[In this episode of Sir William’s History Corner, he recounts some of the food he’s had in other countries while on assignment with BP. – Ed.]
BREA, California – The late comedian David Brenner once observed that there’s no blue food. Aha, you say, what about blueberries? They’re not blue, they’re purple. Blue Kool-Aid, Jell-O or other artificially colored food doesn’t count either. I’ve never been afraid to try something new at a restaurant or as a guest at someone’s home because in a normal situation people don’t eat stuff that tastes bad. Well, we British may be an exception. We eat a lot of things that are horrible. As a counterbalance we eat a ton of candy which in turn accounts for our rotten teeth.
In some Middle Eastern countries when they have a banquet and the main dish is roast sheep or camel it’s traditional to offer the eyeballs to the guest of honor. I think this got started way back when because some sheik said, “Nobody’s stupid enough to want to eat those things but let’s not waste them. We’ll make it a tradition that the guest of honor has to eat them. That’ll kill his appetite and he won’t eat as much of our food.”
In my world-traveling experiences later in life I’ve eaten some things that can only be described as funny food. In China I had scorpion-on-a-stick. It’s skewered scorpions dipped in batter and deep-fried. I wonder if they remove the stinger first. It’s not as good as fried chicken feet or broiled duck feet, though. I suppose that if you have over a billion people competing for something to eat you can’t be very choosy. In Yucatán I had an iguana taco. In Indonesia monkey toes. In Newfoundland seal flipper pie. On the island of Palau, fruit bat soup. In Thailand, I had roasted rat over rice, kind of a Rats-a-Roni, the Bangkok treat. Some of it made me sick but didn’t kill me.
Have you ever noticed that most of the spiciest foods seem to come from hot climates? My belief is it’s because in a hot climate food spoils quickly and strong seasoning covers up the taste and smell. Chili wasn’t invented in Norway or Siberia. Lady Shortspeare was never very adventuresome when it came to food. Once I tried to get her to try oysters on the half shell, but she refused, saying that they looked like something that had been sneezed out of an elephant’s trunk.
Try it. You might like it.