Hundred Year Old Egg, China
It’s not a hundred years old, obviously. Just a few months – like that makes it any better. Oh, and it’s been steeped in salt, quicklime, ash and straw, which turns it green, brown and shiny. Very shiny. It smells – oh, how you’ll laugh – like a rotten, ammonia-secreting, green, brown, shiny egg, which you then have to eat. I managed a microscopic mouthful, which I considered rather a triumph.
Kangaroo, emu, wallaby – I had steaks and stir-fries of those, lovely, no problem. Practically signature dishes these days in Australia. And I was much taken with the sight of free-roaming camels by the side of the road in the Northern Territory – almost as much a surprise to me (camels! Australia!) as a part of one turning up on my plate one fine day. Note to future self: the camel is best seen from afar, not ingested.
Fine, you’ve got some herring and you want to preserve them? Oh, you’ve got some brine and a hole in the ground, or maybe a barrel? They’ll ferment will they? No kidding. Several months you say? And you have to open it outdoors? Because – oh, I see . . .That was an interesting Swedish picnic, I’ll give it that. Mosquitoes strangely absent that day too.
Shark embryo, Vietnam
He said shark, didn’t he, that thing he’s got wrapped in a banana leaf and placed on the grill? I’m sure he said shark. Shark’s OK. Not great obviously, but at least it’s not shark’s fin soup, it’s a nice steak of a humanely caught shark, surely? Anyway, we don’t want to offend. Look, he’s unwrapping it. It’s an odd shape for a steak. Oh, good grief. It’s a little baby, embryonic shark. And that’s our dinner. No, you tell him.
Beetroot, New Zealand
I don’t like beetroot, but it’s easy to avoid. Beetroot salad? Nope, won’t order it. Beetroot purée with lamb? I’ll choose something else. So I’ll have the mixed green salad please, followed by the cheeseburger. Erm waiter, why, in the name of God, is there beetroot in the greens and on my cheeseburger! Who would do that? Who thinks that what that risotto needs is some beetroot – and then doesn’t mention it on the menu? How is beetroot – unmentioned beetroot, I might add – a suitable addition to a plate of antipasti? Come on New Zealand, cut it out, it’s not funny.
See more unforgiveable dining choices in Part 1. And do you have any shockers of your own to share?