Tag Archives: food

Pig liver soup

My late Dad was off of southern stock, so he was well-acquainted with various foods that northerners tend to shy away from. I’ve always remembered how he once told me, “I don’t care for pig liver. It tastes like pig shit smells.”

I guess there’s no accounting for taste. The author of “Foodie Paradise” states that the Singaporean pig liver soup pictured below – breakfast fare in that part of the world – was “delicious.”

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Putrified, Rancid Skate: An Icelandic Delicacy


Speaking of putrified skate, I had an opportunity to smell one, many years ago. I was on vacation in Long Beach, Washington, and while beachcombing one day, encountered a dead skate upon the beach. It was the worst goddamned thing I ever smelled. In fact, it became the standard to which I likened the smell of fresh-cooked lutefisk (which I haven’t written about here, yet).

Having had this experience, I shuddered involuntarily when I happened upon an article extolling the gustatory virtues of Skata, a “timeless” Icelandic standard, which falls under the loose and ill-defined category of “fermented animal products.” Quite simply, before cooking and consumption, the skate must be prepared by being “kept for weeks under stones and turf and then being hung out for drying in the cold climate.”

Sounds like rotten fish, to me. However, the author of the article “Strange Smelling Delicacy” at The Iceland Review online insists that “…it is by no means rotten or damaged. It is only fermented like cheese, and is very healthy…”

I would like to take a moment here to correct a misconception that this author is promoting, as countless others have done before him–

There are a number of animal-based foods from different parts of the world that are described as being “fermented.” However, the term is erroneous when applied to such foods because fermentation properly means the decomposition of carbohydrates, and since animal tissues are composed of proteins and lipids, and contain at most only traces of carbohydrates, the operative processes in the transformation undergone by these foods are actually putrefaction and rancidification. (source)

So, Skata, its “health benefits” and “gustatory delights” notwithstanding, is a putrified, rancid skate. Which is exactly what I would expect to result from burying a dead fish, and then hanging it out to dry. That’s why it’s “strong smelling.” Because it’s freakin’ rotten.

Me – I’ll opt for a nice fresh piece of halibut grilled in butter, any day.

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Food Service Employees Must Wash

Almost goes without saying, right?


Don’t Let This Happen to YOU!Businesses beware of how you treat stink, stinkers

Beth Stephenson
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND, OKLAHOMA— We love our pretty town and cheer for local businesses to do well, but lately, I’ve had my loyalty a little bruised. It’s one issue if the product or service is not to my taste, but often the issue is customer service or something more subtle that can and ought to be corrected. Edmond businesses reflect on our whole city, so let’s shape up some of these little problems.

Your employees must wash. Not only their bodies and hair, but also their clothing. It’s one thing for a laborer to get a little ripe, but if that happens, they need to stay in the open air. It’s horrid if that stinker is handling your food….

Read the entire article

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Garlic Stinks

But we love it.


“The Stinking Rose” restaurant, with two locations in California, is devoted exclusively to that ubiquitous and pungent member of the lily family. Next time I’m in San Francisco (it’s been years), I might just check it out.

Probably not the best choice for a first date, though.

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Starbucks corporate analysts: sausage on a roll stinks like a dead dog

it’s a breakfast sandwichI like coffee, a lot. I drink it every day, all day. But as it is with so many other things here in post-millenium America, a lot of people can’t be satisfied just enjoying a cup of good coffee. They have to turn it into a culture and yammer on about “bouquet” or “citrus overtones,” shell out tips equivalent to the price of their beverage, and tap their foot in 4/4 time to the 5/4 time signature coming out of the sound system.

And what a bunch of smelly, nouveau-rich, pop-culture mock-elitist bullshit the article below is. You’d think that a breakfast sandwich was on par with ass, to warrant a position as shallow as this.

As for “atmosphere” – well, Starbucks, Inc., I like your coffee, but I find it virtually impossible to either read or chat with free-form jazz blaring out of the speaker over my head. I know another writer who routinely goes to McDonald’s for his personal “coffee/idea sessions,” specifically to avoid the distracting nature of the Starbucks “atmosphere.”

Irony of ironies, that worldly philosophers, painters, and writers of a bygone day, if brought to the present, might choose somewhere other than Starbucks to hatch their world-shattering ideas (there’s a short story in that – go ahead and use it). Possibly even because they couldn’t get sausage on a roll, there.

Starbucks: Ooh, That Smell

What’s that smell!?

If that is what you were thinking when you walked into a Starbucks recently you are not alone. Analysts agreed on Thursday that the smell of warm breakfast sandwiches is causing a major brand crisis for the coffee giant.

“The warming breakfast aroma is its biggest problem, overwhelming the coffee aroma that Starbucks views as critical to its experience,” said Bear Stearns analyst Joseph Buckley.

Added JPMorgan analsyt John Ivankoe: “We will welcome the removal of this food … because in certain cases the stores did in fact smell like cooked processed food, and not at all like coffee….”

Read the complete story

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Baked Sheep’s Head

Baked Sheep’s HeadI like lamb (lamb chops, leg of lamb, rack of lamb, etc.) and this particular Icelandic specialty probably doesn’t stink (at least not to an omnivore), but I find it disgusting, so I decided to post it.

I know people who have problems eating meat off the bone, but this is eating meat off the skull. I can’t manage it, Jack. Can’t eat something that’s looking up at me off the plate. This calls to mind the rule of thumb some employ, of not eating anything “with a face.” Pretty much cuts this out.

I have a friend who was an exchange student in Iceland many years ago, and has visited once or twice, since. After one of her visits, she returned with a videotape bearing footage of the “baked sheep’s head experience.” For some reason, this combination of sheep’s head, mashed turnips, and mashed potatoes is sold primarily at the bus station, in a kind of freaky Icelandic variant of the fast-food theme. So, the tape shows her and her party purchasing the goodies, wrapped up in cellophane to go, and then taking it back to the apartment, where one of the guys promptly ate the sheep’s eye, for the camera….

Those Viking-types are still tested-tough.

What could be nicer?

Photos from Alabama Thunderpussy Open Fire

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The Lowly Dung Beetle

All glory to the Dung Beetles, who clean up the shit without complaining.

Dung Beetle

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Fish Sauce: Stinky things can be good

Fish sauce is an essential ingredient in much of both Thai and Vietnamese Cuisine. It needs to be there, as it imparts that certain, distinctive “something” – but I’m inclined to agree with the following opinion I found at http://forums.egullet.org:

“I have a love hate relationship with fish sauce. It’s got to be there, but I don’t want to know. Does that make sense? Without it, there’s definitely something missing. But if it’s strong enough that I recognize the taste, it’s too strong.

Translation of “too strong”: REEKS.

I had a Vietnamese friend some years ago, and his mother would prepare for us these elaborate meals comprising multiple dishes. Pho, crispy spring rolls, delicate soups with shrimp and barbecued pork to which chile sauce was added, some concoction of vegetables and quails eggs, rice cakes with savory pork, on and on…The house would smell heavily of fish sauce when she was cooking, but as the stink of the sauce gradually merged with the other ingredients, what at first had hinted of putridity was magically transformed to savory.

A Premium BrandThere was one particular dish, called “Tka” (I’m uncertain on the spelling, but it is pronounced Teh-KA) that stunk like a locker room in the first phase of preparation – which was simply the simmering of fresh pork in fish sauce. Phee-ew.

The final dish, however, was delicious – the pork was coated in a caramelized sweet sauce, which was then served on fragrant rice. And there, in the background, was that “certain something,” that hint of fish sauce. Lovers of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine will immediately identify with this: there is a certain savor, a kind of hard-to-describe “edge” that fish sauce adds. The dish would be left wanting without it.

Stinky things can be good, and fish sauce is not the only food which bears this out.

How is fish sauce made? This is the part that used to really gross me out, but I’ve grown more accustomed to it as I’ve grown older.

1.) Get ye some freshly caught anchovies, or some other small variety of fish (any fish can be used, but small, commercially insignificant fish are preferred over bigger, “food” fish).

2.) Add 2 to 3 parts salt to one part fish.

3.) Take a large earthenware jar. Put a layer of salt on the bottom, and then add the fish. Once the jar is mostly full, add another layer of salt on top, and then a piece of bamboo mat, and weight it down with a heavy rock, or some large, non-toxic object.

4.) Set jar out in an area that gets lots of sun, and leave it there for 10-12 months. On hot sunny days, it is well for the jars to be opened and exposed to direct sunshine, which helps to further “liquify” or “digest” the fish.*

5.) After the months have elapsed, siphon out the “essence of fish.” Strain through cheesecloth (to remove any remaining solids) into clean jars, cover them, and let them sit out for another week or so.

6.) Bottle it, and start using it. It’s fish sauce.

I don’t recommend trying this at home.

*Salt, sodium chloride, is a “hydrophilic,” or “water-loving” molecule. That is, it “wants” to bind with water. That’s why swimming in the sea dries your skin out. This is the essence of making fish sauce – the salt draws out all the natural juices of the fish, and prevents the growth of harmful bacteria at the same time, allowing a sort of controlled, aseptic and aerobic fermentation to occur.

In short, liquid fish.

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Boiled Cabbage

Boiled Cabbage

I wouldn’t even care to guess how many writers have used boiled cabbage as a device to evoke images of poverty and squalor. It’s doubtless an unfair bias, because not only is cabbage extremely nutritious, but it has been eaten equally by rich and poor, the world ’round.

Regardless of that, boiling cabbage does stink. You know it for sure, when someone who writes about a dish of pig intestines he seems to have enjoyed, and in the same paragraph refers to cabbage as “sewage smelling”–

The other notable dish at Founder Bak Kut Teh is the Pig Intestines or “Hoon Terng”. It was the mild with a nice chewy texture. Unfortunately, I do not like cabbage in soup as it adds, to me, a foul smell and taste. Try boiling cabbage in your kitchen, you’ll soon discover a rather distressing smell emanating from it. That’s the smell I do not like at all. To me, the intestines alone would provide a good enough twist to the original broth without the sewage-smelling boiled cabbage. (source)

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