Looking for Halloween food inspiration?
These five delicacies from around the world are for the most adventurous of souls. Lucky for you, Mimi Sheraton, author of 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die, has gone bravely before you to get the scoop on what to expect when these peculiar flavors hit your taste buds.
Even Slipperier Than Most Eels: At its most effete, the dish is prepared with sea eel that is boned, skinned, and boiled—the meaty, oily chunks caught in a green-gold glassy aspic sharpened with white wine, vinegar, onion, and bay leaves and flecked with parsley. To be at its best, the skinned eel should be cooked in slices and on the bone, however challenging that might make it for diners picking their way through the jelly. Such messy and hard work is well-rewarded.
Just Follow Your Nose: The only foods that can prepare a novice palate for Vegemite, Australia’s favorite relish and spread, are rotted anchovies, English Marmite, or Gentlemen’s Relish, all of which are yeasty, fetid, dense brown pastes said to build strength and overall well-being.
An Infamous Chinese Delicacy: One of the most famous—or infamous—duck egg preparations is the so-called thousand-year-old egg, or pidan, a fresh duck egg nested in a mix of lime-rich clay, ashes, and salt for about three months. Dug up and served gelled, with a dip of soy sauce, rice wine, and minced ginger, or boiled and cut into quarters to show off a translucent, pearly gray exterior and a boldly jade-green yolk, the egg’s flavor suggests sulphur, smoke, and a funky ripeness that is either love or hated.
A Bloody Good Dessert: Not everything that looks, and even tastes, like chocolate pudding is in fact that deep, dark, sweet treat. The use of pig’s blood in this rich Italian pudding harks back to the days when animals were slaughtered without a morsel going to waste—a practice once again fashionable among chefs. In the rich Neapolitan version of sanguinaccio, the blood is cooked and folded into a sunny, vanilla-perfumed custard seasoned with molten bittersweet chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, pignolis, and bright bits of candied fruits.
When Everything Gels Just Right: Sülze, or headcheese, is a luminous gel capturing boneless bits of mostly tender and flavorful pork’s head meat—tongue, cheeks, and all. Sülze is usually sliced from gelled loaves, and is verdant with parsley and perky with onions and garlic.
More About 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die:
The ultimate gift for the food lover. In the same way that 1,000 Places to See Before You Die reinvented the travel book, 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die is a joyous, informative, dazzling, mouthwatering life list of the world’s best food. The long-awaited new book in the phenomenal 1,000 . . . Before You Die series, it’s the marriage of an irresistible subject with the perfect writer, Mimi Sheraton—award-winning cookbook author, grande dame of food journalism, and former restaurant critic for The New York Times.
1,000 Foods fully delivers on the promise of its title, selecting from the best cuisines around the world (French, Italian, Chinese, of course, but also Senegalese, Lebanese, Mongolian, Peruvian, and many more)—the tastes, ingredients, dishes, and restaurants that every reader should experience and dream about, whether it’s dinner at Chicago’s Alinea or the perfect empanada. In more than 1,000 pages and over 550 full-color photographs, it celebrates haute and snack, comforting and exotic, hyper-local and the universally enjoyed: a Tuscan plate of Fritto Misto. Saffron Buns for breakfast in downtown Stockholm. Bird’s Nest Soup. A frozen Milky Way. Black truffles from Le Périgord.
Mimi Sheraton is highly opinionated, and has a gift for supporting her recommendations with smart, sensuous descriptions—you can almost taste what she’s tasted. You’ll want to eat your way through the book (after searching first for what you have already tried, and comparing notes). Then, following the romance, the practical: where to taste the dish or find the ingredient, and where to go for the best recipes, websites included.