Food / Travel

Food for Thought… Literally!

This week we are talking about cultural relativism in J397: Media Ethics. Having taken an ethics class last summer and a few anthropology classes at my old community college, I was ecstatic to hear my professor touch on the subject briefly last week. I thought, How appropriate! This is exactly what students, the future leaders of America, need to learn about.

Cultural relativism is the view “that no culture is superior to any other culture when comparing systems of morality, law, politics, etc. It’s the philosophical notion that all cultural beliefs are equally valid and that the truth itself is relative, depending on the cultural environment” (http://www.cultural-relativism.com/). I absolutely love this and completely agree.

To get us started on this discussion, my professor joked, “Let’s pick on other countries! What are some foods other countries eat that we think are just weird and would never eat here?” Everyone laughed, but slowly the hands started to raise up.

“Dog!”

“Horse!”

“Snails!”

“Rocky mountain oysters!”

This last one got everyone wondering aloud, “What are those?!”  The girl explained to the class that they are cow testicles, often deep-fried after being peeled, coated in flour, pepper and salt, and sometimes pounded flat. I can just hear your stomach growling.

As I sat there listening to everyone laugh, “eww,” and comment about how they would so try that, I thought, Well, I’m sure we eat things that other countries would find disgusting as well... It’s all about being respectful and realizing that we all have grown up differently and in different areas of the world. Just because we, the collective U.S.A., might find something another country does disgusting, that doesn’t mean we’re right.

However, just for kicks, here are a few foods other countries eat that I found a bit… um, unusual.

NorwaySmalahove is the head of a sheep that is smoked for a couple of days and is served half. You eat all of it, including the sheep’s eyes and tongue.

SwedenReindeer blood is often mixed with salt and flour, and then served with bacon, butter, and jam; cooked or fried.

IndonesiaBats aren’t uncommon at the dinner table. Neither is dog, unfortunately. In fact, they’re both considered somewhat of a delicacy, and are served with sweet and sour sauce. From my research, travelers have said bat is a bit “chewy.”

Bat soup (photo courtesy of Travel Happy)

PhillipinesBalut is by far the saddest dish I’ve come across. Bootsnall.com says balut is “fertilized eggs boiled just before they’re due to hatch, so your yolk oozes out followed by… a chicken (or duck) fetus. They are cooked when the fetus is anywhere from 17 days to 21 days depending on your preference, although when the egg is older the fetus begins to have a beak, claws, bones and feathers.” Just because I agree with cultural relativism, that doesn’t mean I can’t comment and say, “Aw, that’s so sad!”… right?

What do you think? Are you still open to trying new things?

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One thought on “Food for Thought… Literally!

  1. I say, yes, I will try *some* new things. But others? Not. So. Much. BAT?? Eggs with still developing fetus (um…feti??) in them? The weirdest thing I ever did try was octupus. Kinda rubbery, thanks.

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