Anybody who ever found themselves wondering why “rock salmon” bears no relation either in price or in taste to real salmon would appreciate the concept of “deceptive food” – food which isn’t quite, as the saying goes, what it says on the tin (or the packet, or the box). “Rock” is, of course, dogfish, and was so called because it was felt customers would be repelled by the idea of eating anything associated with a dog (even though a dogfish is merely a fish whose face bears a passing resemblance to that of a dog, and has no canine DNA whatsoever).
Here are a few other foods whose origins may not be immediately obvious from their name:
Bird’s Nest Soup
Birds nests traditionally are constructed from twigs and leaves, and as such would seem a strange ingredient from which to make a soup. Fortunately this popular South East Asian dish is not actually made from birds’ nests at all, but from dried and hardened bird saliva. Phew, I bet you thought you were going to get leaves in your soup for a moment there?
Knowing that Fugu is a Japanese fish would not by itself cause you to baulk from giving it a try. But if you knew that it contained toxic parts which, if not properly removed, would induce death then you might be tempted to stick with the cod, or at the very least to ask for proof of the chef’s professional qualifications.
Octopus is a marine dish that is enjoyed by many but when it is served in Korea as Sannakji but there is a twist – it is still alive! The tentacles squirm when they are being eaten (well wouldn’t you?) and thereby present a choking hazard if due care isn’t taken.
This South East Asian coffee bean is one of the most expensive in the world, which is why it is enjoyed by the discerning civet, a small mammal native to the region. However when it is served for human consumption it has already passed through the civet, which apparently enhances the taste.
If it wasn’t enough that this Sardinian dish of cheese made from sheep’s milk contains live insect larvae, the real clincher is that, when alarmed (as presumably they would be when about to be consumed) they can launch themselves up to six inches into the air.
Eskimo Ice Cream
Unusual ingredients contained in this delicious-looking Arctic delicacy include reindeer fat, berries, ground fish and snow!
Believe it or not there are some people who think a haggis is a real live being. In actual fact it is a sheep’s stomach stuffed with sheep’s liver, heart and lungs as well as oatmeal, onions and spices and left to simmer for three hours.
That old English breakfast favourite actually comprises congealed blood, suet, thickening agents and sausage skin. Just what the doctor ordered.