Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Omnivore's Hundred

Mid-August already! Since my last post I've been to Minnesota and back for a lovely family visit (and lots of good eating). Back here in D.C. it hasn't been as humid as I was expecting but in spite of this I don't have a lot of food adventures to report.

However, today I happened to check out Chocolate and Zucchini for the first time in months, and came upon The Omnivore's Hundred, originally posted on the British blog Very Good Taste on August 13, 2008 (penned by blog co-author Andrew Wheeler). This is an arbitrary list of 100 items that the author thinks every "good" omnivore should try at least once. I thought it sounded like fun so I gave it a try and discovered that there are 31 that I haven't tried. Here's my list and key. It was fun perusing the list; there are several that I have enjoyed often.

The Omnivore's Hundred

Key: bolded items are items that I have eaten at least once. (I've also included an arrow, ->, in front of each number because they don't seem to show up very well)
italics are items that I had never heard of before seeing them on this list
*=items that I really like (I took this idea from Clothilde)
X=things that I would not try

->1. Venison*
2. Nettle tea
->3. Huevos rancheros* One of my favorite brunch dishes to make at home. I currently experiment with different sauces and combos (with black beans, with cheese melted on tortillas crisped in the oven, or atop strips of roasted chile, or some combination of these, fried v.s. poached eggs, etc) and haven't yet come up with the "perfect" version, though they've all been delicious.
->4. Steak tartare* - most of what I've had is an Ethiopean version, Kitfo
5. Crocodile - I have had alligator, but not croc
->6. Black pudding (in a Korean version of boudin noir)
->7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
->9. Borscht* I have made more versions than I've ordered, most recently the batch that I made for M and V's birthday party back in February. Favorite toppings are sour cream, lemon slices, and sliced fried spicy sausage (I know, I'm such a health nut)
->10. Baba ghanoush* One of my favorite dips
->11. Calamari* Best with fresh lemon squeezed over
->12. Pho* This is one of the few things that I have outright failed at trying to replicate in my own kitchen. I bought oxtails (#40) and everything! M refused to finish his portion, that's how bad it was. Sad...but as he said, at the time we were living in Seattle and we could get it so cheap it wasn't worth trying to perfect at home anyway
->13. PB&J sandwich
->14. Aloo gobi Used to make variations of this all the time when we lived in Seattle, not so much since we moved here.
->15. Hot dog from a street cart* Now that I live in D.C. I particularly miss the Seattle version, more like sausage, with all kinds of different toppings/slatherings including cream cheese. We used to get them after shows at Chopsuey. The "half smokes" from the street carts here just don't measure up (I'd rather go to Ben's), although they'll do in a pinch.
16. Epoisses
->17. Black truffle - I'm pretty sure there were some black truffle shavings on the homemade tagliatelle with rabbit ragout that M had at Poste (the one and only time we've dined there...)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
->19. Steamed pork buns* Yum
->20. Pistachio ice cream* I have said in the past that this is my favorite ice cream, although I alternate between this and peppermint bonbon (okay, anything green, you figured me out!)
->21. Heirloom tomatoes* My parents grow at least 6 varieties. They were happy that I at least got to try one from the garden when I was at home a couple weeks ago (the season was just starting when I left to come back here to D.C.)
->22. Fresh wild berries* Most recently some blackberries that my mother in law had picked last summer and frozen for us to enjoy while we were there for Christmas 2007
23. Foie gras - my formerly veggie brother-in-law has tried foie gras, and I still haven't. Egad...
->24. Rice and beans* My future children are going to eat a lot of this. It's been one of our standbys since we lived in Seattle
25. Brawn, or head cheese
->26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper I haven't eaten a whole one but I've had part of a few, does that count? I'm counting it!
->27. Dulce de leche I've had dulce de leche ice cream, and evaporated milk boiled (dangerously, apparently) in the can, which becomes very caramel-like (but kids, don't try this at home)
->28. Oysters* Raw with horseradish and tabasco and grilled on the half-shell are my favorite preparations; no need to smother them with heavy stuff
->29. Baklava* have had so many different versions, some are lighter than others, all delicious
->30. Bagna cauda I've only made it at home, never ordered it
->31. Wasabi peas I haven't been thrilled by these. Now that I've had fresh wasabi root I think I might be even pickier
->32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl Not particularly memorable
->33. Salted lassi* My favorite kind of lassi
->34. Sauerkraut* I've been planning on making my own
->35. Root beer float* Has to be made with good quality rootbeer or sarsaparilla though, not with stuff that has high fructose corn syrup
->36. Cognac with a fat cigar Just this past New Year's (I think it was cognac...)
->37. Clotted cream tea* I've had this at a couple different places, both back in Minnesota: the Chickadee cottage tearoom in Lake City (which I think is just a restaurant now and no longer serves tea, sad!), and a tea shop in Northfield which I think has since closed and I've forgotten the name (it was just with a scone anyway)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
->39. Gumbo* I like my dad's
->40. Oxtail* mostly in various preparations of my dad's
->41. Curried goat* I know I've had this. Can't remember where, though
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal I want to try it though (can you tell from my results that I'm somewhat of a "chile-head?" You can blame my dad for that)
->44. Goat’s milk* in yoghurt or cheese form
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
->47. Chicken tikka masala
->48. Eel* mainly in unagi donburi and nigiri sushi
->49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut Most recently while waiting for M so that we could go somewhere, at the one by the Dupont Metro South exit
->50. Sea urchin* in sushi, a.k.a. uni
->51. Prickly pear in tacos, a.k.a. nopalitos
->52. Umeboshi* took me a while to get used to them; they've grown on me (and we've realized that the quality matters) My face still kind of screws up, pickle-style, sometimes when I eat them, though
53. Abalone
->54. Paneer* I've also made my own
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
->56. Spaetzle In the cafeteria at Saint Olaf - I used to serve this when I was assigned to the caf for student work
->57. Dirty gin martini tastes better with the juice
->58. Beer above 8% ABV* mainly in the form of Tripel and their brethren
->59. Poutine* - had plenty on my Quebec honeymoon!
->60. Carob chips (well, I've had carob in candies...)
->61. S’mores Grew up with these on camping trips
62. Sweetbreads
X63. Kaolin -It just doesn't seem worth it to try...
64. Currywurst - kind of surprised this is on the list; read about it for the first time awhile ago in Saveur magazine
->65. Durian had it fresh in Thailand, my Thai brother gave me a section from a package of some that he got at the grocery store, and I actually Like it!
66. Frogs’ legs
->67. Beignets*, churros*, elephant ears or funnel cake All four...
->68. Haggis - in a tin! Didn't taste like much, just kind of oatmealy and slightly offal-y (kinda like liver)
->69. Fried plantain* M has made lovely fried plantains at home
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
->71. Gazpacho* Made it at home once for my family as part of a Spanish spread. I think we used our garden tomatoes
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe - I've had absinthe but not the "louche" way
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill - I've known people that are discriminate consumers of roadkill, so I'd actually be willing to try it (of course it would not be rotting!)
->76. Baijiu ha, have I had baijiu...
->77. Hostess Fruit Pie
->78. Snail smothered in breadcrumbs butter n' garlic, on my tenth birthday, at Michael's restaurant (Greek American, kind of a supper club atmosphere) in my hometown of Rochester, MN
->79. Lapsang souchong Smoky. Have only had it once but wouldn't mind having it again sometime. Maybe at Teaism
80. Bellini - someone was telling me recently how Bellini were their favorite drink
->81. Tom yum* One of my favorite soups and cold cure
->82. Eggs Benedict* Made this in China for Christmas Day brunch (it's also a family tradition. I always make the Hollandaise)
->83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef - and me having been to Japan twice and all. Well, as with # 46 and #89, I could have it in Japan but all three are expensive
->86. Hare
->87. Goulash
->88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
->91. Spam* Yes, I like Spam. I grew up an hour away from the Hormel plant, you know. It's the best in Goya chanpuru, an Okinawan dish.
->92. Soft shell crab* Had it deep fried in a sandwich in Fredericksburg, VA last year, at Barefoot Green Seafood Market. Want to try it Vietnamese style, perhaps at a restaurant in the Eden Center that I was just reading about in the Young and Hungry column in the City Paper (here's the article if you're curious)
93. Rose harissa
->94. Catfish* We've ordered it several times at the Florida Avenue Grill
->95. Mole*poblano
->96. Bagel and lox* Love it. It's what I usually get at Tryst if I'm there for breakfast or brunch
97. Lobster Thermidor
->98. Polenta* Incidentally I've been wanting to make polenta lately...I like smothering it in some kind of marinara sauce and I just made a ton of it tonight, so, there you go
->99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee I recall ordering it once at a tea/coffee shop in Shanghai. Wasn't particularly memorable
100. Snake - though there's a family story about how my maternal grandfather (born in China, came to the U.S. when he was a boy) ate some while he was in hiding after being shot down over China flying with the Air Force during WWII

Many of the items I'm missing are ones that I have been wanting to try, and this list was a good reminder of that! There are some items I am embarassed to say I haven't tried yet, including headcheese, foie gras, caviar and blini, and frog's legs. There are also a couple that I'm not sure whether I've tried them (and thus did not bold them): Lobster Thermidor, McDonald's Big Mac, non-grape fruit wine, and abalone.

The one thing on this list that would be very hard for me to eat is #42, whole insects. I'm sure it's a texture thing. I would be very cautious about eating #46, fugu or blowfish (and obviously would only eat it if it had been prepared by a trained chef) but I wouldn't rule it out. #75 is actually not that abhorrent a thought to me; I know people who eat it (most recently I read about Tamasin Day-Lewis scooping up a partridge in the latest issue of Saveur) and are careful about which animals they eat (I won't go into detail but you can probably guess how they choose).

You know one that just occurred to me that is not on this list? Beef tongue!

If you're interested in participating, feel free to visit the explanation and list at Very Good Taste, here. Clothilde's post on Chocolate and Zucchini has links for each item on the list if there's something that you haven't heard of (or, as always, Google works).

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