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What day is it???  It’s Exotic Eats Challenge Day!   What delicious treat are we experiencing today?

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ZEBRA TARANTULA!

 

This is a cooked and dehydrated Zebra tarantula with a light dusting of BBQ seasoning.  MMMMMMM!

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“Harry” the Zebra Tarantula came packaged in a can and then sealed in a little bag with a moisture bead sack.  Unfortunately his butt broke off in transport but you can clearly see Harry was indeed a real live tarantula at one time.  Harry lives up to his name and he’s covered in tiny little tarantula hairs.  He’s a bit larger than I expected; but I’m not one to back down from an exotic eats challenge.  Let’s get this spider meal started.

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So my companion and I place Harry on a plate and arrange him for a more appealing plate setting.  Sorry I’m missing the garnish.  Since I’ve never eaten spider before I thought I’d start with something a little less intimidating than the larger, fleshy body – I’ll start with the legs.  I break off a leg and pop it into my mouth.  It’s very dry but at the same time very chewy.  If you want to know what it tastes like, go outside to your nearest tree, pick off a piece of bark and just start chewing it.  Some might call it earthy?  The aftertaste of the leg however is very similar to non-seasoned beef jerky.  OK so spider leg is not so bad.

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This time I pick off the fangs from his head and take a bite of his body.  Harry is tough!  Remember when I said the legs aren’t so bad?  Well the body is gross.  All those spider innards are NOT tasty.  Think bark/dirt/beef all combined into one taste.  It isn’t pleasant at all.  I tried to take a bite of the abdomen but I literally couldn’t break it with my teeth it’s that hard.  I certainly don’t want to take a trip to the dentist because I chipped a molar on a dried tarantula butt.

 

Doctor: Tell me again how you broke your tooth?
Me: Eating a Tarantula.
Doctor: A tarantula? As in Spider?
Me: Yup.  That sucker was fighting for his life!

 

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The legs really weren’t so bad.  So I dressed up a piece of my salad with a tarantula leg.  Mmmmm Spider goodness.  Opinion – overall, I don’t need to eat tarantula again, but I do highly recommend eating tarantula if you’re into trying something truly unique.  Go ahead!  Break down that arachnophobia barrier and start munching down on one of those harry eight legged fanged demons!

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Well the September 2012 Exotic Eats Challenge has come and gone.  Here’s what was on the menu.

Giant Waterbug

Marinated Baby Octopus

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“I Hug, You Hug, We all Hug for Waterbugs!”

 

FoFo and I met for lunch at Luna Grill and began by removing the legs and wings from our rather large waterbugs.  These creepy crawlers are HUGE.  They span the width of your hand or approximately 3 inches long.  We were advised to remove the legs and wings as they tend to get stuck in your throat (or so they said via YouTube). So once my Waterbug was legless and wingless I took the first tentative nibble.  It’s extremely crunchy and rather tough.  After the first tentative bite, I took a large bite that took off the whole abdomen.  It’s actually not terribly unpleasant.  FoFo described it tasting like dried anchovies.  But I got more of a swampy-grass taste.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not delicious that’s for sure, but it isn’t the worse thing I’ve ever eaten.  The head part of the waterbug is even crunchier than the body.  Overall – the waterbug wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.  Would I eat another one?  Eh probably not.

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Now onto the Octopus…

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“I cuss, You Cuss, We all Cuss for Octopus!”

 

The baby octopus that FoFo brought from a Japanese market was so much worse than the waterbug.  I know that eating octopus is much more acceptable than eating waterbug, but honestly, I’d rather eat another waterbug.  The baby octopus’ are marinated in some kind of spicy red sauce with sesame seeds.  It’s got a little tang to it and has dyed the octopus bodies a bright red.  I pick up my octopus and nibble off a tentacle.  Even though it’s been marinating in this red sauce it tastes just like an old rubber band smells.  The texture is very very very chewy.  After swallowing the tentacle, I elect to just pop the whole thing in my mouth and get it over with.  Bad mistake.  The texture of the body is even worse.  For the first time since starting the challenge I’m getting a slight gag reflex.  It’s not necessarily from the taste itself, but from the texture.  It’s a slimy, chewy mess.  Thankfully I chew past the reflex and manage to swallow the critter.  UGG!  The waterbug was so much better.  Our waiter wanders over and asks what we’re doing.  FoFo offers him an octopus which he does take and eats.  He says it taste just like kung pao.  Yeah I don’t think so. 

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So both FoFo and I passed our challenge and we’ll meet again next month to accept another Exotic Eats Challenge.

 

PASSED CHALLENGES

 

Meal Worm

Crickets

Giant Leaf Cutter Ants

Mopani Worms

Silk Worm Pupa

Silk Worms

Cuttlefish

Scorpions

Squash Beetle

Weaver Ants

Grasshoppers

Giant Waterbug

Baby Octopus

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Well it’s been awhile since I last posted on the Exotic Eats Challenge.  Unfortunately my Exotic Eats supplier has been backordered on virtually everything for months.  But finally I received my backorder of Giant Grasshoppers, Giant Water Scorpions, Mixed Bugs, Weaver Ants, Silk Worms and Squash Beetles.  I posted on Google+ that my order finally arrived and I got several requests from people who wanted to join the Exotic Eats Challenge.  So while at a friend’s party this weekend I brought the whole shebang including Limburger Cheese that I found at Major Market!

When I ordered the Giant Water Scorpion, I didn’t know it would be quite SO LARGE!  Next time I’ll order at least five of these bad boys!

The Limburger Cheese was HORENDOUS!  I had to double wrap it in two zip lock baggies and that still didn’t stop the smell.  As soon as the baggies were opened, the stench of rotting feet permeated the air.  I was thinking that Limburger could be similar to Durian in the fact that it may taste completely different from what it smells like.  Unfortunately Limburger cheese tastes exactly how it smells… like rotting feet.  Everyone who tried it sprinted to the trash can to spit up the nasty foulness.  Another draw back is that the taste stays in your mouth forever even after you’ve spit it out.  Thankfully I found that eating bacon totally erases the taste from your mouth.

All the insects in the challenge were actually pretty tasty.  The Squash beetles tasted like a cheddar cheese nut.  Everyone who tried them actually was pleasantly surprised at how pleasant these guys were.

I’ve eaten silk worms before, but they were in a liquid like mess that smelled and tasted horrible.  The silk worms that I bought have been baked and were lightly seasoned and were actually pretty good.  I’ll take the baked version anytime!

What do ants taste like?  Depends on how you eat them?  Alive, ants tastes exactly like blue cheese.  Baked, they taste like a tangy bacon dirt mix.  Not exactly delicious, but not terrible.

Every time I have an exotic eats challenge, people always ask “WHY DO YOU EAT THAT?”  To which I reply… “Because my curiosity won’t allow me to NOT try it”.  Over 80% of the world eats insects as part of their daily diet.  And a surprising fact is that if our world population continues on its current trend, eating insects in the future will be mandatory even for us here in the US, because the farming and slaughtering of mammals will not be able to sustain our future consumption.  And for those of you who say you’d never eat a bug… Consider this fact that you eat around a pound of insects annually through the various food processing methods in the typical American diet (cereals, breads, candy, peanut butter and canned fruits and veggies).  So like it or not, you’re eating insects.  Get used to it!  It will be the norm some day.

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My backorder for some exotic edibles has finally shipped!  So what’s on the menu this round?

1.  Giant Grasshopper
2.  Giant Water Scorpion (Not Chocolate Covered)
3.  Squash Bug
4.  An Assorted Bag of various bugs!

Stay tuned for the next round of pictures and videos from the challenge!   

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What’s sweet, has eight legs and a stinging tail?  Why a chocolate covered scorpion of course!  So the fourth round of the Exotic Eats Challenge happened at St. Elmo’s Restaurant in Indianapolis.  While we were waiting for our world famous shrimp cocktails, I handed my Transworld guests FoFo and Dom their exotic eats.  The chocolate covered scorpions arrived in little petri dishes, de-venomized and ready to eat.  Dom turned green at just the sight and thought of eating an insect.  The scorpions were about an inch and a half long and although they were covered in chocolate you could see the outline of the tail with stinger.  So we picked up our scorpions by the tail and toasted to the Exotic Eats Challenge.

I must say that this chocolate covered exotic delight was truly delicious!  It tasted just like a Crunch Bar.  If there was a bowl of these chocolate covered crawlies on the table, I’d be eating them like popcorn.  Everyone at the table who ate a scorpion was very surprised and how yummy they were.  Not a bad experience at all!

While I brought the scorpions, FoFo brought a can of silkworm pupa and dried cuttlefish.  The silkworm pupa looked truly disgusting.  It smelled like a rotting can of spam.  But a challenge is a challenge and I can never back down from tasting something that smells so horrible.  Regardless of the smell I have to know what silkworm pupa tastes like.  So I open the can and pick out a silkworm.  The pupa are in this tuna like can, filled with worms and juice.  So I dry off my pupa on my napkin and with drink handy, I popped it in my mouth.  Instantly this horrible taste floods your mouth.  It is truly disgusting.  Its crunchy and juicy and not in a good way.  Its horrible!  However my reaction, it didn’t stop J and FoFo from eating one too.  Only Dom was too disgusted to eat one.  I chugged my drink just to get the taste out of my mouth.  UGGGG!!!

Next up… Dried Cuttlefish.  This thing is sealed in plastic wrap yet you can still smell it through the plastic.  It smells like a herring has been left in the hot sun for a month.  Once we open the package the smells just intensifies.  Dom turns pale as the smell wafts his way.  But horrible smell and all I take a bite of the dried up critter.  It’s like chewing a dried up rubber band.  As I chew the smell comes up through my nose.  It’s bad tasting for sure, but not as bad as the silkworm pupa.

So both FoFo, J and myself passed the challenge with flying colors!  Next up??  Waiting for my backorder of baked Tarantula!

Exotic Eats Challenge Food:

Toasted Giant Leaf Cutter Ants – CHECK

Mealworms – CHECK

Crickets – CHECK

Mopane Worms – CHECK

Scorpion – CHECK

Silkworm Pupa – CHECK

Cuttlefish – CHECK

Tarantula???????

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Exotic Eats Challenge!

Every now and then I like to step outside my comfort zone.  I like to flirt on the borders of what some deem abnormal and dance on the edge of bizarre.  My latest adventure was part of an Exotic Eats Challenge that I have with a magazine client.  He and I challenge each other to various exotic things to eat.  The first challenge was the Giant Toasted Leaf Cutter Ants.  My client responded by bringing to the table meal worms and crickets.  I in turn took it up a notch with Mopani Worms.

So today was Mopani worm eating day.  Take a look at the picture, these worms are MASSIVE!  Alive they are almost as long as your hand, cooked and dried they are as long as you thumb.  They’ve got little spikes covering their backs which you pick off before you eat them.  They’re native to Africa and are a delicacy to Botswananians.  So when I saw these at Edible.com they went into my shopping cart basket so fast!

So my client and I met for lunch and I brought out the worms.  He can’t believe how gnarly they are.  Reluctantly he picks up a worm and finally pops it in his mouth.  You can see his face turning a slight shade of red as he’s chewing the worm.  After a slurp of ice tea he manages to say they’re disgusting!   But as he chewed further he ends up saying not too bad.

My turn now… I pick up my worm and put it on my tongue.  Ice tea ready I start chewing it.  It’s got a texture of crunch spongy tofu.  The taste isn’t really horrible but it also isn’t pleasant.  It’s hard to describe the taste but a close comparison is a combination of tree bark and dirt.  I think I really expected the taste to be unbearable, but in reality it wasn’t so bad despite my facial expressions.  Now I won’t be snacking on these bad boys any time soon, but it’s just another exotic meal that I can put a check mark next to.

Eye Ball – Check

Giant Leaf Cutter Ant – Check

Meal Worm – Check

Cricket – Check

Mopani Worm – Check!

What’s next?  Not sure… I’m thinking the Giant Horned Beatle or Scorpions! Stay tuned for the next Exotic Eats Challenge!

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