Have strange and unusual foods gone mainstream?

Have strange and unusual foods gone mainstream?

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Chefs all around the nation are offering daring menu options that may sound more appalling than appetizing. The kicker, however, is that people are really going for them. A decade ago, frogs legs might have made a guest turn away in disgust, and today they're considered a delicacy. Did anyone else notice the sudden shift in culture? Follow America's journey into strange and unchartered foods as brave culinary geniuses continue to offer new options.

When things started getting weird
It's hard to say when people first started experimenting with eating bizarre foods. Perhaps it all began when someone decided it was OK to eat pickled pigs' feet? According to Wise Geek, the salty food is popular in the southern U.S., Ireland and Korea. It's important to note that this strange food is different than others because it was eaten not so much by choice as it was social status.

The publication explained that affluent people hardly went for pigs' feet, as they were a common purchase of the poor. Butchers would sell the product for less because few people actually wanted to purchase the jarred feet. Sometimes salesmen would even sell ears, snout and tail too. That could arguably be the driver behind strange foods becoming mainstream. Or maybe it was when someone decided it was a good idea to eat a lethal fish.

A killer Japanese dinner
About 15 years ago, Yoshi Yanagawa became the chief auctioneer at the Haedomari market in Japan, reported CNN. His job, which he describes as strange, is to accept bids on "fugu," otherwise known as puffer fish. It all seems pretty normal, except fugu can kill you if it's not prepared in a specific way.

The Japanese puffer fish can kill you if it's not prepared correctly.

Only people who are licensed to handle these fish are permitted to serve them. Essentially, fugu must be detoxified according to guidelines imposed by Japanese law. As CNN pointed out, one milligram of fugu's tetrodotoxin is enough to make someone die a painful death in just 60 minutes. There have actually been documented deaths, but something keeps people craving more fugu.

Maybe it's the danger or the flavor, but the only way to know is to take the plunge – if you're brave enough. It was around the time of the fugu frenzy, a new era of strange food consumption was evolving.

Bizarre foods gets a gig
"Eight years ago, food writer Andrew Zimmern invited the world to follow him as he traveled the globe to try the good, bad and ugly edible food." People seemed to be intrigued – or repulsed. Either way, the show caught on and has received two James Beard Awards.

"Eight years ago, food writer Andrew Zimmern invited the world to follow him as he traveled the globe to try the good, bad and ugly foods."

They're well deserved, as Zimmern has tried some of the most unthinkable foods, including items like chicken-fried seal flippers from the western-most part of North America – St. John's Newfoundland, as stated on the Travel Channel website. A number of his recipes are listed on the site as well, and the majority of them aren't as extreme as some of the cuisine he's seen eating on the show. 

Instead, the recipes are predominantly staple "adventurous" foods that can be found at a number of hip local speakeasy bars. Items like quail, braised rabbit and lamb dumplings. Perhaps the glaring difference between what Zimmern eats and what he recommends to viewers is tried and true sign that more people aren't quite on his level yet.

Can it get much weirder than this?
But maybe the world is getting there. Fine Dining Lovers blog published a piece predicting weird food trends that are expected to spike this year. The foodies predict more hybrids making their way into restaurants. Options like "ramen noodle burgers" or "s'morecicles" may not be out yet, but it can happen if a half croissant, half bagel exists, speculated the bloggers. They even expect to see people eating plates and wrappers, as Wiki Cells edible cases have recently hit the market.

It's to be seen if foods that were once considered gross or odd will continue to make their way onto restaurant menus, but the nation's foodies have come a long way as a whole. If pigs' feet can go from being an undesirable way to feed the poor to a delectable treat served by some of America's brightest chefs, then perhaps anything is possible.

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