For me, part of the joy about travelling to other countries is the chance to try some different, exciting, and sometimes downright odd food that is a million miles away from the sometimes-pretty-safe British palate. Those who know me well will know there ain’t a food I won’t eat, or at least try, and although there have been some definite food errors along the way (fermented tofu simmered in duck’s blood springs to mind from Taiwan), I pride myself on never having eaten a food I wouldn’t have again…even if admittedly, the “stinky tofu” as it’s known in Taiwan, might have to be washed down with a considerable amount of beer.
So. To Mexico, where in the space of two days, I was lucky enough to try two foods so downright un-British that my grandmother, who won’t touch a food item past its best-by date, would be apt to give me a telling off. I refer primarily to a food that is actually a Mexican delicacy, in the south at least, known as huitlacoche. Legend (well, Wikipedia) has it that this food, commonly known in the states as Corn Smut or Corn Mould, was thought by the ancient indigenous people in Mesoamerica to be a gift from the gods, and even now is considered a delicious addition to a taco. It is essentially a tumour that grows on corn; large, funky-looking, grey, and by all accounts extremely unappetising in appearance. When chopped up and cooked however, it takes on a mushroomy kinda taste (being a fungus and all) and simmers down to a black sort of paste. James could not have been less interested, thinking that mushrooms of any kind are Satan’s own food, so I was left to my own devices!
I had mine in a taco which is also made of corn, and the taco had corn inside it. Verdict: it was a lot of corn, and a lot of fungus, but not without its charm. Next time…more chili sauce 😉
The very next day we were treated by Dan to another local delicacy purchased in beautiful San Cristóbal known as chapulines. The simple translation for this would be Big Bag O’ Crickets. I feel sure my family will feel very pleased for me on this account, because for the longest time I have been saying that I would eat insects given half a chance, and eat them I did…feelers and all, adorned with nothing more than chili and lime. They were crunchy and limey, but to be honest they didn’t taste of that much, which leads me to believe that the insects I eat will need to be bigger…meatier perhaps. OK that’s enough bug talk, how about some photos?!
So onwards, where we found ourselves in Guadalajara and were treated to dinner on our first night by Dan’s lovely family. Nothing scary this time, just some delicious cuts of beef and olive tapenade, washed down with lovely red wine. However, Mike assures me (is it true?) that there are places around here that serve cow’s stomach soup, and tacos filled with eyes and (sorry) penis. Whether he is trying to freak me out I don’t know but I say…challenge accepted.