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Delightful, Delicious, Disgusting

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#31 Adam Balic

Adam Balic
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Posted 06 February 2003 - 03:19 AM

And isn't pheasant traditionally considered unfit to eat until it has been so thoroughly "hung" (read: rotted) that its tailfeathers fall off?

On the disgusting/delicious point -- which I think is a really good one -- I think Calvin Trillin and either John Thorne or M.F.K. Fisher have written about the heady, intoxicating appeal of straddling that line.

Almost. The tail feather thing is derived from some people suggesting that the pheasant is hung by it's tail feathers. As the tissues breakdown the weight of the bird makes it drop to the floor. The more feathers you tie up, the longer it will take for the bird to drop, but it need not be rotten.

I once read of an anthropologists account of living with a group of Inuit, one of their food items was derived from placing any scraps of meat, birds with feathers, fish bones etc into the top of a seal skin bag, when full a portion woul be removed from the bottom of the bag, by which time it had composted into a blackish paste. The fearless anthropologist was given some of this paste to eat, which he did and then immediately threw it up, to his shame. He need not have worried, as it was brushed off and he ate it on the second attempt. At this point he was congratulated by the family and one of the men told him not to worry about throwing up the paste as the first time he had eaten a grilled steak in a whitemans home he also threw this up.

The point of all this was that the anthropologist realised that what we found repelant was mostly cultural. The Inuit found the charred tough bloody piece of steak disgusting (similar to many latter day urbanites), until this point the Anthropologist had never questioned that what other people ate was suspect and what he ate was obviously all beyond all good and correct.

Regarding fish sauce: I think that most people will taste it with pleasure once cooked, while it may have a strong amoma when 'raw' it has rather a mellow flavour when cooked (much like fermented prawn paste). The problem arises when people smell the raw product and are told "It's the juice of fermented anchovies, don't you know".