On top of the food chain

In my book there are two types of people in this world, foodies and non foodies. Being brought up in a family where food is central to any gathering, outings and general enjoyment of life meant that I am squarely in the former group. Over the years, most of my closest if not all my closest friends tend to share this rather obsessive streak. Whether it’s cheese, sea food or a good dessert, a great night out usually involve a lively discussion on what just went inside our stomach. As a side note, probably one of the most depressing dinners I had was with two girls who were on a no-eating diet. We ordered enough for all of us, but when it came to passing the dishes, they both said they can’t eat anything after 5pm. Eating by myself while they stare longingly at the dishes was downright heart breaking.

Being rather food obsessed also means that there is very few things that I will not or at least try. It isn’t until I bumped into balut online that my appetite run away from me completely.

According to Wikipedia: “A balut (or Hột vịt lộn in Vietnamese) is a fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell.”

The rational part of my head is quietly repeating the mantra “it’s protein, it’s only protein”, but the idea of eating a partially developed duckling disturbs me. Duck egg is fine, duckling is ok (somewhat ok if there’s nothing else to eat), but that somewhere in between state freaked me out more than I care to explore. Morbidly fascinated to find out how it taste I then found this:

“Then one slurps the hot and flavorful “soup” inside the shell. With that done, one proceeds to peel off more of the shell, leaving some of the shell to hold on to, to be able to bite into the soft, slightly feathery and succulent duck baby inside — bones, webbed-feet and all — which is often nestled in the bright yellow, rich tasting, chewy yolk. Last but not least is the hardened albumin at the very bottom of the remaining shell. Some don’t like it. Others, of the opinion that it is a great source of protein, chew on it. Balut is often enjoyed with beer or the local gin.”

For other wonderful gems like this go on and read here. Perversely, other dishes mentioned there like pinikpikan (loosely translated as “pounded” or “beaten up” chicken that is) is making me think that balut is not so bad after all.

10 thoughts on “On top of the food chain

    1. A friend told me of a particular mountain tribe which has a chicken dish called pinikpikan (loosely translated as “pounded” or “beaten up”). The live chicken is beaten up with a stick until it dies with a lot of hematomas just under the skin. Then it is prepared/cooked in some manner (of which I have no idea); I get the impression that hematomas are found to make it tasty, or something like that.

      Holy shit.

  1. I read a book on “unusual foods” once – which also featured that duck egg. One other delicacy that really stuck in my head was the one where little live fish are placed into a pot and brought to boil. Some sort of hollow reed is placed in the pot and as the water or stock comes to boil, the fish swim into the reed to seek shelter, and are thus cooked within the reed. Has anyone else come across this before?


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