That’s The Most Disgusting Stuff I Ever Tasted. Give Me A Big, Heapin’ Helping.

Mormor says "Eat it...or else!"

Mormor says “Eat it…or else!”

TV is full of experts who are eager to explain why we eat too much (or too little).  What I want to know is why do we eat the specific foods we eat?  Especially when that food tastes like slugs dipped in dung, wrapped in sweaty gym socks, then left to marinate in the trunk of a Chevy Lumina in a mall parking lot in Phoenix for the month of August.

I decided to conduct my own scientific experiment on this crucial topic and poll a wide cross section of ethnic groups.  The United Nations would be perfect for my purposes, but since that was out of the question for security reasons, I went with the next best thing; the Tower of Babel that is an IKEA store on a Saturday afternoon.

People were asked to describe their favorite foods, which I lumped into Group A and Group B.  Classification depended on the response I got from the participants, filtered by the food’s placement on my own, personal Gag-o-Meter.

Here’s a sampling of the foods mentioned.

Group A

Birthday cake and ice cream
Reese’s peanut butter cups
Fried chicken
Bar-b-que ribs

Group B

Springerle cookies
Gefilte Fish
Any other kind of “fisk” whose preparation involves turpentine
Blood pudding
Blood sausage
Any other dish whose main ingredient is “blood”

When asked why they liked a particular food, those who preferred foods in Group A gave variations on the same response:

It’s yummy.

When asked what possible, earthly reason they could have for eating the stuff in Group B, the answers were more diverse, but all involved the same factors:

Family tradition.

As one respondent said, “I’ll never forget how my grandma, Mormor Astrid, used to make lutefisk for me when I was just a small child.  Then she would stand over me with a wooden spoon and beat me if I didn’t eat it all.”

The bottom line here seems to be that we eat stuff that no sane person would eat, because of love.  Or at least some twisted version of it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to dash to make supper.  Tonight I’m fixing a family favorite that my mother always made for us when I was a kid.

Irish Boiled Dinner
4 potatoes
1 head of cabbage
1 ham

Peel the potatoes and cut in quarters.
Remove the tough, outer leaves from the cabbage and cut into 8 wedges.
Fill a large stockpot ¾ full of water.
Put all ingredients in the pot and boil.  2 hours ought to do it.
Remove from water (I recommend wringing out the cabbage leaves.)
Douse with salt and pepper.  Lots of salt and pepper.
Eat it.  And thank God that you have food to eat at all, not like those poor, starving children in Biafra.

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R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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116 Responses to That’s The Most Disgusting Stuff I Ever Tasted. Give Me A Big, Heapin’ Helping.

  1. Few things are as disgusting as the smell of boiling cabbage. I’d like an order of Group A please.

  2. societycommentator says:

    Thank goodness, I never had to eat anything in group B! Great post!

  3. speaker7 says:

    It seems like many people have a sado-masochistic relationship with food.

  4. saraaftab02 says:

    LOL i am never ever the group B person. I can eat everything. Sometimes my nany hits me sspoon for eating that much :D

  5. mistyslaws says:

    Yeah, the only way you could possibly get me to eat any of the things in section B is by standing over me and beating me with a wooden spoon. And even then . . . I may just take the beating.

    You know, that Irish meal would be better if you use chicken broth instead of water. Just saying . . .

  6. Robin says:

    you are funny, thanks for the morning laugh!

  7. I think I’ve had everything in Group B except Lutefisk – some of them very often. But it’s not a family tradition thing for me. It’s mostly dares.

    • pegoleg says:

      Well, as long as you’re making money out of the deal, that’s OK. Which reminds me…

      You have a number of restaurant reviews from Ann Arbor on your blog, right? We went to an Ethiopian restaurant there a couple of years ago. Add “most every goopy, slimy and spicy dip that you’re supposed to eat with your fingers at an Etheopian restaurant” to the list. You can decide which group.

  8. Peg! You cracked me up!!! Almost spewed my coffee when I read about our traditional Irish, boiled, (and hard) dinner. Yup, 2 hours ought to about kill it. Good times.
    Wondering how I am able to read, let alone reply to your blog today? Well, lots of schools closed today because of ice and/or flooding. Yippee! Too bad I’ve got taxes and other chores to do.
    Hope your day is great, and would it stop raining already? Been raining hard all week, hence the flooding.
    I need some sunshine!

    • pegoleg says:

      I WAS wondering. Congratulations on snagging a day off to get all those chores done. That means you have the weekend to play.

      Even though Mom always called it New England Boiled Dinner, we knew what it was, didn’t we?

      • Laura says:

        Ooh, that’s tricky. I could easily confuse “New England Boiled Dinner” with a clam bake, which is definitely a Group A meal.

        • pegoleg says:

          That IS confusing, hence the renaming. Mom was trying to fool us, but we recognized the cuisine of her home country nonetheless.

        • Let’s not confuse Mom’s NE Boiled Dinner with the Low Country Boil Dinner of Charleston, SC. That.Is.Yummy!!! Shrimp, potatoes, corn on the cob, sausage. Pat’s made that every fall since our trip to SC, for the first football friends get together. Definitely a Group A repast!

  9. mercyn620 says:

    I must confess I had to look up lutefisk. My kids still make fun of the liver and onions I made a couple of times when they were young – I gave up the concoction decades ago. Unhealthy anyway!

    • pegoleg says:

      What? I thought liver was super healthy? I don’t mind it that much, but it’s not something I would ever make, or order at a restaurant. So I guess that’s why I haven’t eaten it in 30 years.

  10. sarah9188 says:

    What the heck is lutefisk? I think the only thing I’ve ever had on that list is blood pudding, and I was in Ireland visiting so you have to try the local food. I’m trying to think of disgusting things I ate as a child. I guess scrapple could possibly fit into that category. They used to make it out of all the ground up pig leftovers but now, I think it is made with pig liver. I still like it, even though it gives me death heartburn.

    • pegoleg says:

      You are SO much braver than I. When we were in Ireland I seriously considered trying the black pudding, but something stopped me. Maybe the thought that eating something like that is SERIOUSLY INSANE. We went with the white pudding instead.

  11. I’ve never even heard of the first 4 items…in Group B, not A.

  12. I’m Irish, we have the worst food ever.

    • pegoleg says:

      Except for soda bread – I’m rather partial to that stuff. (yum!) And I discovered arugula (rocket) in Ireland, and I put it on most everything now.

  13. prosewithabbitude says:

    I had to google over half the items in group B. I’d rather eat from a trash dumpster.

  14. Laura says:

    For me, peanut butter is a Group A food, but I have this theory — based on some research that was almost as scientifically rigorous as your Ikea experiment — that if you didn’t grow up eating peanut butter, you won’t like it as an adult.

    • pegoleg says:

      I’ve often wondered that same thing, but about sweets. If you grew up on a deserted island with only fresh fish and banana leaves to eat, would ice cream make you throw up, or would you STILL think it was nectar of the gods?

  15. egills says:

    I seriously had to google most of list B and just reading the descriptions has made me feel decidedly unwell. Give me the ribs and I’ll be happy :-)

    Luckily my mum couldn’t cook when I was growing up so we were brought up on burnt / frozen fish fingers with chips instead of that vile ham thing you were describing.

  16. Carrie Rubin says:

    The only gross thing I remember my mother ever trying to feed us was cow tongue, because it was very cheap. I’m happy to report, I did NOT carry on that tradition.

    Wonderful post!

  17. My family used to go nuts for Swedish Hardtack. They would take orders and make day trips to pick up supplies for aunts, grandparents and cousins. They would slather it in margarine and carry on like they were Godiva chocolates. I didn’t get it. To me it tasted like old cardboard but, because they loved it so much, I pretended to enjoy it, too. Perhaps I’ll hunt some down before my mother’s next visit. Ah … nostalgia.

    Great post! We all do many things “for love” … and EATING is certainly among them.

  18. I can’t even believe that people eat gefilte fish. It’s not like they swim around in the ocean. It’s parts of crappy fish all molded together into a lump, and then stored in a gloppy gelatinous solution. I’m Jewish, and I can’t bear it. Feh. ;) I can’t believe no one mentioned bacon. Seems like people mention bacon about EVERYTHING these days. It’s practically a sex toy. Oh wait, it is.

    • pegoleg says:

      Ewwwww, I was deliberately avoiding bacon because you’re right – it’s EVERYwhere.

      And I thought you HAD to eat gefilte fish if you were Jewish. Isn’t dissing gefilte fish enough to get you drummed out?

  19. Elyse says:

    Count me into Group A — except you can have my Reese’s,

    And the Irish dinner? My sister made it with green beens instead of cabbage and only cooked it for 30 mins. It’s actually good.

  20. What about those of us who fall in neither group? Don’t get me wrong, I’m no groupie, but I’m feeling left out…

    • pegoleg says:

      OK Lorna, give me an example of each group for “Your people”.

      • Well there are those that eat most food groups, but avoid the junk food and some of us who are vegan and one of me who avoids gluten and sugar as well as being vegan and junk food free. Okay, stop laughing!

        • pegoleg says:

          I’m not laughing, Lorna, my jaw just dropped! Girl, no wonder you’re in such good shape. Not just the health aspect, but it must take hours to put enough food you can eat together to make a meal!

  21. The only thing in Group B that I’ve eaten is blood pudding/sausage. Since I grew up in the UK, it was required. And it’s actually not bad if you can get past the name.

  22. Philadelphia’s contributions – Group A : Cheeseteaks Group B : Scrapple

  23. MotherJam says:

    I think the Swedish are particularly masochistic with the food. Not only do they have the -fisk family but they also add saffron (an expensive spice that smells like it was derived from Bentley tire rubber) to their sweet treats. It is about suffering. And being grateful for the suffering. I am grateful for the post. Thanks for the chuckle.

  24. notquiteold says:

    My Grandma made headcheese! I brought some to my college friends when we had an ethnic night. Everyone gagged.

  25. Lenore Diane says:

    I feel a little disappointed. You see, I had my first Ikea experience this past Saturday. It was amazing. I had heard the rumors – I’d heard the praise – but I had not experienced it for myself – until last Saturday. Wow. WOW. So much great stuff! So nicely priced! Wow. WOW!
    Who needs any food from either Group A or Group B when you are roaming the rooms in Ikea. But, let’s keep it real – I ain’t having none of that stuff in Group B.

  26. Tar-Buns says:

    I second Lenore’s comment above. Excellent ‘game’ play, Peg and OnePoint! Really clever. I truly enjoyed. And was envious. And was thrilled. And love to see this kind of word play. COOL!!! Tanks!

  27. There are just some things I cannot eat as an adult after having to eat them as a child and your last sentence is almost exactly what my father used to say as he dished up boiled cabbage and spinach or mashed potatoes, pumpkin and squash. I shudder at the thought.

  28. pattisj says:

    All of a sudden I’m not hungry any more.

  29. Sandy Sue says:

    And we wonder why we have some trouble with weight.

  30. I try hard not to eat anything with the words ‘blood’ or ‘head’ in them.

    As for the boiled dinner? My mom is half Irish and let’s just say she boils that stuff so long I can still smell the cabbage she cooked 10 years ago. She used to threaten us kids with a spoon if we didn’t eat it and it was absolute torture. Who wants a big steaming bowl of carrots, onions and cabbage that all taste remarkably similar to dishwater?

    But what’s worse? Jim’s side is German. Just one sniff of sauerkraut and I’m running away screaming.

    Now peanut butter cups? There’s a meal.

  31. Phil Taylor says:

    Hey Peg, I’ve got an idea on my blog that I’m trying to get support for. Would you mind taking a look and if you like it would you give it a re-blog or share in any way you like? I swear this isn’t spam.

  32. Margie says:

    I sure remember my mom telling me to eat just a few bites of her pot roast because the kids in Biafra were starving. My mom cooked a pot roast most Sundays, and invariably it was just like eating shoe leather. The next day she would grind it in a meat grinder and make meat loaf. It was still as tough as shoe leather, only you didn’t actually have to chew it anymore.

  33. Things I grew up with:

    Pickled Herring
    Liver and Onions
    Schweinshaxe (pork hock & Sauerkraut)
    Beaten Eggs with Wheat Germ (yes raw and beaten to a fluffy fulness)
    Pigs Feet

    Things I have since been exposed to and found disturbing:

    Fish head soup (Singapore)
    Sharkfin soup (Hong Kong)
    Wasp Crackers (Japan)
    Bull Penis Stew (Singapore)
    Haggis (Scotland)
    Chicken Feet (Singapore and Bahamas)
    Blood Pudding (Ireland)

    I could go on, need I?

  34. I love a good Irish Boiled Dinner. I even crave it sometimes. Other than that I am with everyone else. NO B list for me.

  35. Don’t diss the Blutwurst. But it has to be a good German one from the deli. We used to take it to school and drive the other kids over the edge with our yummy sandwiches!

  36. Oh, and your board game exchange reminded me of that episode of Green Acres when Lisa complains about playing Monotony, Scribble, and a third game that always escapes me … but I’ll think of it eventually. :-)

  37. ‘Circus Peanuts’ must have just been edged out in group B…
    *gag* :)

  38. TamrahJo says:

    I never could stand cabbage entrees until I started cooking for myself and learned that it’s much more pleasant to smell while cooking AND eating, if you saute the cabbage in a skillet, rather than boiling it…
    But maybe cooking it that way breaks tradition….
    Lots of pepper helps, too… :)

  39. flyingplatypi says:

    I recently visited IKEA…. But I was drunk. It’s the only way I could have done it. I applaud your braveness.


    Valerie Nunez and the Flying Platypi

  40. Dana says:

    Boiled cabbage? I’ve never even heard of it! I prefer to stuff my cabbage in a jar with some salt and let it fester in a cupboard for a few weeks before eating it. “Bacteria makes things better”… is that how the old saying goes? ;)

  41. hollybernabe says:

    Um, I like boiled cabbage and potatoes and ham. Sounds yummy. I cook it in my crock pot on the truck from time to time. The smell of it cooking gets me hungry. I must be weird.

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