2007.09.19 Wait, I wouldn't eat that

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Over the years I’ve taken great delight in occasionally writing about odd foods. It’s stuff I’ll never eat, but I’ll gladly talk about it.

I remember telling about an interesting fish dish from the far north, far beyond the beet fields of Benzonia. Fish is wrapped in grass and buried in the mud along a river for properly fermentation.

I think it’s somewhere in South America where a plant is chewed for a while and then spit into a pot for fermentation. Pass me a bowl of that stuff.

Those are the two really odd items that come to mind. The remainder was more a matter of cultural differences. One group of people thinks that drinking cow’s milk is the most disgusting proposition they’ve encountered, but they love spiders and dried snake.

Today I read about a Cambodian specialty which the author described as “fermented mudfish sludge” known as prahok made from mudfish, rice and salt. Traditional preparation calls for stomping the mixture with bare feet.

John McPhee recently wrote in the New Yorker about his “life list” of eccentric food. McPhee doesn’t go looking for strange food, but occasionally it comes his way via his job.

When he wrote about Alaska, he ate grizzly bear shoulder. The wife of his host, who was a native of the area, gladly ate lynx and wolf, but not grizzly meat; it has terror in it.

Rattlesnake appears on McPhee’s list, but he admits that it was canned, unlike the food he ate in Georgia that was just plain dead. He wrote about a biologist who ate what she found freshly killed alongside the road, such as weasel and snapping turtle and squirrel.

McPhee writes about eating puffins from Iceland, muskrat, musk ox, porpoise, whale, sea cucumbers and lion. There’s also a section about harvesting mountain oysters and about the restaurants that serve them.

Many of the items on McPhee’s list aren’t as exotic as lion, they’re just not part of most people’s diet. They came from a camping trip he took with the famous wild food man Euell Gibbons.

Dock, burdock, chicory, chickweed, ground-cherries, groundnuts, Jerusalem artichokes, oyster mushrooms, watercress, water mint tea—this is stuff you can find around here. I’ll never forget reading Gibbons’ obituary: He died of natural causes.

My food adventures are more along the lines of questionable foods rather than exotic foods. My experience is gained not from traveling the world; it’s as close as my refrigerator. It’s a puzzling situation that’s been going on for years.

An example: There was some sliced turkey in our refrigerator recently. I hate to see food thrown away, especially when some animal gave its life for a meal, so I offered to make a sandwich.

“I wouldn’t do that,” my wife said. “It’s too old.”

I computed the days since she made the purchase and concluded that it was OK. I ate it with no ill effects. It was better than road kill.

A day later, I needed a quick meal before running off to a meeting. Colleen was still working at the library so I opened a can of tuna fish, added some mayonnaise and vinegar and made a sandwich.

Colleen arrived home shortly afterward, saw what I had concocted and let out with a gagging sound.

“Now what have I done?” I asked.

“You used the old mayonnaise.”

Impossible, I said. I just opened it. She explained that the new jar was an old jar. It was past the eat-by date and needed to be thrown away.

Then I had to ask the question I’ve asked many times before: “Why do you keep old food? Why don’t you throw it away?”

I took a bite of my sandwich. Old mayo wasn’t going to stop me. It should have been used by July 4. That’s not to so bad.

But before I took the first bite, I added some pickles. Wrong move again. Those were pickles from a jar that was opened in May and, once again, they should have been throw away.

I believe the brine will preserve them. I sat down and enjoyed my old meal, wondering why there’s so much toxic waste in our cupboards and refrigerator.

When the coroner examines my untimely death, I hope one of my readers points out the obvious. It’s not a matter of natural causes; someone is trying to bump me off.

  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Front.batter

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017