Culinary Chronicles: 45 Nourishing Food Facts to Satisfy Your Curiosity – Part 3

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1Fried Brain Sandwiches

Fried Brain Sandwiches

Fried brain sandwiches used to be a popular dish in the St. Louis area. They are still a local delicacy in Evansville, Indiana despite the stigma associated with mad cow disease (many restaurants replaced cow with pig brains).


2. American muffins are actually individual “quickbreads” or oil cakes (like zucchini bread), making them essentially cupcakes. English muffins are griddled flatbreads, which is why they are chemically and nutritionally more similar to pita or pizza than to American muffins.


3. “London Broil” is a North American culinary method of cooking certain cuts of beef, which have no traditional basis in the UK. There’s nothing “London” about a London Broil.


4. Although sweet baked beans may come across as excessively sugary or a product of the processed food industry, it is actually a traditional Native American dish. It used to be originally sweetened using maple syrup, also a native product.


5. Star-Gazey pie is a Cornish dish pastry dish where the fish heads poke out of the pie.


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6Ortolan Bunting

Ortolan Bunting

There is a French dish named “Ortolan Bunting” where the small Ortolan bird is first blinded. It then gorges itself on seed, and when it is ready, it is drowned and marinated live in brandy. Consumers of the dish traditionally wear hoods to hide their act from god and eat it whole including beaks and bones although some consumers spit out the larger bones.


7. Cow cod soup is a rural Jamaican delicacy made with bull penis, scotch bonnet peppers, and bananas. It is commonly considered an aphrodisiac.


8. Stink bugs in Mexico called ‘jumiles’ are collected for their culinary value and can be either roasted, fried, ground, or eaten raw. There is a salsa prepared by combining fresh tomatoes, chilies, and onions with jumiles that have been mashed in a molcajete which is served with corn tortillas.


9. Placenta is a flat cake from ancient Greece and Rome consisting of many dough layers interspersed with a mixture of cheese and honey. It is flavored with bay leaves, baked and then covered in honey. The temporary fetal organ was named after this cake thanks to its flat round shape.


10. Speculoos are spiced gingerbread shortcrust cookies that are traditionally made and eaten on St. Nicholas Day and throughout the Christmas holiday season in many parts of Europe. They’re traditionally embossed with designs using wooden molds, special rolling pins, or cookie stamps.


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11Edible Bird Nests

Edible Bird Nests

Edible Bird’s Nests are among the most expensive animal products consumed by humans, with some nests going for more than $3,000 per pound. These nests are created by Indian swiftlets, and other swiftlets using solidified saliva, which are harvested for human consumption.


12. On the 3rd Sunday of Lent, Luxembourg celebrates Pretzel Sunday with a procession of pastry cooks, a band, and an elected “Pretzel Queen”, handing out free pretzels to everyone. Men gift a pretzel to the woman they love on that day, which back in the day used to seal marriages.


13. An affogato (Italian for "drowned") is an Italian coffee-based dessert. Restaurants and cafes in Italy categorize the affogato as a dessert, while some restaurants and cafes outside Italy categories it as a beverage. It is made with a scoop of semisoft cheese-flavored or vanilla gelato or ice cream topped or “drowned” with a shot of hot espresso.


14. A team of international scholars have been working to recreate recipes from 4000 years ago from tablets. One Mesopotamian dish resembles a chicken pot pie, with layers of dough and chunks of bird smothered by a sort of Babylonian béchamel sauce.


15. Sakotis is a Lithuanian tree-shaped cake made by continuously pouring layers of batter onto a rotating cylinder. A 2 kg cake uses 30 eggs, but the largest one ever made was 2 meters tall and used 1200 eggs.


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16Tavuk Göğsü

Tavuk Göğsü

Tavuk Göğsü is a Turkish dessert pudding made with shredded white chicken breast. The meat is mixed with milk, sugar, cracked rice, and/or other thickeners, and often some sort of flavoring such as cinnamon.


17. The original recipe for macarons calls for ambergris, which is whale vomit that comes from the stomachs of sperm whales.


18. The Manchu-Han Banquet was one of the grandest meals ever documented in Chinese culinary history and consisted of (at least) 108 dishes served in six meals over the course of three days. It is said that there were “Thirty-Two Delicacies,” referring to the more exotic ingredients used for the banquet. The “Eight Mountain Delicacies” included such dishes as camel’s hump, bear’s paws, monkey’s brains, ape’s lips, leopard fetuses, rhinoceros tails, and deer tendons.


19. Fettuccine Alfredo was invented by Chef Alfredo Di Lelio for his pregnant wife who had morning sickness. The dish made its way to the U.S. after silent-era film stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford ate at the chef's restaurant during their honeymoon in Rome and asked for the recipe.


20. The commonly-eaten Oyster Mushroom (pleurotus ostreatus) is one of the few carnivorous mushrooms that feeds itself by paralyzing nematodes with a toxin and ingesting them in the form of a protein-rich slurry.


21Huitlacoche

Huitlacoche

Corn smut is a fungal disease that transforms the head of corn into edible mushrooms. It is a known delicacy in Mexico called huitlacoche. They are preserved and sold for a significantly higher price than uninfected corn.


22. Russian fishermen learned to farm caviar as early as the 12th century and for centuries it was considered nothing more than cheap peasant food, served with porridge and eaten by the bowlful.


23. During the 1800s, it was customary for unmarried wedding guests in England to stick fruitcake under their pillow to dream about the person they eventually would marry.


24. Muktuk is a traditional Inuit and Chukchi food consisting of frozen whale skin and blubber. Muktuk is a good source of Vitamin C and was eaten by British Arctic explorers to prevent scurvy.


25. Common Morel mushrooms cannot be eaten raw (must be cooked), because they contain Hydrazine; the same chemical used as room temperature stable (but toxic & carcinogenic) rocket fuel.

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