Cullinary delight?
April 15, 2003 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Wacky food from around the world. Can food be a cultural icon? According to South Australia's annual heritage icons list it is. A tantalizing Pie Floater is a meat pie, drowned in pea soup and topped with tomato sauce. Are there any other "culinary" cultural icons in other parts of the world?
posted by Civa (47 comments total)
a meat pie, drowned in pea soup and topped with tomato sauce.

laminate it, and you've got some premium fake puke there.
posted by quonsar at 8:19 AM on April 15, 2003

Hmm, I missed pie floaters on my last trip to Oz, but my stomach has fond memories of the Bush Tucker BBQ I attended. Mmmm...marinated kangaroo rump!

And btw, "floater" is an american colloquialism for a turd that doesn't sink.
posted by MrBaliHai at 8:26 AM on April 15, 2003

When I lived in Pittsburgh, people couldn't get enough of kielbasa in various forms.

Also, I can't think "Scotland" without immediately thinking "haggis". But then I'm shallow like that.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:29 AM on April 15, 2003

The braai is South Africa's cultural food icon. Nothing like a a few tjops and wors on the coals on a Sunday afternoon. And don't forget the dop.
posted by PenDevil at 8:31 AM on April 15, 2003

More braai action thanks to Google Image search.
posted by PenDevil at 8:35 AM on April 15, 2003

A typical meal for Burns Night would include Cock-a-Leekie, Haggis with Tatties-an'-Neeps, Roastit Beef, Tipsy Laird, and Dunlop Cheese."

I have to visit Scotland. That haggis link is a goodie, PST.
posted by iconomy at 8:35 AM on April 15, 2003

Poutine from Quebec (that's in Canada, in case you didn't know) is one the most rewarding french fry experiences you'll ever have. It's not for the cholesterol-concerned, but I would imagine that most cultural icon foods are bad for you.
posted by ashbury at 8:36 AM on April 15, 2003

Saint Louis seems to have an inexplicable toasted ravioli fetish.
posted by Foosnark at 8:38 AM on April 15, 2003

That haggis link is a goodie, PST.
All credit goes to google. I just snagged the first search result.

posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:43 AM on April 15, 2003

Barbecue is, of course, a North Carolina cultural icon, but it's not particularly wacky. In that category go Ruth's Pimento Cheese (on Wonder Bread, of course) and Neese's Liver Pudding (sorry, couldn't find links for either).
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:47 AM on April 15, 2003

I'd like to propose a particularly nauseating concoction I found while in Cambridge UK recently. It's called a 'Big Mac' and consists of a slice of a fat sausage between two halves on a bread roll, rather like a sandwich. You then have to add three leaves, a single ring of onion and a dollop of what can only be called 'red'. Add a garnish of phlegm, and serve with salt and a few 'fries'.
posted by twine42 at 8:51 AM on April 15, 2003

The Philippines has balut, a partially fertilized duck egg that's eaten as part of breakfast or as drinking accompaniment similar to Spanish tapas. Vietnamese friends have told me that there's an equivalent dish in their country, but they don't seem to have attached as much sentimentality to its consumptions, nor do they take a sadistic pleasure in shocking foreigners with it.
posted by bl1nk at 8:57 AM on April 15, 2003

And returning to sanity, I suppose I'd have to suggest battered fish and chips as the modern English offering, sad as it seems.

Battered cod (or haddock if you're a Northerner) - food of the gods. The god of Cholesterol Induced Heart Attacks, if you want to be specific.

Failing that i'd offer up the rather nasty Chicken Tikka Masala from our friends in Birmingham or the meat free cr@p we seem to be willing to call sausages now...
posted by twine42 at 8:59 AM on April 15, 2003

If you're ever out Tennant Creek way, stop by Rocky's pizza.
Best kangaroo pizza you'll ever taste - if you can stomach Rocky's jokes about where he got the meat.

I hope those were jokes, at least.
posted by spazzm at 8:59 AM on April 15, 2003

As far as cultural icon foods go, I imagine it'd be hard to beat lutefisk. Although, some Pennsylvanians I know speak highly of Scrapple. I havent tried either but I'd be willing to give 'em a shot. Couldn't be any weirder than the Clam Jerky I tried last night.
posted by jonmc at 9:17 AM on April 15, 2003

Poutine immediately came to mind, glad someone else got it. In North Carolina they also like to eat sonker, which is not particularly weird. In fact, it's very tasty.
posted by nedlog at 9:27 AM on April 15, 2003

Oooh, I love poutine. I go over to Windsor whenever I can to get some. Although, I guess I could make my own.
posted by greengrl at 9:29 AM on April 15, 2003


I'll see your fish soaked in lye and raise you rotten shark fillets buried underneath gravel beaches for a month.
posted by bl1nk at 9:29 AM on April 15, 2003

The other great English cultural culinary icon: Mushy Peas.
posted by Vidiot at 9:32 AM on April 15, 2003

Also, my New York relatives have spoke highly of Mello Rolls. Another New York specialty that seems to confound outsiders is theegg cream. Relax, it contains no eggs(or cream for that matter) and it's delicious. Just don't get bottled ones, those are for communists.
posted by jonmc at 9:36 AM on April 15, 2003

Personally, when i think of Scotland, i think of the deep-fried mars bar.

Just in case you ever wondered why the Scots have the lowest life expectancy in the developed world :)
posted by derbs at 9:50 AM on April 15, 2003

Scrapple is to die for, literally, jonmc. It's made of really disgusting things, including, according to local legend, whatever gets swept up off of the floor. But damn is it tasty. Soft pretzels, shoo fly pie, cheesesteaks, tastycakes, potato chips - they all have their roots in PA.

I used to go to Moe's Soda Shop in Manhattan and get 25 cent chocolate egg creams when I was a kid. Then I would sit on the floor and read Archie comics until the drink was gone. *sniff*
posted by iconomy at 10:06 AM on April 15, 2003

Ico, to whet your nostalgia, last night I was at a nameless, grimy old school soda-fountain at the corner of 7th Street and Avenue A that had egg creams in over 20 flavors including watermelon. I can't tell ya if they were good or not cause I had a lime rickey instead, which was phenomenal. Perhaps I'll go the egg cream route tonight.
posted by jonmc at 10:24 AM on April 15, 2003

While we're at it, may I present a few tasty Irish dishes: black pudding and drisheen (aka blood sausage and sheep blood/gut pie), crubeens (aka pig's feet), and to finish, goody (a near-mouldy bread pie).

So long as it's called offal somewhere else, fear not - somebody here will eat it.
posted by Doozer at 10:35 AM on April 15, 2003

When talking about food that "only a local could love", Australians will usually offer Vegemite. It's like other -mites (Marmite, Promite) only worse. (Full disclosure: I love the awful stuff, myself, but I can see how you'd have to have grown up with it.) Oh, and tourists be warned: Australian "meat pies" should mostly be called "gravy pies", as there's not a lot of meat in there.
posted by sennoma at 10:47 AM on April 15, 2003

The best egg creams I've found are at a little hole-in-the-wall newsstand on the west side of Avenue A -- I think it's around 4th or 5th Street.

What's a lime rickey?
posted by Vidiot at 10:48 AM on April 15, 2003

A lime rickey is a lemon-lime soda with a squirt of grenadine and a slice of fresh lime. For non-virgin, add gin.

Now, to the topic at hand, in Utah we have the ubiquitous green jello with carrot shavings, which actually made it onto an Olympic pin. In fact, there's a whole page of Utah food pins.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:07 AM on April 15, 2003

Vidiot, I think we cited the same place. It's A & 7th next to Leschko's.
posted by jonmc at 11:15 AM on April 15, 2003

Also, cherry syrup is often added to a lime rickey, resulting in a cherry lime rickey, also popular.
posted by jonmc at 11:18 AM on April 15, 2003

salt water taffy
posted by goddam at 11:35 AM on April 15, 2003

While I've managed to grid up enough cojones to try trippa alla romana and coda alla vaccinara (tripe in tomato sauce and oxtail in celery broth, respectively) one of the few culinary icons of Rome I have yet to try: pajata di vitello.

Veal intestine with the mother's milk still inside. From what I understand, the calf's digetive juices curdle the milk into a type of soft cheese. It's supposedly very good, but I must admit to having the courage to knowingly eat organ meats about once a year*.

Almost forgot one - horse. Like horse steaks, horse meat rolls, horse jerky...It's quite good, if you can manage not to think of Black Beauty or Mr. Ed during dinner.

*Which is weird, since I have no problems slurping down escargot, frog legs, oysters or other such "exotic" ilk - but the organ meats just trigger the gag reflex for some reason
posted by romakimmy at 11:42 AM on April 15, 2003

jonmc and vidiot, please have an egg cream on me (not on me as in a body shot...on me as in "let's pretend that I paid for it even though I didn't" ;).

Meat pie drowning in pea soup and ketchup sounds really good. I never met a soup I didn't like.
posted by iconomy at 12:08 PM on April 15, 2003

My Italian-born mother is fond of organ meats, I recall, tripe and chicken livers and gizzards. She kept trying to foist liver on me as a kid, and I hated it*. Now I'm getting my revenge by destroying my own.

But experience has taught me that if you don't what your eating, they can be surprisingly tasty. Once in a Japanese restaurant on stuyvesant street I had several chicken-hearts-on-a-stick before I knew what I was eating and they were so tasty I kept going.

*my girlfreinds moms chopped liver excepted. don't ask me why..
posted by jonmc at 12:09 PM on April 15, 2003

Rochester, NY is home of the Zweigle's White Hot. I've never seen them anywhere else.
posted by tommasz at 12:29 PM on April 15, 2003

And don't forget the garbage plate at Nick Tahou's in Rochester.
posted by Vidiot at 12:44 PM on April 15, 2003

mmmmm ... Tahou's

also, spiedies from Binghamton
posted by goddam at 1:08 PM on April 15, 2003

oh yes, spiedies kick ass!
posted by Vidiot at 1:23 PM on April 15, 2003

Does Hawaii's infamous staple, the spam musubi count?

Block of sticky rice, topped with a slice of spam (often marinated and fried), and wrapped with a sheet of seaweed. Mmm!

Hawaii residents are nuts for spam. This island state consumes more of the stuff per capita than any other - 6.7 million cans a year, or 5.3 cans per capita annually. I was raised on the stuff. My wife (who won't eat it at all) says it explains a lot.
posted by pzarquon at 1:25 PM on April 15, 2003

jonmc - thank you, I read that lutefisk article years ago and had been meaning to try to find it again. I'm Norwegian and can testify that it explains the experience perfectly.
posted by widdershins at 2:01 PM on April 15, 2003

So exactly what kind of meat pie is it, that lives in a Pie Floater? There's a chip shop near my house that sells Pukka Pies (beef and onion, steak and kidney, chicken and mushroom etc), I'll just have to try it with one of them.
posted by chrid at 2:42 PM on April 15, 2003

Being raised in Hawaii I love spam too and, like pzarquon's wife, my wife won't touch the stuff. However, turkey spam... now that's good. Very lean and tasty. You even have to add oil into the pan to fry it! So while I can't share regular spam, at least the turkey lip byproduct will get me by. Plus, Mrs. Tacodog approves.
posted by Tacodog at 2:43 PM on April 15, 2003

if i were on a diet this thread would be an awesome appetite suppressant.
posted by t r a c y at 3:50 PM on April 15, 2003

No longer my part of the world, but I used to enjoy Scotch Eggs. This poem describes the pleasurable experience of eating one.
posted by Frank Grimes at 4:16 PM on April 15, 2003

Chrid, the purist would go for the beef & onion, perhaps the steak and kidney. Some (like me) add a dash of vinegar. The soup must be a bright green pea soup, the link above looks a pale imitation. Here's a better picture.

This really is an institution in Adelaide, you meet all sorts, from people in tuxedos & evening gowns after the theatre to scruffy uni students after a pub crawl. Ideally you need to be standing outside, preferably late at night and not quite sober - but not rowdy drunk either. The 'pie cart' mentioned is like a cheap white caravan, with a walk up counter on both sides. It only comes out at night. Absolutely delicious!
posted by ozjohn at 6:35 PM on April 15, 2003

You bad? Try Sardinia's casu marzu, a maggot-infested soft cheese that's brimming with live worms. A Wall Street Journal story said that the most prized type forces eaters to hold a hand over their face as they nosh, lest they get a varmint in the eye.
posted by sacre_bleu at 7:52 PM on April 15, 2003

scrapple, baby. It's everything but the squeal, and it's tasty, especially at about 3am when engaging in post-pub dinering.
posted by mosch at 10:14 PM on April 15, 2003

Good lord, no one mentioned kimchi! Koreans are kimchi, in a way I've never quite seen anywhere else in the world (except in the sense that Canadians are beer).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:25 AM on April 20, 2003

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