved face for the family and ate it. ugh.
Carbondale, IL USA 07/13/02
The thing I remember most vividly about this drink (aside from the radioactive color and orange-bubblegum taste) is the warning on the label: If it spills, it *will* stain. :)
Birmingham, AL USA 07/09/02
I spent two weeks in Hangzhou, China recently and the cuisine is something I will not soon forget. Eel prepared any way is delicious. Shrimp baked crispy with heads et al, scrumptious. But the duck feet served with a mustard sauce was beyond my willingness to try the local favorites. When my hostess told me it was duck feet, I must have made a face because she said, "Don't worry, they wash them first!". That wasn't exactly the point.
French-fried quail was good, dipped in plum sauce until someone at the
table shrieked and we realized that he had just eaten the quail head and
was poked by the beak! Yikes. The Chinese have a great love of dining
out and often have restaurants that accomodate 1,500 people. The food
was really good and they are anxious for you to try everything. They put
fried egg on their Big Macs.
Grove City, OH USA 07/02/02
A culinary... challenge?
I have travelled far and wide, and found many interesting things for my palate. But, as a European, I was without words after my first taste of a White Castle hamburger (referred to as a 'slider') during my first visit to the US.
I think I need some lutefisk to cleanse my tastebuds.
Columbus, OH USA 06/28/02
Technically not edible, as it's a soft drink...it's like Big Red from hell. Were I not far too suave and debonair, I'd have spit my big, thirsty, curious gulp of the inexplicably number-one-selling, traffic-cone colored, inscrutably flavored soda all over the Royal Mile. Nonetheless, it's a memory I'll never lose. Unfortunately.
Dallas, TX USA 06/20/02
Gross Traditional Edibles
The worst meal — grilled grubworms in Zimbabwe. The best — chili crabs in Singapore.
Sugar Land, TX USA 06/19/02
Saumagen in Germany
In Germany, they have a wonderful sausage and potatoes meal called "Saumagen." It is often served "mit kraut." It is baked in a cleaned pig stomach, just like sausage was made in cleaned intestines. In the US, you can get something very similar called "Hog Maw" or "Pig Stomach" in Lancaster County, PA. I grew up with this wonderful food and still make it when I can get good country sausage and a cleaned stomach. It's heavenly. If you're adventurous, try it!
Jann from PA
Lancaster County, PA USA 05/01/02
In northern coastal Spain percebes or barnacles put snails to shame as a taste challenge. They are also unbelievably hideous. In Tokyo ask for details if invited to a raw seafood restaurant. We were served a whole fish still wiggling on the table-from which slices would be cut!
palo alto, ca USA 04/12/02
Sauce on the Side?
Ask for any sauce on the side only if you want to enrage the chef, especially in France. Sauces are not dipping sauces in Europe, they are a part of the food. (I speak especially of France, but it applies to other places as well). If the sauce is covering something up. you probably should not be eating in that restaurant anyway. Remember, the most important chef in a French restaurant is the saucier and the food and sauce has been well thought out. The chefs think they know best, and they do.
Savannah, GA USA 03/31/02
Ask for any kind of sauce or condiment on the side, so you can know what
you're eating and what may be covered up for very good reason!
CA USA 03/27/02
Roly-poly Fish Heads
ANY fish with the head still on! My father was stationed in Germany from 1990-1994 and once for my birthday I was taken out to dinner at this restuarant in Nuermburg. I didn't realize that when I ordered steamed carp they would actually bring me a whole fish split in half ... with the head still on!! For the longest time I couldn't even look at it! Finally, I put the garnish over the eyes and tucked right in. It was delicious!!!!!! BTW My family is Scottish and I grew up on Haggis yummie!!!!!!!
Waxahachie, TX USA 03/16/02
Granted it's been a few years (1986) since I was last in Ireland, but I distinctly remember my shock and horror when I ate a "chip" dipped in ketchup that was SWEET! It was as if they had added WAY too much brown sugar to the ketchup. It grew on me, but man, talk about tastebud shock!
Atlatna, GA USA 02/28/02
Licorice is not just salty
My wife and I love the salt licorice available throughout Europe. Admittedly it's not a taste for everyone; but the brands vary widely, so experiment. We like the "Katjes" brand the best and it is probably one of the better ones for U.S. taste buds! By the way, the licorice that says "salmiak" or something similar on the label has a very good use other than as a sweet: The salmiak salts in it make a good mild antacid. Try popping a small amount into your mouth and letting it dissolve, after sampling too much of your other foreign delights!
Hamburg, Germany 02/25/02
It would be impossible to recall all the mistakes I made while living in Paris... but this one still pops into my head as an illustration of why it's better to ask first. In the outdoor market, I bought what I thought was fresh cod, took it home, pan-fried it with some lemon, wondered why it was looking kind of frothy, and took a careful bite. Bleargh! It was like rock salt with fish sauce. I had forgot that fresh cod is 'morue' — while salt cod is 'merluche.' And the 'moral' of the story is: when in doubt, ask the merchant.
Austin, TX USA 02/13/02
Danish Hot Dogs
Try a hot dog in Copenhagen, it's one of the few meals you can get for under ten dollars. The Danish version of "the works" is Bernaise sauce, curry ketchup, french fried onions, and three slices of dill pickle. Yummy with a cold glass of Carlsberg!
Bitburg, Germany, USA 01/31/02
Norwegian cooked cheese
I'll eat most anything, but I was stopped in my tracks by a cooked cheese that was part of an otherwise very nice breakfast buffet in a traditionalist Bergen, Norway B&B. Looks like brown Velveeta. Was entertained by the Marylander who bought a smoked fish "and she just handed it to me." She'll get the same experience in any good US Jewish deli! Open the fish, take out the flesh, mash it onto bread (a bagel preferably). You can pull out the little bones before or after you mash.
Los Angeles, CA USA 01/14/02
Celery. . .sounds harmless
The last time I was in Austria, in my hotel, I had the vegetarian option for dinner. One night, it was baked celery. I don't know if it's local to Austria, but it must be. I don't know of anywhere else on Earth where celery is as thick as the palm of my hand. Maybe it grew in the fields next to the nuclear power plant we passed by. Either way, I was to weirded out to eat it.
Chicago, IL USA 01/08/02
While living in Cyprus for six months last year, I often enjoyed a
smashed sandwich of tomato and fried halloumi cheese. Halloumi is incredibly
salty and when fried, has a rubbery texture. You can feel it squeak when
you chew it. I'm not sure of the origin of this cheese, animal-wise, but
I'm sorry to say it might be local to Cyprus. Too bad. On the unappetizing
end of the scale, I heard of locals capturing small birds and eating them.
Raw. Live. Beginning by biting off the head. No thanks.
Seattle, WA USA 12/14/01
Maybe it's just where I at them (a cafeteria attached to a Carrefour store near Limoges), but the absolute nastiest thing I've ever ordered is andouillette, which looked like a nice tasty sausage but ended up being .. um, something made from the lower digestive system of a pig, and still highly redolent thereof. I had one bite and was nauseous for three days.
Seattle, WA USA 12/13/01
I was fortunate to be stationed in Italy from 1972 to 1976. I was able to live the culture and took every opportunity to do so. I learned of three gross foods that as an American I just couldn't stomach. The first was when I ordered a pizza de Milanese. It was pizza with raw egg on top. I had eaten many pizzas with scrambled egg on it, and thought that is what I was ordering. The raw was awful. Next I ordered a birthday cake from a local bakery. When I picked it up, it had a sugar glazed bird fetus on it. I was told it was "custom" for first birthdays. We ended up making our own cake. Last was one night I went into a tratorria with some Italian friends. The old guys hanging around the place talked me into trying a cherry. The cherry had soaked in a gallon jar of grappa, a liquer commonly drunk by just about everybody. The cherries were soaked so long that they were about golfball size. They were eaten in one mouthful, and before I had finished the second one, I was toasted drunk.
Colorado Springs, CO USA 12/09/01
Mystery Helsinki snack below
Sounds like you may have tried "muikkus". They are tiny fish, kind of like smelts, which are fried and eaten whole. Delicious!!!
Boston, USA 12/09/01
For NYC below and comments on all the butter on the food in Portugal.
My husband is from Portugal and we visit his parents there often.The oil
slick you see on almost everything is more likely to be olive oil than butter.
I was amazed when I first saw my Father-in-law poured olive oil on his potatoes
but he was likewise shocked when I grabbed the butter. Different strokes
for different folks. BTW My Mother-in-law cooks rabbit to die for!!!!
va USA 12/06/01
Eggs and Burgers
People in the U.S. make all sorts of odd faces when I tell them about eating a fried egg on a hamburger during my first trip to Europe. It's delicious. You'll wonder why we didn't think of it first.
Birmingham, AL USA 11/24/01
Helsinki Mystery Snack
I'm *still* trying to figure out what I snacked on in the Helsinki marketplace. I followed an intoxicating smell to a little stand where a woman was frying a mass of small, thin, gray...somethings. Today I assume these things were some sort of fish or their components. Anyway, they were delicious, whatever they were. The woman didn't know the English word for this mystery food, but the Finns were walking around munching on it like popcorn. Maybe it's better than I *don't* know what it was. :)
Birmingham, AL USA 11/24/01
Butter believe it....
While vacationing in Portugal, my friends and I discovered their love of butter. We were ordering, what we thought to be healthy grilled fish. When it was served we were dismayed to see it swimming in a sea of butter. Not to be put off, we drained the butter and ate the fish. The next time we ordered a grilled fish, we asked for the butter to be served "on the side". When our meal arrived, our fish was once again swimming in butter, but now we had a gravy boat of additional butter "on the side".
NYC, USA 11/06/01
Not so sweet...
While traveling in Europe I was happy that I could enjoy a culinary adventure as well. I was willing to just point and eat whatever it was that I just picked and many times I LOVED it. Because I spoke no spanish this was a daily event for me until we got to France. Upon entering what I thought was going to be a great experience of wonderful french pastries, the first that that I did was choose an apple pastery. I was soo happy to try it and once I got back with everyone I bit into the most bland disgusting "sweet" I ever had. Beware the pastries we think of sometimes contain NOO sugar at all, just flour, butter, salt, and apples(or other comperable fruit).
Odessa, MO USA 10/15/01
Well, it was certainly gross, but only marginally traditional. Introducing
the Croque McDo!! My boys had enjoyed croque monsieur (sort of a grilled
ham and cheese sandwich only better) at several places in France. Halfway
thru our trip, we decided we HAD to see what a French McDonald's was like.
They discovered that their beloved croque monsieur had been turned into
something shameful. Leave it to good old Ronald McDonald, his version certainly
bordered on gross, but at least it has provided us with a good story and
lots of laughs.
NY USA 09/11/01
Beware of pretty pastries.. Although they look great, many are filled with
some sort of alcohol (rum) tasting creme — yuck.. nothing like I expected..
St. Louis, MO USA 08/28/01
A true tale of Disaster Narrowly Averted: I was travelling through
France with my shy, cautious, non-French-speaking 13 year old daughter.
My job was to protect her from accidentally eating snails or their ilk.
At the Chataeau de Chissay, a very nice hotel near Chenconceau, I ordered "riz d'agneaux" for her, thinking it meant "rice and lamb." The waiter looked
puzzled, and then I remembered....It means "rice OF the lamb." As in "Thymus
of the Lamb." I changed the order to plain white pasta with Parmesan cheese,
and all was well.......
Nashville, TN USA 08/22/01
How about good old Scotch Eggs? My auntie served these to me when we
visited her in Colchester, England a few years back. Hard-boiled egg, wrapped
in sausage, deep fried, sliced, and served COLD. My fiance refers to them
as "medieval Egg McMuffins".
Seattle, WA USA 08/21/01
On our last trip to Poland we stayed with friends in a small village west
of Krakow. When it came time for dinner, she prepared a local specialty
for us. Spaghetti with a creamed strawberry sauce. Not very appealing to
an American palate. Being good guests, we tried it. It was surprisingly
good and quite refreshing on a warm afternoon. Actually, we never had a
bad meal in Poland, either in private homes or in restaurants. Lots of potatoes,
boiled and topped with fresh dill, soups to die for, and luscious desserts.
In Poland they have a saying, "When guests are in the house, God is in the
house." This saying is honored, in part, by the lavish desserts. Each home
we visited for a meal offered at least two, more often three or four desserts.
Of course, to refuse any of them is impolite. The only thing that saved
us from serious weight gain was all the walking we did!
CA USA 08/16/01
Snails in Crete! Food in Crete is absolutely delicious! In fact, the
Cretan Diet is worldwide renown as being the healthiest (and tastier) of
them all. I enjoyed almost everyhting I ate in Crete (Greece), dakos, great
cheese, lamp, goat, fish, lots of vegetables (some organically grown) fantastic
olive oil... But when I was invited to a friend's house I knew the time
had come when I could not avoid any longer their special "delicacy": snails
("hohlii")- yuks! I hate these chewy things. I managed to swallow a couple
and thanked god for the raki (like ouzo) that washed them down! Next time
I will stick to the rest of the divine Cretan food... I looked a bit more
into the matter of the Cretan Diet and I discovered very useful information
on CreteTravel.com — it's worth a look. The research says it all — I am
sure you will convert.
Marmite in G.B. It must be an aquired taste because, to me, it tasted like
I was licking the bottom of a shoe. I sort of liked haggis. In casserole
form, it tasted like a spicy version of kasha and bowties (pasta) without
Philly, PA USA 08/03/01
Barcelona is fun for food, there are some wonderful tapas to be had in some of the backstreet cafes. Don't let anything you see here turn you off — tapas are great for trying different things, because each dish is really just a taster! You won't be stuck with an enormous pile of something disgusting.
However, steer clear of the really touristy places. There is a resaurant in the Barcelonetta complex in Barcelona, in the harbour, called Tapas Bar. A direct English translation would of course be "Food Shop" — very original. They have a number of set menus, aimed at tourists (the menus are all in English — nothing else in Barcelona is). One of the menus includes a "Russian Salad" and "Ham Croquettes". The russian salad looked (and smelled) like spew — diced, tinned carrots and beans, tuna, green olives all mixed in some sort of hideous mayo-like stuff, and the croquettes....well, don't let the discription of "ham" fool you, they were cat-foot, plain and simple, rolled into balls and deep fried. Gross.
There is a huge covered produce market just off las Ramlas which is very
interesting. There seem to be a lot of "specialty" butchers — I saw numerous
types of tripe, livers kidneys, skinned rabbits and chicken with heads
and eyes still intact (you can tell the freshness by the eyes — once they
start to go milkey they're not fresh!). It's interesting to see food how
it looks before all the processing and packaging.
London, UK 08/03/01
One of the most unusual things I have eaten has actually come from Mc Donald's.
Here in Naples, Italy- where I am stationed with my husband. They have a
new combo- it's fried calamari and shrimp with fries of corse. It's a joke-
terribly overfried. And this is the land of wonderful calamari! A strange
but good taste of Italy is the tuna and onion pizza. It's quite popular
in our neck of the woods- also there is a good corn pizza.
Naples, Italy stationed for 3 years, USA 07/27/01
While in Spain, I loved everything our Senora cooked for us. My favorites
were the empanadas (little Geno's pizza roll things filled with tomato sauce
and cheese or any number of other ingredients) and plates of salchichas
(varieties of salami's and sausages). And if you're relaxing in the Plaza
Mayor in Salamanca, order a yummy "Blanco y Negro" — a brandy snifter filled
with ice cream (usually vanilla) with hot coffee poured into it. Add a packet
of sugar and you're set! Vive Espana!!
Clinton Township, MI USA 07/17/01
Salty in Spain! My visit to Madrid was not an epicurian delight! They
loved SALTY DRY HAM. In fact a chain called Musueo De Jamon (Museum of Ham)
has all these hams DRIPPING from the ceiling. I'm told by friends that the
rest of Spain is much better as for food. After a week in Madrid I couldn't
wait to get to Germany for boiled meat and potatoes!
I spent many evenings in Dunoon, Soctland when I was in the US Navy. I remeber
a particular fish & chips outlet — one of the specialties was a deep-fried
pizza — one of those pre-made 8- or 9- inch pizzas, that was dipped in batter
and fried in the same oil as the fish & chips. I think this predated the
invention of the deep-fried Snickers bar...
I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the "Pulpo de Gallega" from
Spain yet! It is sliced octopus legs, fried and seasoned — I'm so glad
I suspended my vegetarianism to try it. Strangely enough, it has the texture
of dark turkey meat, and tastes vaguely of bacon. The suction cups are
fully cooked, and not even slightly slimy. One warning, though: it is
quite rich and a bit greasy, so plan on sharing your "pincho" worth of
MN USA 07/03/01
I'd be willing to try donkey stew. Unlike cattle, horses and donkeys
do not stand there grazing right where they urinate and defecate.
CA USA 06/25/01
In Frankfurt, I tried handkase, a small wheel of cheese that has been
pickled in vinegar and is served with rye bread and sliced onions. It's
the German plowman's lunch. My boyfriend's uncle tried to warn me away
from it, but I really wanted to give it a shot. It was interesting how
the flavor changed with each chew, going from mildly funky provolone flavor
to full-on moldy sweatsock. I'm glad I had it once, and once was enough!
Toms River, NJ USA 06/14/01
I've noticed that a lot of people have encountered the strongly flavored
salty licorice that locals enjoy in the north of Europe. I learned to
love it from my Dutch mother. For other licorice lovers out there, it
is frequently available in the United States at the candy counters of
import stores like Cost Plus or Pier One Imports and is usually listed
as double salt licorice.
Seattle, WA USA 06/12/01
Whale steak in Bergen, Norway. Remember, it's a mammal — there's nothing
fishy about this critter. Looks like a medium-rare filet of fine lean
beef. Tastes a little stronger, more like buffalo.
Tucson, AZ USA 06/06/01
Frank J. wrote about french fries and mayo, saying "Try it, you may
like it!" That is so true! I lived in Germany from 1978 — 1981. There's
a soft drink there called "Lift" which is definitely an acquired taste!
Imagine a carbonated lemonade drink that tastes like extremely strong
lemonade with a healthy dose of baking soda added, and that's the approximate
taste of "Lift."
Arlington, VA USA 05/31/01
Gee, sorry to hear so many people find french fries with mayo to be unappealing
(have you actually TRIED it?). I enjoy this dish with chopped raw onion
on top — the onion seems to cut the slight cloying taste of mayo and
gives the dish a "zing." By the way, fries with mayo and chopped raw onion
is quite popular in some parts of Germany. Try it and you may grow to
Hickory, NC USA 05/10/01
I bought this pork sausage in France that looked like headcheese. It cost only FF 12,95 but I can't remember what it was called. You can find this next to the garlic sausages. It wasn't too bad; I've actually had worse.
Also I got over my fear of raclette. It was actually more delicious
than I thought. I guess the gruyere cheese smell grew on me finally.
Foster City, ca USA 05/07/01
My wife and I decided to enjoy a special evening in Vienna. We got a
local favorite by accident: Calf's Brain on Spinach. McDonald's never
looked so good.
S and S
Fort Wayne, IN USA 05/07/01
Have any travelers in France had lamprey eel cooked in its own blood — or
grilled alive and squirming!?
CA USA 04/30/01
In Naples, Italy, hometown of pizza, my husband and I went to a pizza
ristorante. My husband got a "Margherita" (mozzarella, sauce + basil);
I got a "dodeci gusti" (twelve flavors). I asked what they were, and the
waiter rattled them off. The last one was ouvo (egg). I asked "Crudo,
o cotto?" (Raw, or cooked?) Waiter said "cotto!" Right before the pizza
goes in the oven, they cracked a raw egg on top of the pizza. It WAS cooked,
but only kind of. I ate around it — the waiter thought this was hilarious.
When in Italy, go for VERY simple!
dallas, TX USA 04/23/01
We were in Piacenza, Italy visiting our Italian relatives for the first
time. They took us out to a restaurant that served Piacenzan cuisine,
with the main course being "stracotto d'asino" — donkey meat stew! It
turned out to be good, I thought, but it didn't help when my cousin mistakenly
said "monkey" instead of "donkey" after being asked what it was.
Charlotte, NC USA 04/22/01
Hee hee! Love these stories. God bless the Irish people, but your blood pudding and white and black pudding were so hair-raisingly gross-tasting that I couldn't believe anyone ever acquired a taste for them. You made up for it with the McDonough's fish and chips and crab, which remains the best I've ever tried. Looking forward to having that again.
Before my last trip to Italy, I noticed that my tape courses kept mentioning Campari/Soda as a drink the Italians are keen on. I ordered one while still in the States, and my friends ordered one too; my friend's fiancee compared it to earwax. Couldn't dust it.
Finally, while in Italy: I was the only one of our party who knew any Italian, so I was translating as best I could. Well, in Genoa, I notice that my friend has ordered without consulting me this time. "Hey, what'd you get?" "Filetto alla Tartare," he replies. Well I figured he'd know that meant Steak Tartare. But he thought it was Fish Fillet with Tartar sauce! So the waiter comes with this bowl of raw ground beef, cracks a raw egg in, maybe some sherry too, grunches it up with his hands, and says, significantly: "Wait two minutes." My friend nods, waits 'til he leaves, and looks at me in horror. "Well I thought you knew!" But he ate every bit of it and pretended to love it.
Two days later, I accidentally ordered Ravioli con Funghi e Fegatini.
I knew Funghi were mushrooms, but Fegatini kept ringing a bell — I asked
the waitress, and she said, "non lo so — it's like the chicken." Then just
as she opened the door with the dish, I remembered: Fegato=Liver! (It
was okay though, believe it or not.)
When in Finland, be sure to try the salmiakki! As described a few times
below, this salty licorice is a favorite of Finns. I couldn't stand the
stuff, but my host family got a huge kick out of my facial expressions
each time I tried it!
Bloomington, MN USA 04/09/01
While in Paris, one of my favorite pastimes is going into the butcher
stores or delis and browsing through all the absolutely disgusting delicacies
on display (ok — so I'm weird!)! I found it fascinating to see whole eggs
encased in a gel-type substance, or really unappealing-looking sausages...or
rabbits with their eyeballs staring up at you. I consider myself to be
very adventurous as an eater...but there was some stuff that you couldn't
pay me to try!(Naturally, in Paris there are plenty of delicious delicacies
that kept my belly full for the entire trip!)
brooklyn, ny USA 04/04/01
My friend and I were in Dinkelsbuhl, Germany with our wives. On a beautiful
sunny day at an outdoor restaurant, we decided to order something whose
translation we couldn't decipher. He said that he could handle anything
but kidney. I ordered what was their version of meatloaf, which was good.
He ordered "niere," which we found out WAS kidney after we got back to
the car and looked it up. He only ate a little and our wives refused to
tHE gREAT oNE
Naperville, Il. USA 02/10/01
Concentrate on the flavor and texture rather than the knowledge that
this came from inside an animal or other awful-sounding place. I tried
haggis and really did enjoy it; I would be willing to have it again. The
same with octopus. Locals know how to prepare their stuff and have been
eating it for years AND have lived through it!
lostine, OR USA 01/24/01
While in Belgium last year, I ate as well as it is possible for a person
to eat, and my fare included many local specialties. I heartily recommended
a pot of mussels (they're in season in months that end with "R"), specifically
the variety steamed in beer. Also, I second the recommendation of waterzooi.
I had this in Bruges and enjoyed it immensely. Finally, if you leave Belgium
without trying a few of the local beers you should be ashamed of yourself!
(Unless you're underage, of course.) I recommend Duvel, Kwak (great glass!)
and Hoegaarden Witbier.
Decatur, GA USA 12/27/00
In Moscow in August 1998 I saw street vendors selling whole smoked fish,
unwrapped, next to one of the Metro stations. If you bought one they just
handed it to you! And on one of the market streets vendors were selling
sandwiches with meat sitting on a spit (like Greek lamb for a gyro), However,
my Moscow hostess said she never buys anything from such a vendor. Instead,
I took a photo. I also saw people fishing in Moscow. I asked my hostess
if anyone would eat anything caught from such a polluted-looking river.
She just shrugged!
Lusby, MD USA 12/22/00
On a recent trip to Brittany and the La Rochelle areas of France we had a huge assortment of "Fruit de Mer." We were given a different little instrument for extracting each kind of crustacean from its shell.
In La Rochelle we ate great plates of Bulot(sea snails) that came with
a vinegar-sweet dipping sauce. All very good and quite different from
seafood offerings in the States.
Jacksonville, Fl USA 12/09/00
When in Florence avoid the calves' brains. The taste is okay, but the
texture is pretty gaggy. The night clerk at our hotel recommended it as
his favorite Florentine dish.
Hillsboro, OR USA 11/30/00
I've gotten quite a few laughs reading everyone's comments. I've had the salty licorice in Amsterdam, matjes filets in Leipzig, and my Alsatian ex-boyfriend despairs of me ever learning to love unpasteurized cheese or paté (AKA cat food). Street vendors in Copenhagen also sell startlingly hot pink hotdogs. My favorites have been duck confit in Nancy, sugar-encrusted waffles in Oostende, waterzooi in Ghent and Brussels, leek soup in Brussels, the octopus and shrimp in Marino del Cantone (thanks, Rick, for the location recommendation!), and chocolate everywhere.
I find that whenever I travel in Europe I lose weight and get in shape. I walk a lot of course, but I also eat far less junk food, even though my backpacker budget doesn't usually extend to nice restaurants. I spent a week in Cinque Terre a few years ago living off of pesto pasta, fresh nectarines and ham and cheese sandwiches.
One of the best European eating habits I've learned is to treat yogurt and/or fresh fruit as a dessert. It's far healthier than the ice cream I grew up on!
Also, try some of the local alcohols. A couple of my favorites when
I was a little younger were Feigling in Germany (fig-flavored vodka) and
limoncello in Italy (lemon something-or-other). They're a little sweet
for my tastes now, but I still drink them out of nostalgia. That's my
story and I'm sticking to it.
Atlanta, GA USA 11/19/00
Many years ago, on a flight on Alisarda Airlines (the airline of Sardinia),
I was served a dish of unknown origin. It was jet black, waxy (looked
as if it was a can of black Kiwi shoe polish dumped on a plate and chopped
up), served room temperature. It had no discernable taste. Wasn't good
enough to eat (or enjoy), wasn't bad enough to gag, just kinda wasn't
anything. At the time, my Italian was less than good, so I couldn't even
ask what it was. In retrospect, I know it wasn't made from Squid's Ink,
and even though I own over 500 cookbooks, I still have no idea what it
Mahwah, NJ USA 11/16/00
I love the food in Europe so much, the seat on the plane coming home was much smaller than when I went over. I ate things I never thought I would try — do it! Sometimes you will get intestine-du-jour or a Parkay butter sandwich, but it is worth it.
Try the smoked eels in Brugge, liver pate in Germany, local fish from
rural Austria, haggis, kidney pie, green bean pizza, venison, chocolate
spread for breakfast, fowl special of the season, and garlic soup. And
don't miss the mussels in France and Belguim, trout anywhere, white asparagus
in Germany, incredible Dutch East Indies food in the Netherlands, the
snails, prawns; and the local brew, cider, wine, schnapps. I don't know
how McDonalds even stays open over there. The only thing it offers is
a place to go to the restroom!
Springfield, MO USA 11/02/00
When I was in Spain, I kept on hearing about the morcilla (blood sausage)
but I was totally afraid to eat it. One night my roommate and I went out
to dinner with some Spanish friends. They did all the ordering and then
asked if we had tried morcilla (which was actually the pride of Burgos,
the city in which we were staying). I quickly said no yet added that I
would be interested in trying some. Not only did it taste much better
than I thought it would, but our native friends were very proud that we
gave their dish a try. (Unbeknownst to them, that VERY rich dish kicked
in about 15 minutes later and I had to excuse myself.) I would recommend
trying these dishes because they'll impress the local and make for good
Sacramento, CA USA 10/07/00
After a day of driving and sightseeing in the French countryside, my
wife--who is not very food-adventurous--and I stopped to eat. Her mastery
of the French language failed her and she ordered cow tongue. Not bad
with a bottle of Cote du Rhone.
St. Louis, MO USA 09/14/00
If you want to try lutefisk before your next trip to Europe, contact
the local Sons of Norway Lodge around Christmas time. Usually lutefisk,
wonderful Norwegian cookies, flat bread, lefse and other delights are
served at a dinner. My lodge in Eugene, Oregon serves 10 sittings (80+
at each serving) on the last two weekends of January.
Springfield, OR USA 09/11/00
I agree with Al below about Salmiakki — yum! I had never tasted it before
meeting my Finnish husband but I love it now. It was explained to me that
this salty licorice became popular as a candy during WW II when sugar
Boston, MA USA 08/23/00
Schneeballen in Rothenburg, Germany! You think the clerk placed a fresh one in your bag, but when you bite into it you'd swear you were eating the one that had been sitting in the display case for 2 weeks.
I always learn the appropriate translation for "blood sausage" — blutwurst
in Germany, morcilla in Spain. I still got stuck with it in Spain, unfortunately,
because my tablemate translated the menu entry as a "special dish of Alhambra" — blood sausage chunks on a bed a bread crumbs. Even the stray cat wouldn't
los angeles, CA USA 08/15/00
To Eileen E., regarding food in Spain...my friend and I went to Spain,
and found the food to be fabulous! The paella, tapas, potato bravo, calimari,
wine, beer, crema catalano — I could go on forever! I don't know where
you went, but obviously you were in the wrong restaurants :) Spain and
its foods were great!
N.Kingstown, RI USA 08/14/00
The fried small grey "somethings" from the market at Helsinki (see message below) were most likely pan-fried herrings. They are delicious. Having been born and raised there I miss the Finnish foods a lot, especially the "salmiakki" (salty licorice), and the "liha piirakka" (meat- and rice-stuffed pirougis) and of course the awsome Finnish cabbage rolls and matjes herring.
I also liked the pizza in Paris, and the cous-cous in the many Arabian
joints there. Haggis and lutefish can be very tasty if prepared properly.
Houston, tx USA 07/18/00
Lutefisk? Europe? Heck, I grew up on it in Wisconsin!
Ann Arbor, MI USA 07/10/00
My husband ordered the 'rognons' de agneau that was listed as one of
the lunch specials in a small, but packed, restaurant. We recognized the
lamb part of the phrase, and didn't realize that it was kidneys. The plate
featured a semi-circle of kidneys, accompanied by mashed potates. Actually,
with wine, it was quite good. Sometimes that unfamiliar word can be an
Danville, CA USA 07/02/00
The food in Romania is fairly dull, especially after a few months — mostly grilled meats, meats which are handled in a very...um..organic way. One dish that I never saw in a restaurant but was cooked for me in someone's home was fried chicken hearts and stomachs. Tasty but chewy. Another was served to us by our hostess by the Black Sea: ciorbe de peste, fish soup. This wouldn't be so strange to me if it hadn't been the whole fish. Given, they were small, 3-inch fish, but I'm not used to my food staring at me.
Don't miss the zacusca, a wonderful vegetable spread. And do take advantage
of the wonderful fresh veggie markets; you'll never have better tomatoes.
Oregon House, Ca USA 06/27/00
To John, below, regarding salty licorice. Yes, this is definitely an
acquired taste, but once you acquire it, it's addictive. Also, the best
thing in the world for a sore throat! I like the pickled herring, too,
but really didn't enjoy the horsemeat steak (ultra-rare) that my Dutch
relatives served for a dinner treat!
Portland, USA 06/19/00
I was having lunch in Le Fumoir restaurant across from the Louvre in Paris.
My high-school French had served me well in decoding menus up until them
but the menu in this restaurant surpassed my handle of the language — I did not know what any of the entrees were. Not wanting to be an annoying
mono-lingual tourist and ask for an explanation of the menu, I threw my
confidence in the judgement of the Chef and pointed confidently (and blindly)
at one of the entrees when the waitress came to take the order. She noted
my choice and said, "AAAH...zee raih feesh". I thought, "Oh no, I've just
ordered raw fish..yuk!" But, I stuck by my choice, again trusting the
chef. "If he thinks it fit to serve in this fine restaurant, I will undoubtedly
enjoy it". I was surprised and pleased when the meal came and my fish
was in fact cooked. And it was delicious. I asked the waitress for a clarification
on what she had said earlier. It was "ray" fish...a fillet of ray — an
unusual delicacy for me since I live a thousand miles from the nearest
Saskatoon, Canada 06/10/00
The herring in the Netherlands was GREAT. The steak tartare and escargots
in France were delicious. The carpaccio in Rome was terrific. Be adventurous!
If you are not, practically every city has a McDonald's! They even "Texas
Austin, TX USA 06/04/00
Prague: fish head soup. Enough said.
After a few beers, the fried cheese sandwiches dripping in mayo are
actually quite good.
Los Angeles, CA USA 05/21/00
We loved the food in Germany. Initially we lived in Wiesbaden/Frankfurt
area. We attended many a wine fest, and sampled hanchen, pommes frites
(of course with mayo!), cheese and fruit. We then moved to Augsburg (the
land of beer fests) and learned of "steckelfish." You always knew when
you were near the "steckelfish" stand — the smell was not pleasant. Not
to mention the look of the huge black fish (complete with head, eyes tail,
etc.) roasting over the fire. While sitting in a beer tent, a local gentlemen
who had his fish sat next to us. He insisted we share his fish. We had
consumed a mas or so of good german beer, and not wanting to be rude Americans,
we sampled it — it was the best tasting fish, clean white meat, not fishy
at all! Who knew it could be so good. We also did try different sausages,
one time I think I ate donkey sausage (at least, I was told it was donkey),
and my husband ordered blood sausage by mistake!
My wife and I were in Interlaken last summer and had a few moments before
taking the train up to the Jungfraujoch. We dashed into a grocery and
bought some things for a picnic including a package of six different kinds
of cheeses. On the way up the mountain, I weakened and broke out the cheese.
The cheese was fabulous, but perhaps I should say that I "cut the cheese"
because the stench that poured out of the package was so strong that people
four rows in front of us started turning around and giving us dirty looks.
Though I hurriedly wrapped it back up I felt as furtive as a smoker in
a hospital. People continued to look around for the source while we sat
poker-faced. As we got off a man who had been sitting behind us grinned
and asked "was it worth it?" I said "See for yourself!" and gave him and
his wife a sample. Incredibly good, unbelievably stinky: Swiss cheese.
Sherman Oaks, CA USA 04/17/00
I attended a wedding in Eastern Europe where I was served as a main course Flaki — a.k.a. tripe soup. I was so hungry that I ate half of it before starting to feel my stomach say "no more!"
I really like the pizza at Pizza Pino in Paris. The simple cheese pizza
is not so simple — covered with exotic chesses makes it quite a delight.
Silver Spring, MD USA 03/28/00
Please don't bash carpaccio. First of all, it's not like it isn't served
in the States. I love it, and you pay way too much for a single plate
of it in the US. I had about six plates of the salmon in Paris and loved
every minute of it. When I return to Paris, I'll order it again. Give
it a try, particularly if you're a sushi fan!
TX USA 03/21/00
My husband and I, as a rule, never eat the 'local specialty.' It is
usually something that was concocted when nobody had anything else to
eat. The locals have been eating it forever and think it's delicious.
I'm *still* trying to figure out what I snacked on at the harbor market in Helsinki. It was a little pile of small, thin, gray, lightly fried, and salty *somethings,* but whatever it was, it smelled great and tasted better. People were eating it as a snack. I'm guessing it was some sort of seafood, but whatever it was, I'd like another helping.
Also, near this market is an indoor market with a shop that sells jellies
and preserves. They even had one made from some element of the pine tree(!!),
which was amusing to me since we have tons of pines at home and would
never think of eating them. They let me sample it — it had an exotic flavor.
I picked up a jar of that and jars of arctic bramble and cloudberry jams.
Birmingham , USA 03/17/00
In Budapest, be careful what you ask for. Most everything is covered
in one form or another with Sauerkraut. If it says cabbage it's kraut.
Flower Mound, TX USA 03/13/00
For truly awful, nobody can beat "rotted shark" in Iceland. When you
are served, it is still frozen. The waiter told us "it has to be or it
will stink up the kitchen."
Silver spring, MD USA 03/11/00
Meat is served smoked or pickled (as an alternative to plain-old-cooked)
all over Europe, and is always interesting and often very tasty. It will
certainly surprise you if you don't expect it (like the first time I bit
into a ham sandwich in Nice) but the whole point of travelling is experiencing
new things. So try everything, and enjoy the experience and novelty.
Toronto, ON Canada 03/09/00
Just to clear up 2 persistent confusions: The hamburgers they serve
at Quick in France are beef. Same for McDonald's. And the salmon you get
on pizza is smoked, not raw. Like lox.
Paris, France 03/09/00
Yes, it's possible to get bad food in Italy...especially at the tourist
traps. I had a meal in Murano that was so ugly I took a picture of it.
A big, white, flaccid slab of stringy veal, and a generous plate of eggplant
that looked like it had been scraped off a boat dock. Worst of all, this
lunch set me back $25. Learn these words and you can't go wrong: "gelato
nocciola" — hazelnut ice cream!
Houston, TX USA 03/06/00
I've had strange and unexpected items turn up on pizza, but didn't expect
sweet corn on pizza in London. I liked it a lot better than the haggis
and tongue I was goaded into trying at a pub. Be warned that some pub
sandwiches will say "... with pickle" and it turns out to be chutney liberally
spread on the bread; I like it and can't seem to find here stateside.
I always try to eat where there are lots of locals; even if I don't care
for the food, the sight of a room full of locals means they like the food
and usually good, friendly service!
MD USA 03/03/00
Well, my son was surprised when his parisian pizza arrived with an egg
in the center. It is added, raw, before it goes in the oven and wasn't
too bad. We did try this pizza topping when we got home.
Hanford, CA USA 02/29/00
Unlike Colleen (below), I tried Scotland's pizza with sweet corn. Although
good, I probably wouldn't fix it at home. Different yes, but certainly
not very adventurous. Might as well try familiar foods prepared in some
NC USA 02/24/00
I won't go so far as to say "gross," but Slovakia's national dish, bryndzove
halusky, is an *acquired* taste. It is a potato-based meal with sheep
cheese. Bland, and hard to digest. I think I insulted my hosts when I
dumped a ton of pepper on it. Won't do that again! Also, the traditional
liquor, slivovica, a plum brandy, is very powerful. Will grow hair on
Boston, MA USA 02/22/00
Interesting international foods I passed up:
· Sweet corn as a pizza topping — Scotland
· Tuna & egg sandwiches in a sunny display case — Italy
· Haggis on top of a hamburger — Scotland
Oakhurst, NJ USA 02/17/00
Recent train ride from Amsterdam to Paris featured a couple of pleasant young ladies who were happy to offer their licorice candy — I think they knew what would happen once an American put one in his mouth. It was awful — not just licoricey, but extremely salty. (I managed to down it though, and keep smiling.) Just about as bad (maybe not quite) as "Marmite" served at British breakfast tables!
On the other hand, the pickled herrings they sell on the street as snacks in Holland are great. And, although tripe doesn't get much respect from Americans, it's worth a try in Nice, where they serve it up as a regional specialty.
Finally, in France be sure to try mussels — which are delicious steamed
and seeped in a creamy wine soup (which you can sop up with bread) with
plenty of salty fried potatoes on the side.
Columbia, SC USA 01/29/00
I was amazed to read all the comments about tripe and mayo with fries....both
of these are common in the US, depending where you are. We serve tripe
at the restaurant I work for here in Maine. Very popular with the older
Boothbay Harbor, USA 01/23/00
Carpaccio a volunte! This is often found in nice, even simple French
restaurants. I didn't even order it, but got it by mistake. It's very
thin RAW slices of beef or salmon, served cold. The good thing about it
is that you can have as many platefuls as you wish. Who'd wish for that?
WA USA 01/08/00
When in Madrid at a very nice restaurant, our whole group ordered the
same thing: a halibut steak in some kind of sauce. Even though my daughter-in-law
and her mother who were with us speak Mexican Spanish, they did not know
what the sauce was. It was delicious and we all had fun trying to discern
its contents. We discovered it was the delicacy ink blood. I would have
rather not known until I was finished.
San Antonio, TX USA 12/10/99
Beware when eating a sandwich in the English pubs. Anything plus "coleslaw"
means a gallon of mayo with cabbage and whatever. My friend and I tried
a "prawn and coleslaw" which was sooooooo overrun with may it makes me
sick thinking of it to this day. Why aren't the Brits FAT FAT FAT???
Farmington, CT USA 12/08/99
On our recent trip to Turkey, our driver/guide tried to point out local
specialties. In Kars, in eastern Turkey, it turned out to be what looked
to be dried skulls — in fact, they were precooked sheeps' heads lined up
on the counter as you entered the cafe. He & I split one — literally. The
waiter took our selection to the kitchen, split it in half and rearranged
the contents. Made a lovely meze in itself, with varying tastes and textures
(eyeball was excluded). Brains a bit salty, and texture of scrambled eggs;
tongue and cheeks very good.
seattle, wa USA 11/10/99
A warning when buying sandwich items in Switzerland: salami is sometimes
made out of horse meat. Luckily, my husband's high school French came
back to him just before we opened a package of it to put on our sandwiches...Yikes!
Stay away from "chevaul" listed on the package.
New York, NY USA 11/08/99
The idea of frites and mayonnaise grew on me too after two trips to Amsterdam and Belgium. The mayo is usually different from the bland, Hellmanns mayo in the states — it's more flavorful, usually with some garlic; and sometimes they have various, wild flavors. A stand in Bruges offered frites with a selection of about 8 different types, including Indian curry and "American BBQ"-style sauce. It's not bad.
In Athens, the wildest thing I had was a small appetizer plate of little
pink sausages in a pool of ouzo. The sausages weren't bad but they conflicted
with the sickly sweet, burning liquor. It was an interesting contrast...
Atlanta, GA USA 10/24/99
Any German worth his salz will try to get you to eat handkaes (pronounced
'hahnd-case'). This cheese is strong beyond description. To say that it
is an acquired taste is the understatement of the year. And it normally
comes 'mit musik,' i.e., with a little bowl of raw onions. If you even
hear someone say this at your table, just say 'Kein Handkaes, bitte.'
Derby, UK 10/11/99
A speciality here in the Midlands and North of England is TRIPE. There
are four varieties, which is the same number of stomachs that a COW has.
That figures because tripe is cow's STOMACH. Cooked in milk with some
chopped shallots, the whole dish is white to transparent, rubbery and
tasteless. Reputed to be good food for recovering invalids! I don't know
of any eating establishments that serve tripe; it is a dish served at
home by only a few tradition-minded families
Coventry, UK 09/22/99
I probably need to experiment more with cheese at home. Each time I go to Paris I order the most horrendous cheeses! I have had several varieties of goat cheese in the states, but never luck out when I order abroad. I prefer the softer, saltier cheeses, not the teeny cheese in a huge stinky rind. On a waiter's suggestion I ordered the Roquefort since I like Blue Cheese dressing. Woooooeeeeee! That was blue cheese to the infinite power. And what a jumbo slice they serve you.
I was proud that I ate pate in several restaurants and loved it. Don't
ask me what kind. It was a brownish greyish slice,sSpread crudely on a
baguette, everywhere I went...DIVINE!
A couple of years ago in Volundam near Amsterdam (it is a small fishing
village, popular for tourist excursions) our tour guide recommended raw
herring which they sell at little stands along to street. It was served
with chopped onion and was really delicious.
El Cerrito, CA USA 09/06/99
I'm not too adventurous when it comes to food in foreign countries so I didn't try too many outrageous dishes. However, when I was in Scotland I tried game terrine and tho it wasn't very good on its own, it was really quite good spread on the sweet bread provided...anyone want to clue me in as to what actually went into it?
On the flip side, when I was in Norway, I had a wonderful breakfast
at the youth hostel in Bergen and fell in love with the dark goat cheese
and runny yogurt. Yum!
MI USA 09/02/99
My daughter and I were in Prague and wanted to try real Czech food.
At a resturant recommended by our hotel clerk we settled on a dish of
dumplings, cabbage and smoked meat, and another of dumplings (potato)
with poppy seeds for my daughter as she is a vegetarian. Well, the cabbage/dumpling
plate was delicious if filling. But the other poppy seed recipe was the
ickiest looking thing we have ever seen. It looked like a plate of small
white cigars with an ashtray dumped on it. Besides the gray-black colour
it had a strange, sweet taste. Having lived and traveled in Europe we've
seen some unusual food but this won our vote as the funkiest dish yet.
Shakopee, MN USA 08/23/99
We ended up in Zurich for our last night in Europe and went to a little
place near the train station. We got the menu in German and I suggested
to my friend that he order the "something" filet. Then the waitress was
kind enough to bring us a menu in English. We found out that it was horsemeat!
Yikes! I don't eat meat myself, so horsemeat really made me lose my appetite.
I have to agree that salty licorice drops are an acquired taste. My
best friend's sister in Germany gave me some, which I promptly put in
my mouth. They are her favorite candy. I had no tissue to put the candy
in out of my mouth, nor did I want to hock it into the street! I think
I swallowed the thing whole! I like a lot of odd things, but I don't think
I can ever develop a taste for salty licorice.
This doesn't taste that wonderful, but it isn't that bad, and it looks
really impressive: In most traditional Czech restaurants, the specialty
of the house is "Knee of Pork." It is a huge monstrosity with very little
meat, but it comes served with a foot-long fork and knife protruding out
of the middle! Last time I ordered it, the two tables around me placed
an order as well, since it looked so impressive. Like all Czech food,
it comes with kraut. Enjoy!
Moscow, ID USA 08/02/99
Forgot my Menu Master translation guide while at a brasserie in Tours.
I ordered a salad with white asparagus and goat cheese, while my friend
ordered a salad with some kind of sausage, which we proceeded to share.
I couldn't help gasping with disgust upon the first bite of the sausage...tasted
like mushed liver and ??? Turns out it was stomach-meat sausage. Not particularly
tasty! At least we had the asparagus, and, of course, wine! (The wine
everywhere in France was wonderful...no complaints in that department!)
San Diego, CA USA 07/28/99
In Moscow, most everything is in the original Russian language with Cyrillic lettering. When a translation is provided, it's often not very helpful. We dined at a restaurant with a menu featuring "Meat assembly," "Steak marsupial," and "Chicken entrails". Yum. A motley string quartet played "Strangers in the Night," which made it all seem right.
Our hosts tell us there were almost no restaurants in Moscow four years
ago. That explains a lot. We went to dinner at the "Viking" restaurant
last night. It's in a funky version of a viking boat moored on the river
with neon lights and a big lumpy golden dragon on the bow. My bag was
searched before entering and I had to tell the guard through our translator
that I had no guns or other weapons. Inside, we found a big open floorplan
with wooden tables and chairs and an international menu. The Japanese
food was served by a women from Japan in full kimono. This is all the
more unusual because Moscow's long closed society has resulted in a very
non-diverse populace. A Japanese woman speaking Russian is downright wacky.
Long Beach, CA USA 07/24/99
haggis isn't terrible — the description and idea seems to carry too much
weight. the FOOD itself is fine (if a bit bland).
Oceanside, CA USA 07/22/99
When in northern Germany, we splurged for a nice dinner in the German
equivalent of a "supper club." The free appetizer came, with those little
rye bread slices. The waiter said, "It's a local specialty. It's better
with salt." Being from Wisconsin, I thought it was a cheese dip with nuts.
I spread it on the bread, salted it, and tried a bite. It reminded me
of something...After the second bite, I suddenly thought of bacon grease,
and remembered stories my German teacher told about "Schmalz." "My God!,"
I said to my husband, "It's LARD!" and dropped my piece. "Pretty good,"
he returned, and proceeded to finish the whole thing.
WI USA 07/19/99
I beg to differ with Diana (below). One of the most memorable meals
I had in Nice was a seafood pizza. It had EVERYTHING from shrimp to clams
to mussels, tuna, and anchovies, and it was one of the most memorable
meals I've had.
FL USA 07/19/99
Not to be outdone by the Scots, the Welsh have some peculiar traditional
foods. Alas, I don't remember the Welsh name (probably something like
Llthwddgyn), but my companion bought what turned out to be a jar of limp,
brimy, just-a-touch-rubbery seaweed. Nothing else. I love the crispy stuff
on sushi, but this "delicacy" belonged on the dubious dinner plates in
the Calvin and Hobbes comics.
Campbell, CA USA 07/16/99
On my last trip to Italy, my 5 travel buddies & myself had dinner at
a local restaurant near the Duomo. We ordered what we thought to be "safe"
dinner entrees...pizza & pasta. The only think we had not counted on was
our assumptions — two of us had ordered the seafood pizza and believe me
it was seafood — mostly squid & mussels still in the shell and, being Italian
pizza, hardly any cheese. We learned early in our trip to always ask first
San Francisco, CA USA 07/14/99
On my first visit to Ireland, one of my cousins generously offered me
a specialty his Da was kind enough to secure for him. Since he was munching
away happily on what looked similar to wide stips of jerky, I accepted
the offer. I can't rememer the Gaelic name for it, but dried sea-weed
tastes about as good as it sounds. Thankfully, the subsequent food I was
treated to still fuels my dreams, but I will never forget that salted
shoe leather taste!
Blut-wurst has to be one of the most disgusting things I've come across
in Germany. After they make all the various types of wursts, all the leftovers
go into this type of wurst which is then cooked and served in blood. Even
most of the Germans won't eat it. Also, after the birth of my daughter
in the German hospital they served me pickled herring, ugh!
Bad Kreuznach, Germany 07/08/99
I just wanted to write and defend Laura Lee and the Schneeballs. I was
one of those tour members who also enjoyed them, in fact I even saved
one the entire tour! Did you know that they taste the same from the day
you buy it to two weeks later? Now that is a great shelf life!
Minneapolis, MN USA 07/07/99
I want to defend the schneeballs of Rothenburg, because everyone warns
you how horrible these attractive balls of pastry are. (They come dipped
in things like chocolate, cinnamon, and nuts.) But some people in our
group tried them, including myself, and they were not so bad after all.
It became a big inside joke for the rest of the tour and we even had a
song about the schneeballs that we sang at the last dinner! So don't listen
to what people say and try it for yourself!
Manassas, VA USA 07/06/99
At Augustinerbrau in Munich, I saw the most unusual-looking food: mackerel
on a stick. It was the entire fish (head, eyes, and all), on a stick,
like some weird popsicle. Definitely not for the faint of heart.
Edison, NJ USA 06/30/99
We Americans must be more open-minded and show some respect for food
of other cultures. I personally think Big Macs are disgusting. Give it
time. Some of my best meals are "surprises" instead what I thought I ordered.
Think food is weird in Europe, go to China!
Atlanta, GA USA 06/30/99
There are restaurants in France where "steak tartare cheval" is served.
Yup, raw horsemeat. Not the same as "á cheval," or topped with an egg,
as in Andy's message below. I saw a couple enjoying this treat in Caen.
The horsemeat part isn't so shocking — I had horse sausage in Spain and
it was pretty good — but adventurous diners should beware: in years past
there's been a nasty parasite called trichinellosis that can be picked
up by eating raw horsemeat.
Overland Park, KS USA 06/27/99
In Stockholm, wanting to eat traditional Swedish food, I ordered herring
prepared two different ways. The first was herring in wine sauce which
I liked very much. The second was a large piece of herring that looked
like raw tongue and was very salty. Despite my best efforts and good intentions
I felt nauseous after a couple of bites.
Reseda, CA USA 06/25/99
We were rushing through Prague's train station, really hungry and needing
to grab food for a long train ride. Famished, we spied the most delectable,
tasty-looking, seemingly-loaded-with-all-the-fixins sandwiches at a food
counter. Safely boarded and packs off, we hungrily ripped the cellophane
wrappers and found...there was absolutely NOTHING on the inside of that
deceptive hoagie! The processed cheese, the wilted lettuce and pale tomato,
wiggly dill pickles...they had been laid out carefully in the tiniest
bits along the very edge of the bun. Let the buyer beware! Happy eating!
Kerry Pennings and Gerard Boissy
Minneapolis, MN USA 06/24/99
I have to disagree with Eileen. We spent three weeks in Spain and Portugal
and the food was great — seafood, goat cheese, fresh oranges, lamb....yum.
We each lost weight on the trip, too, but it was due to all our walking.
We found the best food when we steered clear of where the tourists ate
and found places where the locals ate instead.
Arlington, TX USA 06/19/99
There was a booth at the Keukenhof gardens in Holland that sold fish sandwiches.
Looked like a raw fish in a hot dog roll, with onions. Quite popular,
a lot of people were eating them. I doubt any of them were Americans.
nj USA 05/27/99
Cygnar — Italian artichoke bitters. I am a fan of bitters in general; Angostura
is a standby, and Peychaud and Orange are delightfully exotic, but Cygnar
is the most BITTER and SOUR thing I have ever tasted. It makes Campari
taste like Sloe Gin.
St. Louis, MO USA 05/12/99
Hi Eileen: Quite the contrary — I really enjoyed the cured hams. And
as for the tapas being terrible — there is such a wide variety I'm amazed
that you were unable to find something to your liking. I hope that you
were able to enjoy Spain even though you didn't care for the food.
Portland, OR USA 05/10/99
Has anyone else found the food in Spain to be almost inedible? I ate
yogurt and cereal for breakfast, but am not a ham fan (and they have at
least 12 kinds), and the tapas were awful.....no wonder I lost a pound
sacramento, CA USA 05/10/99
I just returned from Amsterdam and was game to try the salty licorice
drops Holland is noted for. If you ever try it, have a napkin near by
to spit it out and water to wash the taste away! On the flip side, we
also tried the "rice table" at the Sea Palace. The food was great and
the restaurant was gorgeous!
Tallahassee, FL USA 04/22/99
In Cambridge, England, my friend and I decided to try a restaurant that
smelled good. We asked the waiter what was good, to which he replied,
"OK!! TWO FRY-UPS!" 20 minutes later he returned with two large plates
of battered and fried products. I managed to get to the bottom of my plate
first. I found what appeared to be a deep-fried monkey's paw. So I tried
it. It was liver, something I really detest. On closer examination I realized
I had a plate of fried organs. (Later that night we hit the chipper van
and a double bacon and bean burger with salad made everything better!)
Miami, Fl USA 04/21/99
Be sure to specify how you like your meat cooked. Otherwise, you probably
will get something pretty close to steak tartare...especially in Luxembourg
Ellicott City, md USA 04/08/99
Note to Linda: usually when a French dish is topped with an egg, it's
called "á cheval" (on horseback). Only if the egg is on the side or mixed
in is it called an egg. So it's hard to tell if a dish has egg or not
simply by looking for the word "ouf." Alternately, a tourist disgusted
by horse meat may nix a dish if he sees the word "cheval" anywhere, even
if this merely means it has an egg on top!
Muncie, IN USA 04/05/99
I am a very picky about eggs. I do not like a runny yolk at all! My first meal in Paris was at a pizzeria. I had been warned about eggs coming with everything, so I carefully checked my pizza order and did not see the word "ouef" anywhere. Lo and behold, my pizza arrives with a bright, sunny-side-up egg right in the middle.
My egg dilemma did not end there. My friend and I had lunch at a very
nice restaurant in Segovia. I ordered the special of the day, which came
with soup, a specialty of this region. When it arrived, the waiter made
a big deal of presenting to me the raw egg that was at the bottom of the
soup bowl. He proceeded to break up the egg and mix it with the soup.
(Fortunately, the rest of the meal was very delicious!)
Pleasanton, CA USA 04/05/99
I agree with Cosmo from Baltimore. I am a finicky eater, but, since I
do like mayo and I do like fries, I tried the two together. It really
is good! Even now, I will occasionally dunk my fries in mayo! (If not
for the fat content, I would switch completely over to mayo but ketchup
is fat free!) Roland, you've got to give it a try!
I thought I understood enough french words on one menu to safely order
a pizza to go in Paris. When we returned to our room and opened the box,
the Pizza included raw salmon and sour cream! the salmon was removed but
the sour cream was really delicious!
Tallahassee, FL USA 03/17/99
After tasting French and Italian coffee I think a gross traditional
edible is American coffeee which is little more than brown hot water.
Stores spray esters in the coffee aisles to make you think you're getting
a rich blend, rather than simply emulate the source, handling, and process
used in France and Italy.
ca USA 03/12/99
I've had haggis and its not so bad. Traditional Scottish food is on the whole pretty basic and bland (porridge, potatoes, roast, etc.). As a Texan, I can't survive more than three days without a culinary kick in the pants. Haggis is as spicy as it gets. The last time I was in Scotland, a national diet survey said that the Scots had the worst diet in Britain. It wasn't the traditional fare. It was all the junk food! (read American fast food). We are exporting our artery clogging comestibles around the world. Germ warfare won't end life as we know it. Pizza and fried chicken will!
I have also tried blood sausages, or blutworst. I watched my relatives
in Austria make it from the pig. They use all the parts of the pig left
after butchering, and they used, of course, the blood. Yummers!
Just a note of caution to those who do not like to work hard for their
food — in Italy when you order shrimp (gamberi) it always comes whole — head, tail, peel, everything. After beheading and peeling three and
getting olive oil and tomato all over himself, my husband gave up and
ordered a pasta side dish!
Albuquerque, NM USA 02/19/99
Beware of street venders selling hot dogs in Lisbon...many use...try not
to gag...HOG PENISES as a major part of the frank!
We had to catch a train in Lyon so we stopped for a quick bite at a
French fast-food place called Quickie...only afterwards did we discover
our seemingly innocent hamburgers were made out of horse meat! I've been
told it has a sweeter, more stringy texture than beef, but under the ketchup,
pickles, and cheese it was hard to tell the difference. And anyway how
is a horse all that different from a cow :^)
Regensburg, ND USA 02/04/99
when i first began traveling to france i was astounded to learn that my great grandmother had been a gourmet french chef and didn't even know it! she prepared delicious dishes with brains, sweetbreads, tripe, chitterling- encased sausages, etc. her marketing was directly from farmers, her pastries home-made. i rarely saw her open a package or a can. she grew fabulous vegetable and a wide array of herbs. she could make wine to rival anyone from her bumper crop of grapes, and always had fruit and nuts from her backyard trees, berries from the bushes and trees that grew behind her garden; and she could challenge bocuse to a fish in pastry contest, only cooking fish caught in unpolluted waters — back then that was easier — that very day. she knew which wild things growing or crawling in fields and forests could be eaten, and she included parts of the animal or fish that more squeamish folks eliminate.
i have just described the cuisine of burgundy, considered the most gastronomically
elite section of france...and the cuisine of Lizzie Mae Moore, beautiful
warm-hearted hard-working gramma from tennessee and later ohio!
ca USA 02/02/99
If you go into a Fish-and-Chips shop in Glasgow (or most other parts
of Scotland, for that matter) you'll find they deep-fry an unusual numberof
things. They'll take already-cooked pizza and drop it into the fat fryer.
The crowning glory has to be the deep-fried Mars bar. I'm not making this
up. The Scots have a really unhealthy diet. I read say that 1/3 of all
Scottish men over 30 never eat fresh fruits or veggies! Haggis is tasty,
like a terrine.
St. Louis, MO USA 02/02/99
No matter how poor your grasp of the language, try to pronounce what
you want. In Munich I made a decision, and when the waiter arrived, I
shyly pointed to a number on the menu. The waiter gave me a strange look,
but walked away. Others at our table were served, and I waited. And waited.
Consulting the menu again, I noticed that I had pointed to the wrong number
and ordered some sort of national dish, prescribed for hangovers. At least
I think that's what it said. Time passed. Finally, when the others are
finished eating, my meal arrives, quietly, thank God. It is one large
white onion, beautifully sliced into a flower — visualize those fried
onion flowers, but steamed, not fried. It was accompanied by a slice of
brown bread with the finest mince of green onions covering every millimeter
of the bread. After a 16 hour flight, and rapid drive on the autobahn,
this was my sole sustenance for the day. It was obviously a lovingly prepared
dish, but I sure couldn't eat it. And no one would help me :( The bier
was gut, though.
ca USA 01/31/99
That which doesn't kill you,... I'm glad I live in the world's most
multi-cultural city (as declared by the UN). I can test-drive lots of
cuisines. I had dim sum for lunch today, and I'm not sure what I ate,
but most of it was yummy. I've eaten oxtail, goat, boudin (french canadian
blood pudding), snails, octopus, bone marrow, cuttlefish, barbecued eel,
all kinds of sushi, etc. Try and enjoy! Have some haggis for Robbie Burns
Toronto, ON Canada 01/23/99
While we waited for our train to leave Munich we sat at a train station
restaurant for our last meal in Germany. My wife pulled out a German-English
phrase book. She had decided that she was going to crack the menu on her
own and order the perfect German meal. I asked the waiter what he recommended
and ordered it. My wife made her order. When the food arrived I had this
wonderful German meal that I was very happy with. Then the waiter brought
her an empty plate and a small silver container. She opened the lid and
shrieked, "It's HOT DOGS!" After all of her deciphering she ended up with
nothing more than two hot dogs floating in hot water. We both still laugh
about that one. Lesson to be learned: Your waiter has a better understanding
of the menu than you do. Ask him.
Mariemont, OH USA 01/10/99
in basque country i have seen eels cooked upon charcoal grills squirming
and twisting because they are cooked whole and alive. while freshness
appeals to me, this tends to dampen my appetite!
ca USA 01/10/99
Iceland is a fabulous place to visit, and since their trade restrictions
have been lifted, they Icelanders are very happy in recent year to have
been able to add new items from the outside world to their menu of lamb,
fish, dairy and potatoes. (Unfortunately, this extends to there being
a Pizza Hut in the lobby of one of the hotels..) They have a favorite
treat called buried shark, which is exactly what the name says. It is
buried raw, and after several years dug up and quaffed with a violent
drink called Black Death. This supposedly numbs one to the odor of the
shark. I have to admit that I didn't try it. It now annoys me that I was
such a wuss.
New York, NY USA 01/07/99
A devotee of adventurous cuisine (I've eaten smoked, pickled and baked
eels), I once prepared Tripe a la Mode de Caen at home and found it delicious.
So, while in Caen this summer I ordered the local speciality in its home
town. A sign in the restaurant proudly proclaimed that the chef had earned
some award from the group that honors chefs who excel in the preparation
of tripe. I eagerly awaited the dish. It arrived in a casserole which
held about three cups of the concoction. When I opened the lid, the aroma
which met my nose resembled bad breath. Alas, the recipe was nothing like
Craig Claiborne's! I choked down about 1/3 of it and left the rest. I
guess I'll stick to dishes without stomach linings from now on.
Pewaukee, WI USA 01/06/99
Re: haggis. An old friend called it "intestinal meatloaf", insisted
I try it. I thought, "How revolting is this?" Tried it, it was wonderful,
and I hardly ever eat meat!
Kingwood, TX USA 12/18/98
When I spent months in Den Haag, I enjoyed the frites with "frite sauce"
(mayo). In fact at many flea markets etc. frites come with a variety of
sauces including a peanut based sauce similar to sate. Frites and mayo
grew on me so much I know occassionaly eat it here in America.
Glassboro, NJ USA 12/12/98
No one yet has commented on haggis.
My husband and I (who are both willing to try eating just about anything) were more than halfway through a two-week trip through Scotland's Highlands and islands before we decided that we couldn't leave Scotland without at least trying haggis. It has such an awful reputation that we had been really hesitant about it.
We were in a portside cafe in the town of Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull, which offered haggis as an appetizer, so we figured we'd order one portion to share. The very friendly waitress, when she realized the situation, told us we'd be sure to like it.
Haggis can be served hot, cold, and at every temperature in between. This time, it happened to be warm, and so the aroma reached us before the plate did. We looked at each other across the table in shock, broke into huge grins, and simultaneously exclaimed, "Chopped liver!" (If you're not Jewish, let me explain that chopped chicken liver is a traditional, much-loved, Jewish dish.)
When the waitress saw with what delight we fell upon the haggis (we
immediately ordered a second portion!), she said [imagine this in a heavy
Scots accent], "Ah, ye must have it the Scots way, wi' a wee dram!" and
she dribbled a little Scotch over the haggis!
Huntington Station, NY USA 12/01/98
In response to the posting below: No, of course I didn't make a scene!
And I respect their tastes, but my stomach turned at the prospect of consuming
those fat bombs.
Note to Roland Ostrowski: I hope that like a good Backdoorsman you didn't make a scene in Amsterdam about your "disgust" for pommes frites w/mayo — otherwise we might have to banish you to the "Ugly American Sightings" branch. I had the same in Brussels & found them quite tasty — among other things the Euros take their mayos somewhat more seriously than we do — but after the 3rd helping in 2 days I did get homesick for ketchup & malt vinegar ala my favorite Irish pub at home.
Note on herring: MANY years ago I was treated to a breakfast buffet at the main Copenhagen train station by a friend who grew up in Holland. On the buffet table I spotted three (count 'em) varieties of herring: pickled, in mustard sauce & in tomato sauce. I took a bit of each as a first course.
My friend wrinkled his nose: "You're not going to eat THAT, are you?"
"What's your problem?" I said.
"I thought herring was like God in Holland."
"Well yes of course, but not for breakfast."
I'd just gotten off the night train from Berlin & was not to be denied.
"So don't watch," I said...and actually it was very tasty!!
Baltimore, MD USA 11/26/98
I found pickled herring in Holland to be excellent, especially on crackers,
but this is probably because I have been eating it since I was a kid.
Excellent stuff, really! Try it!
Montreal, Canada 11/22/98
I still find it disgusting how the Dutch dip their fries in mayonnaise.
We stopped for a quick mid-sightseeing lunch at McDonald's in Amsterdam
and saw almost everyone putting their fries in a pile and then drenching
it in about a jar's worth of mayo.
Stevens Point, WI USA 11/20/98
The Dutch custom of eating raw herring (no cream sauce, nothing!) is
too much for me. It's not the idea, it's the taste!
While staying at a ski resort in Northern Italy I found "polipo ragu" on the dinner menu one evening. For some reason I assumed polipo was chicken. A chicken ragu. That sounded pretty good. When I ordered the waiter assured me that it was a house specialty. I thought I had made an excellent choice.
When my meal arrived at the table I was a bit queasy when I realized
the waiter had placed a small pot filled with baby octopus (baked in a
tomato sauce)in front of me! Well...When in Rome... I proceeded to decapitate
those little babies one by one. I started out eating the tentacles but
they were really rubbery. I moved on to the head and those were even worse!
My table companions were making horrible faces from simply watching me
eat my polipo ragu. I managed to down 5 or 6 before I began to feel a
little sick. I was feeling quite proud because of my dedication to sampling
the local cuisine. Unfortunately, when the waiter picked up my nearly
full pot of octopus he was a little offended! Oh well, at least the locals
surrounding our table had a hearly laugh about the "goofy American" trying
to choke down the octupus!
memphis, tn USA 11/09/98
At a restaurant in Paris, we ordered what we thought was lamb chop, but
it turned out to be a French version of haggis. It tasted OK, but the
bad part was looking at it — it looked like a dead rat with its organs
sticking out. We picked at it, but afterwards gave in and went to McDonald's!
Plover, WI USA 11/08/98
While passing through Interlaken, we stopped at a charming little sidewalk
cafe for lunch. I was getting pretty good at negotiating the german menu,
but I was taken aback by a reference on the special menu to "pfer" steak.
Our menu translator was back in the pack at the station. The menu's back
cited the source for their lamb was New Zealand, the other meats were
local, and the "pfer" was from the USA. I was tempted to be adventurous,
but hesitated to get something I could get back home. My husband couldn't
stand it any more. "Don't do it!" he burst out, "It's horse!"
Bay City, MI USA 11/04/98
Polish people eat Flaki. I went to a wedding where this was the first
course. I was so hungry I tried it. It was pretty tasty even though I
knew what it was — Stomach Soup.
Washington, DC USA 11/04/98
The proprietor of an out of the way restaurant in Lisbon translated
one of the daily specials as "chicken in sauce." I ordered it, loved it
and noticed that the other diners, all of them locals, had ordered the
same item. Afterwards, I checked in my Portuguese dictionary to see how
accurate the proprietor's translation was and found that the dish actually
was "chicken cooked in blood." It was still delicious!
Boston, MA USA 11/02/98
While living in Spain a few years ago I observed bowls of what appeared
to be blood-colored Knox blocks in a number of tapas bars. It turned out
to be just that — congealed blood. I have eated (and enjoyed in varying
degrees) everything from raw octopus to "innards" soup that looked like
liquified liverwurst, but here I had to draw the line.
Union, WA USA 10/23/98