The New York Times:
Did you hear the one about the Texan at his first Passover Seder? He was mightily impressed with the soup. “These matzo balls sure are delicious, ma’am,” he told his hostess. “What other parts of the matzo do y’all cook with?”
This old joke came to mind as I read “That’s Disgusting,” a lively look at all things revolting by Rachel Herz, a psychologist at Brown. I thought of it as Herz described an evening with friends at a pretentious restaurant, where she ordered the appetizer special, duck oysters. It turned out “oysters” was code for “testicles” — how come her dinner companions hadn’t warned her? — and once she knew that, she lost her appetite for the small bulb-shaped delicacies. It occurred to me that I might never look at matzo ball soup — or oysters — the same way again.
Most of the grossest food described here isn’t disguised body parts, though, but stuff that’s fermented. “Controlled rot tastes good,” Herz writes, introducing food like hakarl, the desiccated shark meat eaten in Iceland, or natto, a slimy soybean dish from Japan. Tastes good? Really? It’s hard to believe that about casu marzu (Sardinia’s “maggot cheese”), which is covered in writhing, wormlike insect larvae. Eating a hunk of fermented sheep’s milk coated in live maggots tastes good? Yuck.
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