Thursday, May 6, 2010

How Did That Happen?

It's funny to think about the foods we eat. I remember some of the foods I learned to love while in South Korea. Of course a rare treat while hanging out down by the Han River were these little boiled snails. They were boiled in some kind of herbed brine and were served in a small cup. They were rather difficult to eat as they were tiny and, therefore, were eaten one at a time. I remember sucking the meat out of the shell. As strange as it might sound to some, they were quite tasty. I must say though, that in Korea, Squid and Cuttlefish are major dietary items, and I did not particularly enjoy them. I tried to swallow a whole live octopus one time and it fought all the way down. I remember (vaguely) having to drink about three bottles of Soju (Korean Rice Wine) to get the thing down.

One of the things one might find sold in the local village to Americans on a Friday night is something we called "Chicken on a Stick." It was really chicken strips bar-b-cued and skewered - very tasty. Although, I remember on more than one occasion, the chicken looking eerily like a rat.

Being a newcomer to the South, I've found many enjoyable foods. Of course there is cheese grits. Cheese grits make a great holiday dish.

Now, since I love fried foods, I am in gastric heaven. I think that maybe, just maybe, we Americans might go a little overboard on our desire to eat fried foods. One item I've found to be quite tasty is fried pickles. Fried pickles make a great appetizer.

If you are at the fair, or peanut festival as it's called here, you might find fried Twinkies or fried candy bars. I can only imagine how this food was discovered. Maybe some cook was eating a Twinkie or candy bar while deep-frying some chicken when the dessert fell out of their hands and into the batter. I would think it only natural for the person to then wonder, "what would happen if I put this into the deep fat fryer" and, shazam, the fried Twinkie or candy bar is invented.

The only food (or drink) item I cannot understand the discovery of is Kopi Luwak Coffee. This is the most expensive coffee in the world, costing upwards of $600.00 dollars a pound. And what is so special about this coffee, one might ask? Well, before it is brewed and ready for consumption, it is consumed by a small rat/cat/weasel-like creature known as the Asian Palm Civet, or simply "Luwak" by local Indonesian folks.

The Luwak eats the raw coffee beans, digests the outer skin and excretes the rest in their feces. Then we humans follow behind them and pick the beans out of the poop, so it can be ground and brewed for our consumption.

It just makes me wonder, how was this product invented? I can just imagine how it all went down.

"Martha, that damn Luwak's been eating our coffee beans," Joe said, as he threw the hut door open.

"Joe, you get that thing. I don't care what it takes."

So, Joe and Martha set off through the jungle to follow this vile creature. They follow the Luwak for nearly three days when they finally find a sign.

"Look there," Martha says. "looks like Luwak sign to me."
"Ya," Joe says. "And look, those are our coffee beans in that poop."
"Them beans is expensive, and they still look OK," Martha said, as she poked at the pile.
"Ah hell Martha, I'll just pick them beans out and we can still use'em."

The next morning Joe and Martha ground the "Luwak" coffee beans into their normal brew and, behold, it was the best coffee they had ever made.

I still just can't wrap my head around the mentality required to allow one to think, "Hey them beans are still good, just pick them out of the poop."

I suppose it's like some extended version of the five second rule used when one's food falls onto the floor.