2008.09.10 100 things to ingest

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

You probably heard that Dave Freeman, co-author of “100 Things to Do Before You Die” has died. He died early because he had done only about half of his suggestions.

Between the two co-authors, they covered about everything on the list, but Freeman himself wasn’t finished.

Maybe he lacked funding. There are several affordable travel events on his list—New Year’s Eve in Times Square, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the Magnum Rattlesnake Derby in Oklahoma—but most of Freeman’s suggestions require time and money not available to most of us.

Take in the wildebeest migration across the Serengeti and the Bisket Jatra New Year festival in Nepal, plan for the chariots of the Rath Yatra in India and the Ngan Kin Jeh food festival in Thailand.

Even making plans for the Spamarama Festival in Austin, Texas, would present a challenge to me, although others have taken Freeman’s lead further.

There’s “101 Things to Do Before You Die,” a book that apparently later changed to “101 Things to Do Before You’re Old and Boring.”

Then for someone with way too much time on their hands, there’s the busy “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.” That probably includes Michigan’s champion flowering dogwood at Morenci’s Oak Grove Cemetery.

But back to Spamarma. That brings to mind another one of those lists: “100 Things You Should Eat Before You Die.” Spam is on the list.

This list was created by Andrew and Jill from London and posted on their Very Good Taste blog (www.verygoodtaste.co.uk). The response has been quite large. Andrew describes the list as 100 foods that every good omnivore should try at least once in his or her life.

I’m not a very good omnivore by his standards. So many of the items I’ve eaten years ago but currently have no interested in swallowing.

That includes No. 91: Spam. Who hasn’t eaten Spam if you’re older than 50 years old?

My score comes through with a very unadventuresome 31 or so. I’m just not sure about a few items. Have I had some snake? I don’t think so, but it seems like a possibility. Horse? Probably, although not intentionally. Rabbit? Is there rabbit in Welsh Rarebit?

Maybe I once tasted frog legs. It seems as though I had friend plantains somewhere. And a fried cricket and pistachio ice cream. Faulty memory might be preventing a score closer to 40. That’s still pretty weak. Several of the hundreds of responses to this query have scores in the high 80s.

At the Very Good Taste website, participants are invited to copy the list, mark the ones eaten in bold, and cross off the ones they don’t want to try. My “don’t want to try” list is too big, but at least it’s smaller than my “eaten” list.

Andrew says he started with a list of about 300 and with the help of some friends, chewed it down to a hundred. Some items such as lapsang souchong tea might be easy to come by in England, but difficult to track down in small town America. What’s commonplace to you—like a peanut and jelly sandwich—is unheard of in some parts of the world.

Andrew doesn’t think his Omnivore Hundred is something everybody should work their way through, and he hasn’t himself. There are dietary, religious, cultural and personal reasons that get in the way. Some people can’t even look at a snake; eating snake is out of the question.

The author writes that he’s fallen way behind in reading the unexpectedly huge response to his 100, but he made some observations early on before the flood of letters.

Wild berries are the most universal item on the list. Next comes baklava, which surprises him since he doesn’t think it was  very well known in many parts of the world 20 years ago.

Cheese fondue and edible flowers are fourth and fifth. Oddly enough—to an American, that is—only one in eight people have ever eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That’s not too far from the one-in-10 response to roadkill.

As everybody’s mother has said, you can’t say you don’t like it until you’ve tried it. And if your mother teaches biology, she might join the blog commenter who adds this warning: Picky eaters are an evolutionary dead end.

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