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Op-Ed: Weird foods 2016 — The new depths of delirium, or good ideas?

By Paul Wallis     Apr 12, 2016 in Food
London - Nobody in the food industry would be totally surprised if someone came up with a roast house brick, or a fillet of drywall as a new food fad. The creativity is there; it’s the sanity which seems to be missing.
As an entrée, just in case you were ever thinking of eating anything at all ever again, check out these images of strange foods from around the world. IMPORTANT, and NOT KIDDING — if you enjoy your food, wait till you start a diet before checking these pics out. Some are really pretty gross.
For some reason, perhaps the people, the UK is one of the first places to take up odd foods. The latest in the UK includes bacon doughnuts, (savoury doughnuts with actual bacon, not in the flour) grasshopper tacos and savoury ice cream, again with bacon, etc.
Other options include roast cauliflower instead of meat, seaweed, (like the oceans don’t have enough problems without chefs roaming them) and the offerings of the Pharmacy 2 restaurant, in which you can also eat butterflies. (Not entirely a good idea if you get the wrong butterflies; some butterflies are poisonous.) Old foods are also reviving, like pickled foods.
The irony, in a time when food quality is appalling, and the food industry, like all the others, is totally immune to basic health needs, is that some of these weird foods may actually be better for you than the usual Frankenspuds, chemistry lessons in cans, and guess-what-this-used-to-be offerings from fast food outlets. Industrially processed roadkills are still roadkills; they’re just a bit more hygienic.
Very few civilizations have been wiped out by roast cauliflowers or pickled cucumbers. Even SPAM, the classic dietician’s instant homicidal reflex food, hasn’t been accused of being “weird”. Quite the opposite — after the alleged food of World War 2, anything which was actually edible was considered an improvement. The stories of armor-piercing biscuits weren’t entirely hype.
Why the eternal interest in weird foods?
It’s more than likely checking out new food choices has been happening as long as humanity. It’s a tricky process. If you go for a munch around any suburban garden, you’ll wind up in a hospital, or dead. Some animals are both dangerous and potentially lethal foods, like wild pigs, which can contain enough parasites to really give your health insurance a workout.
But — exploring new foods is also what probably kept humanity alive in its wanderings around the world. Food has been the basis of human societies for at least 10,000 years since the Agricultural Revolution, and crop growing was the basis of settling down rather than hunting and gathering.
It’s quite true that real gourmets are very adventurous, not to say downright berserk, foodies. They will try anything. Other people, including those who still have survival instincts, are more conservative, but — meh — If you’re an omnivore, you can more or less eat anything, and probably will if you have to; the programming says “check it out”.
One of the reasons new foods become popular is that they actually do fulfil dietary needs. In many cases, they’ve been a significant improvement on the dubious fare of regional resources. If you really like eating something, unusually so, you probably need what that food contains.
Some famous foods weren’t even originally considered foods — chocolate, for example, was originally smoked, not eaten, by the Aztecs. Smoking chocolate bars is still a fad, notably Twix bars. Potatoes, tomatoes, and corn contain huge amounts of useful food values, and were unknown in Europe until the colonization of the New World. Presumably someone will eventually figure out how to smoke them, too….
Modern foods tend to be more market-driven. The new foods become fashionable, rather than being subjected to details like taste, toxicity, sanity, etc. Some become must-have-eaten-sometime “everywhere” foods, like hamburgers; others fade away as not interesting enough. You could say weird foods are attractive mainly first because they are interesting, then accepted as useful food sources.
Check out the new foods, and rest easy — those scrummy roast house bricks are only a few nutritional nutcases away. The rationale will be that obesity can be prevented by eating foods which have no food value, and are able to obstruct digestion if you eat enough of them. The logic of food always varies from “Festival of Death” according to vegetarians to lifestyle icon, according to rednecks.
One thing you can be sure of — whatever it is will be good for you, bad for you, and the subject of endless cookbooks. Nice to have a choice, isn’t it?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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