Monday, March 12, 2007

Guess I'll Go Eat Worms

As I think we all know, I have thing for eating strange animals. So when I heard about the Wild Foods Festival, long before I even got to New Zealand, I was determined to attend. With stalls featuring everything from possum to crickets, it was an obvious must-do.

The crown jewel of the Wild Foods Festival is the huhu grub, so sampling one was obviously how we kicked off our day. While Sarah and Tal chose (wisely, I'd say) to go for the BBQ'd ones, I figured that if you're gonna do it, you've gotta do it full on, and ate a live one. The huhu grub stall was actually just a a pile of decaying wood. The people running the stall hacked away with their axes and pulled out the fare.

I have to say, the whole experience was actually kind of horrifying. The grub was squishy, but the head was crunchy. I can't say there was much of a taste to it, but in any case, any taste was distracted from by the fact that I could feel it move inside my mouth. Sick.

Some of our Kiwi friends said they actively liked the BBQ'd ones, but Tal and Sarah reported differently.

The cricket was a little disappointing in that you couldn't actually taste it. It was served on a little savoury pancake, and the cricket itself was tiny, so there wasn't much to taste. On the other hand, given the huhu grub experience, maybe that's a good thing.

The ponga tree is the plant that grows the awesome koru, the uncurling fern fronds. The flesh of the plant looks kind of like a water chestnut, but is not as crunchy. I had one that was marinated in honey, and it was delicious.

I've had paua before (at a work party here in NZ), but wanted to try it again. Paua is actually just abalone, but when it's exported, it's bleached white. Some people do not like it (Tal was not a fan of the texture), but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The "Crouching Grasshopper" stall frightened me, but I was determined to try something there. The novelty of the grasshoppers and giant beetles could not outweigh how gross they looked.

So I settled for some ice cream topped with baby wasps. They kind of tasted like nuts that had gone a little soft. At first they weren't bad, but when I accidentally got a bite that was more wasp than ice cream, I had to wash it down with water. And some ice cream sans wasp.

The worm truffles were fantastic, probably because you couldn't even figure out where the worm was. And there are very few chocolate things that I dislike. Check out the worm sushi that was on offer too.

The possum pies were not bad, but not amazing. They tasted like chicken (of course). But overcooked chicken. It should be noted that possums here are not like the disgusting hairless-tailed opossums we have in the US. Instead of being dirty rodents that root through your trash and are most often seen as roadkill, they're dirty marsupials that root through your rubbish and are most often seen as roadkill.

The ostrich pies were much better. You'd think that they would taste like chicken too, but they actually tasted more like steak.

Shark was very delicious, although it just tasted pretty much like any good fish you'd get from a fish and chips shop. On the other hand, maybe the good taste came from the satisfaction that I was eating a shark rather than the other way around.

Nothing else I ate was really of too much note (donuts, green-lipped mussels, beer, gin). There was SO much good food there that I didn't sample because I was too full from eating weird stuff. I should note, however, that while I'm keen to try strange animals, strange animal parts are something I avoid altogether. I've had lamb, pork and beef, so I'll pass on the mountain oysters, pig eyes, and cow udders. There's a limit to my adventurousness.

1 comment:

Adrian C. said...

you are sweet for eating live food. I do not think that I have the stomach for such things.