“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.”
If you’re feeling peckish, how about some decomposed shark skin? A spot of fermented raw salmon, perhaps? Maybe with some maggot cheese to round it off. Still hungry? Thought not. But beware! One man’s meat is another man’s poison they say: and, in Europe, one man’s disgust is another’s delicacy. Bull’s testicles may not be your cup of beaver stew – but maybe that’s just because you weren’t brought up with it. Chacun a son dégoût, as the French almost put it – and indeed our tastes and palates are generally shaped by custom and upbringing. So if you are prepared to be adventurous enough, there’s no limit to the creativity and resourcefulness that Europe’s chefs have shown over the centuries. Here you’ll find that Greek appetisers are not for the faint-hearted; the Dutch are prepared to use their head in the kitchen; and Icelandic cuisine is just taking the piss – while if you order the wrong thing in Spain or Serbia you’ll be served a load of old bollocks. Quite literally. Sure, we all know about pizza and sauerkraut: but with dishes so “exotic” they might make Hannibal Lecter or Sweeney Todd think twice, European gastronomy is about so much more. So don’t be a jelly, hold your tongue and get to the meat of the issue – never mind the good or the bad, it’s time to explore the ugly underbelly of European cuisine. It’s offall-y good.
Rice in blood
Bored of curry? Tired of mushroom sauce? The idea of serving your rice with common-or-garden peas make you yearn for a yawn? I’ve got just the thing for you culinary explorers: the great Portuguese cabidela – a rice dish cooked in the blood of a dead chicken, a meal so adventurous it would make Vasco de Gama blush. The blood is drained when the animal is slaughtered, then mixed with vinegar. Yummy! The rice becomes dark in colour and creamy in consistency and later on the rest of the chicken meat is added. The Portuguese are no monsters: so they also spice it up with some Lusitanian flavors, like parsley and olive oil. This dish comes from back in the day when the Iberian Peninsula was occupied by Suevian and other tribes, used to eating what we would now consider inferior cuts of meat. Bizarre for some, flavoursome for others, cabidela divides tastes and opinions among Portuguese natives and braver visitors. And once you get bored of chicken flavour, fear not: cabidela can also be prepared with duck or pig blood.
Spaniards may not be the best at recycling cans or glass, but no one can blame them for wasting food. Criadillas, also known as bull fries, are floured and breaded testicles prepared from the animals killed during bullfighting. It is typical of southern Spain and dates back as early as the 16th century. Sliced into fillets, the testicles are pan-fried with garlic, oregano and parsley. Mmh! In several restaurants, cooking the testicles on the grill gives them a smokier flavour – barbecued balls. Small portions are also sometimes served as tapas – which, we must admit, is a change from the usual tortillas, croquetas and patatas bravas usually found throughout Spain. Criadillas occasionally use the testicles of other animals, such as pigs. Needless to say, Spaniards consider that eating the testicles of prized bulls is a great way to show your cojones, boosting the bravery and masculinity of the diner… so next time you’re in Spain, drop your Red Bull for a genuine hit of Spanish taurine…
French food is known globally for its finesse and flavour. Back in 2010, the rich French cuisine even found its way onto the UN list of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage. So, how did it happen that perhaps the dish that earns them their world-renowned nickname is not the succulent foie gras, or the subtle bouillabaisse – but the humble amphibian, the frog? We have to go back to the 12th century to find the origins of this unusual snack: during one of those all too frequent periods when monks were deemed to be growing too fat, church authorities ordered them to lay off meat for a certain number of days a year: whereupon the cunning clergymen claimed frogs were not meat, but fish. Religiously observant but hungry peasants duly followed their example, and a national delicacy was born. Frogs’ legs are now one of two French foods the mere mention of which causes a state of queasy disbelief – the other, of course, being snails (which, irrespective of their gustatory merits, are at least easier to catch).
If someone from Iceland tells you the best way to serve shark is to bury it in the ground, pee on it, and let it rot for several months – don’t worry, they’re lying. But perhaps not for the reason you think. The truth is, the shark doesn’t rot, it ferments – yet the rest of the method is all too real. Today, actual urine is no longer used, but it was, way back when – before the advance of modern culinary techniques. For centuries, Icelanders had to smoke, pickle or dry their food in order to preserve it through the harsh winters. This may explain why they came to the idea of eating fermented shark, or Hákarl as Icelanders call it. The shark does actually smell of ammonia, which is where the idea may come from. Connoisseurs of very strong cheese may take a liking to it on the first bite. For others, well, let’s just say it’s not a common dish anymore; it is mostly the older generation in Iceland who still eat and – apparently – enjoy it.
Also known as Crubeens, a word which comes directly from the Irish Gaelic cruibíni, a word which means exactly what it says on the tin – pigs’ feet. They are made from the porkers’ calves, and can be consumed fried, grilled or baked. If you feel like tasting some, note that they are traditionally eaten by hand. Yuck! Crubeens became widely available in Ireland when bacon factories in Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Dublin and Belfast began operating in the late 1800s. According to historians, big pots of pigs’ feet were cooked up on Saturday nights and served in the pubs. This was a very shrewd business move by the publicans as crubeens are very salty – and eating them worked up quite a thirst: many a pint of Guinness, Beamish or Murphy’s stout was sold thanks to these porcine portions. Crubeens are rather greasy, with the grease marks proving quite difficult to wash off beer glasses: if only for this reason, many of the posher pubs started laying off the stuff.
In the British kitchen, it’s said they don’t have an expression for ‘bon appetit‘ – diners are just wished good luck. And you’ll need quite a lot of luck to survive the texture of jellied eels – chopped eels boiled in a spiced stock and eaten cold. This traditional dish, created in London, is among the most historic to survive in the city today. In the 18th century, eels were plentiful in the River Thames’ estuary, with Dutch eel barges and fishmongers a common sight. One cheap and easy preparation, popular particularly among the East End working-class poor, was to chop the eels, boil them in herbs, and then allow them to cool; the eels would produce enough of their own gelatin that a soft jelly would form around the pieces. Truly, a collation to satisfy a Cockney’s most copious culinary cravings.
In the race to find the grossest meal, Norway has something of a, well, head start. When a Norwegian calls to have a head on a platter, they aren’t talking about John the Baptist – they mean it quite literally – a sheep’s head, intact, cooked and plonked on a plate. It’s often served as a main course prepared and eaten right before Christmas – just portray yourself enjoying it while singing Christmas Carols. What comes maybe easier is the recipe: the head of the slaughtered sheep is first taken and split in two: then the brain is removed and the pieces soaked in water for two days. The brain can be fried separately and served along with the dish – but nothing else is taken away. The tongue and the eyeballs are considered to be the main delicacy. Heady stuff.
Think of the worst smelling thing you can possibly imagine. And now imagine eating it: that’s pretty much all you need to know about surströmming. To produce this five century old Swedish delicacy, small Baltic herring are caught in the spring, salted and left to ferment at leisure before being stuffed into a tin. About a month later, the sweet stuff is ready to hit the shops. Fermentation, or ‘souring’ as the Swedes call it, continues in the tin, which starts to bulge. The aroma is, to put it mildly, pungent: indeed it’s often likened to that of eggs rotting in open sewage drains. Some say it actually tastes ok, but even ardent fans admit you probably shouldn’t inhale too much while eating. Now where to eat this delicacy? “Outdoors is best. Always” – says the Swedish Tourist Office. Nothing fishy about that advice.
Blood potato soup
It looks like shit, it smells like shit and it certainly tastes like shit. But still, many children find it in their school lunchbox: clearly, Finnish parents can be cruel. Rössypottu is a speciality of the Oulu region in northern Finland – plenty of soft southerners wouldn’t even recognise the stuff. It is essentially an innocent soup made of potatoes, stock, pork and, well, blood pudding. The pudding itself is made of pork blood, rye and spices. Some may take comfort in the thought that you can add beer to its composition – but sorry to say that doesn’t fundamentally change the taste. Despite its bizarre name, blood sausage is a dish whose history goes back to a time when thrifty households needed to be efficient about using every bit of the beast. In any case, Rössypottu is the favourite delicacy of many in the Oulu region – there even is a club bearing its name!
For once, let’s venture beyond the continent, and look at the gastronomy of Greenland – which, as I’m sure you know, is a self-governing part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Why this choice? Because – while there is nothing too disgusting in Denmark’s cuisine – Greenland is a different story. The Kiviak is a traditional wintertime Inuit food made of the auk, a small coastal-dwelling bird, fermented in a seal skin.. .with up to 500 entire birds fitting into a single pelt. As much air as possible is removed from the hide before it is sewn up and sealed with seal fat, which repels flies. It is then hidden in a heap of stones, with a large rock placed on top to keep the air out. Over the course of three months, the meat ferments, and is eaten during the arctic winter – particularly at special occasions like birthdays and weddings. Signed, sealed, delivered – it’s yours.
You ever heard of Dutch gastronomy? Me neither… and it seems there is a reason why: the Dutch don’t eat, they fuel themselves. In The Netherlands, food is something that should be cheap, fast, soft, and unsalted: not assailing the senses in any way. Many of us like ice cream and plenty of people like herring: but only the Dutch could come up with herring flavour ice cream. But wait! It gets worse. Despite its name, head cheese is not a dairy product, but a meat jelly made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig, including cheeks and tongue, and sometimes with feet and the heart thrown in too. The Dutch particularly enjoy it in a sandwich or on a slice of bread – and that’s not to mention its great value as a snack for little Pimmeke’s school lunch. As if not disgusting enough, in Dutch it’s given the name of preskop, which literally meaning “pressed head“. Smakkelijk!
So fond are Belgians of their beloved frikandel, they will definitely object to finding it on a list of culinary horrors. But make no mistake: this long and skinless slab of meat is not just any old sausage. It looks like a miniature horse’s penis – and tastes even worse. There is no uniform recipe or ingredients – though normally some kind of blend of animal guts, fat, bowels, and head are involved, alongside all the other leftover parts of a cow, pig, chicken or even horse that are too embarrassing or extraordinary to be sold otherwise. If not served plain, it is mixed with mayonnaise, curry ketchup, and chopped raw onion – a dubious concoction dubbed the “frikandel speciaal“. It is a tried-and-true staple of Belgium’s character-filled snack bars, found across le plat pays.
Germany is not the only country to make blood sausages. But the odd thing about German Blutwurst is that it’s used in dishes with such colourful names: take Himmel und Erde (Heaven and Earth) – where the sausage is mixed with apple sauce and mashed potatoes; or Tote Oma (Dead Grandma), where hot Blutwurst is smashed to bloody pieces and mixed with liverwurst and potatoes. But the queen of all blood sausages in Germany is without doubt the Zungenwurst: tongue mixed with blood, fat, onion, bacon and sometimes oatmeal or breadcrumbs. They probably throw a live piglet in there too, just to keep things cute. When it comes to taste, well, the blood is so potent that it tastes like sucking on a mouthful of pennies. And if you don’t like that – hold your tongue.
Veal heart and lungs
Gott sei Dank! After all these barbaric dishes, we are now moving to civilised Austria for a delicate amuse-bouche. Have a seat in one of these old-style Viennese restaurants and let yourself be lulled by the charm of the classical music surrounding you. The delightful local waiter delicately suggests you might like to start dinner with some typical Beuschel. Wonderful, you think; such a fine civilised country, and he looks like an honest sort, so why wouldn’t you accept his recommendation? He returns with a lovely delicate stew served with bread dumplings. Even now, few alarm bells ring: but as your grandma always warned you: never judge a Beuschel by its cover… Because this ragout is actually made of veal heart and lungs! Yes, the little heart of a cute little calf and his two little lungs cut down into small pieces and cooked all together. Don’t look so disgusted, says the waiter: it’s a highly esteemed dish amongst gourmets, he insists. And you wonder how you ended up gracing his establishment. Well, you didn’t ask, he didn’t tell!
In Bern, there is a centuries old statue of an ogre eating babies out of a sack – which will tell you all you need to know about the complex Swiss relationship with food. The best example? How they treat their groundhogs. The Swiss love these beasts – which they call ‘marmots’ – so much they dedicated a leisure park in their honour: Marmot Paradise. But when dinner time arrives, a self-respecting young marmot would be well-advised to steer clear of the kitchen. In September and October, gamekeepers kill thousands of the rodents to control their population. This is in particular the case in Zermatt, a tourist resort currently facing an infestation of the furry creatures. Gourmands to the rescue: stew, chilli con carne, sausages, take your pick… It’s said to taste like rabbit. No, you first.
Normally, if your food was crawling with live maggots, you’d throw it away as fast as possible. But on this Italian island, maggots form part of a delicacy that’s so dangerously delicious, it’s illegal. In Sardinia, locals are fond of Casu Marzu, a hard sheep’s milk cheese that’s left outside in the heat to decay for around three weeks, until it becomes covered with cheese flies. The crust of the cheese is cut off to encourage them in. The flies lay their eggs in the cheese, and it’s stored in a cool, dark place for around three months to allow the maggots to hatch. When they do, the acid in their digestive systems breaks down the hard cheese until it’s soft and even slightly liquid. You want to taste it? Then make sure to chew the maggots thoroughly before you swallow, as live ones can survive in the intestine and cause pain and irritation…
Porks’ liver sausage
When we think of the liver, many of us might be thinking of the toll a late-night lifestyle is having on our own. But it’s those of pigs and poultry that feature in a number of local delicacies in the Czech Republic. Resembling a limp and somewhat sickly sausage, jitrnice is a much prized Czech speciality. Also known as jaternice, this is made from pig’s liver, as well as the lungs, spleen, and belly meat. As any Czech person will tell you: the trick to the jitrnice is to cook it slowly and cautiously. The lining, made from the pig’s intestines, is fragile and prone to burst. It would be a shame to waste such a noble ingredient! And when is your stomach strong enough to appreciate such a gentle dish? Why, breakfast, of course.
Turning leftovers into soup is a great way to reduce waste, right? Well, while we admire the spirit, we have our limits. But it didn’t put off the Slovaks who thought they could make their ‘Sunday Soup’ out of bones. And how, you might ask? They slowly simmer bones of all kinds with vegetables for at least three hours to produce a sweetish clear broth. It is served with thin egg noodles and soft carrots. Sounds gross? It’s not over: despite its questionable taste, Slovaks truly believe that their bone soup has some kind of healing properties. They claim that soup made from bones gets the gastric juices going and helps you digest the lunch that follows. They say it helps “fix a leaky gut” and brings “healthy smooth skin”. Not convinced? Better than carrot juice, healthier than quinoa, just try the Slovak bone soup diet!
No one can blame Slovenes for not respecting tradition! The ancient Romans enjoyed dining on dormice, and Slovenians have kept this culinary heritage alive into the modern age. Dormice are plump little rodents that look like a cross between a mouse and a squirrel and spend their lives exploring trees and brush. Unfortunately for the dormouse, their oh-so-cute fluffy tails fail to arouse any pity in the stony hearts of the Slovenes, who particularly enjoy cooking the little critters in a red wine stew with vegetables. Their carcasses can be cooked whole and in large quantities – a delicacy Slovenes call Obara. Annual dormouse hunting is a proud tradition and cause for celebration in Slovenia: it’s done at night since dormice are nocturnal. Ah yes, I forgot: Slovenes sometimes use the dormouse fur to make winter clothes. Zero waste!
Rooster testicles stew
The Hungarian kitchen has plenty of unusual uses of well-known ingredients – poppy seeds on pasta (mákos tészta) anyone? But moist, spongy rooster testicles cooked into a paprika-spiked stew (kakashere pörkölt) is perhaps as offbeat as it gets. This should come as no surprise, really. In a country where meat – be it beef, pork, turkey, or goose – is consumed with gusto, the rooster’s family jewels are just another juicy delicacy that are served in a heady broth. In their raw form, they take the size and shape of a ripe kumquat, but once they have stewed to perfection with a mixture of onions, tomatoes, garlic, and green peppers in a large cauldron, their texture becomes tightly plump. In Hungary, a bowl of rooster testicle stew is not a commonly served dish, but one that most people will happily eat, whether as street food at a festival or a main meal at a nice restaurant on Saturday night.
Jellied cow’s foot
Hmmm, Polish terrine you may think… Might not be up everyone’s street, but definitely a treat that’s a typical Polish dish! If you order Zimne Nogi in Poland, you will be brought either cow or pig trotters in jelly. The Polish name translates as “cold feet”, and believe us, you shouldn’t have cold feet about tasting them! I’d love to say animals’ feet were eaten out of necessity – but, worse still, they actually seem to enjoy them, and considered a delicacy by workers and aristocracy alike. They serve them for big celebrations such as birthdays parties or weddings. If you don’t feel it, don’t worry. Zimne Nogi usually go with a shot of vodka – to help settle your stomach and forget the gory details.
Look how cute and friendly they are, those little dam-building rodents! They restore wetlands, they help waterfowl by increasing the area of water, and they even help to bring back streams! Everybody loves beavers. But for Lithuanians, even better when they are in their plates. Disgusting! Beavers used to be something of a staple among the hunting and fishing set and beaver stew, or bebrienos troškinys in local language, is now a favourite on the Lithuanian menu. The meat is marinated for two days, with juniper berries and other spices. It is then usually cooked with carrots, onions, flour, prunes, nuts and mushrooms. Whether you like it or not, you must admit: there are not many places in the world where you can say to the waitress in a restaurant: “how is your beaver tonight?” or “I would like your best beaver please”…
Upon finishing dinner, it is a Latvian custom to sing a song that translates roughly to “all I eat is potatoes, and it makes water stream from my eyes”. Yes! It tells you how rich their gastronomy is… In the relatively poor variety of Latvian food, it won’t be then surprising to learn that Latvians love blood sausage. The filling is made of boiled grits or pearl barley and bits of bacon that are mixed with pig’s blood. Before serving, the sausages are baked in a pan until they are crispy. Grit sausage is a true dish for the autumn and winter. Sweet-and-sour lingonberry jam a great accompaniment. As in many other cultures, Latvian farmers had to learn to use all of the animal, head to tail, out of necessity due to poverty and the cold, harsh winter
Okay, another article already told you about Estonia’s passion for rye bread and how obsessed they are with the stuff, but this is legitimately upsetting. Apparently, some Estonians like their bread the way a very specific type of serial killer likes their women – full of blood and smelling of onion. (Don’t worry if that metaphor doesn’t work for you – if it does you’re probably on a watch list). Verileibis is a rye bread that’s baked with bacon (good!) onion (um…for bread? I mean sure but…) and copious amounts of blood (are you sure this is an actual Estonian dish and not something from fucking Sweeney Todd?). So yeah. Bacony-oniony-blood bread. And like, it’s a lot of blood, which literally replaces water in these recipes.
Goose blood soup
The word soup was not known in Belarus until the 18th century when the nobility borrowed it from German, but soup as a type of dish clearly existed centuries earlier. And rest assured that Belarussians make the most of it. They clearly love their soup. But not any old soup, no! In particular goose blood soup, or poliŭka as they call it. You think that goose blood is particularly gross? Wait to hear what the other ingredients in the soup are: bones… and liver. According to one Belarusian news outlet: “those who taste it thinking it’s a fruit-based soup are more likely to enjoy it”. No kidding! Until the 19th century poliŭka was also traditionally served to would-be sons-in-law after the rejection of a proposal.
Cold pig fat
At first glance it could be a hard sheep’s cheese or a smoky mozzarella. But the slabs are actually cold, white pork fat – Ukraine’s quintessential national dish, known as salo. Basically, salo is bacon without any meat. It can be pickled, fried, frozen or just eaten raw. It has a weird texture which Ukrainians find goes perfectly with vodka or in sandwiches with black bread and onions. Good news: it can be stored in the fridge for months or in the freezer for even longer. You’ll never be out of stock! Topping 900 calories on average, even one serving of pig fat is not recommended for those watching their waistlines. It has however been described by the Kiev Post as having a cult-like status. There is a saying in Ukraine: “Salo is when nobody fucks with you and you’ve got a bit of money”. Understand it as: having a good bit of salo is an indicator of wealthy life.
Romania & Moldova
Yes, we know… The Romanians are probably not the only ones eating brains, but they eat them fried! And that is what makes the difference. Forget about KFC, Bucharest’s fried brains are the new place to be. If you happen to wonder how it is cooked (I hope not ), be assured that the recipe is so easy that you can even replicate it at home (I really hope not): the brain is coated in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs and then deep-fried until golden and crispy on the outside. It can be made out of pig’s brains, but also cow, calf or lamb’s brains. You choose! The dish is called Creier Pane in Romanian. But the literal translation is actually “breaded brain” – which, we have to admit, sounds no less appetising. According to reviews, the Creier Pane is so tasty that “you actually forget what it consists of”. We doubt it… After this amuse-bouche, if you happen to be still hungry, try the Romanian tongue with olives, served with some liver sausage, pork rind and a side of cow stomach soup.
Frogs and eels stew
Who said that the French and the Brits were irreconcilable? The Croats have in any case managed what many rightly considered unthinkable: mingling two culinary horrors in one! Yes… picture yourself eating frogs’ legs and jellied eels together in the same dish… no need to just imagine, just pop to Croatia! the dish is called Brodetto and, well, it tastes exactly as you would: completely, utterly gross. In many Croatian restaurants, it is often presented as fish or seafood stew, which is probably smart marketing. But in the Neretva River region just north of Peljesac, it is actually made from eels and frogs in a spicy broth flavored with paprika and bay leaves. Often, it comes with polenta dumplings – the least you need to stomach it! In a remarkable example of understatement, online reviews call it “a gastronomic adventure” but we would rather label it a “crime against the palate”. If you’re feeling up to trying it, venture over to Villa Neretva or Duda & Mate in Metkovic.
Serbians and Spaniards have something in common: they love having a ball! In the kitchen, that is. Testicles have been a delicacy in Serbia and elsewhere for as long as anyone can remember. Common recipe includes slicing sheep testicles and cooking them together with liver, intestines and kidneys, fresh red grapes and dry white wine. The good point is that no animals need to be killed to “enjoy” testicles as farm animals are often castrated anyway. But Serbia did not stop at just cooking them, no! It also invented a festival dedicated to it: the World Testicle Cooking Festival! Each May, chefs from all over the world come to Serbia to stick their balls into a grill, a goulash or a pie. Not their own, you understand, but those of 15 different types of animals, including bulls, pigs, sheep, horses, kangaroos and ostriches. If you thought throwing mushy tomatoes at each other during the Tomatina festival was weird, welcome to the new world of bizarre!
Montenegro – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Kosovo
Black squid ink risotto
Which dish is so gross that it also turns your teeth black? Black risotto obviously! This Western Balkan specialty gets its infamous black colour from cuttlefish ink. The dish is prepared by removing the ink sacs from the cuttlefish and adding their contents to the rice dish. Some locals say that it’s strangely therapeutic pulling out the slippery tentacles, removing the quill, detaching the wings, chopping out the guts and extracting the sac of black ink – which already shows their level of sadism. If cooked well, the ink gives the risotto a rich, vaguely earthy taste that complements the creamy nature of the dish. If not cooked well, it slips from “bearable” to “repulsive’. Locals have this advice for you: don’t forget your napkin, or you’ll leave the table with a fresh pair of black lips! And we agree that black is not the new orange… This leaves us to a fundamental question: How can someone serve you a meal that is completely black?
We don’t count sayings and popular quotes related to breakfast: “all happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast”, “human rights start with breakfast”, “one should not attend even the end of the world without a good breakfast”, “never work before breakfast; if you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first” or more poetic “have a smile for breakfast, you’ll be shitting joy by lunch”… So WTF Albania? Why do you take so much pride at serving sheep’s head for breakfast? It’s just spoiling the day! You doubt they do? Albania’s popular paçe is nothing less than a sheep’s head, boiled until the meat comes off, stewed with garlic, onion, black pepper, and vinegar. And voilà! Breakfast is served! As if it was not gross enough, it is custom to eat the entire head – brains, eyes, tongue, EVERYTHING.
Bulgaria – Macedonia
After all these delicacies, let’s take a break and please accept our little personalised gift for you: a dish considered as a hangover remedy! Might be handy after all those drinks. No need to thank us, it’s really nothing, just a little shkembe-chorba or шкембе чорба, as the locals call it. In English, we would call it a tripe soup, but as gross as it might sound, there is nothing to worry about. It just consists of a whole piece of pork, beef or lamb tripe that is boiled for few hours, chopped in small pieces, and returned to broth. As we know you are someone of refined taste, let us serve you this tripe with some mashed garlic in vinegar and hot red pepper. If you prefer, we could also offer a variant of the soup with intestines instead of tripe? But pay attention: if you’re an office worker, bear in mind that it is prohibited to eat shkembe chorba at lunch. We don’t really get why… Anyway, feeling better? Yes? Then let’s go back to business…
Greece – Cyprus
Of the many proverbs in Greece, several relate to food. “Love goes first through the stomach”, says one: and quite right too, as when it comes to stomach, Greeks are true lovers! Just look at their kokoretsi, made of the intestines of a lamb filled in with offal including heart, liver and spleen. Yummy! Though available year round throughout much of Greece, it is most typically enjoyed on Easter Sunday. Displaying true gourmet tendencies, the Greeks apparently prefer the insides of suckling lambs, known for their tenderness. While an almost infinite number of kokoretsi recipes abound, it is often prepared simply with lemon, olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Perhaps there should have been an editor’s note or parental advisory rating at the beginning of this piece, given the somewhat graphic nature of this dish…
Sheep gall bladder
You wouldn’t leave without a Turkish delight? Or maybe something more daring? Long after the lights go out in Adana, Turkey, and vendors wheel their chestnut carts home, midnight traders take over dusty streets to sell a more appetising snack, Șirdan or shirda: a sheep’s gall bladder cleaned, stuffed and boiled. The rubbery layer of stomach is stuffed with seasoned rice, meat and onions, then stitched together. Since animals only have one of these it makes it a delicacy. According to Turks, it tastes too good to dismiss for its… unique penis shape. If you can get past the pungent smell of sheep, this dish is often eaten after a night on the sauce. We couldn’t think of anything else worse after an alcoholic binge.