Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The wide, wide world

In the New York Times today: an article about a Brazilian town where eating a particular species of ant is a tradition: Pesticides Threaten Ant-Eating Tradition in Brazil. I appreciated the tone of the article, which describes the ant-hunting methods of the people in the town without prejudice against their choice of food. They enjoy the flavor. That's it. Although I have no particular wish to taste this, I am very interested in how varied human nutrition can be.

I've read other books and articles about foodways that challenge my comfort levels. One is:
Product Details
Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China.
The author, Fuchsia Dunlop, describes her process of learning to cook and eat a number of foods that are unusual in her native England and elsewhere in European food traditions, but completely common and appreciated in China. The reader gets a positive picture of how another culture might differ in a basic way about food.

I've also read a book about Australian natives' annual feast on the Bogong moth. These moths were gathered during their migration. Moth hungers roasted the moths individually on a hot stone; "their peanut-sized abdomens are full of protein, with an oily texture and a taste not unlike roast chestnuts." As many as 500 people from different tribes would gather to eat moths during the season when they were available. People from many tribes also socialized, exchanged goods, and arranged marriages. Needless to say, these customs are no longer possible in modern Australia. (Moth Hunters of the Australian Capital Territory by Josephine Flood, 1996)

It's a wide, wide, world.

UPDATE: For a much more amusing version of weird things people eat, see this.

1 comment:

~~louise~~ said...

I'm not as diverse when it comes to digging around for "weird things people eat" although, I do wish I had the time.

I still remember the reaction I got when I posted the insect recipes.

Thanks for sharing Mae and a Happy New Year to you and yours!!!