Anything That Moves Can Be Eaten

I am definitely not a foodie. There is a reason why my blog has about 6 permanent topics and none of them steers even close to food. There are many people, especially Singaporeans, who love food, and therefore food blogs are a very common sight. Looking at photographs of food usually does little to whet my appetite. First of all, I am not a fan of food (just biscuits tend to be enough to satisfy me, thanks!) and secondly, I really dislike photographs.

However, I shall make an exception today and talk a bit about the yum-yums for our tum-tums. I remember back when I was travelling in Yunnan, China, I was introduced to a delicacy that I rather like. It looks something like this.

Yup, deep-fried insects! I think some of those are mealworms and then there are larvae or something. I am not lying to you, by the way. I did eat them, and quite happily too. Hm, I would say they taste like, well, nothing. Deep-fried nothings. It’s like crunching on fry fritters. They are crunchy, crispy and have an oily taste because of the oil used to fry them.

I know, and so do the Chinese living there, that most people would shy away from eating these stuff. But really, if you think about it, why? Worms are dirty and move around in soil, but so do pigs (and logically speaking these worms would have been cultivated in hygienic conditions too if they were in demand). Hot dogs are made in factories by mashing together meat pulp in the most unglamourous manner and adding lots of artificial tastes to mask the hideousness of the manufacturing process. Sorry, I’m not a fan of hot dogs as you may have guessed.

But this is all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? Different countries are accustomed to different food, and therefore also develop different standards of taste. Singaporeans are used to lighter flavours and so we cannot bear the greasy Chinese food or the intensely sweet European candies. On the other hand, we also find Japanese food too tasteless because the Japanese believe in going au naturale and having loads of vegetables in their diet. And also raw seafood, which by the way is pretty tasteless.

While we are on the topic of food, let me share some strange cuisines I hear are popular in their respective countries.

1. Meatloaves

Meatloaves started out as a German and Belgian dish but was adapted by German-Americans into the American meatloaf in the colonial times. It is a dish of ground meat formed into a loaf shape and baked or smoked. The main ingredient tends to be ground beef but other meat such as lamb and pork can also be used.

I must say lumps of meat do not appeal to me. I am okay with ham, iffy about bacon and meatloaves sound to me like excessive meat. I think people take days to finish a loaf, or they gang up on it as a gathering, but for my small Asian stomach I think I’ll take months to swallow this much meat no matter how much co-operation I get.

2. Poutine

Poutine is a dish which originated in Quebec, made with french fries and topped with brown gravy and curd cheese. Canadians swear it is great for fast food. I must say this sounds like it can be compared to cheese fries, and if I ever do visit Canada or parts of North America someday I shall drop in on McDonald’s or A&W and give it a shot.

What also furthers the attraction is the tempting promise that it sometimes contains things like lobster meat, shrimp or truffles! I’m hungry already!

3. Pastel de nata

Also known as Portuguese egg tarts. I haven’t tried it in KFC yet, which sells it, but the photograph already makes them look so appealing. Pasteis de nata (the plural form) are commonly found in Portugal and Portuguese-associated countries or parts of countries with a high Portuguese immigrant representation, such as Brazil and even Canada.

Besides milk and eggs, apparently potato flakes are also used, such as the ones used to make mashed potatoes! And I’ve also heard that the custard is put in a bowl over boiling water first, rather than directly mixed in with the other ingredients. All these unique ways of cooking to enhance the taste of these fine fabulous pastries! Some even prefer their cream slightly curdled in order to give the tarts a rustic appearance and unusual texture.

I must say, despite not being a fan of the conventional egg tarts, these pasteis de nata sure sound like they are worth a try.

4. Irn-Bru

Irn-Bru, the manly drink for manly men. Or so I infer from the name.

This is a Scottish carbonated drink, orange in colour and also comes with a sugar-free variant. It also contained 2 controversial colourings, E110 and E124, which were banned in 2010, further adding to the manliness I think. The beverage is supposed to have a slight citrus flavour. While my favourite Fanta flavour is Grape (and Cherry when it comes to F&N), Orange is not all that far behind. Flavoured fizzy drinks are my self-confessed weakness. Just offer me something sweet, coloured and fizzy and I will pour out any military secret you want to know.

And therefore this shall be the first drink I shall taste if I travel to Scotland. I shall order it on the aeroplane and experience the goodness of true kilt-wearing manhood!

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