I am one of those people who will eat just about anything. Give me just about any vegetable and I will devour it: brussels sprouts are a particular favorite. I also adore cabbage (in the right context, anyway). I love fruit, and I’ve had the privilege to try many different kinds, including the ugli fruit, a Jamaican tangelo, a hybrid of the grapefruit, orange, and tangerine. Ummmmm what? Its name is probably due to its wrinkled greenish-yellow peel that encases its pulpy orange flesh.
U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi, you ugly…yeah, yeah, you ugly!
But some food is just plain weird. I never really thought about the weirdness of American “cuisine” until I left the States and began eating Spanish food. Spanish food is great, full of fresh vegetables, delicious legumes, savory stews, and lots of red wine (ahem). There are some things, however, that I’ve yet to really grasp.
- Tocino. Tocino is the layer of fat underneath the pig’s skin. It’s often served salted and grilled. Notes from Spain, a favorite blog of mine, explains it well here. When my boyfriend’s mother cooks cocido, a traditional stew of sorts, there is always a big hunk of tocino, which they spread on bread and eat. Kinda like butter. Except not at all.
- Pig Snout. This one just gives me the heeby-jeebies.
- Blood sausage. Okay, I admit it – I like this stuff. I just can’t think too hard about what’s in it.
- Cow tongue. I’ve never had this with my boyfriend’s family, but I hear it’s somewhat common.
- Octopus. Imagine my surprise when my students tell me one of their favorite foods is octopus. Seriously? That’s some chewy, chewy stuff right there. I’ll pass, although I suppose my taste for fried squid might make me a culinary hypocrite.
- Ham. You might be saying now, Kaley, ham’s not weird! We eat it all the time. Not this kind you don’t. This kind comes by the leg. You carve it up. It’s not cooked; it’s cured. Take a gander:
Imagine finding your in-laws carving into one of these before dinner. Normal. Completely normal. The shops kinda smell like old leather and I can’t say I’m a big fan of that.
So there you have it, some so-called weird Spanish foods, some of which I like and some of which I don’t. Although ham is not on my list of top foods, such blasphemous words will never escape my lips in the company of my boyfriend’s parents, as they would be utterly dismayed to hear of such a sad, sorry person. I feel the same about fresh pineapple (comparable? maybe not), and couldn’t contain myself when a friend asserted that canned is much better. Blasphemy! I cried. I may have been overdoing it, but when you attack my foods, the claws come out.