I’m no slouch when it comes to the nasty, and often squirmy, bits. Just last night some friends and I enjoyed a multistop Flushing feast that began with Sichuan cold chicken feet and beef tendon and ended with chicken heart and beef stomach skewers at Biang! And, it’s a little known fact that I turned Anthony Bourdain on to the infamous lamb face salad that was created at Biang! parent Xi’an Famous Foods.
For the inaugural issue of Edible Queens I was tasked with taking Bourdain and his pal, Eric Ripert to eat the Korean delicacy san nakji, or live baby octopus. “Wouldn’t it be cool if I were experiencing it for the first time with them?,” I asked my editor. Her response was less than enthusiastic.
My virgin san nakji experience was with my Korean dry cleaner Paulie Sunshine. We got one critter each. After dispatching the squirming tentacles, Paulie popped the head in his mouth, chewed twice, and then swallowed.
“Your turn Joseph,” he said with a smile as I popped the slippery egg-shaped orb into my mouth and began chewing. And chewing. And chewing. No matter how much I chewed my teeth couldn’t get hold of the slippery mass. The ink sacs began to pop, and the surprisingly tasty ink began to seep out. Just as I was wondering if this was the cephalopod’s way of taking revenge on me I heard a voice. “OK Joseph, you go spit it out.” So, I did. It is thus far the first and only time I have tried to eat an octopus head.
So here’s what I’m curious to know. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten or attempted to eat. Tell me in the comments or hit me on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.