Spam sushi


Nobody likes Spam. Well, that’s not entirely true. Hawaiians and Koreans love the stuff. It was brought to Korea by American soldiers, and has left its ugly scar ever since. It wasn’t a great shock then to find a spam gimbap, Korean sushi, at the airport.

The rice roll was filled with vegetables, crab stick and the aforementioned spam. With every bite you would get a different flavor. Like Russian roulette you would risk biting into the spam. Funnily enough when I did reach the spam, I didn’t actually mind. The flavor seemed to be washed out by the other ingredients, or perhaps these Koreans are just on to something.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 7



Bacon chocolate


I had eaten a white chocolate dessert before with chunks of bacon in it that I didn’t enjoy very much. Therefore I was a bit hesitant when I saw this bacon chocolate bar, but curiosity got the better of me. I’m glad I did try, as it turned out to be pretty spectacular. Not only was the bacon flavor there all the way through, it also matched perfectly with the bitter chocolate and the added salt. You could really taste the bacon, but without having to deal with the texture of it. Very high quality chocolate as well.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 9

Beef tongue taco


Although I have written about beef tongue before, I decided to include this entry to my blog because this time it wasn’t a small cube or thin sliver. This was an actual thick slab of tongue so I could finally taste it for what it is.

I’ve been staying in Mexico over the past few weeks, after my trip to New York, and made a weekend trip to Mexico. On advise – not personally – of Anthony Bourdain, I went for some midnight snacks at tacqueria Los Cocuyos. They serve tacos de cabeza, which translates to head tacos. You order your tacos by the body part, and I went for sausage, cheek and tongue.

As I mentioned a thick slice of beef tongue was cut off right in front of me from a whole tongue. It had a great texture. It was chewy, yet soft like a slow roast brisket. It had a good beefy flavor that was complemented by just the right amount of chili and lime. If anyone is afraid to try organ meat do try some tongue, it will change your mind forever.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 9


Bison burger


One thing I wanted to try in America was bison or buffalo. You see them roam the great plains of the country in epic movies such as Dancing with Wolves. At a burger restaurant in New York I chose a bison burger. The server said the meat is leaner than beef, so have it cooked a little less than you’d normally like. I asked for medium rare.

The burger patty was huge and definitely home made. To my surprise it was cooked all the way through, but I was hungry so I dug in anyway. It was definitely on the dry side, but not overly so. Taste wise I didn’t think it differed much from beef. Had I not known what it was I would have probably said it was beef.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7




While visiting the States the past week I was particularly interested in trying out traditional local foods. In New York I tried some bagels, cheesecake and deli sandwiches. In Philadelphia you might think I’d order a cheesesteak, but instead I tried some Pennsylvania Dutch food, including scrapple.

Scrapple is one of those dishes invented for using up every last scrap, hence the name, of the animal like head cheese. Offal, the head and other bits and pieces of a pig are boiled until the broth and meat become one big mush, which is then left to congeal. It’s then often sliced, crumbed and fried, usually for breakfast.

It was indeed breakfast time when I tried this dish. My blogger friend Paul took, who lives near Philadelphia, took me to Pennsylvania Dutch diner, but he wouldn’t touch any scrapple. That made me a little hesitant, but I tried anyway. It wasn’t exceptionally tasty, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It kind of reminded me of a meat croquette that we eat in Holland, made with a ragout that’s then fried as the scrapple was rather soft and mushy on the inside as well. It didn’t have a very strong flavor, but that could be a good thing.

Fear Factor – 5 / Taste Test – 7


Canned moose meat


One of my friends, who obviously knows me well, had given me a can of moose meat for Christmas. At least I think it’s moose. The can is in Russian, a language I don’t speak.

I opened it the other day to find the meat had been confit, or slow-cooked, turning it into something that resembles corned beef. Unlike corned beef, there was still some texture and bite to it, something experienced before in a confit duck leg.

The meat itself didn’t taste any different to beef, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It was actually nice enough to eat from straight from the can, but I decided to turn it into a chili instead.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 8


Spicy duck neck


People in Lanzhou sure seem to like duck. There is a little duck shop in almost every street selling spicy roasted duck. Now I’m not talking about a whole one like in Beijing, but about odd ends like tongues, heads and necks. Surprisingly nobody seems to care about the breasts. One of my student’s moms gave me a bag of spicy duck necks. It’s almost as if she’d read my blog.

I was quite apprehensive I must admit. Not because I don’t like duck, I do, but because I knew it was going to be all bones, and I don’t enjoy gnawing for meat. Does that make me a picky eater, or is it the opposite? Low and behold, there were a lot of bones. Something’s got to hold up old duckface after all. However, it was actually quite easy to get a bit of meat off of it, and plenty of it. The meat had a nice chewy texture, but was still soft and the spice gave it just the right amount of kick.

Fear Factor: 3 – Taste Test – 8


Mapo tofu slider


imageOne of the most famous and well loved dishes here in China is “mapo tofu”, a spicy tofu dish from Sichuan province with lots of chilies and Sichuan pepper. I’m not usually a fan of Sichuan pepper, or soft tofu for that matter. I prefer the firmer variety. Regardless of that I did order a mapo tofu slider at White Castle in Shanghai.

The slider came quite minimally prepared with just a thin beef patty on a mini burger bun, topped with a piece of spicy tofu. That was no problem though as I usually throw away the tomato and lettuce anyway. The tofu was a lot better than expected. It wasn’t at all soft, and the Sichuan pepper wasn’t overpowering. It actually worked well with the beef as well. I do think it could have been a little spicier.

Fear Factor – 4 / Taste Test – 7


Kangaroo tataki


I don’t think kangaroos roam freely in Japan, and yet I found a helping of kangaroo on the menu at “Rice and Circus” in Tokyo. Having never eaten kangaroo before, I jumped at the opportunity. It was served as tataki, meaning it was seared very quickly, and then thinly sliced. A mix of carpaccio and rare steak.

I was a bit apprehensive as I had heard kangaroo can be quite tough when cooked incorrectly, but because the meat was so rare, there was nothing to worry about. It was as tender as can be. Even though I couldn’t make out any big distinction between this and any other steak, I did like the kangaroo tataki a lot. I hope to try out a bigger piece of roo next time.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 8


Raw horse mane sushi


As if eating raw horse sushi wasn’t strange enough, the plate of sushi I grabbed from the conveyor belt of a sushi restaurant in Kyoto also presented me with a raw horse mane nigiri. Raw horse mane? What does that even mean? I thought the mane of a horse was the hair growing on its neck, so I reckon this might be the meat from the next.

It turned out to be pretty much a big slice of fat. It was slightly yellow like chicken fat can be. The texture was somewhere between soft and chewy. I was not blown away. I have eaten fat in other places where it was rendered down, and tasted pretty nice, but this was just one horrible bite of fat. I managed to eat it though, but it’s truly a thing of nightmares.

Fear Factor – 9 / Taste Test – 2