I eat weird food. There's no secret about that.
When left to my own eating devices, I'm most content eating something that is fermented, pickled, or is a small sea creature with eyes still intact. I've happily eaten toasted, seasoned bugs, eggs black with age, and a variety of thick sauces that smell like they've long since rotted. In many cases they have -- then rounded the corner again to deliciousness (in my opinion).
When I was visiting my husband in Japan a few years ago, I gleefully helped myself to a trough of tiny little sea "worms" that had been dried and salted and set out for tasting at a local department store. My husband was horrified, I was in heaven.
But amidst all my seemingly "unusual" eating practices, I'm surprisingly wary of what BELONGS in my food versus what I've ALLOWED. I may be eating a salad of seaweed, stinky tofu, and crispy fried red ants (yes, there's a restaurant in Los Angeles that served this), but if one of those ants is an imposter that has walked onto my plate for a cannibalistic sampling of his insect brethren, I'm the first person who will push my plate away.
I readily eat "gross" food, but only on my own terms.
So when I hear stories about "unsavory" items found in food, to the surprise of my friends and family, I'm totally GROSSED OUT.
When I was a kid living in Seattle, there was a McDonald's near my house that had some "problems" one year. Shortly after New Year's, a woman found a condom in her hamburger. Not in the wrapper, not a piece of a condom, but a WHOLE CONDOM that the local paper described as "used."
Later that year, that same McDonald's made local headlines again when a "used Band-aid" was reportedly discovered in another hamburger. Even my childhood addiction to Chicken McNuggets couldn't survive those discoveries. To this day, I can't shake the belief that McDonald's is the fast food chain most likely to give you hepatitis.
While in college in St. Louis, Lipton "Cup-a-Soup" and "Pasta Sides" packets were among my favorite late night treats. After a long night of drinking, nothing was more satisfying than that salty seasoning packet and those chewy noodles.
One night I came home, and my roommate and I set about making a creamy instant pasta feast. We pulled a couple packets from our considerable "Lipton Stash," and started boiling a big pot of water. I boozily ripped open a packet of parmesan noodles, and dumped them into the water.
As I reached for the next packet, and glanced into the water, something caught my eye. Amidst the usual specks of "flavoring", I spied lumps, dark brown lumps. I leaned closer into the pot and also noticed small white blobs floating in the water -- MOVING.
I screamed. The brown lumps were beetles, the white blobs were MAGGOTS.
My roommate and I ripped open packet after packet and found beetles and maggots happily living in almost every single one. We'd been munching on that "Lipton Stash" for weeks -- usually without a second glance before gobbling it up through beer goggles.
I later learned that those bugs were and are a really common problem in St. Louis dry goods and pasta. Anybody with any sense double checks their Lipton packets before cooking them. I had no sense. I never ate those Lipton pasta packets again.
So when an New York City woman found a lizard head (Or is it a torso? It has an arm.) in her salad, and I saw this picture:
I made a temporary vow to avoid green salads at all costs.
It's slimy with salad dressing. Ugh.
“After a few bites, I look down at my fork, and think, Oh, ‘Is that a piece of asparagus?’And then I saw that it had eyes, and an arm.” Robin Sandusky said of her Guy and Gallard salad.
Sandusky claims she placed the lizard head back on the fork, back in the salad and sent it back with a delivery person. While Guy and Gallard refunded Sandusky her money, they claim there was no lizard in the salad."
Uhhhhh, Guy and Gallard? I don't know what kind of freaky asparagus you buy, but to the rest of us, THAT'S A LIZARD.
Turns out some of the xoJane editors have come across some surprises in their food too:
Last month, I bought a bag of dried figs from Garden of Eden, a grocery store near me, and there was this tiny off-white thing on one of the figs. I'm kind of spacey so, for some reason, I thought it was a dried leaf. I wiped it off with a napkin. Then, from the corner of my eye, I saw the white thing wriggling on a napkin...it was a maggot. I threw the whole bag away because I think flies usually lay much more than one egg. I haven't eaten figs since.
I found a shoebox under my bed a few years ago that had been there since the '90s. There was old chocolate in it and I saw maggots crawling out. I screamed and screamed and ripped off all my clothes before jumping in the shower and crying for an hour. I wouldn't sleep in my bedroom for like two weeks. I try to block that from my memory.
My roommate is obsessed with the 99 Cent Store and always buys food on sale. She got some granola bars and opened one and found DEAD MAGGOTS in it! How the hell did they get in there in the first place?!?!
My mom found a Band-aid in a Taco Bell burrito once, which makes me gag to even think about. Also, we have a moth problem here and I find moth worms in my food a LOT. Usually after I have boiled it (it's generally stuff like lentils.) HORRIFYING.
Once I steamed some artichokes and a bunch of bugs came out, but I didn't eat them because I was too horrified, so I don't know if that counts. [Yes it does, and this has happened to me too with artichokes.]
One time in Mexico, I bit into a cookie and then looked down as I swallowed and it was covered with tons of little tiny red ants.
WHY ARE MAGGOTS IN EVERYTHING??? What's the grossest thing you've ever found in your food? Are there any foods that are completely off limits to you now?