|http://www.sina.com.cn 2004/11/04 19:00 新浪教育|
ALL IN GOOD TASTE
by Natalie M. Rosinsky
Ready for breakfast? How about some nice juicy raw or pickled herring, or some toasted seaweed in a bowl of rice? Losing your appetite? Maybe a spicy sauce made of lentils could wake up your taste buds!
These dishes may seem strange to a North American, but they are typical morning meals in other parts of the world. Young, fresh raw herring, known as “green herring”, is enjoyed in the Netherland
“Bird’s-nest” soup is a Chinese delicacy. This rare and expensive food is actually made from the jellylike saliva that swifts (a type of bird) secrete as they line their nests. It is really “bird’s-spit” soup! If you are sure you would say “No, thanks!” to this dish, think again. You already may have eaten a sweet treat from just as strange a source. Many Americans enjoy honey, which is produced inside the bodies of bees. We may not think often of the insects that secrete this sticky fluid, but Ethiopians do. They believe that the best honey is crunchy, and proudly offer their guests honey filled with fragments of waxy honeycomb and bits of dead baby bees.
Insects are eaten in several parts of the world. Termites are a gourmet treat in Africa. In Asia, the Japanese eat locusts and the Thais enjoy crickets. (In case you’re curious, dry-roasted crickets are supposed to taste like smoke-flavored nuts!) But many Africans and Asians who snack on insects consider shellfish inedible. They would never have the bad taste to offer a guest lobster stew or steamed crab legs－dishes that appear on many American tables.
Tastes in food also change over time. Rabbit was once a dish fit for medieval English kings, and American colonists often ate robins. Nowadays, neither of these meats is a frequent menu item in the English-speaking world. Vegetables have also gone in and out of fashion. Baked, stuffed, or fried potatoes are a “hot” food item today. But when explorers first brought this South American vegetable back to Europe, peasants feared it would cause leprosy.
Many people would only feed spuds to pigs. In the 18th century, Scotland even passed a law against potatoes, because this supposedly poisonous, “ungodly” vegetable was not mentioned in the Bible!
Still hesitating about having some seaweed for breakfast? Don’t worry, you can always have a tasty mouthful later in the day. “Carageenan,” an ingredient in many brands of ice cream, comes from a type of seaweed called “Irish moss.” The alginates used to stabilize and thicken other frozen foods, cakes, and pies are also derived from seaweed. Now, are you ready for some dessert?
Leprosy －A chronic, mildly contagious disease found in tropical and subtropical regions, characterized by ulcers of the skin and bone that lead to loss of sensation and paralysis, and sometimes to the actual loss of flesh itself.
Alginate －A salt of alginic acid, such as sodium alginate.