Friday, September 12, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

OK, to make good my promise of more posting here, I'll kick off with a meme.

The Very Good Taste blog has posted a list of 100 foods "every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life." The directions:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

In my version, I've added some comments, because I'm just wordy that way. It looks like I've only tried 56 of the 100, but most of the others on the list I'd be willing to taste.

1. Venison
Tried in a restaurant long ago. I don't really remember much about the flavor.
2. Nettle tea
I've tried all sorts of herbal teas, including chamomile, hawthorn berry, and ginseng, but not nettle.
3. Huevos rancheros
A very tasty brunch!
4. Steak tartare
I like carpaccio, but a big mound of raw ground beef just seems gross.
5. Crocodile
Nope, never tried it, nor snake neither.
6. Black pudding
I've had congealed/cooked blood at a dim sum restaurant and it was OK, but not something I'd order again for myself. So if someone offered me some I'd try it, but I wouldn't buy it in the store.
7. Cheese fondue
Bake in my college days Fondue Fred would have coupons for inexpensive all-you-can-eat cheese fondue as long as there were a minimum number of people in your party. It probably wasn't the best cheese fondue, but it was certainly better than dorm food.
8. Carp
Never tried it, but I'd be happy to eat it as long as it's dead when it arrives at the table.
9. Borscht
It's not bad, for beet soup.
10. Baba ghanoush
A very tasty dip, good with pita bread, raw veggies or even tortilla chips.
11. Calamari
I've had it both deep fried or as part of a pasta dish. I like the little ones you eat whole.
12. Pho
OK, another food memory. Back in grad school late nights in the lab usually meant scrounging up dinner from someplace with late hours. Sometimes one of my fellow students who had a car (such luxury!) would be willing to drive over to Boston and pick up dinner from Pho Pasteur. Actually it was a two person pick-up, one to run in and get the food and the other to sit in the double parked car (back then the only branch was on a busy street with no parking). I'm not sure how the broth is seasoned, but something about it is so comforting. I miss that.
13. PB&J sandwich
This must have been put on the list because it's a rarity in the UK. I don't know anyone who doesn't have a peanut allergy who hasn't had a PB&J sandwich.
14. Aloo gobi
One of the tastiest ways to eat cauliflower IMHO.
15. Hot dog from a street cart
I've had an Italian sausage from a street cart, but I'm not sure that counts.
16. Epoisses
Nope, but I like some stinky cheese, so I'd definitely give it a try.
17. Black truffle
I'm not that keen on the flavor, but I have had food with truffles.
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
All the non-grape fruit wine I've tried is horribly sweet. Isn't there such a thing as dry blackberry wine?
19. Steamed pork buns
An essential component of any dim sum meal. I've also tried the Safeway-brand frozen pork buns. They are easy to prepare in the steamer, but don't taste quite as good as the restaurant ones.
20. Pistachio ice cream
A nice flavor, as long as you aren't expecting green ice cream to taste like mint.
21. Heirloom tomatoes
Yes! From the farmer's market, eaten with fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinegar.
22. Fresh wild berries
I remember a camping trip, at least 30 years ago, where we kids picked blackberries growing from the bushes along the side of the road. They were the taste of summer.
23. Foie gras
I've had it as pate, which is apparently not the way connoisseurs eat it. Oh well, I can live without being a liver connoisseur.
24. Rice and beans
Yes, with a variety of seasonings.
25. Brawn, or head cheese
That just doesn't look appealing to me at all.
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
I've had raw habanero, which wikipedia says is "similar" and "of the same species". It looks like the Scotch Bonnets have their own flavor, so I guess that doesn't count.
27. Dulce de leche
I love caramel!
28. Oysters
I've had them, but cooked, not raw.
29. Baklava
The local Greek (actually Greek-American-Mexican) restaurant has both the usual baklava and a similar dessert that looks like a bird's nest. Both are so sticky good.
30. Bagna cauda
Sounds good, but I've never even seen it on a menu.
31. Wasabi peas
Nice as a snack with mixed rice crackers.
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
Only with New England-style clam chowder.
33. Salted lassi
I've tried the sweet version, but never savory.
34. Sauerkraut
Ja, sure. However, if I get a choice of pickled cabbage dishes, I'd rather have kimchee.
35. Root beer float
I've had it, but not my favorite dessert. Just give me my ice cream in a bowl.
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
Why ruin the flavor of a good cognac with a nasty cigar?
37. Clotted cream tea
It sounds lovely, except for the tea part. Substitute black coffee and it would be perfect.
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
Jello shots? I may have tried those once or twice (or more). I'm having a little trouble remembering . . .
39. Gumbo
Another tasty stew.
40. Oxtail
I may have had this in a stew or some such, but I don't remember.
41. Curried goat
Yes, at a Caribbean-style restaurant.
42. Whole insects
Nope. I'd have to be starving to eat whole bugs.
43. Phaal
Ooh, even hotter than vindaloo. Sounds worth a try.
44. Goat’s milk
I don't even particularly like cow's milk.
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
I've had some nice single malt scotches, but I don't think any were from a bottle worth over $100.
46. Fugu
I like the idea of trying it, but I might chicken out if the opportunity actually arose.
47. Chicken tikka masala
Pretty standard Indian restaurant food.
48. Eel
Never as a main entree, but yes as unagi sushi.
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
I was skeptical about the hype surrounding Krispy Kreme, but then one came to town and I realized the joy of eating a fresh hot melt-in-your-mouth donut.
50. Sea urchin
Gooey yellow gonads just aren't appetizing.
51. Prickly pear
I'm going to count this, even though I've only had the fruit in candy form, because I've also eaten (and cooked) nopales.
52. Umeboshi
I've had Chinese salted plums, but I guess those aren't quite the same thing.
53. Abalone
I've tried it, and its chewy texture really isn't my fave. Maybe it's better if you pried it off a rock yourself?
54. Paneer
Never by itself, but in curry. The boil-in-a-bag Palak Paneer they sell at Trader Joe's isn't half bad.
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
Yes, I've eaten the McD's meal. I'd much rather have Carl's Jr.
56. Spaetzle
I even made these once, dropping the batter into the boiling water.
57. Dirty gin martini
I assume this means a dirty martini made with gin, not a martini made with some alcohol called "dirty gin". The answer is yes, make mine very dry with two olives.
58. Beer above 8% ABV
I had to look it up, and it looks like the strongest I've had - at least recently - is Arrogant Bastard, which is only 7.2%.
59. Poutine
Oui oui! In Quebec City you can even get poutine in Micky D's (although that should only be done if you are despirate and can find no other source).
60. Carob chips
Yes I've tried them, and no, they are not a substitute for chocolate.
61. S’mores
Sitting around a campfire, toasting marshmallows, then smooshing them together with chocolate and graham crackers - such happiness!
62. Sweetbreads
Thymus? No. I guess I'd try it if offered.
63. Kaolin
Eating clay as a digestive aid? Does taking kaopectate count?
64. Currywurst
Sounds good, but it looks like I'll have to go to Germany to try it.
65. Durian
I'll try it someday, just to say I have.
66. Frogs’ legs
Never tried them.
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
Last week my husband included cocoa-dusted churros in our Mexican take-out order. They are a wicked food, because I couldn't help eating them despite my fullness. So good. I'm pretty sure funnel cake is what they call "fried dough" in Boston, which is an excellent companion to Italian sausage-from-a-cart.
68. Haggis
There aren't many foods that immediately make me think "ick", but Haggis is one of them.
69. Fried plantain
Sounds good.
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
I'm not too keen on offal (see also Haggis).
71. Gazpacho
One of the tastiest ways to use your summer crop of tomatoes and peppers.
72. Caviar and blini
Oh yes, yum.
73. Louche absinthe
I've heard absinthe has come back into fashion. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to attend a party wher it's served.
74. Gjetost, or brunost
Sounds interesting. I'd definitely try it.
75. Roadkill
No food with tire tracks for me.
76. Baijiu
I've had Russian vodka and Korean soju, but never Baiju.
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
I have no idea why this makes the list and not Ho-Hos, Ding-Dongs, or Twinkies.
78. Snail
Only with garlic and lots of butter, which can make anything taste good.
79. Lapsang souchong
I don't like black tea, so fancy varieties would be totally wasted on me.
80. Bellini
I had to look it up, but it turns out to be sort of like an Italian version of a mimosa, with peach instead of orange. Sounds good.
81. Tom yum
Mmmm Thai food. Maybe that's what we should have for dinner tonight . . .
82. Eggs Benedict
A brunch classic. If I wasn't too lazy to prepare hollandaise sauce I'd make it at home.
83. Pocky
I have had the chocolate version. I'm not sure why this is on the "must try" list, though. I would have included the Greek hazelnut cocoa wafer cookies instead.
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
Some day I'm going to eat at the French Laundry in Yountville, which I believe would qualify.
85. Kobe beef
Yes, please, I'd love some. But haven't had it yet.
86. Hare
Yup, I've eaten bunny rabbit.
87. Goulash
An excellent variation on beef stew.
88. Flowers
Yup, most recently nasturtiums from my own garden.
89. Horse
Neigh! Nope, never tried horse, and have no desire to try it.
90. Criollo chocolate
I've had lots of types of chocolate, but I don't think any of them were Criollo.
91. Spam
Tried long ago, but definitely not on my list of things I like to eat.
92. Soft shell crab
It had an unusual texture.
93. Rose harissa
I've had harissa in a Moroccan restaurant, but it wasn't rose flavored.
94. Catfish
I've eaten it. I've prepared it. Not particularly exciting.
95. Mole poblano
Not only have I had it, I even prepared it from scratch. Once. It involved grinding up several different types of dried peppers and many many other ingredients. The result was only meh, so I never did that again.
96. Bagel and lox
Of course I've had a bagel with lox, although not as often as bagel with schmear.
97. Lobster Thermidor
I don't recall ever having it, but it sounds lovely and rich. Do restaurants still have it on their menus?
98. Polenta
I've had it soft and creamy and I've had it sliced from a shaped "log" (which isn't nearly as good). A nice grain alternative.
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
I love coffee, but the Jamaican Blue Mountain variety has been beyond my budget.And honestly, I'm not sure my palate is refined enough to taste the difference.
100. Snake
Nope, I haven't tried any reptiles.

All in all an interesting range of food. Now I'm hungry!

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