Monday, September 15, 2008

100 Foods Every Omnivore Should Try

Andrew over on the blog Very Good Taste has posted a list of 100 (somewhat arbitrary) foods every omnivore should try. Being a person who has only rarely met a food she doesn't like (primarily uber-spicy ones), I thought it might be a fun exercise.

Join me: if you have a blog, post the list and indicate your tried, untried, and would-never-trys. Leave me a comment with a link to your post.
If you don't have a blog, you can still play. Leave your list in the comments--or a partial list if you want: Just the foods you've tried; or the ones you'd never, ever-in-a-million-years allow to pass your lips.

On my list below, regular type means I haven't tried it (yet) and bold type means I have, and strike-through means I won't ever try it. I've only tried 40 items on the list--I guess I'm not as culinarily cosmopolitan as I'd like to think.


Here's my list:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Only four items are strike-throughs: raw Scotch Bonnet pepper, phaal (which is Indian curry made with the hottest peppers like Scotch Bonnets), roadkill (why is this even on the list? Ew.) and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. I hate coffee: I hate the taste and the after-taste. I even hate the smell, and I definitely hate coffee-breath. I cannot stand coffee-flavored ice-cream or jelly-beans, or even tiramisu.

There is one teensy exception to the I-hate-coffee rule. I do like Kahlua, and Kahlua-flavored drinks. Weird!

To Andrew's list I'd add my own Philadelphia-inspired Must-Taste Foods:

101. Birch beer
102. TastyKake Butterscotch Krimpets

103. Philadelphia street-dirt soft pretzel
104. Bookbinder's turtle soup
105. Authentic Philadelphia-style cheesesteak (not the kind that you can get at Subway)


One point I'd like to make to my readers who are not terribly adventurous in your willingness to taste new foods: Food writer Jeffrey Steingarten argues that we are born with no genetically programmed food aversions; rather, we learn them. "By shutting ourselves off from the bounties of nature," he says, "we become failed omnivores. We let the omnivore team down."

Steingarten goes further, arguing that it is possible to eliminate all of our food phobias through frequent exposure. So theoretically, we could even learn to enjoy roadkill if we ate it often enough. (This is why roadkill does not belong on the 100 Foods list. You might as well include tree branches downed in a high wind. Roadkill is not a food; it is an accident, or a life lesson.)

I don't know if JS is correct or not; I don't even know if it is advisable to train our tastes to accept all foods. But it does seem senseless to avoid foods because of random taste experiences or arbitrary cultural boundaries. So take a chance on Food! Try something new today.

And let me know how it goes. I'll be over here eating my peanut-butter-and-bacon-on-toast.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

J. Cub:

Yes! You know I'll be commenting with my list soon! Interesting idea. However, I have to disagree with you that butterscotch krimpets are the best kind of Tastykake. Peanut butter kandy kakes rule all

Boy George said...

Dearest E.: I believe you should bold no. 37, "Clotted cream tea", unless my memory is failing and you weren't there that day (oh so many years ago) having tea at the Drake with our Irish friend and her mother. (And since it was oh so many years ago, my memory could be failing. But then again, you're not that far behind me, and maybe it's your memory that's going. Okay, I'll shut up--I'm probably going to get into big trouble now.)

E. Peevie said...

J.Cub--you are wrong. Butterscotch all the way.

Boy G.--Aha. I do remember tea at the Drake, but I don't remember the clotted tea. Is that always on the menu? If so, then I guess I get to bold one more.

Both of you--I want to see your lists.

Anonymous said...

JRO to J.Cub: You shouldn't be up writing so late. Finish your homework then GO TO BED!!!

J. Cub said...

Here's my list.
P.S.- my "strikethroughs" are actually italicized

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush (at Pita Inn with you guys)
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich (duhhhh)
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras (not even in Montreal)
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (X-man would eat this with a smile on his face)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (I should hope not…)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail (No, but G-man tells me his dad makes a mean oxtail soup)
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (Umm…no)
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini (I hope all these drinks don’t count against my score…)
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine (YES!!! One of the highlights of my trip to Montreal!)
60. Carob chips (Pretty close to chocolate, but not)
61. S’mores (The official campfire treat of Door County)
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (isn’t this a rock?)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain (in the same dish as the curried goat, at the Taste of Chicago)
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (???)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

If I've counted correctly, that's 33 foods I've tried and 15 I'm too chicken to try.

E. Peevie said...

J. Cub--You've eaten whole insects, but you won't try foi gras? Do you have a moral objection to it? Because it is De.Li.Shus, especially spread on a little Melba toast.

Also: Spam? You won't even try a bite of Spam? It's the all-American mystery meat!

And Boy George: wait a minute: I remember that I have had oysters before; and you're right about the clotted cream tea.

Boy George said...

Aha! So you finally looked up the Wikipedia article on "cream tea" referenced in the list, huh? Probably what threw you was that the list calls it "clotted cream tea"--strange wording (as if "cream tea" itself isn't strange). The phrase apparently refers to the whole snack, not just the beverage. I specifically remember the clotted cream being pointed out at the Drake, and I simply cannot imagine that any of us would have refused trying it.

But I must say that this whole list is rather strange. Such a mash-up of the mundane and sublime! And lacking a few essentials as well. My version of the list will be posted sometime in the near future, as soon as I figure out what I have and haven't tried, and what needs to be added.

Boy George said...

OK, here's my list (using italics instead of strikethrough, a la J.Cub.

That's 55 tried, 5 refusals. What's the deadline for responding--is there a prize for the "winner" (the one who's tried the most), other than bragging rights or an upset stomach?

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (actually, alligator)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns (is this like a steamed dumpling with pork inside--a dim sum dish?)
20. Pistachio ice cream

21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar (I've had cognac, but I won't smoke a cigar; but if all that's required is to hold the cigar in one hand and drink the cognac with the other, OK, I'll try that)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (not sure if I'll try this; whether they're dead or alive may make a difference)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (unless medically necessary)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong

80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse

90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

And here are my additions:

Sushi
Pomegranate
Crackers with peanut butter and ketchup
Warm tapioca pudding
Anchovy pizza
Homemade egg noodles in chicken broth gravy (my grandmother's specialty)
Butter almond ice cream (not the same as butter pecan!)

Boy George said...

I forgot to add, alongside "Pomegranate", that it's best enjoyed as an event. That is, the peeling of the fruit to get at all of the little seeds is half of the pleasure.