Old recipes that usually only see the light of day around this time of year are dusted off and put to good use, as mums and dads mix, bake and barbeque the family into a state of culinary wonderment, filling the table with everything from seafood to eggnog.
But as the shopping centres stock the shelves in anticipation for the Christmas rush, and the turkey population teeters on the brink of extinction, I ask you, is it time for a change? Is it time for something new? Could it be that we quite literally have sucked the marrow from the last 200 years of tradition, and are now left contemplating the inevitability of a Christmas culinary revolution? I say yes. Bring it.
In that vein, I have compiled a list of my top ten Christmas recipes, replete with recipe, description and video links to help you get started cooking you first Christmas meal of the new age.
Commonly sold in the Philippines, Balut is a fertilized duck egg with an almost developed embryo. Typically it is boiled and eaten in its shell. Instructions for eating are simple. Open the top, sip the juice then gob the rest.
2. Casu Marzu (a.k.a. maggot cheese)
Delightful with a couple of crackers, a wedge of Sardinian Casu Marzu will whet anyone's appetite. Made traditionally from sheep milk, the cheese is impregnated with maggots and left to ferment to the point of decomposition, mostly brought about by the digestive action of the larvae. At time of consumption, it is virtually impossible to rid the cheese of the insect, and must be ingested as is... nom, nom, nom.
One knows they have stumbled onto culinary greatness when finding a recipe not in a cookbook, but in a medical journal. Stinkheads, or tepa are essentially fermented whitefish heads, and are a traditional food of the Yup'ik people in southwest Alaska. Fish heads and guts are stuffed into a barrel and buried for a week or so to 'flavour'. This dish has been attributed to massive outbreaks of botulism in producing communities.
Medical Journal: http://www.medicine.nevada.edu/dept/hom/2010/Spring.pdf
4. Century Egg
Essentially a duck, chicken or quail egg that has been preserved in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime and rice hulls from several weeks to several months. Through the preservation process, the yolk turns to a lovely dark green while the white becomes a dark brown translucent jelly. Not only visually appealing, aromatically the century egg seduces your senses with the subtle scent of sulphur and ammonia.
5. Jellied Moose Nose
When appraising a moose, who could deny that its nose would be its most palatable asset. Especially after boiling and cooling it, allowing spam like jelly to coalesce.
1. Dancing Squid Bowl
Served in Hokodake Japan, the dancing squid bowl is as entertaining as it is tasty. A live squid is placed in a bowl and the top portion of its head (mantle) removed prior to serving. Once served, a special sauce is poured over the squid, triggering a chemical reaction which subsequently causing all its tentacles to flail about wildly. I have always wanted to hive five a meal before consumption. Now I can.
2. Fly Burgers
Made in Malawi, flies are harvested at the turn of the new moon, and ground down to a paste with tomatoes and onion.
3. Kutty Pi
Considered taboo even in its country of origin (India), Kutty Pi is essentially a goat fetus. The dish is said to possess medicinal qualities, beneficial to pregnant women and those suffering from tuberculosis or back pains.
1. Eel Ice Cream
Awesome. Just in case you can't get enough of that eely goodness, it comes with a flavour sachet for an extra boost.
Instructions: http://kisyoku.info/unagi.htm (scroll down for images)
2. Seagull Wine
One of the rarest Eskimo wines, it is guaranteed to delight, and so easy to make. Quite literally, all you need is one seagull, and a bottle. Put the seagull in the bottle, put the bottle in sunlight and wait for reduction / fermentation.
Ben Kitzelman has spent the last 4 years travelling between Australia and Zambia, serving for one as a missionary, and is now an IT professional in Melbourne.
Ben's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/ben-kitzelmen.html