The life and times of an ethnically ambiguous little lady.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Just Top it With a Nice Cream Sauce

Back to our regularly scheduled travel stories . . .

Whenever in another country, it's always interesting to try the local dishes. China probably had some of the more interesting options, like pig penis. I passed on that one. They also had the motto in some of the more rural areas that translated loosely to "if it has wings or four feet and it's not an airplane or a piece of furniture, we'll eat it." Pure poetry. I'm thinking in China you want to keep your enemies close and your pets closer.

Scandinavia wasn't so big on the delicacies. My family did our customary "go to a supermarket and walk around like it's a museum" tour and all we found that was slightly odd was a huge container filled with ice and prawns right in the middle of things. I also saw firsthand how patient and friendly the people are—one of the women that worked at the deli actually translated all the ingredients on a dip for me to make sure there were no nuts. If I tried to do that here I'd probably get a punch in the face.

Scandinavia’s specialty is definitely fish. Ridiculously delicious fish. Probably because they're surrounded by water and it's pretty much the only thing they don't import. The only vaguely exotic options were whale (don't worry, Greenpeace, it's the Mink Whale, which are supposedly very common) and reindeer (sorry, Santa). Oh, and pasta with disgustingly heavy cream sauces which now, two weeks later, are still somewhere within my digestive system.

But there had to be something I hadn't found. So had a few conversations with some lovely Scandinavians and got some interesting answers. A delightful couple of boys my brother and I hung out with, Max and Rune (to say Rune's name you need to start the "u" sound somewhere deep within your diaphragm), said that Norway's state food was probably Grandiosa. What is Grandiosa? Apparently the world's worst frozen pizza. And that definition was coming straight from them.

But a few nights before I left I got the weirdest answer of all. At first, I thought my new friend Kari-Anne, who was from a small town in Norway called Voss, was pulling my leg.

"Well, where I come from we love sheep's head. We only eat it like once a year but it's amazing. The jowls are really tender. And we do the eyeball as a shot."

Ah, what? After I asked another girl who had no knowledge of my prior conversation, yet the same answer, I had to figure that might be true. And I'm not going to lie. I was a little disgusted.

I mean, Americans are known for some strange foods but nothing that disgusting right? Wrong. We have Twinkies, a food that explodes when heated. We have chitlins; that’s a fancy word for hog guts. And if that doesn't do it for you, there are pork rinds. That's right, we love pig so much in this country that we take the skin that we don't use to make footballs and then fry and dry it so we can eat it on the go. God bless America.

But hey, at least our national food isn't a frozen pizza.

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