Monday, September 08, 2008


From Anywhere But Here comes this excellent meme: 100 Things You Should Eat Before You Die.

I’m sure some enterprising individual can come up with a list of 100 Things You’d Rather Die Than Eat, but that is a discussion for another time. And besides, de gustibus non est disputandum, which is Latin for “one man’s bone-in ribeye is another man’s Krystal Chili Pup.”

So: Let’s just take a look at this list, shall we? I’ve indicated the things I’ve eaten in boldface.

100. Venison
The Missus won’t go near it, but I loves me some nice, tender Bambi meat.

99. Nettle tea
Not yet, anyway.

98. Huevos rancheros
How can you live in Texas without checking out this classic Mexican breakfast dish?

97. Steak tartare
I was not impressed with the version served at the Russian Tea Room in New York City...but I have had steak tartare elsewhere, and it’s a fine dish. Don’t let the raw eggs and raw meat scare you off, ya wimp.

96. Crocodile
I’ve eaten alligator, but not crocodile. And with both alligator and crocodile, it is better to eat than be eaten. Right, Jimbo?

95. Black pudding
AKA Blutwurst. No, thank you.

94. Cheese fondue
Hell, yes.

93. Carp
Never mind that it’s an anagram for “crap.” Carp is delicious, whether served “as is” or as a component of gefilte fish.

92. Borscht
Whether cold or hot, I like borscht a lot. My mother used to throw cold beet borscht in the blender with a shot of sour cream to make a ghastly looking Pepto-Bismol-colored borscht shake...but it tasted great. And hot cabbage borscht is a superb fall season dish.

91. Baba ghanoush
I’ve tried baba ghanoush and I like it...but alas, it does not like me (as do many other dishes containing eggplant).

90. Calamari

89. Pho
Not only is it delicious, but how can you resist a dish that’s pronounced “Fuh”?

88. PB&J sandwich
No way you could grow up in America in the 1950’s without subsisting on peanut butter and jelly sammitches.

87. Aloo gobi
Indian cauliflower and potato curry.

86. Hot dog from a street cart
Sabrett was the vendor of choice in New York.

85. Époisses
You may be surprised to learn that Mr. Debonair has not yet tasted Époisses de Bourgogne, possibly the stinkiest French cheese on the planet. “Zee Époisses, eet ees like a tourd...a tourd weeth a crust. So tastee!”

84. Black truffle
But of course.

83. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
Blackberry wine, for sure. And I have a bottle of pomegranate wine in my cellar.

82. Steamed pork buns
If char siu bau did not exist, it would be necessary to invent them. I’ve had ’em in China and Hong Kong (back when they were two separate political entities) - and, most recently, in Boston’s Chinatown.

81. Pistachio ice cream
Back when Carvel ice cream was soft-serve only, we would eagerly await those days when pistachio was the Flavor of the Week... because Carvel soft-serve pistachio was to die for.

80. Heirloom tomatoes
Just had a brace of these at the Boxwood Bistro in Franklin, Tennessee last Saturday night. Yummy.

79. Fresh wild berries
One of the great treats. I recommend New Brunswick wild blueberries.

78. Foie gras
Can anyone say “Strasburg pie”?

77. Rice and beans
See my comment above regarding huevos rancheros.

76. Brawn, or head cheese
Aw, hell naw.

75. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
Like eating a flamethrower. One that you’ve forgotten to turn off first.

74. Dulce de leche
Dulce de leche is Spanish-style caramelized milk. Hoo, boy, is it yummy.

73. Oysters
Yes, I’ve eaten oysters. No, they’re not kosher. Deal with it.

72. Baklava
A hyper-sweet Middle Eastern pastry. Not to be confused with “balaclava,” which, like a colander, is customarily worn on the head.

71. Bagna cauda
Contains garlic, anchovies, and olive oil. What’s not to love? Just haven’t gotten to it yet.

70. Wasabi peas
Oh, yeah. Snack food of the gods.

69. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
I’ve had Manhattan-style and New England-style clam chowder, although the sourdough bowl is a nonauthentic latter-day add-on that I choose to ignore. Chowdah should be consumed with oyster crackers, not a hollowed-out loaf of bread.

The New England clam chowder at the Boston University student center is one of the best I have ever tasted.

68. Salted lassi
Nope...although doogh, the Persian version of lassi, is pretty good. (It’s a fermented milk beverage. No collies were harmed...)

67. Sauerkraut
I hope Eric and Fiona get to sample the choucroute garni (sauerkraut garnished with various cuts of meat and sausage) while they are visiting in Alsace this week.

66. Root beer float
Root beer. Vanilla ice cream. Sheer simplicity...and sheer heaven.

65. Cognac with a fat cigar
Oh, yes. Yes, indeed.

64. Clotted cream tea
Probably delicious, but I tend to avoid foods and beverages with names containing the word “clot.”

63. Vodka jelly/Jell-O shot
There was a bar in Houston called Richard Head’s (really!) that offered a fine selection of Jell-O shots.

62. Gumbo
We make a mean gumbo over here at Chez Elisson.

61. Oxtail

60. Curried goat
An important prerequisite for “Jamaica doody.”

59. Whole insects
Many cultures consider insects a delicacy. I do not. Feh.

58. Phaal
Sounds like a recipe for ringburn, but I would try it.

57. Goat’s milk

56. Single malt whisky
Hell, yes.

55. Fugu
Belongs on the list of “100 Foods You Should Eat Before You Die And That, In Fact, May Hasten Your Demise.” Blowfish, AKA pufferfish, is a costly Japanese delicacy prepared by licensed chefs who remove the deadly ovaries and liver of the fish. Predictably, there are people who buy those organs on the black market. They are called “idiots.”

54. Chicken tikka masala
Oh, go do that Hindoo voodoo that you do so well.

53. Eel
I had a perfectly wonderful una-don (grilled freshwater eel, AKA unagi, served over rice) whilst in Tokyo with Elder Daughter.

52. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
Yeah, I’ve tried ’em, but they impress me not... for I am a Dunkin’ Donuts man.

51. Sea urchin
Many people are revolted at the idea of eating the custardlike gonads of this spiny hermaphroditic sea creature. If you can get past the texture, sea urchin (uni) is damn tasty. But it’s gotta be really fresh, otherwise it tastes, never mind.

50. Prickly pear
Nopales! Yes, nopales!

49. Umeboshi
Japanese pickled ume plums. Umeboshi are powerfully salty and vinegary, not for the faint of heart. Years ago, when we lived in western New Jersey, there was a couple living across the street from us: an American man with his Japanese wife. Their daughter, three years old at the time, used to eat umeboshi like American kids would eat potato chips. Unbelievable.

48. Abalone
Very expensive shoe leather.

47. Paneer
The Indian version of queso blanco, an essential ingredient in saag paneer.

46. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
I’ll cop to eating a Big Mac, although it has been many decades since I’ve indulged in this not-quite-pleasurable guilty pleasure. If I’m gonna eat McDonald’s crap, give me a quarter pounder. And I can do without the soft drink.

45. Spaetzle
Fetal dumplings.

44. Dirty gin martini
I’ve tried the “dirty” martini and found it wanting. The olive juice interferes with the taste of the gin.

43. Beer above 8% ABV
Georgia law was changed a few years ago to permit high throw-weight beers to be sold here...and I am grateful.

42. Poutine
It sounds like a rude, flatulent gerund, but poutine is a French-Canadian junk-food treat consisting of French fries with soft cheese curds scattered over ’em, then buried in brown gravy. Ballpark least in Toronto and Montréal. Eat enough of it, and you’ll really be poutine.

41. Carob chips
A complete waste of time, created to satisfy chocophobes.

40. S’mores
The best excuse for building a campfire that ever existed, s’mores were invented by rugged Yukon prospectors. These beloved graham cracker-chocolate-marshmallow sandwiches served as the inspiration for many of the culinary-themed poems of Robert W. Service, AKA “the Bard of the Great White North.”

39. Sweetbreads
My mother loved sweetbreads, but I resisted trying them until the Missus and I were having dinner at Chez Panisse back in 1984, where they appeared as an ingredient in a salad. Absolutely delicious.

But some of my mother’s other faves? Not in a hurry to try ’em. Calf’s foot jelly? Brains? Feh.

38. Kaolin
Not sure why this ended up on the list. Kaolin is the main ingredient in porcelain...and also Kaopectate, which, alas, I have taken on infrequent occasions.

37. Currywurst
Currywurst is a German dish consisting of hot pork sausage cut into slices and seasoned with curry sauce and curry powder. With luck, I may be able to avoid it.

36. Durian
The topic of this post.

35. Frogs’ legs
Taste like chicken. Chicken that has been living in an algae-encrusted pond all its life.

34. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
All of the above. Having beignets at the Café du Monde in New Orleans is one of life’s fine experiences. As for funnel cake, it is the bastard offspring of a doughnut and sargassum weed...packed with calories owing to its high surface area-to-volume ratio, but tasty nonetheless.

33. Haggis
I would eat this in a New York minute despite its horrendous-sounding ingredients. Plus, you get to drink Scotch whisky with it.

32. Fried plantain
I’ve eaten these...hell, I’ve made ’em myself as recently as four weeks ago.

31. Chitterlings, or andouillette
Three words: No. Fucking. Way.

30. Gazpacho
SWMBO makes a fine version of this chilled soup, using a recipe from her Chefly Brother.

29. Caviar and blini
Sure, it’s expensive. But man, is it good.

28. Louche absinthe
Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.

27. Gjetost, or brunost
Is it cheese? Is it caramel? Is it toe jam?

26. Roadkill
Perhaps after the Nuclear Holocaust.

25. Baijiu
Baijiu, or shaojiu is a Chinese distilled alcoholic beverage. I’ve had the Japanese version (shochu)...and I have a bottle of the Chinese stuff that has been gathering dust in my Lacquer Liquor Locker for the past 15 years. perhaps I’ll take it to Helen this year and dump it in the Chatham Artillery Punch.

24. Hostess Fruit Pie
“The fruit pies contain a peculiar gelatinous substance that is strangely tasty.” Well, to some people.

23. Snails
Escargot, otherwise known as “Garlic Butter Conveyance Devices.”

22. Lapsang souchong
I tried this smoky black tea when I was too young to appreciate it. I should probably give it another shot.

21. Bellini
Sparkling wine (traditionally Prosecco), peach purée, and (optionally) a shot of raspberry coulis. A fine Sunday-morning tipple, if you are the sort who tipples on a Sunday morning.

20. Tom yum
A spicy Thai soup containing shrimp and lemongrass...and lots of extremely hot “mouse turd” chilies. I was once served a bowl of this stuff at a restaurant in Bangkok. One spoonful was enough to make me pop a sweat...and I polished it all off, only to have a major case of ringburn for the next three days.

19. Eggs Benedict
Not to be confused with eggs Benedict Arnold, which dish was convicted in absentia of high treasoning...and excessive seasoning.

18. Pocky
A Japanese snack food consisting of a biscuit stick, one end of which is coated with chocolate. Named after the distinctive facial scarring suffered by acne-ridden Japanese teenagers, prime consumers of this popular snack treat.

17. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
One day.

16. Kobe beef
A couple of weeks ago, I watched a guy buy a Kobe beef steak at Star Provisions, local purveyors of ridiculously expensive foods. It was priced at $128 per pound. Most high-quality prime beef is muscle tissue marbled liberally with fat; this stuff was fat marbled liberally with muscle tissue.

But I have had Kobe beef in Japan, and it is brain-meltingly good...especially when the Great Corporate Salt Mine is picking up the tab.

15. Hare
Rabbit, yes - but I’ve never had a hare, the rabbit’s big, funky country cousin.

14. Goulash
They used to serve Hungarian goulash to us in grade school. Probably not the finest example of the genre, but it’s the one I remember.

13. Flowers
Edible flowers? Sure...why not?

12. Horse
I have had many opportunities to eat of the meat of the horse, but I have chosen not to do so. The Mistress of Sarcasm would never forgive me.

11. Criollo
Food in the style of Lima, Peru. Not Lima, Ohio.

10. Spam
I have tasted of Spam. I do not care for it.

9. Soft shell crab
The best soft-shell crab I ever had was in New York City.

8. Rose harissa
I have had harissa, a peppery North African chili paste, but not the rare version containing rose petals.

7. Catfish
How many years have I lived in the South?

6. Mole poblano
Mole poblano is one of those dishes that sounds bizarre (chocolate? chiles?) but that is amazingly tasty.

5. Bagel and lox
Has Elisson ever had bagels and lox? Of course he has!

4. Lobster Thermidor
I have had lobster many times, but never the classic lobster Thermidor preparation. I don’t think I’m missing much.

3. Polenta
The Romanian version is called mamaliga.

2. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
If you want coffee that’s even more expensive, consider purchasing some Kopi Luwak, coffee beans that have been eaten, digested, and crapped out by an Indonesian civet cat, then washed and lightly roasted. About $200-600 the pound. (None for me, thanks.)

1. Snake
Tastes like chicken. Chicken that has been crawling around on its belly all its life.

So far, 75 out of 100. Not bad! But there’s more!

0. Whale
I had to add this to the list.

How many of these have you had? How many do you still want to try?

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