Looking for Food Items to include in a Challenge List
December 12, 2013 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Inspired but discouraged by the class assumptions inherent in various rare/unique foods challenge lists (possibly spammy example) that include pricey and rare foods like fugu, absinthe and black truffle, friends and I are working on a similar list that focuses on food that anyone who eats could potentially find and afford to eat.

By which I mean snacks, street food, home cooking and other food that comforts us, reminds us of home and family, is relatively cheap and filling, and that ideally sounds possibly offensive or disgusting (thus the challenge) to our friends from other cultures. I'm talking about foods like scrapple, lutefisk, gefiltefish, rice and beans, instant ramen, spam musubi, kimchee, sauerkraut, milk, cheese, grilled lamb lungs, squirrel kebabs and devilled ham.

What I want from you is an item from your street food, home cooking and/or comfort food menu that we don't have yet.

To try to avoid ChatFilter, I've consulted with a mod, and asked how to go about this in the most productive way. She suggested that I ask in the following ways:
- I want one or two items per answerer, and the items should be relatively generic types of food. "Kimchee" or "kimchee fried rice" is good, but "Grandma's kimchee fried rice" is too specific.
- If you can provide a picture, that'd be grand. If not, the food item should be easily identifiable on Google Images or Wikimedia Commons or the Creative commons Flickr image pools.
- If you're aware of ambiguity in your food's name, any disambiguating info would be appreciated.
- Given mine and my friends' food ways experiences, we have good listings for North American (Mexican, Canadian, Caucasian U.S.A-ian), Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean), European (British, French, German), Philipino, but are light on African, Middle Eastern, South American, the poles, various small islands, Eastern Europe, smaller Asian countries, the Mediterranean and (Sub-continental) Indian and surrounding countries' food ways, as well as non-white North American home cooking.

Also, in case it seems weird that I'm not linking to a list of what we already have, not only is it big and spammy but I asked the mod I was talking with if I should link to the list of what we already have, and she wasn't so hot on that idea (because of the weirdness of linking to what could be temporary or soon-to-be-edited information), so I'm not doing that here in the question.

If you can help out and lend a hand, we'd be very much obliged. Thank you in advance!
posted by kalessin to Food & Drink (71 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
OK so you are making your own version of "The Food List Challenge: Are you a foodie? Prove it!" that assumes a North American location and a wide-ranging palate but does not assume oodles of money to burn?

From Hawaii: poi
From Korea (I know, this is an area you have covered well, but I really really love this dish and it's so stinky): Cheongukjang
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:13 PM on December 12, 2013


Actually very lean, and tasty when mixed with beef and made into burgers.
posted by spinifex23 at 2:13 PM on December 12, 2013

To clarify, we're looking for a global perspective for the list and are hoping AskMe responders can help us fill in the bits of the globe that we are not familiar with, sorry for being unclear.
posted by kalessin at 2:17 PM on December 12, 2013

- Chopped Barbecue
- Marshmallow Fluff
posted by Rock Steady at 2:17 PM on December 12, 2013

Vietnamese 3 bean drink, aka Che

Vietnamese Banh mi.

Both are as cheap as chips.
posted by smoke at 2:19 PM on December 12, 2013

Sounds like most areas where I could answer personally are covered, but my Jamaican coworkers speak longingly of homemade goat stew, and saltfish.
(Also FYI, it's spelled Filipino)
posted by brilliantine at 2:19 PM on December 12, 2013

When I lived in Romania people ate a lot of mămăligă (sort of a polenta-y thing) and sarmale (cabbage leaves wrapped around... stuff, there are a lot of regional variations in that whole part of the world). Ciorbă_de_burtă is a tripe soup that is a little more high end (like it's special occasion food, not every day food but still not super fancy like caviar-fancy) and is also something that has many regional variations.
posted by jessamyn at 2:20 PM on December 12, 2013

Iowa -

Quiche. It has a french name, so you think it's fancy, but it's actually cheap egg pie.
Tater tot casserole.
Creamed corn.
Fried catfish.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:25 PM on December 12, 2013

Tripa tacos

Deep fried turkey
posted by phunniemee at 2:26 PM on December 12, 2013

Things my grandmother cooked and I ate when I was a kid that seem to gross people out:

Beef Tongue
Pig's Feet
posted by Julnyes at 2:28 PM on December 12, 2013


Placki aka potato onion pies

Kapusta aka sauerkraut
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:29 PM on December 12, 2013

posted by rue72 at 2:34 PM on December 12, 2013

Creamed olives
Chicken stickers
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 2:35 PM on December 12, 2013

Haggis! The secret is that it's actually delicious.
posted by aychedee at 2:37 PM on December 12, 2013

North Germany: Currywurst : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Currywurst
South Gemany (esp. Munich): Weisswurst : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weisswurst
posted by prentiz at 2:37 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Durian seems like one of those good polarizing fruits to add to the list.

Pawpaw fruit - not everyone has had it or heard of it, plus it looks kind of disgusting until you eat it and then it's like...mmm, apple-banana-custard.

Conch...I had this in the Bahamas, fresh out of the sea (sorry little buddy!), and it was (iirc) just "cooked" with lemon and lime juice, like ceviche, and served with some spices and some kind of salsa. (This was almost 10 years ago so my details are foggy. Random pic via googling.)
posted by cardinality at 2:37 PM on December 12, 2013

Dolmades? Arepas?
posted by kmennie at 2:38 PM on December 12, 2013

i love indian food, but as a kid, there were two somewhat soggy things that i couldn't get fully on board with:

bhindi masala
(okra masala)
a potential slimefest, though tasty

(mustard leaves)
posted by mrmanvir at 2:38 PM on December 12, 2013

oh, also - i definitely second durian
posted by mrmanvir at 2:39 PM on December 12, 2013

posted by troika at 2:41 PM on December 12, 2013

Halal chicken
posted by Obscure Reference at 2:42 PM on December 12, 2013

Plate lunch with two scoop rice (and one macaroni salad)

Kolache (like my Czech grandma used to make).
posted by rtha at 2:43 PM on December 12, 2013

P.S. "spamandkimchi"! I see what you did there :)
posted by cardinality at 2:43 PM on December 12, 2013

the horrible monstrous gefilte fish comes to mind
posted by elizardbits at 2:44 PM on December 12, 2013

Pickled eggs or the century egg.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:45 PM on December 12, 2013

Wait -- creamed olives, what's that? (nothing obvious on the google).
posted by AwkwardPause at 2:46 PM on December 12, 2013

Stink Heads, an Alaska Native dish. Not home cooked though... it's not cooked at all.
posted by yohko at 2:50 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cassaeep... it's a preservative -and- a condiment! you can keep food perking away in it for years! (also, it's delicious).
posted by The otter lady at 2:55 PM on December 12, 2013

Iceland has hákarl, or rotten fermented shark.

Sweden has surströmming, or rotten fermented herring.

Growing up, holidays at my extremely German paternal grandparents' house always involved cannibal sandwiches (raw ground beef sprinkled with black pepper and raw onions on cocktail rye) and jarred pickled herring.
posted by divined by radio at 3:06 PM on December 12, 2013

Pig's head. (In New Zealand a whole pig's head is cheap and easily available, and are common in Pacific Island cuisine.)


(By the way, I'm not sure a global list works all that well. For me, for example, many of the items in your list would be at least as hard to get and expensive as fugu or absinthe, and I imagine you aren't going to find kangaroo for the $6 per kilo I can buy it for here, either.)
posted by lollusc at 3:19 PM on December 12, 2013

Garbage Plate.
posted by oflinkey at 3:23 PM on December 12, 2013

Indonesian street vendors push their cart selling bakso which is a meatball made from meat, fish, pork, or other mystery ingredient in a broth. Satay vendors also abound.

Burbur injin, black rice pudding in coconut milk, shows up at breakfast and on dessert menus.

Another breakfast dish/comfort food would be nasi goreng istimewa, fried rice with a fried egg on top.

My absolute favorite breakfast is Malaysian roti canai with dal and curry sauce on the side.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:32 PM on December 12, 2013

Bannock? Oatcakes? Fiddleheads? Jiggs dinner? Rappie pie? Tortillon cheese? Dandelions: greens, wine, jelly?
posted by kmennie at 3:32 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Red snapper hot dogs
Trinidadian Doubles and Aloo pie
French-Canadian Ployes
posted by dizziest at 3:38 PM on December 12, 2013

Blood sausage, of which there are several varieties. To name a few:
Korean soondae
Spanish morcilla
UK black pudding

Soondae is a popular street food in Korea, and there are also restaurants specializing in soondae and soondae soup.

There's also sunjiguk (soup made with coagulated ox blood), which is one of the soups referred to as "hangover soup" in Korea.
posted by needled at 3:39 PM on December 12, 2013

Vegemite (Australian).

Mangosteen - tropical fruit, legend has it that Queen Victoria offered a 100 pound reward to anyone who could deliver one to her. Likely to find in Asian grocery stores etc.

Finger limes - Australian native citrus fruit that has 'citrus pearls' or citrius cavaiar inside, bubbles of flesh that burst in your mouth (link is to a US mail order source).
posted by AnnaRat at 3:44 PM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Matzo Brei - Ashkenazi Jewish
Chivito - Uruguay
posted by expialidocious at 4:09 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by neroli at 4:10 PM on December 12, 2013

And, a throwback to my youth in Wisconsin - Hotdish.

Jello Salad. If you're like my grandmother, you put in LOTS of shredded carrot!

Frozen Custard. The custard joints in Milwaukee make their custards in house, and even put out a monthly calendar, advertising each day's flavors. (Because there'd always be Chocolate, Vanilla, and Flavor of the Day).

Now I'm homesick....
posted by spinifex23 at 4:43 PM on December 12, 2013

Meat pie is Australia's street food, or a Chiko Roll, or a potato scallop. For something more traditional, witchetty grubs.
posted by goo at 4:51 PM on December 12, 2013

Vegemite. Eat it a small smear on hot buttered toast and not straight from the jar. It's an Australian, and most Aussie kids grow up eating, but it is a very acquired taste. You can buy it on Amazon, they ship it from the UK as far as I can tell to get around US restrictions. A jar is about $8 bucks with postage and would do breakfast for a a bunch of people with no worries.
posted by wwax at 4:52 PM on December 12, 2013

Gołąbki ("g'wumpki" more or less, depending on dialect and poor pronunciation). We have them at Christmas, but we buy them from the deli in the old neighborhood, so I don't have a particular recipe for them. It's a meat, rice and onion filling, rolled in cabbage leaves, braised in a tomato sauce.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:04 PM on December 12, 2013


- Poutine
- Butter Tarts
posted by barnoley at 5:09 PM on December 12, 2013

Fair food: Deep fried Twinkies, Snickers, butter, etc.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:22 PM on December 12, 2013

popular Christmas foods in Minnesota (originally from Norway):

general Midwest/New England USA (?):
Fluffernutter sandwich
posted by belladonna at 6:27 PM on December 12, 2013

For Antarctica - which has no native peoples, but does have a...cuisine: Hoosh. It's more of a make-it-yourself thing, though, and not a buy-it-somewhere thing.
posted by rtha at 6:40 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

A street drink in Moscow and other parts Russian is kvass. It's a very-low-alcohol beer made from dark rye bread. Cheap & tasty, too.
posted by Jesse the K at 6:46 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Bierock aka Runza if you are in Nebraska.
posted by ephemerista at 6:59 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

As kids we used to have Chicken Feet Soup (but not the chinese variant) which is basically regular chicken soup made with whole chicken feet instead of the other parts of the chicken people usually put into their chicken stock. Ours had home made egg noodles instead of potatoes.

I associate it with poor farmers food so I don't really make it for myself but my mother loves it and she'll eat the flesh off the bones, which I'm going to call Jamaican style from now on, because the feet survive cooking completely intact.

And poor farmers food that I enjoy is head cheese which isn't cheese but rather a jellied meat. We used to make it every time we butchered a pig but now I (not having a pigs head handy at any point) just buy it at the deli. Though it can be made with just about any meat trimmings. This is pretty well how you make it at home.

And I make bannock all the time which fits more into your rice and beans category than your looks disgusting category.
posted by Mitheral at 7:26 PM on December 12, 2013

More on the Australian front:
scallop pie
And the potato scallops mentioned above have nothing to do with scallops, nor are they anything like scalloped potatoes. In Victoria we call them potato cakes and although recipes are hard to find, this video seems well-regarded.
posted by Athanassiel at 7:46 PM on December 12, 2013

From India: Nahari (goat's feet and tongue soup)
posted by yawper at 7:55 PM on December 12, 2013

Maultaschen: Swabian (German) ravioli-like things but not as good. On every single menu in Stuttgart. And from Wikipedia

On 22 October 2009, the European Union recognized Maultaschen (Schwäbische Maultaschen or Schwäbische Suppenmaultaschen) as a "regional specialty" and remarked that the dish is significant to the cultural heritage of Baden-Württemberg.[1] This measure provides protection to the integrity of the dish, mandating that genuine Maultaschen are only produced in Swabia, a historical region that was incorporated into the modern German states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria (Bayern).[2]
posted by murrey at 8:00 PM on December 12, 2013

Forgot my favorite from New Jersey--Taylor Pork Roll Breakfast sandwich. To be more specific -- pork roll, egg and cheese on a hard roll. Heavenly, but lord knows what's in that stuff. The google photos for taylor pork look kind of gross too.
posted by murrey at 8:09 PM on December 12, 2013

I also require more information about creamed olives.

As for the list: tamales, kasha varnishkes, sauerkraut balls, and pączki.
posted by MeghanC at 8:44 PM on December 12, 2013

Everything I'm suggesting is available for less than $20 in NYC.

From Mexico, huitlacoche: available in New York from Toloache Taqueria in an $8 burrito, so probably not hard to find

From Denmark, kransekake, can be made yourself with almonds and some confectioners' sugar.

From the Philippines, balut, can be made yourself with a warm spot by the radiator and a handful of fertilized chicken eggs.

From Mexico and a bunch of other places, menudo, can be made at home with supermarket ingredients.

From lots of Eastern Europe, salo, can be purchased or made yourself from fatback pork.

From about fifty miles outside Chicago, although my hosts assured me it was common throughout the midwest, a "hot sandwich." Apparently, in some places this very specifically means you make a regular hot sandwich (e.g., roast beef, meat loaf, etc.), lay it open-faced, cover it with a layer of mashed potatoes, and then pour gravy over the whole thing. It's best eaten after a long bike ride.

A cautionary note about the thousand-year eggs: make sure you advise people to look for packages that say "lead free." At some point people figured out that you could achieve a more tender consistency by mixing lead oxide into the marinade. That turns out to be a really bad idea.
posted by d. z. wang at 9:30 PM on December 12, 2013

Oh, and I forgot pemmican! Can be made at home, if you don't mind substituting beef and tallow for the more exotic meats traditionally used.
posted by d. z. wang at 9:34 PM on December 12, 2013

I was in Italy recently and had a wonderful lampredotto sandwich. It's made from the lining of a cow's fourth stomach, which differentiates it from other types of tripe; apparently use of the fourth stomach is pretty uncommon. The sandwich cost me €3.50 or so.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:46 PM on December 12, 2013

Swedish caviar spread
Salmiak candy
posted by yellowcandy at 9:54 PM on December 12, 2013

Dutch suggestions:

- herring, eaten (uncooked, but lightly brined and freshly filleted) from a street stall. At least in some parts of the country, the way to eat it is to tip your head back, hold the herring by the tail, and slide it into your mouth; there are plenty of examples in this Google image search. I'm not sure how easy or cheap it would be to get outside the Netherlands though.

- pancakes (pannenkoeken), eaten as a main course, with savoury toppings such as bacon, cheese and onion, plus syrup (stroop). To an English palate, this is not a natural combination - syrup doesn't go with savoury things, ever, ugh, what a thought! - but turns out to be delicious.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 11:48 PM on December 12, 2013

The homecooking I know best is Western European, so probably not too helpful to you in general, but the meat salad we make is definitely traditional yet doesn't have any good recipes online, so I think maybe it's not yet represented (it's German):

Meat Salad -- except, instead of German bologna, my family uses head cheese. It's sold with the cold cuts. For what it's worth, we also don't include the tomato.
posted by rue72 at 12:31 AM on December 13, 2013

Moose Burgers
Cod Tongues
Bakeapple (cloudberry) Jam
posted by gohabsgo at 6:34 AM on December 13, 2013

Georgia: Khinkali, nigvziani badrijani, lobiani, and khachapuri are actually good, and mujuji if you want something gross--it's cold jellied pork mush

UAE: camel milk, mahkbous, mahthruba--I haven't tried this, pureed chicken sounds esp nasty to this vegetarian

Nepal: momo

Togo: fufu
posted by rmless at 9:16 AM on December 13, 2013

You all are the best! Thank you! Any more suggestions? I will happily take them all.
posted by kalessin at 9:25 AM on December 13, 2013

prentiz: South Gemany (esp. Munich): Weisswurst : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weisswurst

I can't second this enough. I went on an exchange to Munich in High School and the first thing my host family fed me was this barely cooked sausage I was told to suck out of its casing. It was nearly traumatic, but I think they enjoyed watching me struggle.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:29 AM on December 13, 2013

Tibetan tsampa and yak butter tea.

Mongolian airag
posted by elizardbits at 9:30 AM on December 13, 2013

tomato pie
snapper soup (the turtle, not the fish) and pepper pot soup
posted by sepviva at 7:07 PM on December 13, 2013

Knishes? I love knishes, but WASPy folks always have no idea what I'm talking about, and find the concept unappealing. Square knishes do not count. Square knishes are a travesty. Other Ashkenazi staples that sound unappealing to my friends: noodle kugel, kasha varnishkas, and kreplach. I think that last one is just based on the name.

Seconding tongue. Maybe shakshouka? Or halva (the stringy sesame seed kind is the best). Definitely thach (pronounced "tack"). Maybe skyr? It's a sort of cheese from Iceland that you eat like yogurt. I think you can get it at Whole Paycheck now. Maybe Bamba.

Anyone who dislikes gefilte fish is wrong.
posted by topoisomerase at 8:19 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

India -- Jackfruit.
posted by redlines at 5:28 AM on December 14, 2013

SEconding sturstromming. I made the mistake of going into a garden where a can was being opened while drunk, and ended up being sick as the smell is foul. However, we only got hold of a can as my friend was on a business trip over there and managed to get some fedexed back - you can't take it on a plane.
posted by mippy at 4:54 AM on December 16, 2013

My friends and I are harvesting the ideas here we didn't already have, but you all get a gold star! When we get our poop together, and come up with the quizzy list, I'll link to it here. Looks like even though it's dodgy/spammy and doesn't allow editing after the fact, we'll probably use the List Challenges host since the service of hosting such a quizzy list is one we'll "pay" for by providing the content.

We'll also have a Google Docs draft we'll share the read-only URL to.
posted by kalessin at 8:38 AM on December 16, 2013

Update: Friends bailed (short but irrelevant story). I am slowly working on getting the list into shape and will probably self-host the list since the challenge list site is spammy and a scam. If this thread is still open when I'm done I'll update here. If not, I'll put it in my profile.
posted by kalessin at 7:05 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

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