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By Tawsif Saleheen

(For best effect, read this article while having lunch)
In my village home, sheedol varta is quite a legend. Now this sheedol thing mainly contains shootki maach fish dried, powdered, mixed with onion, mould into fine balls and baked under the sun for several days. If you ask me, it has the smell of my old gym socks. As for the taste, well I haven't yet had the privilege of getting this delicacy past the intricate border of my teeth. Then again, food poisoning has never been my idea of a healthy death.

Disgusting as it is, sheedol at least won't give you nightmares. But, some other foods just might. Take Tiet Canh for example. This popular Filipino dish that looks red and round like a pizza, is actually coagulated duck-blood sprinkled with lemon, herbs and some sort of a rice cracker. Spicy, eh? Then there is Baalut (or 'the egg with legs'). Exceedingly popular in the streets of Philippines this so-called delicacy might look like an ordinary boiled-egg. But split it open and you'll find an almost fertilised duck-fetus, covered in an yellowish gunk! (Yuckkk!) Best eaten with salt or spicy vinegar Baalut is supposed to be yummy and very, very crunchy. Guess where the crunchy part comes from!

As far as weird foods are concerned, countries neighbouring to Philippines don't lag far behind. In South Korea baby octopus is dipped in oil and swallowed whole. The cute, little creature is still alive, mind you. And it tries to keep up like that by gripping on with its tentacles to the throat of the person swallowing it. May be at some point, the person picks up a toilet-brush, stuffs it in his mouth and prods the baby octopus down into his stomach!

When it comes to sea-food (or, river-food?) we all love shrimp. But, the Chinese people seem to love it a little too exceptionally. That's why they let live shrimp swim gleefully in a bowl of rice wine. Only … when the shrimp gets sufficiently drunk, it is picked up with chopsticks and the head is bitten off!

Besides Drunken Shrimp, the Chinese also have a soft corner fro a particular cave/cliff swallow. They don't eat that swallow (thank God!) but use its nest to make some sort of a Birds Nest Soup! So what's so juicy about that bird's nest? Well, the 'juice' in question is actually a sticky saliva secreted by the swallow as an adhesive to bind twigs and leaves and such together to make the nest!

In parts of China and Hong Kong monkey brain is eaten in very expensive restaurants. The monkey is clamped under a table so that it can't run away. Then the skull is cut open and the brain is eaten while the monkey is still alive! Personally, I consider this to be the sickest food ever designed on the surface of earth. Just imagine, Man the best of all living beings sits on a chair and scoops up the brain from the skull of his very own (and very much alive) ancestor, as if its just a double-sundae Igloo ice-cream! I wonder what the monkey does all the while.

(If you're still reading this article, I must say you're quite a pervert.)

We all love cheese, don't we. In Sardinia they leave out the cheese covered only with cheesecloth so that flies can lay their eggs on it. The maggots are let to hatch, then spread on the bread (including the live maggots) and eaten! May be, at some point in the future we'll go to the food-joint and order, ' One beef burger with extra maggot-cheese please!'

Then in Kenya the Masai people mix cows' blood with milk, and make up a special type of a milkshake. It looks kinda like the strawberry shakes we drink. I don't know about you, but I would rather date Missy Eliot for the rest of my life than take a single gulp from this drink!

I have hated the lousy Americans all of my life. Now, I've got one more reason to do so. In the Rocky Mountains, USA, a certain 'Testicle Festival' is held every year. In that so called festival people from all over the country (and world!) congregate only to eat fried bull-testicles! (Yuckkk!) According to people from the festival, it tastes like chicken or shrimp, and is something worth travelling the whole world for. I don't know about you, but in the next life if I'm reincarnated in the form of a Rocky Mountain bull I'll commit suicide as soon as I am born.

Not too far away from the Rocky Mountains, in Tequila (Mexico) a certain lollypop in the name of 'the Tequila Sucker' is quite popular. It is more or less like the lollypops you eat. Only …it is made from high-fructose-corn-syrup and insect-larva and has an entire assortment of ripe, juicy worms wriggling all over. (Yum, yum!) Next time when you eat a lollypop make sure you know what the ingredient really is!

For one article, I guess I've freaked you out enough. But the die-hard truth is, all around the world people have such a bizarre appetite that even I, with my poor vocabulary and all, could have dragged this article to the next three thousand words or something. But I don't want you to end up flushing this RS issue in the commode. (After all, it has my name in it). So, for everyone's betterment, I'll just call it a day.

…oh, just one last thing. Next time when you're struggling with a bowl of tengra maach, don't start cursing your bua all at once. Think again. It could have been a swarm of ripe, juicy worms wriggling, wriggling and wriggling all over your dinner-bowl. Happy eating!



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