Life is an adventure. New experiences broaden our horizons, and what better place to start than with the stuff you put into your mouth. We are on our way to an Easter dinner where our host is cooking lamb. For some people, lamb sounds terrible. I happen to love lamb. Oddly, I’ve known people—hardy carnivores through and through—who’d never think of eating lamb. Perhaps it’s an emotional response--they’re picturing a cute, fuzzy creature whenever the word “lamb” is heard— something that doesn’t occur when beef, pork, or chicken are mentioned. These creatures may not register as high on the cute and cuddly scale.
I’m willing to try anything, except things I played with as a kid, such as toads and live insects. I think I could eat a cooked bug, perhaps on a dare, but I’d need a beer or three beforehand. Also, things like brains or Rocky Mountain oysters (large cow testicles, but I suppose anything on a cow is large) would take a lot of convincing and again plenty of alcohol beforehand, but someday…well, you never know.
In essence, everything I’ve tried food-wise was something I’ve either enjoyed immensely or tolerated, at least to some degree.
I’ve tried Menudo twice. It was not very pleasant, to put it mildly. Menudo is a soup of cow intestines cooked in such a way that it tastes remarkably like…cow intestines. I’m ashamed to say the two times I’ve tried it I could not finish the entire bowl. I pride myself in being able to eat everything on my plate, schooled by Mom’s conventional wisdom back in the days of my youth. “Finish everything on your plate or no dessert!” she’d say. Yet, I could only choke down about 3 or 4 spoonfuls of Menudo. It has a very unsettling flavor, that of chewy fat with a not-so-subtle hint of fecal overtones. One wonders whether the cow should have gone through a proper bowel prep, you know, the same prep we humans go through to thoroughly clean our bowels prior to a colonoscopy. Perhaps this would make the taste of Menudo more tolerable.
The last time I tried Menudo, my daughter chimed aloud for the entire restaurant to hear: “Eew! That looks like Zombie food!” My son was busily masticating on a piece of Menudo with a puzzled look on his face, and when he finally realized he was chewing a piece of bowel, he gagged and choked and expelled the vittle, whereupon it flew through the air, across the table to land onto his little sister’s plate.
She screamed, “Yuck! I’m gonna puke!” We were almost kicked out of the joint.
I love beer. The mere thought of beer is pleasant enough to wipe away the nasty memories of Menudo. After the Menudo incident, a bottle of Dos XX cleansed the palate quite well.
So what’s the moral of this story? Don’t knock something until you’ve tried it. Experiment with things, whether food or other novel experiences life presents to you. You might be surprised. Afterwards you can make an honest assessment of whether something is good or bad, but you’ll always come out afterwards a person whose horizon expanded just a little more.
©Randall S. Fong, M.D.