This post is by Restaurant SmartBrief contributor Janet Forgrieve.
A New York Post story this week highlighted the ways some Manhattan chefs are turning the ugly octopus into upscale entrees. As wacky as it sounds to many of us, octopus is a more sustainable seafood choice than many we might consider to be standard restaurant fare, and it’s one that appealed to chefs looking for an outrageous alternative to the more common calamari.
Consumers’ palates over the past few years have grown more sophisticated, paving the way for a slew of spicier cuisines and science-based dishes made with foams, gels and liquid nitrogen, but even the most adventurous foodies among us are likely to at least pause for a moment before ordering octopus, tripe or tongue for the first time.
And some delicacies are just too indelicate for mass consumption. Klee Brasserie’s Chef Daniel Angerer set off a huge buzz last year when he briefly added cheese made from his wife’s breast milk to the menu. The offerings, the result of a home-based experience that Angerer blogged about and apparently made available to a select clientele, disappeared from the restaurant shortly after word got out and the city’s health department ruled that breast-milk cheese had no place on the menu.
Some people go beyond what most of us would call merely distasteful, seeking out dishes that come with a heaping helping of danger. Recently, Forbes reported on the “World’s Most Deadly Delicacies,” detailing how fearless foodies travel the world in search of fugu, the toxic Japanese puffer fish whose delicate flavors outweigh its deadly poisons for some, and the seemingly harmless elderberry that’s popular in teas and jams, despite the cyanide the plant sports in its roots and bark.
There’s another weird food trend that doesn’t seem likely to gain a great number of fans in the U.S., despite its apparent benefits for the environment — insect cuisine. A report last year from environmental scientists in the Netherlands touted the benefits of a bug-centric diet that replaces methane-producing cattle and other large food animals with five species of insects including mealworms and crickets. A few restaurants and food companies across the country have begun pushing insect-focused diets as cheap, nutritious meals, but it doesn’t seem likely that American consumers will embrace the trend anytime soon, according to the Wall Street Journal.
What’s the weirdest entrée you’ve seen on a menu or served at your restaurant? Start the conversation in the comments.