Haggis 10/29/22

Thoughts with Richard Bleil

Sheep stomach stuffed with organs (heart, liver, lungs), onion and barley is definitely on my list.  Haggis is a Scottish dish that you won’t find here in America because, well, it’s illegal to import it.  Me?  I am dying to try it.  I imagine I’ll find it revolting, but to have the opportunity to try it, just once, means I’ll also have the opportunity to meet with my friend across the pond.  Besides, the chance to say, “yes, I’ve had that?”  Yeah, that’s a great treat.

Dishes around the world are things that we each find disgusting about the other cultures.  Here in America, we are fans of beef, something that some nations find barbaric.  In Australia, the Vegemite sandwich was featured in a song by Men at Work, a band from down under that were popular in the ‘80’s (and still have a place in my very own personal music collection).  Vegemite is a dark brown vegetable spread made of leftover brewer’s yeast and various vegetables and spices.  Brewer’s yeast, as the name implies, is used to make beer and is a single-celled fungus.  I wonder if my friends who make beer has ever thought about eating their leftover yeast.  I’m told it’s quite disgusting in and of itself.

Of course, disgusting isn’t always.  I always used to be afraid to try Limburger cheese, for example.  It has the reputation of being the smelliest cheese available.  One day, I saw it in the grocery story.  The reality is that I adore so many different types of cheeses that most people would avoid like the plague, like Morbier cheese.  Morbier is a semi-soft cheese with a line of ash, yes, real ash, through it.  It’s fabulous. 

So, I had to get the Limburger.  And, yes, indeed, on opening it I came face to face with a wall of strong smell.  But it didn’t smell bad.  In fact, it smelled quite good.  It was strong, but it smelled like cheese.  I put a very thin layer of the cheese on a cracker, and timidly tried it.  The truth is that it was delicious, and, although it’s more expensive than other cheeses, it’s actually quite economical because.  That very thin layer of cheese, as it turns out, was packed with more than enough flavor, and I never really needed more than that.  It was a small jar, but it lasted for a very long time. 

I enjoy trying different types of food.  My friend Kosta turned me onto the various types of cheese as he visited a cheese shoppe in Boston and would bring home the most exotic cheeses he could find.  But I enjoy other things as well.  Many people, for example, enjoy (as I do) Sushi and Sashimi (think Sushimi as thicker but similar to Sushi but without the rice and seaweed roll).  I also truly enjoy Pho. 

Pho is a Vietnamese soup.  It’s like a beef broth with a lot of different types of meat in it, such as tripe, which is stomach.  I don’t think I would go out of my way to hunt out tripe for dinner, but if I see it, I enjoy it enough that I’ll get it.  Here in Omaha, I found a very nice little restaurant that serves a delicious Pho, but since the pandemic they have not been open for lunch.  I should check it out once again.

My friend Mitch introduced me to gyros.  I thought he was saying “hero’s”, which, when pronounced correctly, actually rhymes with gyro (properly pronounced as yee-row).  Gyro is a heavily spiced meat of beef and lamb and cooked on a rotating spit.  They try to make little frozen gyro type meats that you’ll sometimes find in sandwich places, but it’s just not the same.  If you ever see gyro meat on a spit, try a gyro there and you’ll be able to see the difference.

I’m making myself hungry.

I have so many “meat and potato” friends who insist on eating the same things over and over again.  There’s nothing wrong with that, I guess, but it’s not for me.  I like taking my tongue on little travels around the world when I can, sampling the cuisines of various cultures.  Haggis is on my list, but I’ll have to actually travel to Scotland to try it.  But I should get some vegemite at some point to say I’ve tried it.  It is available in some grocery stores here, but there is a danger in that.  The first time I tried Kimchi it was a jar I purchased at a grocery store, and it was just disgusting.  When I tried it at an authentic Korean restaurant, on the other hand, I loved it.  But we’ll give it a try.  I’ve heard terrible things about vegemite, so I really don’t have high hopes for it anyway.  But, it’s a culinary experience I’ve not had yet.

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