food

Tough Questions: What’s the Grossest Food You Still Love?

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Every week we ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week:

What’s the grossest food you still love?

Rules are simple: what are you eating? We all have some secret shame around food. I once knew a guy who made what he called “Oreo Sandwiches” out of individually wrapped cheese slices and Oreo cookies. You might say “that’s disgusting” but I’m certain you eat something that you don’t want to share with the class, either. What’s yours?

Alex Russell

In third grade we had a taste test in class to learn about taste buds. We all had to eat bitter chocolate, sweet candy, salty chips, and sour pickles. I’d never had a pickle before that moment. I’ve essentially never stopped. Sometimes I’ll make my own pickles, but it’s mostly just the insanely salty dill pickles you get in any grocery store. I’ll drink the juice. I’ll eat half a jar in one sitting. I’ll put them on things they don’t belong in — if you’ve never diced up some pickles in fried rice, you’re missin’ out — to the point where the meal is largely pickle-based with a suggestion of other foods. Pickles may be a simple food, but the look on someone’s face when you take a swig from a jar of pickle juice told me that maybe, just maybe, that’s not standard behavior.

Jonathan May

I’m not sure the food itself is gross, but the way I eat it definitely is (according to loved ones). Whenever I eat a baked potato, I scrape everything out of the hardened, brown skin and mash it together with a fork, over and over, until the cheese and chives and bacon and butter and sour cream all form an indistinguishable yellowish goo. I then plop this all back inside of the potato skin and proceed to eat it that way. Then I eat the skin slowly. I’ve done this ever since I was a child, and people still give me horrified looks whenever they see me eating baked potatoes. But the actual grossest food I love are probably Krystal Chiks with mustard instead of mayo. Seriously, that shit is gross, but I can’t stop. (I need to stop.)

Brent Hopkins

SPAM. I friggin’ love spam, raw or cooked. The saltiness and unique flavor of it just makes my taste buds sing. I picked this up from my dad and it just stuck with me ever since.

Andrew Findlay

The grossest thing I still eat and hate myself for is any form of fast food. I spend most of my time eating pretty well, and I read all those articles about pink slime, but I cannot stop. Every few weeks, I cannot resist going to Taco Bell, McDonald’s, or Sonic, ordering three times as much food as I should, and stuffing it into my face. Every time, I am so happy while I’m doing it, then I feel terrible for the rest of the night. Not like, morally terrible. Physically ill.
Gardner Mounce
Rocky Mountain Oysters (aka bull testicles) are the grossest things I’ve ever eaten and would eat again. They weren’t whole testicles, like I had expected, but chopped into slices and fried–frying them reduces them to crunchy, salty crisps. Though I’d eat them again fried, I’d never eat them baked or boiled or raw. Gross.
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Tough Questions: What’s the Most You’ve Ever Eaten in One Sitting?

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Every week we ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week:

What’s the most you’ve ever eaten in one sitting?

Rules are simple: how much is too much, but still not enough? When did you let yourself go on purpose? What the hell is wrong with you, grosso?

Alex Russell

I’ve already talked about competitive ice cream contests and I’ll never get into the time we had a ramen eating contest (do not do this), but mine has to be at goddamned Cheeburger Cheeburger. I was in my early 20s — that’s when everything dumb happens in your life I hope — and I had totally forgotten that I’d agreed to go to an eating contest at a burger place. They had some dumb thing where you eat a full pound burger and get your name on the wall. I forgot, so I had a huge meal. I ate mashed potatoes and meatloaf and felt that kind of awful/good full… and then I got a call reminding me to go to this burger place. I showed up and death marched through a full burger. My time was pitiful, but I did it. There’s a picture of me on the last bites staring into the camera/the abyss, and you can see the folly of human experience all over my face. Never underestimate the importance of the unimportant to someone in their early 20s.

Jonathan May

Memphis has a Texas de Brazil restaurant located downtown; for those unfamiliar with the concept, you basically are given a plate to load up on the salad bar and accoutrements, leaving some room for meat. When you saunter back to the table, a small circle, flipped either on green on one side or red on the other, indicates whether you are ready for meat service (which could be a gay punk band’s name). Then, waiters come around with skewers of garlic-roasted sirloin, pork chops, filet mignon, you name it. And then, plate full, you go to town. Now, it’s a bit pricey, so my family goes just a few times a year. But when we do, I deliberately eat a ton the day beforehand to enlarge my stomach, followed by nothing the day of to really get the hunger going. I can safely say I’ve eaten about five pounds of steak in one sitting, with no exaggeration. I’m no competitive eater or anything, but when I’m there, surrounded by the finest of Memphis’ tourist crowd, my stomach is a limitless plane of existence, capable of consuming all before it. The eventual food coma follows, coupled with remorse.

Brent Hopkins

The most I have ever eaten in a sitting would be two large pizzas. I was having one of those gaming binges and hadn’t eaten in awhile, so I just went to town. I am not sure how I put all of that cheese and crust away, but I did. I also promptly got sick and threw up sauce, but I did manage to get them both down in one go. I would say this was one of my greater “not proud” moments.

Andrew Findlay

There are probably a few dozen tie answers to this question in my life, but one that stands out is high school, Red Sun China Buffet. The same extremely competitive person that rage-ate a Vermonster challenged me to an all-you-can-eat buffet contest. This led to a piling-in of variously fried chickens, beefs, and noodles. I can’t remember exactly what I got to, but whatever it was, it wasn’t pleasant. I want to say about five or six entirely full, grease-laden plates. She only got to one plate below me. I mostly just didn’t want to move for the rest of the day, but something I will never forget is that, after she drove us back to her house, she fell out of her car and rolled around on her front lawn for a little bit, screaming due to the stomach pain she caused herself through hubris. She knows who she is, and if she is reading this today, I would like to share a message with her:

Gardner Mounce

I love to eat, but I’ve never been able to achieve legendary feats of stuffing myself, except as a teenager when it was normal for me to come home from school and eat two bags of Cheetos Puffs in one sitting. I didn’t do this all the time, but even doing it one time is disgusting in retrospect. And not because I don’t like Cheetos–because I do. Eating two bags isn’t even all that much food, but just look at the calories: 3,150 per bag. I had two bags. That’s 6,300 calories, or three times the amount of calories the average human should eat in a day, and 6,000 times the amount of shame any human should have to endure.

Colton Royle

In Mexico, in Aguas Calientes I believe, there is a little taco restaurant called Jugo’s. You can have “inside” tacos (beef and avocado), or “outside” tacos (chicken and onions). I had 15 inside tacos. This sounds like a lot until I looked over and saw my friend Hunter after he had pounded away 31 outside tacos. It all became this big competition each year and things got out of hand. Guppies.

Tough Questions: What Would You Eat for Your Last Meal?

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Every week we ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week:

What would you eat for your last meal?

Rules are simple: What’s that one special dish? This doesn’t necessarily have to be a meal you eat in prison but knowing your kind, it probably will be. I like to think of it as your last meal before you evolve beyond the need for food. Is that better? Hard to say.

Alex Russell

On my Yelp profile (a thing I created at an age when I thought I would need a Yelp profile) I answered this question with the terrible joke “the antidote!” Here I will offer a more sincere answer: a full pound of pulled pork, coleslaw, BBQ beans, and the hottest, smokiest sauce you can get your hands on. Add four fingers of bourbon with three ice cubes and an unsettling amount of dill pickle chips on the side. My plan is to fall asleep in a food coma, because if I’m going out I’m at least gonna be so drunk on pork that I don’t even care.

Jonathan May

I’m assuming this is meant to be my last meal in prison. Given that there exist no special last meal restrictions in Tennessee (in Oklahoma, the cap is $15; Florida $40), I would request the ingredients to make beef bourguignon: cubed tenderloin, onions, carrots, tomato, an herb bouquet, bacon, beef stock, and red wine (preferably something dry and expensive). This dish, made famous by Julia Child, takes around four hours to make, during which time I would drink the remainder of the red wine. Around two hours in, the aroma starts to waft around me, reminding me of all the happier times under which I’d made this fragrant stew. I would request to share the meal with the prison warden; why not dine with the man who signs away your life? For dessert? Ice-cold M&M’s.

Stephanie Feinstein

Soup Course: Tonkotsu ramen (“muddy pork broth”, it is magical) with extra nori and bamboo, with Hana Awaka sparkling sake

Main Course:  My mom’s chicken tetrazzini, that I cannot replicate correctly at my own home, accompanied by pillowy crescent sticks, with Sofia Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine

Dessert Course: a gigantic slice of tiramisu, traditional style, with an espresso dopio to drink.

Mike Hannemann

Last meal is tricky. You can either go comfort food you know you enjoy or something you would never be able to afford had you not done whatever it is you are about to be put to death for (I assume this is a Green Mile scenario). Honestly, I’d go simple: a couple dinner rolls, a small steak filet, maybe some potatoes. The real treat would be a glass of fine, vintage scotch. Not a dinkin’ scotch. One you sip two fingers of, over the course of an hour to experience the moment. It’s how I celebrated the weddings of my brother and two of my best friends so I figure that’s also worthy of my last hours on Earth.

Oh, and maybe the spiral kind of macaroni and cheese, but not the normal kind, because it tastes better.

Andrew Findlay

What a morbid question. My last meal will probably be a rich buffet of fear and confusion as I feel my life leaving my body, which, God, how terrifying. Assuming there is a flawless prediction and I have been told with indubitable accuracy when I will die, I would prepare myself multiple meals:

  1. Ribeye steak cooked rare, roasted asparagus, and Lagavulin.
  2. A nice pinot noir from Burgundy, duck confit, and a plate of Brie, Camembert, and other selections much runnier and smellier.
  3. Like 84 hot wings. Actually, this last one is probably what would kill me.

Brent Hopkins

My last meal would be the best cheeses, meats, and crackers I could find, washed down with a nice red wine. May as well go out classy as F&^*. A cigar would also be on that list, if that counts as dessert.

Tough Questions: What’s the Worst Thing You’ve Ever Eaten in a Restaurant?

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Every Monday we ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week:

What’s the Worst Thing You’ve Ever Eaten in a Restaurant?

Rules are simple: What’s the worst of the worst? Everyone had that phase as a kid where you filled a glass with all the grossest stuff in the kitchen and dared your friend to drink it for a dollar, but then they didn’t want to so you drank it yourself? Nope? Just me? Anyway, what is that one special absolute worst dish you’ve ever been served by a supposed professional?

Alex Russell

I can eat just about anything, but I can’t eat mayo. It’s everything: the texture, the smell, the taste, everything. It’s almost “food-hack” at this point to hate mayo, but I stand my ground that this is something I cannot abide. Every time I order anything that might even conceivably have mayo on it as an option I essentially plead for them to not put any on it. Asking for no mayo seems to activate some secret bonus round of mayo in which you win the mayo lotto and get six times the mayo it would be reasonable to get. At a Hardee’s in Peoria once I got a burger that was more mayo than not mayo. It was mayonnaise that maybe, if you held it right, could hold beef and bread.

Brent Hopkins

I think the worst thing I have eaten in a restaurant is something called Gaebul (개불in Korean) which is a pretty common seafood dish. It is served raw with salt and sesame oil and it looks a lot like a dog’s penis. The full creature is disturbing enough, but the sliced bits are considerably worse to prepare your mouth for as they still move and are a two-tone wonder of brown and blood-red. The texture is somewhat crunchy (imagine constantly biting through the skin of an apple) and tough, and it is supposedly good for a man’s sexual stamina. I have had this on multiple occasions (not gonna turn down free stamina) and probably will have it again in the future, having just moved to a coastal city. But man, it just isn’t something I would like to see on a plate, ever. Pics are included of before and prepared[Editor’s note: GROSS WARNING.]

Jonathan May

I visited my sister in Vancouver, BC, Canada last July while she was working there in her third of three years. We had a great time exploring the city, taking pictures of ourselves with the city’s faux terracotta Chinese statues. But one day, two of my sister’s Chinese friends (a married couple) took us to lunch in the Chinese mall. We were the only white people in the restaurant for sure, probably the entire mall. They asked us what we liked and then proceeded to order, quickly, in Chinese. Pots of deliciously hot white rice arrived, followed by plates of curried chicken, garlic noodles with black bean curd, and shredded lamb. I was quickly overwhelmed by the intense and glorious flavors raving inside me. But halfway through the meal, a plate of thick, bone-white slivers arrived in a light sauce without explanation. The couple looked expectantly at me and my sister. “Beef lung,” the wife said. “You’ll like.” Horrified, I saw my hand clutching the chopsticks, picking one of the biggest, whitest, most unnatural pieces from the pile, and stuffing it in my mouth. It felt like my tongue was wrestling a stingray. I was sure I would vomit right there onto the table. But I didn’t. After my sister ate a piece as well, the couple, satisfied, returned to their meal.

Andrew Findlay

This is not a story about something that tastes bad. This is a story about poor choices and dire consequences. It’s not so much what the food tasted like as what it did to me. I was in Switzerland last summer, and Switzerland is the home of fondue. I ate like three buckets of fondue during the few days I stayed there. I do not know this for sure, but I’m close to certain that the Swiss don’t pasteurize some of their cheese. The cheese tasted pretty good, and the only drawback at the time was feeling like you’d eaten about 10 pizzas after the meal. The aftermath was horrendous. Something was living in and feeding on that cheese as I ate it. Something colonized my insides so thoroughly and with such reckless abandon that it fundamentally severed any link between my intestines and proper function. Right before a 13-hour plane ride home. On which the only movie available was The Hobbit. I spent half a day in a tube of misery and despair, I hate The Hobbit more than I already would have, and I couldn’t eat solid food for about a week.

Mike Hannemann

Red Robin is a wonderful establishment. Let’s preface my experience with that. I used to eat there once every two weeks when I was working out in the suburbs. Until one day. And I haven’t been back since. In high school and college, I always resisted peer pressure. I didn’t drink or anything until I was ready to. But, for some reason, I gave into it when it came to The Wiseguy. The Wiseguy was a “special” burger that month (and I use the word “special” very loosely here) that was only offered for a limited time. It was a cheeseburger that had cheddar and mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce, pepperoni slices, and three fried mozzarella sticks sandwiched together. I was convinced by co-workers that this was going to be the best burger I’d ever eaten. It resulted in a weekend of being violently sick and a lifelong distrust for one of America’s more popular restaurant chains.

Alex Marino

If anyone here has tried Balut, they win.

As for me, I fucking love sushi. Whenever I’m home I make sure to go to my family’s favorite sushi spot with my dad and devour more rolls than is permitted by the FDA. One time we put in an order for so many rolls that the waitress asked if more people would be joining us. We’ve tried almost every piece of sushi on the menu but there’s only one I’ll never have again: eel roe with a raw egg yolk on top. I don’t know what possessed my dad and me to believe we were some kind of Japanese Rocky but it was a nightmarish mistake. As soon as the roll was brought to us we knew it was going to be terrible but we had made our bed and now we had to lay in it. We decided to eat it first because if we looked at it any longer we weren’t going to make it. Eggs, slime, salt, seaweed, and rice just don’t mesh well. I gagged a little as I forced it down and my dad was stone-faced as always. The only thing he said about it was “We won’t be ordering that again.”

A Visual Travelogue of Chinese Food

Brent Hopkins

Good day folks, it is time for yet another non-gaming article from yours truly.

Today I want to chat about Chinese food. I am coming back from two years living in South Korea and one of the main things you miss when you live overseas is the food. South Korea has decent international cuisine and plenty of American chains like Subway, McDonald’s, and Taco Bell. That being said, there are still a ton of things you just can’t have in South Korea without spending an arm and a leg — like cold cuts and fine cheeses. I traveled a lot in my two years, so I was able to get sated on many things in countries like Japan and Taiwan which have dirt cheap imports on those kinds of goods.

The thing that I want to really focus on here is Chinese food. Chinese food is unique in that every country you visit tends to have drastically different cuisine that is considered “Chinese.” In Korea there are two or three main dishes that are considered Chinese. The stigma behind the food is much the same as it is in America, though: tasty, cheap, and not entirely healthy. That being said, the food is delicious just like in America but it is drastically different. My favorite dish happens to be jjambbong:

jjambbong

Seafood and spice, so very nice!

This is a spicy seafood soup with rice noodles and lots of veggies and seafood, mainly squid octopus, and mussels. This is absolutely divine and is probably the only Korean-Chinese dish I really wish I could find in America. This will almost never happen because the seafood in America tends to be less fresh and more expensive and generally speaking spicy soup isn’t something you see, as we go for creamy and savory soups. This gets five stars, and in any country this should be on the Chinese menu.

Next we have bokumbap, which is just good old fried rice, though they do tend to throw a fried egg on top in Korea. Three stars, because honestly the plain rice in Korea is so good that this just doesn’t really hit the spot

kimchi-bokumbap-07

Great picture, but you won’t be craving this wherever you’re from.

Lastly, we have jajangmyeon or black noodles. These things look vile but actually taste pretty decent. The problem is this is the cheapest main dish you can buy and it is known for being made with old oil in less than street-legal kitchens. I personally got violent food poisoning from this dish but would recommend it nonetheless as it is very Korean-Chinese. Three stars. I dunno if I can love myself giving a higher rating to something that led to an IV drip.

DSC03408

This looks a bit like alien insides. Their insides become your insides! ^_^

Hong Kong is now a part of China proper but even there the dishes are slightly different due to the heavy British influence. This is closer to the mainland of China in cuisine and you can have some amazing meals on the street in little alleyways.

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This is actually open air in an alleyway even though it looks like a shop wall.

This turned into super cheap fried noodles. The perk here is that you can choose the type of noodles and the type of meat and the lady fries it up and gives it to you to go in a matter of seconds. These noodles are delicious and were better than a lot of sit-down restaurant meals I have had.

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Look at this handsome man with his farm worth of animals in the background.

Next, I got to have some pork, goose, and duck meat in what appears to be a butchery/restaurant. This is an odd combination as you tend to want to keep the dirty work away from patrons but I say if you can’t handle seeing where it came from then you shouldn’t be eating it anyways. This meat was smoked goodness and I can’t recommend it enough. Also the price was reasonable compared to going to a place with a prep room and a closed off kitchen. Four stars. The taste and the value can’t really be beaten here.

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Had to eat the weak to get to the fish.

Last for Hong Kong I had some steamed fish, which is really hard to find in other areas of Asia. This is hands down my #1 Chinese dish and I try to have it any time the option presents itself. This thing is butter love in the esophagus. If you like fish, you will devour this whole thing’s body and crave more when you’re done. Face, fins, and inner bits are all fair game because it is just so friggin’ flavorful. I tend to understand disliking certain types of food but this is one I wouldn’t even invite a non-fish lover out for as I would feel its death was under-appreciated by the naysayer. All the stars. Seriously, there are only a few non-fish dishes I have had that can go head-to head with this.

Now, as most of the people reading this will probably be North American I am not going to go image search Chinese food since you know what is out there, but almost everyone has their favorite dish and their favorite place to go. There is nothing quite like Chinese cuisine around the world (please comment if you know any others) where the immigrants and the home nation always seem to create a fusion of dishes that would be the most appetizing within the country. I love Chinese food in every country I have had it but none of them taste or look anything alike except for having fried rice and dumplings. The one thing that is constant is just how similar it is to that country’s culture without just suddenly becoming American food or Korean food. It takes skill to be every nation’s entry into exotic dining, so props to the Chinese for making bellies happy.

crabcorners

I lied these thing are so friggin good and I had to make mine in Korea to have them. Best appetizer from a Chinese place.

Image sources: General Google Image searches (first three) and the author (rest)