Today on Weird Wednesdays, I decided to take it gastronomical. First post was about weirding your ears and the second was weirding your ummm…Anyway, I thought you guys should be ready for some weird foods.
I am Asian. Filipino born to be exact, and we love food. I mean who doesn’t love food. Not loving food should be a crime. And some would even say that the following foods that I’m going to feature in this post should be against the law (high-five self for that smooth segue). So if you’re prone to being queasy or is eating a meal right now, stay away from this post until you’re brave enough.
**For the sake of simplicity, this post is going to focus on Filipino street foods. More weird food related posts in the future. 🙂
Filipinos are weird eaters. What with our multifaceted history and our resilience to make use of anything out of everything, we have come up with a lot of unnatural, yet delicious street foods.
Yeah, you guessed it. As soon as you heard the words Filipino, weird, and food, you instantly thought of Balut. Probably the most famous as it’s been featured in several shows such as Fear Factor and Survivor. When Filipinos watched that episode in Survivor, where Jeff Probst asked them to speed eat a balut for a certain price, every Filipino is laughing maniacally in their TV screens, rolling their eyes, while muttering “Bah! Americans!”
Balut is a developing duck embryo that is boiled alive and eaten in the shell, doused in chili infused vinegar. When cracked open, it has a slimy texture and a dark color. Once explored, you will find a semi formed duck fetus, with a head, guts and beak. Oh and feathers. Can’t forget the feathers.
Balut is sold in the streets of the Philippines and has been known to have aphrodisiac qualities so it’s mostly sold by night. Which by the way is the only acceptable time to sell these bad boys. I mean can you imagine eating duck fetus in full daylight? Gross.
I have eaten Balut, several times, but I personally don’t like the taste of it. However it’s always fun watching someone squirm as I put an entire duck embryo in my mouth.
Barbecued intestines. My favorite! Isaw is made from chicken or pig intestines. The intestines are cleaned inside out – By wrapping one end of the intestine in the mouth of a faucet and blast the insides with running water. Yup, I’ve seen it happen. I use to clean animal intestines for a living – and repeat the process over and over, until the intestine is clear enough of grime. Or to be more blunt, animal poop.
Once “cleaned”, they are then boiled and skewered into barbecue sticks and then grilled. They are usually eaten dipped in a jar of vinegar which is the same vinegar jar where several other customers have been dipping their Isaws in the last months.
Through the years, Isaw has since morphed into several other delicious versions, one being my ultimate favorite, raw chicken intestine dipped in a flour batter then deep fried. Don’t knock it till you try it.
Staying true to the Filipino way of not throwing away anything, Helmet is just a fancy name for chicken heads. The only thing removed from the head is the comb. It is then skewered, sometimes it is blanched before, and then sold along the Isaw and other grilled type street foods.
Like the Isaw, it also eaten dipped in vinegar. And yes, the same vinegar where we dip the Isaw and various other food. We don’t like to throw away vinegar.
Another misleading name for an otherwise creepy looking food. Adidas is nothing but grilled (or sometimes fried) chicken feet. You seeing the trend here? If you’ve ever been on a chicken farm (which I have) you’d know what lies beneath those chicken feet. Nothing nutritious, I can assure you. But Adidas is surprisingly delicious.
The chicken foot is cleaned and then skewered, nails and all, and then grilled. It has a very tough texture, not a lot of meat, but when partnered with beer, sucking chicken feet can be very satisfying.
I personally don’t like my chicken feet grilled. I’d rather cook it with soy sauce and then eaten with steaming white rice. Yum!
The guy who invented the names for these street foods is probably the head of some big time advertising company now. Or maybe he’s still selling chicken innards. We don’t know, it’s still a mystery. And so is Betamax.
When I was a kid I thought these are chocolate bars that are grilled. And then slapped myself because that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever thought of. Because duh! The chocolate would’ve melted! In fact there is no mystery, Betamax is just dried chicken blood shaped into cubes (or betamax tapes *wink wink*) and then skewered into sticks.
Now, before you accuse us of being related to Edward Cullen, chicken blood is used in a lot of Filipino delicacies. Waaay before Twilight was invented.
Although I eat blood related foods (like Bloody Mary perhaps), I have not eaten a Betamax. Not because I’m grossed out by it, but it’s a lot pricier than an Isaw. Like one Betamax is already 3 chicken Isaws! Yes, I’m a cheapskate.
- One Day Old
One Day Old are creepy looking, but very very tasty. These are one day old chicks, usually male, discarded in preference to female chicks for egg production. Is there a political statement behind that? I’m sure someone on the internet will find a way.
These dead male chicks are then coated in an orange batter and then deep fried to perfection. You can eat it with your choice of sauce. It is crunchy as the bones are still included and tastes like your normal fried chicken.
Walkman is a crazy name for left over pig ears. Pig ears are surprisingly full of fat. When uncooked, Walkman has a flabby, squishy look, and the pig ears poking out are just the bonus.
Like any other street food, Walkman or more fondly called as Tenga, is cooked grilled, but not burnt. You want the skin to be crispy and the fat to be juicy. This is the perfect partner of left over rice and a glass of beer on a weekend night.
There are plenty of other weird Filipino street foods, such as Fishballs, Kwek-Kwek, Taho, Kikiam, Chicken Skin, Calamares, just to name a few. Not as weird as the ones above, but still a little unusual for most people. If you noticed, compared to other Asian countries, we don’t sell crickets, and cockroaches, and worms, etc. as street foods, but we also eat those.
The idea behind Filipino street foods is to sell something that otherwise would have been discarded and turn it to something palatable and more importantly, cheap. We take animal hearts, lungs, gall bladder, liver, etc and we flair it up by giving it some catchy names and make it look like you’re eating an adventure. Crickets and cockroaches and worms are not usually sold in city streets, well, because we have plenty of other options. But in provinces and other rural areas, we eat worms straight out of the bark of the trees, and they are, delicious.
Over time, these street foods has become a popular staple. What with prices of food going up all the time, we have to find a cheaper way to fill our self. But really, these street foods are just really delicious. Especially with beer! So it may look weird to you, but to us, this is dinner.
**I don’t take ownership of the photos and were just taken from Google images