Some recent threads round about the chowhound e-world got me to pondering some of the things I've seen in cans that I would never never never NEVER never NEVER NEVER even considering opening, let alone actually ingesting.
Pork Brains in Milk Gravy
Potted Meat Food Product (Food product? Kind of like Cheese product when applied to yellow blocks of plastic?)
Underwood Deviled Ham - is no one suspicious of a potted meat product that comes from a company named PET?
BTW, some of these include something called "mechanically separated poultry".
While the immediate picture that springs to my mind is that of robots callously separating a loving hen from her chicks and rooster, apparently what this actually means (according to the USDA):
MECHANICALLY SEPARATED POULTRY
is a paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones with attached edible tissue through a sieve or similar device under high pressure to separate bone from the edible tissue. Mechanically separated poultry has been used in poultry products since 1969. In 1995, a final rule on mechanically separated poultry said it would be used without restrictions. However, it must be labeled as "mechanically separated chicken or turkey" in the ingredients statement. The final rule became effective November 4, 1996.
I quiver in terror!
You will be relieved to know that "mechanically separated beef" is now deemed unfit for human consumption (due to the mad cow disease scare).
However "mechanically separated" chicken, turkey, pork, and who knows what else are still "fit" for human consumption, apparently. So 'ware the Mad Pig disease outbreaks in our immediate future!
Here is one man's journey of discovery with regard to "Potted Meat Food Product"
Be sure to play the advertising jingle at the end - quite catchy!
Then there's lutefisk.
Yes, lutefisk. The Dreaded Lutefisk. Lutefisk does not, apparently, actually come in cans, or at least if it does, I've not been able to find it (much to my lack of disappointment). In fact I am unsure how you would properly package something one of the main ingredients of which is "lye". Perhaps in glass lined casks. I don't know. The gelatinous, pale, quiveringness of this item - I hesitate to call it "food" - would be enough to put one off one's feed, were it not for the absolutely appalling smell. However, according to one lutefisk manufacturer:
"Lutefisk has always had a bad rap because of the perceived nasty smell, but when it is processed correctly, "it doesn't stink," Kimmel vows.
"It doesn't have a strong flavor either," he said, smiling. So why do people eat something that has a sometimes-questionable texture, described by some as "glutinous" or like Jell-O and with very little flavor?
"It's the butter."
Yes. It's the butter. People eat fish dissolved in lye solely for the chance to nosh down on some butter.
Well pass me the butter dish and a spoon. Hold the lutefisk.
Here is the PROPER way to eat lutefisk:
Then there is Simmenthal Jellied Cured Beef. In attempting to research this item, I came across this blurb on the Kraft Foods website:
"Italians have long enjoyed our Simmenthal brand of canned meat in jelly. Simmenthal is a convenient ready-to-eat meal or can be used in many tasty recipes. It’s perfect with salad, vegetables, cold rice or pasta. Simmenthal’s latest products include beef in jelly with chili and chicken in jelly with curry. "
"Beef in Jelly with Chili" and "Chicken in Jelly with Curry". Just when you thought we had plumbed the depths of culinary depravity!
Oh my stars and little hoppy toads! WAIT! I take that back! Lest someone should think to come up with canned Hoppy Toads In Jelly With Milk Gravy!
Oddly enough, there are more depths yet to be plumbed. Let us consider Cuitlacoche.
What, you may very well ask, in your innocence (or more likely by this point, foolishness), is Cuitlacoche?
Well, it is also known as Mexican Truffles. Truffles! Yum! (not so much from my point of view, but whatever . . . ) Who would want a faux truffle?
Well truffles are AWFULLY expensive. A 750g white truffle recently sold at auction for 100k euros. For those Americans among us, that's almost $5300 per oz. Granted that was at the high end, but still. Truffles COST.
Cuitlacoche, however, is MUCH cheaper. You can get a 7 oz can of Cuitlacoche for about $8, or 2 lbs frozen for in the neighborhood of $40. Fresh Cuitlacoche? I'm not so sure anybody should actually want fresh Cuitlacoche (or frozen, or canned, for that matter). But you can get it that way, at least in Mexico.
Alright, alright, alRIGHT already! So I have made fun of Cuitlacoche (apparently also spelled huitlacoche) without telling you a THING about what it tastes like. So off I go in search of someone who has actually tasted the stuff, and what do I find, but a blog named "STEVE! Don't eat it!"
Apparently Steve DID eat it. And this is what he has to say about it:
"So, how does Huitlacoche taste? Does it matter?? LOOK AT IT!
I guess it would be fair to say it doesn't taste as truly horrible as it looks. The flavor is elusive and difficult to describe, but I'll try: "Kinda yucky." Hey, that wasn't so hard after all. (Sometimes I forget I'm a goddamn wordsmith.)
For any connoisseurs, I'm not sure if this stuff would go better with red wine or white. How about with a bottle of Bactine? I've always found that goes great with infections."
For the curious among you (who have hung with me thus far) I'll tell you what c/huitlacoche is.
It's corn smut. Yes, that awful, horrible, spore that if it infects your corn crop can only be BURNED out. Well, except for some farmers here in the states who have sued for and gotten permission to purposely infect their corn crops with smut so they can get a piece of that $20 a pound action.
Here is Steve's blog address so you can read the whole smutty story:
As a final salute to culinary depravity, I refer you to the following blog entry. Nothing I could say or do could possibly top this story, aptly, so APTLY entitled "The Six Most Terrifying Foods in the World".
I laughed so hard it hurt. My son asked me what the heck I was doing.
"Reading about horrible food" sez I.
Looking at me with sad puppy dog eyes, he pouted, "Is that REALLY a smart thing to be doing just before you cook me dinner?"
So on that note, I must be off. Returning to the world of the merely plebian Marinated Tofu Stir Fry is such a let down!