Sunday, August 4, 2013

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Raw Meats

     It probably almost goes without saying that eating raw foods entails some serious risks.  Several viral and bacteriological diseases can be spread via raw foods, as can, obviously, a slew of revolting parasitic worms.  Many of these conditions can even be fatal.  So bear this in mind, and be careful.  If you do partake, make sure as best as you can that the restaurants, or preparers are sanitary and know what they're doing.  So maybe don't eat raw meat from a seedy gas station, or if it's being sold out of the trunk of a crappy car.
     First up is a fairly recent (about 100-200 years old) Western European innovation, steak tartare.  This is most commonly raw beef or horse mixed with capers, pepper, onions, and sometimes garnished with a raw egg.  I had this once at a French restaurant in Washington, D.C.  I enjoyed it--it was weird eating raw beef at first, and cold beef at that, but the flavor of the meat was tasty.  Other variants include using tuna, salmon, goat, lamb, or venison.  I'd definitely like to have this again, and to sample the other tartare meats, too.
     Next up is ceviche, which is raw fish marinated in citrus juices (usually lemons or limes) and chili peppers, salt, onions, and sometimes coriander.  The invention of this dish is shrouded in mystery, with various South American and Central American nations claiming it.  My favorite, most convoluted theory is that Moorish women from Granada accompanied the Spanish into Peru and developed it there about 500 years ago.  Whatever the true story, the Peruvians consider it part of their national heritage, and even have a holiday for it.  I had this at a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C.  Again, I really liked it.  Since I'm a big sushi fan, this wasn't a surprise.  It was distinct from sushi, though, as the spices and citrus juices gave it a different, pleasing tangy-ness.  Sea bass is the traditional fish used, but octopus, squid, mackerel, and tuna are also utilized.  I think the one I ate was tuna.  Again, I recommend it highly.
     The final stop on our culinary world tour is Africa, specifically Ethiopia.  The dish is gored gored, made using raw beef.  It's similar to one of the national dishes, kitfo (also ketfo), although it's not marinated like kitfo is.  Gored Gored is (dry) spiced with hot peppers, garlic, ginger, and sometimes with other spices like salt, cloves, and cinnamon.  I've had it several times, most often in, once again, Washington D.C.  (A weird coincidence for this post--I do eat exotic foods elsewhere.). I adore gored gored--it's phenomenal.  It's got a great spicy "bite" to it, but you can still taste the delightful flavor of the raw beef itself.  I crave this dish often.  Word of warning, though--the spice takes its toll.  The morning after I typically have, shall we say, digestive issues.  But I refuse to learn a lesson here--it's definitely worth it.  Part of the problem is that I invariably eat too much--I bet if I exercised some restraint the problems the next day would be avoided or minimized.  (Also, I find the name amusing, as it's close to Gor Gor, a homicidal dinosaur character from the heavy metal/hardcore band GWAR's stage show and lineup years ago.)
     So, if you're feeling slightly adventurous (and definitely aren't pregnant), you might want to give one or all of these a go.  In addition, if you like to pretend you're, say, a lion while you tear into some meal, or a zombie, raw meats lend themselves more easily to this silly, immature (but fun) practice.