Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Foods #10-14: Compliments of Ms. Tang!

I love food folks... Among my group of friends there are a select few food folks. All of my friends like to eat, but most of them don't view food as an event. Food folks will plan an entire day, an entire weekend or an entire vacation entirely around food. Most of my New York friends won't even go out of their 'hood for decent fruits and veggies.... but that's a whole 'nother post...

Anyway, my favorite food folk has to be my girl Janet. Janet lives in California, but usually visits NYC once every year or two, and every time she comes she has an entire itinerary entirely for food. I ALWAYS look forward to her visits and happily use them as an excuse to run around the city sampling cupcakes, dessert trucks, pork buns, sweetbreads and expensive ass PB&J sandwiches. I recently was privileged to attend Janet's wedding to her now husband Chad. Because Janet and Chad are such adventerous eaters, I knew that the food at their wedding and related festivities would be great. The wedding food was delicious (and the wedding was awesome), but the food that really stood out to me was the Chinese dinner that the bride's family hosted the night after the wedding (see the photo of Janet, Chad, my friend Anthony and I at the dinner). The 7 or 8 course dinner ( I lost count) was held at a huge Chinese banquet hall and during that dinner I had the opportunity to try FOUR new foods, bringing my food count up to 12!!

#10- Jelly Fish: The first course of the dinner was a Chinese BBQ plate, which included some BBQ'd chicken, pork, a seaweed slaw and in the center was what I thought were rice noodles, but found out after wards were actually jelly fish strips! the jelly fish was chilled and the strips were a little "crisp", in the same way that shrimp is crisp. The jelly fish didn't have a distinct taste, it just took on the taste of the sauce. Overall I think I liked the jelly fish. I don't think I would go out of my way to eat them, but I'd probably eat a couple forkfulls if they were placed in front of me :-)

#11- Shark Fin: The 3rd or 4th course of the dinner was a shark fin soup. The soup was sweet and sour with little shreds of shark fin sprinkled though it. The shark fin soup caused a bit of controversy at our table as one of the wedding guests was protesting the soup after seeing a show on TV describing the practice of "shark finning" where fisherman cut off the sharks fin and throw the carcass of the shark back into the water to die or be attacked by predators. Kind of sucks... I listened politely as I slurped happily through my bowl of soup... I did mention that the shark steak farmers and shark fin farmers should work together so they don't have to waste all that tasty shark meat... you know just so I didn't seem totally insensitive to the plight of the creature inside my bowl... Anyway, the shark (what I could taste of it with the tiny shreds) wasn't bad. It had the consistency of eel, chewy and a bit fishy. Although it was a delicious soup, it was fairly unremarkable in terms of new foods.

#12 Fish Eyeball: We had a DELICIOUS steamed whole fish course that came complete with head and eyeball. The maitre'de said the eyeball was edible, so of course I had to try it. Anthony actually tried it first and said it tasted a bit like eggs. I took a little bite... at first I thought that maybe it was a fake fish egg, because the consistency felt kind of like biting into one of those fake plastic fruits... little weird plastic bits flaked off into my mouth, but I was assured that it really was the fish's eye. I ate a little bit more. It was in fact sulfur-y like an egg yolk, but really really hard. I'm not sure if you could bite all the way through it... and honestly I'm not sure if I'd want to find out what kind of consistency is in the center. I read on a few blogs about other people's encounters with fish eyes and decided that our eyes were probably REALLY overcooked. Other people describe them as fatty and a little jelly like.... with the pupil still intact. Ours were really hard and there was no pupil. Oh well, I'll have to try it again to get the full effect.

#13 Chicken Head: Although it garnered the most attention for me and our table, the eating of the chicken head was the most anti-climactic of all the weird dim sum foods. It was far more amusing to position the chicken head randomly on people's plates when they weren't looking then it was to eat it. I was instructed by Janet's mom that people usually just suck and chew on the little mohawk thing, and that I shouldn't try and bite through the head. Didn't seem so bad, so I took a little suck and a little bite... tastes like chicken skin. Took a few more bites... more chicken skin... tried to bite into the beak, but beaks are apparently not for eating. The eating of the chicken head proved to be a crowd favorite, which was really silly because I'm sure everyone there has eaten chicken skin... is it so different when it's attached to a skull? But whatever, I'm still counting it as a new food!

#14 Sweetbreads- Although I didn't eat them at Janet/Chad's wedding dinner, the last time Janet/Chad visited NYC we visited Blue Ribbon Brasserie and I tried Janet's sweetbreads. Despite the name, sweetbreads are neither bread nor sweet... in fact they are the pan-fried thymus gland of an unfortunate young cow (veal), pig or lamb. Despite the confusing name, the sweetbreads were actually pretty tasty. They were well seasoned, and had the consistency of a very smooth or silky liver. The taste was a little liver-y as well, but not as strong. Overall I really enjoyed them, but I think that was in large part due to the seasoning and the pan frying. If they weren't seasoned properly, I doubt they'd be very appealing. I'd definitely try them again for an appetizer, but probably wouldn't make a meal out of it.

Thanks Janet for inspiring my food exploration! What do you think I should try next? :-)

1 comment:

  1. That fish eye picture looks nasty! Glad you liked most of the food, though. :)