Americans love their meat, like a whole hell of a lot. But only certain kinds of meat; when news broke that the Department of Agriculture was to approve a horse meat processing plant, people got upset. Yes, slaughterhouse conditions for other common livestock is horrendous, and horses are “companion animals,” but it’s not uncommon for various countries to breed horses for human consumption.
But hey, if you think horse meat is an oddball delicacy, wait until you what else is considered a relatively common main course in other countries. Vegetarians beware…
Yes, people eat iguana. It’s been a traditional staple across parts of Mexico and Central America, plus it’s apparently rich in vitamins, and is said to taste like chicken (but what doesn’t?) The most commonly eaten iguanas are the common green, spiny-tailed and the black spiny-tailed.
Alas, the sale of iguana is illegal in the US but, due to lax laws in Florida, they have been brought in as exotic pets, and are starting to become invasive pests. Burrowing beneath sidewalks, breaking into attics, and eating endangered flora, fauna and expensive garden plants may change iguana meat’s “protected” status real quick-like.
Everyone’s heard of turtle soup, and everyone’s also heard that some turtles are carriers of salmonella. But as with every pet (or entrée in this case,) if proper care and cleaning techniques are used, turtles can be consumed. And if you have an adventurous palate, there are a number of gourmet turtle recipes online waiting to delight your taste buds.
Though popular in Central America and Asia (sea turtle eggs are considered a prized aphrodisiac), turtles are a staple of traditional Chinese medicine, believed to moisten, enrich, and nourish the kidneys and blood, as well as ease menopausal symptoms. That’s right, menopausal symptoms.
8. Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs? Nooooo, not our snuggwy-wuggwy pets! Sorry, but in parts of South America, guinea pigs are more or less the other other white meat, which means they’re healthier than beef (everything seems to be nowadays,) and they apparently taste like lamb.
In Peru alone, an estimated 65 million guinea pigs are eaten annually. And why not? They’re easy feed, easier to breed (a female guinea pig can have 3-5 litters a year, containing 1-6 pups per litter,) and take up less space than common livestock. Peruvians actually think we’re the crazy ones, for keeping them as pets. And considering they can cost as much as $50 each (not counting sales tax, food, cages and other guinea pig things,) maybe they’re right.
Emus are known for several things: being the second-largest bird in the world, being native to Australia, and having an incredibly fun-to-say name. But according to emu connoisseurs (those exist apparently,) they are also that rare combination of healthy and delicious. Emu meat is apparently lean, low in cholesterol, high in iron and Vitamin C and has a taste similar to filet mignon. Although it may be considered a delicacy to the indigenous tribes of Australia, it didn’t catch on with the rest of the world for unknown reasons. Perhaps everyone else was too busy laughing at the name to bother sitting down for dinner.
While the thought of having to eat maggots would cause many people to throw up in their mouths, maggots are almost entirely made up of protein, and are highly nutritious. Mostly eaten in parts of Africa, they’re also popular in China. Aside from being a main course, maggots are also useful in the field of medicine, determining a person’s time of death, disposing of carrion and waste, and also Sardinian cheese production, after which the cheese maggots can also be eaten.
Camel meat has been consumed for centuries, believe it or not. Ancient Greeks recorded it being offered at Persian banquets, where it was usually roasted whole. And Roman Emperor Heliogabulus is said to have enjoyed camel heels. Heliogabulus aside, most people prefer the brisket, ribs and loins of the camel, while the humps are considered a particular delicacy. The hump contains “white and sickly fat” that can be used to preserve other meat (known as Khli) such as mutton, beef and camel. Though proven to be rough, the longer camel is cooked, the more tender it becomes.
Camel meat is usually eaten as an alternative source of protein in arid countries such as Djibouti, Somalia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan, to name a few. In Kenya, camel blood is mixed with milk as a source of iron, vitamin D, salt and other minerals. The Abu Dhabi Officers’ Club is known to mix beef or mutton fat with camel burgers, and in Alice Springs, Australia, you can find camel lasagna. Don’t tell Garfield.
Though dolphin hunting is practiced in a handful of places (coastal Japanese towns and the Faroe and Solomon Islands, to name a few,) the practice is discouraged elsewhere, because dolphin meat contains high concentrations of methylmercury. Though all fish contain trace amounts of mercury, dolphins contain such high amounts because their diets consist of eating other marine life that contains mercury, and it just builds up over their 18-50 year life spans.
Cassowaries are a species of large bird related to ostriches and emus, and indigenous to the forests of New Guinea and other islands northeast of Australia. And, according to the Korowai people of Papua, New Guinea, young cassowary tastes almost exactly like human flesh.
Now, although cannibalism isn’t as big a part of their culture as it is in other cultures, anyone accused of being a khakhua (a secret witch doctor) will be ritualistically eaten. So they know a thing or two about how we taste. Now, confirming this is kind of hard since most cassowary species are considered endangered, and cannibalism is technically illegal. But that won’t stop any adventurous (deranged) people from trying them. And anyone “daring” enough to try both human and cassowary flesh, feel free to post your findings in the comment section. And your address, which would make it easier for us to stay away from you.
Everyone knows that in China, Vietnam, South Korea and other Asian countries, dogs are eaten commonly. Turns out doggies were recorded as being eaten in ancient Rome, ancient Mexico and ancient China as well. Today, it’s common in Switzerland, and even President Obama has eaten dog meat.
While some consider dog meat a traditional cuisine, others consider it inappropriate and even sacrilege. It is against both Jewish and Islamic dietary law to eat dog, while Buddhism lists it as one of the “five forbidden meats.” Dog farmers, on the other hand, consider it no different from any other form of livestock. As for you, go stare at Fido snoozing on the couch and make your own decision.
People all over the world eat squid and octopus, but is even possible to eat a jellyfish? Yes, technically. Of the 85 known species of jellyfish, 12 of them are actually fit for human consumption. They’re mostly harvested in Southeast Asia but, due to the popularity of the American cannonball jellyfish, they’re also harvested in the North Atlantic and Gulf Coast, and are eaten in China and Japan.
Processing takes 20-40 days and is handled by an awesomely named “jellyfish master.” It involves removing the gonads and mucous membrane, and treating the umbrella and oral arms with alum and table salt. Then comes compression, which reduces liquefaction, odor and spoiling organisms. The end result produces a crunchy, crisp texture. Though being 94% water and 6% protein, jellyfish contains almost no cholesterol, carbohydrates or saturated fats. Unfortunately, it can also hold the same kind of bacteria as any other kind of meat. Still, it’s cool to know a small number of jellyfish are fit (and nonpoisonous enough) to be called edible.
Written By Patrick Cervantez