Weird Foods: Bird
For 65 million years, dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and they often snapped up small warm furry mammals. Now it's our turn. Dinosaurs evolved into birds. How about a bucket of Kentucky Fried Dinosaur?
- Chicken Livers (US South): Breaded with a simple mixture of flour, salt, and pepper then fried. Good eating! Still served in some KFC restaurants, in North Carolina anyway.
- Balut (Phillipines): (This is also spelled Baloot, Baalut, Baluge, or Balute.) Half-hatched chicken egg. A baluge is a fifteen- or sixteen-day fertilized chicken egg. Open an egg and pop a sixteen-day-old incomplete chicken fetus into your mouth, complete with partially formed feathers, feet, eyeballs, and blood vessels showing through the translucent skin of the chick. My grandfather told me about this. He says the bad part is picking the feathers out of your teeth
- Arroz de Cabidela (Portugal): Arroz de Cabidela (Chicken with rice in blood). Traditional Portuguese Dish. For 6 people: 1 Chicken or Duck; ½ a cup of vinegar; 2 onions; 500g of rice; 5 soup spoons of olive oil; 1 Garlic tooth; 1 Branch of Parsley; Salt and Pepper. When you kill the bird, collect all of the blood in a container, where you already have the vinegar. Stir this mixture well. Cut the chosen bird in parts, and stew it with the oil, the diced onion, the garlic and the parsley. When necessary, add water, salt and pepper and continue to stew on a very low flame with the lid on the pot. When the meat is tender, add enough water to create a broth to boil the rice. The quantity of the water depends on the consistency that is wished for the Cabidela. To obtain a wet Cabidela, you should add at least three parts water to one part rice. When the mixture has boiled, add the rice, already washed and dried and let it cook. Finally you add the chicken (or Ducks) blood, as soon as it starts to boil you take it off the cooker and serve.
- Turducken (USA): (tur.DUK.un) n. A boneless turkey that is stuffed with a boneless duck that is stuffed with a boneless chicken. Opinions about our holiday turducken feast broke down along largely gender lines. The male demographic appeared to be quite pleased with our 15-pound Cajun delicacy a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken.
"Now, that's a quality hunk of fowl" said one male person, digging in at our Christmas dinner table. "I mean, a quality hunk of three fowl."
However, the female demographic was decidedly less enthused. "I didn't want to say anything at the dinner table," said one young female person afterward. "But it made me want to throw up."
Jim Kershner, "Why one meat when you can have three?," Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA), January 4, 2003
When subscriber Brian Cole told me about the turducken, I thought he was kidding. Sure, his e-mail arrived in my inbox at 12:11 AM on April 2nd, but he could have sent it on April Fool's Day. I suspected fowl play. However, some quick investigative journalism assured me that this Frankenbird was no canard and that, in fact, it was invented I want to say "manufactured" by none other than the famous chef Paul Prudhomme back in the early 80s. Unfortunately, why he felt the need to construct a kind of Russian doll in meat remains a mystery. (At least Chef Paul isn't responsible for the pigturducken (1997) which is you guessed it a turducken stuffed inside a pig, the resonant symbolism of which I won't get into here.)
- Dookers (Scotland): What was earlier described as dookers from scotland actually originated from this... One of the earliest accounts written about the Western Isles was by Dean Munro, who visited the islands in 1549. His description of Sulasgeir mentions that the men of Ness sailed in their small craft to "fetche hame thair boatful of dry wild fowls with wild fowl fedderis". How long before 1549 the Nessmen sailed to Sulasgeir each year to collect the young gannets for food and feathers is not known, but it may be assumed that it was a tradition for centuries. That tradition is still carried on today. A report written in 1797 says: 'There is in Ness a most venturous set of people who for a few years back, at the hazard of their lives, went there in an open six-oared boat without even the aid of a compass'. Excellent seamanship was certainly essential for the success of these expeditions - rowing across miles of turbulent Atlantic was no pleasure cruise.
The flesh of the young gannet or 'guga', pronounced gookha, is regarded as a delicacy in Ness today though, for others, it is an acquired taste. Even so, it was a popular meat in earlier times in Scotland. In the sixteenth century it was served at the tables of Scots kings and was a favourite with the wealthy as a 'whet' or appetizer before main meals. In the autumn of each year, a hardy team of Nessmen set sail for Sulasgeir to kill around 2000 young birds and bring home their catch about two weeks later, to meet an eager crowd of customers, who snap up as many of the birds as they can. The demand is often so great that the birds have to be rationed out to ensure that each person does not go without a taste of guga.
The annual cull of birds has been the focus of attention of bird protectionists, who recently have tried to ban the cull completely. But tradition dies hard and the Sulasgeir trip still goes on, with a special dispensation written into the 1954 Wild Birds Protection Act by Statutory Order, which allows the Nessmen to continue their taste both for adventure and for the Guga.
It tastes like rotten leather, smells awful, truly really really bad, like the worst shit youve ever done x100,000, plus the way the store them on the island is to cover them in salt and wrap them in newspaper so you can read the date of the thing while its being prepared. And the claws, apparently, are the best bit.
- Goose Grease (Germany): While serving in the Army, my parents were stationed in Germany. One of their closest friends was a local woman who's favorite breakfast was bread dipped into the fat from the pan of a roasted goose, with pickled eggs on the side and washed down by several pints of dark beer. My mother would fix a goose at least once a month and save the drippings for her, and as a result, I'm not that big a fan of roast goose. You'd think it was hideously unhealthy, except that she was one of the slimmest people I've ever known. If eating really, really greasy turkey drippings is your thing, it wouldn't be too bad. Just be sure and leave the window open when you hit the bathroom.
- Mollejas (Spain): Fried gizzards of chicken. Delicious!!
- Duck Feet (China): Much more tasty than chicken feet are duck feet: more cartilage to chew on. In China, they are a delicious treat, and guests get all the delicious treats put in their bowl by the host. Goes nicely with rice and soy sauce.
- Nankotsu (Japan): Chicken cartilage. It's either eaten fried, or on a shish kabob. It's very chewy and sort of hard. A common dish served in drinking establishments in Japan.
- Stuffed Goose Liver (France, Hungary): Not to be confused with a goose liver that has been stuffed. Oh no, this is a liver from a goose that has been stuffed. Sometimes weighing more than 2 kg (5 lbs), this is truly a delicacy to die for (at least for the goose). This is the best food in the world! It is not possible to describe the taste. Rather like silk than food.
- Owl Soup (China): An acquaintance, Hong Kong Chinese, relates a banquet story from the PRC hinterlands. What had appeared to be something like chicken soup turned out to be owl! His hosts produced the owl's head from the pot as proof.
- Chicken Feet (Hong Kong): Several cultures eat chicken feet, but the Chinese dim-sum version is very good. The feet themselves are tasteless. I used to live in Hong Kong and in supermarkets, you could get 2 types - bones-in and bones-out. The shrink-packs with the bones taken out look like joined-up macaroni and are squishy when you press the clear plastic! In dim-sum, it's usually the bones-in variety, but what makes them delicious is that they're coated in a spicy rich sauce.
- Chicken Feet (USA South): In soup or pickled whole.
- Baalut (Philippines): How about that great delicacy of the Philippines... Baalut. You take a fertilized duck or chicken egg, bury it in the ground for a few weeks and then enjoy. Also known as "the treat with feet" or "the egg with legs". Best enjoyed after many, many, many beers. This is a Filipino delicacy--a duck egg containing a half-formed duckling, soft-boiled and eaten out of shell with a spoon. (Slurp! Crunch-crunch! Yum!)
- Bird's Nest Soup (China): Made from the nest of a particular kind of cave/cliff swallow. The swallow secretes a substance from a gland (similar to a salivary gland) as an adhesive to bind twigs and leaves and such together to make the nest. A good way to gross out people is to tell them what bird's nest soup is made from. Did that to my ex-sister in law, while we were having some. She was going, "Hm, this isn't bad, " so I filled her in. She immediately dropped her spoon and refused to touch it afterwards.
- Rook Pie (Wales): Self-explanatory. A rook is a large black bird in the crow family, a bit smaller than a common crow. Four-and-twenty blackbirds in a pie...
- Song Birds (Italy): Roasted and eaten whole. Hunters have nearly eliminated many of the migratory species.
- Dookers (Scotland): My father, a native of Kintyre, Argyll, in the Western Scottish Highlands, was raised near a harbor town called Tarbert at Loch Fyne. He recalls that, in times gone past, up to maybe the 1950's, many inhabitants of that coastal fishing port used to regularly eat 'dookers' caught either among the seaside rocks or at sea by the fishing boats. Dooker is the local name for the guillemot, a type of long-beaked, black and white diving seabird. Apart from being incredibly salty, they were apparently very tough birds to chew. The only way to cook them was the boil the be-jesus out of them. However, so popular were these birds for those locals, that the town's inhabitants became known as "Dookers".
- Turkey, Deep-Fried Whole (USA): Justin Wilson "the Cooking Cajun" did this on one of his TV shows. He did the cooking outside using a large, portable gas burner and a very large stock pot, the kind they use for fish fries down south. The bird actually looked pretty good when done, although I wince at the calories.
Paul Prudhomme has this recipe in his book, Prudhomme Family Cookbook . Justin Wilson later picked up on it and greatly simplified it. Justin's results aren't quite as flavorful as Paul's, IMHO. The bird is injected with a garlic/onion/pepper spice mix the day before cooking, and then deep fried for 3 minutes per pound. The skin comes out very crispy, while the meat is moist and tender.
- Schmaltz (European Jews): Chicken fat
- Chicken Heads (Philippines): Sometimes used in Adobo stew, other times barbequed intact. Never seen it myself, by my Philippine wife tells me it is so.
- Chopped Liver (European Jews): Chopped chicken livers. usually known as "chopped liver": a finely ground mixture of cold cooked chicken livers, hardboiled eggs, onion, garlic, and pepper. Eaten on a cracker. A common dish in Russian cafe-bars.
- Schmaltz (Russian Jewish): Not exactly a chicken fat. It is rather a dark brown crust that remains once the chicken fat melted away. Kind of a chicken bacon. It is used as a spice and it adds a wonderful "smoky" taste to a porridge or roast.
- Kishke (Russian Jewish): Kishke is basically a sack made out of stitched chicken skin stuffed with a mixture of flour, butter and spices which is boiled in a chicken broth. Once it dries, slices of it make a great snack or a great addition to the chicken soup itself. Yummy! It is much easier to prepare this meal if you manage to preserve the skin on the chicken neck intact. For this reason the name for this meal in Russian is "Sheika" or literally "the tiny neck". Tragically my grandmother passed away so the secret of its preparation is irreversibly lost.