On December 18, 1980, the New York Review of Books published M.F.K. Fisher's review of "Unmentionable Cuisine,"
by Calvin W. Schwabe
begins with these words: "In spite of my firm belief that I can eat anything my hosts choose to serve me, there are a few high-protein tidbits that I hope never to have to cope with, and almost all of them are discussed cheerfully in this extraordinary book."
Fisher comments on various recipes therein, and on Schwabe's whimsical prose** ("He says of the sizzling tiny mice, for instance, 'These are probably great as hors d’oeuvres with margaritas.'"). But, she concludes, "along with all this seeming nonchalance he is dead serious, and his peculiar book about the unmentionables, the taboos, the conditioned prejudices we all accept, is an important one. Anybody who on casually turning the pages says “yuk” should read on."
* See the table of contents
for yourself, including Horsemeat, Dog and Cat Meat, Rodent and Other Mammalian Meat
* A detailed look at the material
: "It pulls you out of your culinary comfort zone and invites to think about about an entirely new and scarier larder."
Ready to consider a few unusual possibilities? Good!
* Offal: "In Britain, the love of offal is the love that dare not speak its name"
* Why not bugs?
: "Modern Americans with our cultural bias against the very idea of eating bugs and insects have missed out on the opportunity to enjoy not only some good tasting foods, but also an excellent source of nutrition."
* Offal of the Week
: A reading list.
* Cooking Mountain Hare
the Schwabe way (photos of skinned hare)
* Maybe squirrel?
No moose, though.
* What can you find in Boise, Idaho? Gizzard ice cream.
* What to do with grasshoppers?
Fry them in garlic butter!
* Apartment vermin? You're covered!
"Try Bordeaux-style grilled rats. Gut and skin rats, then baste them with "a thick sauce of olive oil and crushed shallots," according to Calvin Schwabe, author of Unmentionable Cuisine
. His instructions tell you to cook the rats over a crackling fire, but a small countertop grill would probably do the trick."
* Snakes? I ate snakes!
* Cooking with testicles
. Don't tell my husband, but I always
toss the turkey testicles.
On eating, and choosing not to, and one blogger's lasting affection for Schwabe's work:
* A few chefs dish on the freakiest things they've ever tasted
. That must have taken some intestinal fortitude.
* Hunter Gardener Angler Cook on the lines we draw.
* An enduring appreciation
for "Unmentionable Cuisine."
In the spirit of Schwabe (and Julia Child): Bon appetit!
** Schwabe was also known as the father of veterinary epidemiology and authored the presumably drier "Veterinary Medicine and Human Health."