Yes, But Would You Eat It? “Z” is for Za’atar


Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Each day in April (except Sundays) I’ll be posting about unusual and exotic foods.

photo of za’atar and aleppo pepper from commons.wikimedia.org

Za’atar, or زَعْتَر‎ in Arabic, is an herb and also the name of the spice mixture typically used as a condiment, which includes the herb za’atar as well as toasted sesame seeds, dried sumac, and salt, as well as thyme, oregano, and marjoram. The name za’atar alone most properly applies to hyssop, a shrub in the mint family. Some varieties of za’atar may add cumin, coriander, and fennel seed. There are so many versions, depending on the region and familial history.

Za’atar, both the herb and the condiment, is popular in Algeria, Armenia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey. It can be mixed with olive oil and spread on a pita, or mixed in with hummus, or sprinkled onto meats and vegetables. A traditional beverage in Oman is za’atar steeped in boiling water to make a herbal tea!

I’m surprised Trader Joe’s doesn’t carry za’atar in little glass jars. Maybe someday soon.

So, last time I’ll ask – would you try za’atar?

Thank you for joining me on this culinary trip around the world! I hope you learned something from these posts, and perhaps you have found one or two interesting items to try.

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Yes, But Would You Eat It? “X” is for Xanthan Gum


Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Each day in April (except Sundays) I’ll be posting about unusual and exotic foods.

photo from flickr.com

I don’t even have to ask you if you’d eat it (even though I will), because odds are you have ingested xanthan gum. It’s in some toothpastes. It’s in some salad dressings. It’s in some wallpaper paste. Yes, xanthan gum is a plant-based food thickener. So where does it come from? Well, it’s made from bacteria that infect numerous plants. So yes, it’s plant-based. And the finished product doesn’t contain any viable bacteria.

Some studies have found that xanthan gum, when added to foods, may help lower blood sugar. It may lower cholesterol. Because it helps to bind water, it can be used for its laxative effect. It has no nutritional value.

I’ll ask it anyway – would you eat xanthan gum?

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Yes, But Would You Eat It? “W” is for Wasp Crackers


Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Each day in April (except Sundays) I’ll be posting about unusual and exotic foods.

senbei is a Japanese rice cracker, which most of us have tried at least once. You know, the kind that come in bags or containers of snacks. Rice crackers are light and crispy. These just have the added yumminess of…wasps! The wasps that are used in the senbei are farmed especially for human consumption (that’s comforting).

I searched on Amazon to see if they were available, but couldn’t find them. Bezos let me down – I thought he sold everything. I guess you’ll just have to go to Japan (once the Coronoavirus isn’t an issue – I’m writing this post on March 2, so who knows?) to find these rice crackers.

But it still begs the question, friends – would you eat wasp crackers?

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Yes, But Would You Eat It? “V” is for Vegemite


Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Each day in April (except Sundays) I’ll be posting about unusual and exotic foods.

photo from flickr.com

Hey, it looks like Nutella, doesn’t it? Yeah, no. Vegemite is thick and dark brown like Nutella, but the two are not at all similar. Developed in Australia in the 1920s, Vegemite is made primarily of brewers’ yeast extract (not chocolate and hazelnuts!).

It’s salty and malty, and full of glutamates, giving it a slightly beef bouillon-y flavor. A common way to eat Vegemite is on toasted bread, with a thin layer of butter underneath. It’s loaded with thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate.

And, of course, it was made famous in the early 80s by the rock group Men at Work:

So, you’re out of Nutella. Would you eat the Vegemite?

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Yes, But Would You Eat It? “U” is for Umeboshi


Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Each day in April (except Sundays) I’ll be posting about unusual and exotic foods.

photo from commons.wikimedia.org

The Japanese umeboshi is translated into ‘salted Japanese plums.’ It actually resembles an apricot more than a plum. They’re very sour and salty, but there are some umeboshi made with honey.

Umeboshi are traditionally made by harvesting the ume fruit when ripe (around June) and packing them in barrels with salt. The salt extracts the juice from the ume. And the liquid that comes out (the ume sit in the salt for about two weeks) is then sold as a vinegar.

Umeboshi is claimed to combat fatigue and protect against aging. Bring them!

Would you eat umeboshi?

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Yes, But Would You Eat It? “T” is for Tripe


Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Each day in April (except Sundays) I’ll be posting about unusual and exotic foods.

file from commons.wikimedia.org

Mark your calendars – World Tripe Day is celebrated on October 24.

Tripe, if you didn’t know, is the edible lining of the stomach of a farm animal, usually a cow or a sheep.

Tripe is eaten all over the world. Some of the more popular tripe dishes include Andouille from France (poached, boiled, and smoked cold tripe sausage; Callos from Spain, a tripe dish cooked with chickpeas, chorizo, and paprika; Dobrada from Portugal, made with butterbeans, carrots, and chourico; Gopchang jeongol from Korea, a spicy tripe stew; and Kirxa from Malta, a dish made from tripe stewed in curry.

If you’re interested, here’s a recipe for tripe with potatoes.

So, how about it? Would you eat tripe?

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Yes, But Would You Eat It? “S” is for Scrapple


Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Each day in April (except Sundays) I’ll be posting about unusual and exotic foods.

photo from flickr.com

Shout out to my friend Steve from Philly, who tried to get me to eat scrapple a few years ago. I read the ingredients on the package, even though he implored me not to (“Just eat it!”).

Scrapple, also known by the Pennsylvania Dutch name of ‘panhaas,’ is basically pork scraps mixed with cornmeal and/or flour and spices. The mush is formed into a loaf, and slices from that loaf are fried in a pan. Traditionally, the scraps of meat that weren’t sold went into the scrapple, to avoid waste. It’s best known in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Anyway, I did look at the ingredients on the package of scrapple. Here they are, from the Original Rapa Scrapple (since 1926):

  • Pork stock
  • Pork livers
  • Pork fat
  • Pork snouts
  • Corn meal
  • Pork hearts
  • Wheat flour
  • Salt
  • Spices

Now it’s your turn. Would you eat Scrapple?

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Yes, But Would You Eat It? “R” is for Rocky Mountain Oysters


Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Each day in April (except Sundays) I’ll be posting about unusual and exotic foods.

photo from flickr.com

Ah, yes. The Rocky Mountain oyster. It wasn’t enough that I devoted the letter G to Gaebul, right? Well, this is an A to Z challenge, and R brings us the bull testicle.

If you didn’t already know, Rocky Mountain oysters are usually skinned, then coated in salt, pepper, and flour, and deep-fried. Sometimes they’re pounded flat first. 

In Canada, where cattle ranching is prevalent and it’s common to castrate young male animals, Rocky Mountain oysters are called “prairie oysters.” They’re popular also in Spain, Mexico, and Argentina, where they’re referred to as “criadillas” or “huevos de toro.” There are other terms for the dish, including “cowboy caviar,” “dusted nuts,” and “swinging beef.” Because there just aren’t enough terms.

Tell me, would you eat Rocky Mountain oysters?

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Yes, But Would You Eat It? “Q” is for Quark


Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Each day in April (except Sundays) I’ll be posting about unusual and exotic foods.

photo from commons.wikimedia.org

Quark is also referred to as quarg. It’s a dairy product that’s made by warming soured milk. Once it’s curdled, it is strained. Quark is soft and white, and is not aged as other cheeses are. It’s mostly found in German-speaking, Slavic, and Scandinavian countries.

Quark is similar to what is known as fromage blanc in France, paneer in India, and queso fresco in some Latin American countries.

Here’s a simple way to make quark:

Don’t be afraid of the quark! Would you eat it?

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Yes, But Would You Eat It? “P” is for Pandoro


Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Each day in April (except Sundays) I’ll be posting about unusual and exotic foods.

photo from commons.wikimedia.org

I don’t know about you, but I needed a break from the sheep heads and mucilaginous vegetables! How about a slice of pandoro?

A traditional Italian sweet bread (which is very different from sweetbreads, pandoro (literally, ‘golden bread’) is popular around Christmas and New Year. Back in the Middle Ages, the common folk ate black bread, but in the palaces, breads enriched with eggs, butter, and sugar or honey were served (golden breads). The first notation of ‘pandoro’ dates back to the 18th centure, in Venice.

Unlike the panettone from Milan, which has more of a cupola shape, the pandoro has an eight-pointed star section. It’s often served dusted with powdered sugar to resemble the snowy Italian Alps.

Do I really need to ask? Would you try the pandoro?

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