Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Six Things I Have Inadvertently Consumed

1. An Unknown Quantity of Pennies, 1986: My older sister and I are a year and a half apart. So the age at which she was ably walking on her own, I was in a hand-crank baby swing. As the story goes, my mom had stepped out of the room to answer the phone and returned to my sister feeding me from a jar of change in time with the swing—every time I came forward, she'd place another penny in my mouth. My mom didn't worry too much because, as she says, "You didn't jingle, so we assumed you'd be all right."

2. Liver, 1992: My mom did an excellent job of making sure that my sister and I didn't grow up to be picky eaters. Indeed, as an adult I maintain that I'll try anything that isn't brains. As kids, though, she sometimes had to resort to more creative methods. After we flat-out refused the liver and onions on our plates, she put it in a blender, liquefied it, fried it, and served it to us as "Pancake Meat." Which, apparently, we loved and requested often.

3. Horsemeat, 1999: My middle school French Club went to Quebec City for the Winter Carnival, and somewhere between the snow sculptures and ice skating, I ordered a burger with a funny sounding name. What I understood to be a type of cheese my French teacher later informed me meant "ground horse." Delicious, though I wonder how I'd feel if I had ever wanted a pony. Also, not the last time I'd be tripped up by French words.

4. Extremely Cheap Tequila, 2005: The only thing worse than shitty tequila is unexpected shitty tequila. Somewhere deep in the 30s of a power hour, my shotglass of beer was replaced by a shot of below-the-bottom-shelf-quality tequila. I drank it, but got some accidental revenge on that prankster by horking in his bathtub somewhere in the 40s.

5. A Crab Shell, 2007: At a sleazy-chic diner with my sister, I only noticed that something was wrong when she pointed out that cream of crab soup usually isn't crunchy.

6. Brains, 2010: Hey, remember above when I said I'd try anything that isn't brains? That was shot to hell at a fancy restaurant in Baltimore on Christmas Eve, when my sister (who, I am realizing, is a disturbingly prominent figure in this list) ordered the cervelle de veau and I, unknowingly, stole a forkful then, on the way out, asked the waiter what 'cervelle' meant. Brains. All brains. Unavoidably brains. Couldn't even pretend I had eaten a gland. Brains.

(Items that did not make this list include: a cicada, an unknown quantity of pot-laced butter before a geography class, a postage stamp and the contents of at least three fortune cookies.)

Victoria Johnson is a cartographer and this is her Tumblr.

Photo by Pia Gaarslev, via Wikimedia Commons.

43 Comments / Post A Comment

dado (#102)

Bondegi, Seoul Korea.

wallsdonotfall (#6,378)

But at least brains are all one texture, right? I've never eaten a gland (that I know of) but for some reason I expect them to have layers, like a truffle, and that squeams me out more.

Don't be afraid! Sweetbreads are delicious when prepared by somebody who is good at cooking things – including obscure things (Example: My mom is good at cooking things, but I would not want her to make me sweetbreads. A chef well-known for making unusual dishes, however, yes. Fill me full of glands).

Ugh. My mom made me try the sweetbreads she ordered at Saul. I still haven't forgiven her.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I hope my kids don't read the Awl, because the "pancake meat" trick, yay.

oudemia (#177)

Noooo. The "pancake meat" one was the worst. I have hives now.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

This is a thing that is going to happen.

Don Is (#10,212)

I'm sorry, but pancake meat sounds awesome. Like sauteed fois grois. Or country-fried braunschweiger. Mmmmm.

Kakapo (#2,312)

Add cornmeal and you have what is actually called "liver mush" in North Carolina.

Clare (#516)

Or scrapple, in Philadelphia.

Kakapo (#2,312)

There are subtle and delightful difference. Scrapple has all manner of… scraps in it. My ex actually made a surprisingly delicious vegetarian version. Liver mush is just liver.

harimirch (#10,439)

In France, I was served vegetable jello. That's right, chilled jello with chunks of whole vegetables in it. You could see green pieces of broccoli suspended in the jello. Cold salty jello-y vegetables- imagine that in your mouth and try not to puke.

oudemia (#177)

I guess you didn't grow up in the 70s? Savory Jell-O items were a thing. Like, lime jello with celery and walnuts. And they didn't even try to fancy it up with names like "aspic." Gah.

harimirch (#10,439)

nope wasn't alive in the 70's. I can't believe it was a thing!? Was it hippy food? And come to think of it I think there were nuts or something nut-like in the jello I had…. ::shudder:: It's been years since I've had vegetable jello but I can still taste it…

Bittersweet (#765)

No, not hippy food. You could find any number of crazy jello "salads" in Betty Crocker cookbooks in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Sometimes even with marshmallow topping.

melis (#1,854)

There's a world of difference between mild, harmless celery and walnuts (also delicious in fellow dessert brownies)and BROCCOLI.

HonoriaGlossop (#1,247)

I'm a child of the 70s, and for Thanksgiving my aunt always used to make this pale opaque pink jello thing in the shape of a bundt cake, with lots of little bits of other things in it. Fruit and nuts, I guess? I just remember it was very tart and cold and DELICIOUS. And yep, she served it as a salad and not as a dessert.

harimirch (#10,439)

Your aunt probably knows how to make salad jello taste delicious. Maybe she could forward the recipe to the person who prepared that glob of overly salty jello-y nastiness for me.

HonoriaGlossop (#1,247)

The thought of salty jello is horrifying; you have my sympathy. It makes me think the foul Purina "Sardines in Aspic" food that my cat loves… I think she only eats it because she's pure evil, and she likes to laugh at me gagging and retching as I dig it out of the can.

roboloki (#1,724)

i needed this post today and i think i love your sister.

SourCapote (#4,872)

i hope it wasn't just butter

erikonymous (#3,231)

yay, Vicky! yay pancake meat! yay!

Don't forget spiders.

martin lawrence (#8,248)

Totally misread the first thing. "Pennies" far more innocuous.

Suho (#10,336)

Just in case anyone is wondering what dado is talking about in the first comment, beondegi are silkworm pupae, usually served steamed. I've had them and don't really like them. I eat (and enjoy) a lot of other strange Korean foods, though, such as dog meat and fermented skate.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I think my silkworms were roasted. Not pupae but big, fat formerly crawling around silkworms, now all gooey inside. (I am a hero.) Same meal: cobra blood in Bailey's and cobra bile in Bailey's. Also, cobra.

BenBen (#10,237)

When my dad was in high school he went on a movie date and was eating popcorn. He came upon a weirdly soft, chewy piece, but it was already in his mouth and he didn't want to spit it out. He later figured out that a wart on his hand had fallen off into the popcorn, and…

Anyway, I learned this story as a kid, and even for a kid I was not inclined to getting grossed out, and plus I heard it so early that it was just one of those facts of life. Then last week I remembered it and dry heaved a little on the Metro. Better him than his date, I guess?

McEllen (#10,374)

Thanks guys. This has really helped with my diet because I believe I have now lost my appetite for the next few days.

DennyCrane (#1,803)

When I was four I swallowed a piece of a Transformer. I'm pretty sure it was Bumblebee.

Vicky (#7,168)

Hahahah! Also, reminds me of the time my cat ate a bee.

avanano (#10,496)

I inadventently consumed some snacks made by ants and still can not remember how i did that, you do have a good memory…

KarenUhOh (#19)

8th Grade. Mr. Kersey's Social Studies class. Susie Capel brought in these dog treats that looked EXACTLY like chocolate candies, and arranged them tastefully on a dessert plate. Everyone clapped when I came in–late–and selected one. I liked chocolate.

Once you start something you have to own up to it. I didn't eat candy again for six months.

graffin (#9,588)

In Belize I ate a live termite, which had a minty taste to it.

Also, after moving to the south I at some "eggs and brains" that somebody had cooked for breakfast.

mrschem (#1,757)

Hah. Salton Sea.

Milkbone dog biscuit. One of the big ones. 1973?

GailPink (#9,712)

I just want to know if the brains were delicious.

Vicky (#7,168)

They were tasty! Brains in sauce on some squash. My friend Heidi explains it as "Brains are mostly fat, and fat is always delicious."

DennyCrane (#1,803)

My grandparents used to make that all the time. They'd add hard-boiled eggs in there too. I always thought it was an Eastern European thing.

I quite like horse.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Horsemeat salami, yum.

HiredGoons (#603)

The only thing I won't eat, is Prairie Oysters.

Brunhilde (#1,225)

I was an extremely picky child. Also with allergies (dairy, chicken, eggs, turkey, really any type of poultry at all, strawberries, cherries, blackberries, mulberries, soy, pineapple… I could go on). BUT. When I grew out of allergies I was extremely determined that any food that anybody else considers a delicacy, if prepared correctly, is good. I had a hard time trying octopus, though, for some reason. I attribute this to nightmares I had as a child about octopi. For the record, the octopus was fucking delicious.

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