What is bizarre about a certain aspect of a foreign culture is by no means bizarre to those who practice it. Foreign foods that usually appear bizarre to Americans are often those made from ingredients found locally. Abundant resources are usually used in a greater variety of ways, therefore creating something that appears strange. Accordingly, traditional Spanish cuisine boasts many popular foods that may seem bizarre to Americans.
Calçots are a bit unusual not for their taste, but for the strange way they are produced. Calçots are farmer-bred giant scallions about the size of leeks. They could be considered bizarre because they are a mutant product of planting a halved regular-size white onion in the ground. Calçots are typically prepared on an outdoor barbecue grill. They can also be used in a variety of recipes, though the most popular way to enjoy them is dipped whole in a marinara sauce and eaten with the hands.
Percebes are known in English as goose barnacles and grow most abundantly on the rocky Spanish and Portuguese coasts. As such, they are delicacies in both countries. On the outside, percebes look like mutated crab claws, while their taste is reminiscent of a cooked mushroom stalk. They are usually prepared simply by steaming or quick-boiling.
Morcilla is the Spanish version of blood sausage, or "black pudding." While blood sausage exists in many cultural cuisines, morcilla is unique. Along with the main ingredient, pork blood, morcilla incorporates rice, onions and pig's fat. In northwestern Spain, sugar is added to the morcilla and is often served as a dessert.
Made from bull testicles, criadillas are considered a delicacy in Spain, Portugal and many South American cultures. They are often eaten as a tapa or snack in the afternoon. Criadillas are usually rubbed with a little oil, garlic and parsley and then grilled.
Spanish dishes incorporate a lot of seafood and beach creatures, including snails. They can be eaten as tapas as they are, boiled in a little olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, or incorporated into a variety of preparations, including vegetable, rice, pasta and meat dishes.
- Photo Credit paella image by AGITA LEIMANE from Fotolia.com
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