Strange Things I Have Put In My Mouth

Posted: Nov 1, 2003 10:26:14 PM


When you go travelling, there are several things that everyone says you have to do. Go out into the back streets and little towns and meet the local people. Learn a few words of the local language. And, of course, try the local cuisine.

These can be dangerous. My experiences meeting the locals have met with mixed success (ref: the friendly underground dwellers of Hong Kong), my attempts to communicate have proven variable at best (ref: my mime conversation with the Turkish police), and as for the food...

The pickled herring in Oslo was a mistake, I think. It's a traditional Norwegian dish, but I'm not a big seafood fan, and the herring had a very very strong fishy taste.

Probably not the best thing to have for breakfast.

On the other hand, I have enjoyed searching for the eponymous foods of Europe: the ones named after particular localities. So the Yorkshire pudding in York was nice (although my mother makes better), the danish in Denmark was delicious, the hamburger in Hamburg was not too bad given that the hamburger was actually invented by migrants in America, and when I arrived at Berlin station my wonderful host in Germany - posting here as Captain Roberto T. Fruitbat (don't ask) - met me with a very tasty berliner (a type of jelly donut).

The funny thing is that many of these places don't know them by that name. A berliner in Berlin is called Pfannkuchen. In Copenhagen a danish is a Wienerbrot, which translates as 'Viennese bread'. Sharing the blame, I guess.

Anyway, I have subsisted on junk food in all the most expensive destinations to keep the costs down. In London I lived almost exclusively on Subway sandwiches, although I did have my first sushi at one point. In Scandinavia I had most meals on the street, having purchased a frankfurter from one of the small stands that appear on every single block. Appropriate, given that I spent much of my time in Scandinavia on the street (ref: the previous report).

Roskilde, Stockholm, and Oslo were fantastic places to visit, but I'd need too much room to describe all of the fantastic sights and experiences of my week-long lightning tour, so I'll just say that the Kon Tiki looks a lot larger live than it does in pictures, and that the Vasa Museum is perhaps one of the best museums I've been to so far.

Berlin is wonderful, and thanks to the fact that it is rather cheaper than London and the north I have had a chance to try some interesting food. Yesterday it was eel sushi, at the behest of my host, and it was surprisingly nice. Today several people came up from Leipzig and surrounds (including the delightful Lian who has been posting in the comments area), so we decided to try something ... different.

Yes, for once the subtitle of the report is mostly accurate: we went to a restaurant that has grasshoppers, grubs, and locusts on the menu. Yes, honestly. See)! Fruitbat and I ordered locusts on a bed of Indian curry and cous cous, and ate them all. I know that some of you are squirming at the thought. An excellent feed, although rather chewy, and now I have quite a sore throat. However, I think this is because of all the talking I have done over the last few days (if you've met me you understand), rather than the locusts.

We had great fun, and I'll be having one more day of fun in Berlin before I set out for the next stop: Prague and the Czech Republic. Perhaps there's something disgusting I can eat there.


Charlotte   Nov 1, 2003 11:32:56 PM

Locusts! Bleh! *grin* Don't spoil your appetite - there's still plenty of odd things to be tried along the journey and spamburger isn't what I have in mind.

Damon   Nov 1, 2003 11:44:23 PM

How about Sea Urchin sushi? We were going to try to find some but no luck I'm afraid. Oo, what about fugu?

Charlotte   Nov 1, 2003 11:48:27 PM

Damn! Spoil my surprise! My friend has some fugu crackers (actually just dried bits of fugu) and I have appropriated one for you.

Damon   Nov 1, 2003 11:56:58 PM

*much revelling and celebration*


Charlotte   Nov 2, 2003 12:32:05 AM

It might be difficult for you to try Fugu any other way. I seem to remember someone telling me that it is a seasonal dish. It wasn't in season in September, but maybe that will have changed. Of course, my role in any weird food tasting will be strictly as spectator.

fraZ   Nov 2, 2003 9:04:44 AM

hey D, i sent my cv in to a place & they phoned me & im goign in tomrow so yeah. hope it goes well. hmmmm

Sahi   Nov 2, 2003 1:24:44 PM

Hmmm, sushi!

I don't think I'd be brave enough to try something like locusts. *shivers* I think I'd have to be really, really starved...

AJ   Nov 2, 2003 4:00:04 PM

So Damon, what brand of indigestion tablets do you recommend ?!

Seriously though, it's good to try local cuisine, you can have some wonderful suprises - not sure I'd go for the locusts though, although I'd eat those before the pickled herring!

Damon   Nov 2, 2003 6:30:20 PM

The locusts were fine, actually; chewy, a bit nutty, but pretty much a nice change. And so high in protein! AJ, of the two, the locusts were nicer.

And Fraz, good luck! Where is it for? (you can tell me via e-mail if you don't want to spread it around the online world)

David   Nov 2, 2003 10:47:04 PM

lian   Nov 2, 2003 11:58:51 PM

*smiles* hey, all I can say in short is that I'm really, really glad you didn't buy a house, damon. ;)
Oh dear, now I really can't call you Paragon anymore since I met you as 'Damon' *sob* I so loved that name!
Anyway, I'm delighted to have been called yummy (?). No, wait. The whole company was truly delightful. It was so cool to have Nora as a guide through Berlin. (btw: how was the rhubarb ice cream?)
Angela (Wolfshade's wife) and me were rather tired, actually, we always intended to sleep on the train, but we had so much fun talking that that just wasn't an option.
And I loved that locust-serving restaurant: very good choice on dummi's side. Roasted locusts actually look vaguely cute with their tiny shiny black eyes...I was safe, though, being a vegetarian ^_^
Don't be fooled by this report, though: it only reports a tiny fragment of the fun we had (Pryrates' purply-lit tower, anyone? Mwehehee...) -- and a tiny spark of wanderlust was kindled in me ("Prag isn't even that far from here!") Anyway, gotta go and continue me report on the french educational system. sigh.

Sadalian   Nov 3, 2003 3:54:27 AM

JC - don't tell Damon you haven't tried the food. You need to be gushing about how wonderful it tastes so he will eat it. I'm sure you can find some unusually strange food for Damon to eat in Japan.

If you're after protein, try quinoa. I'm not sure I could eat locusts.

Charlotte   Nov 3, 2003 10:26:39 AM

@Sadalian - I'm afraid it may be too late for me to be believable. Unfortunately in the past I have gone on in great length about what a fussy eater I am. I have probably destroyed my credibility. But you are right: there are plenty of odd and adventurous foods to try in Japan. Or so I've heard, because I have avoided them! *grin*

fraZ   Nov 3, 2003 10:44:04 AM

well i made the short list at the shoe clinic, but well see. oh well. so i hope all this time you have been brushing your teeth

Damon   Nov 3, 2003 9:39:03 PM

*breathes in*

Prague is very cool, rhubarb ice cream is very nice, the weekend was excellent fun, given that I've eaten locusts I don't think I'll need much persuading to try other unorthodox dishes, I have been brushing my teeth - was that a piece of cous cous or an eyeball? - and good luck for the job Fraz!

*breathes out*

marvin   Nov 3, 2003 10:13:29 PM

oh ick. locusts?? but then, i have difficulty coping with a lot of "normal*" food, so...

at any rate, keep on having fun!

*yes, yes, yes. i know "normal" is relative and subjective, but you know what i mean. :P

Rimmers   Nov 4, 2003 10:42:55 AM

hey damon

great to see you don´t want to miss beautiful vienna on your travels. so, a little smarchmeet (the first ever here, to be precise) would be fine. just in case you want to see me, of course...

do you want to see anything in the city? got to have to accord things with Peter as well. as i have proposed, wednesday would be perfect. but i am flexible if you prefer another day.

Rimmers   Nov 4, 2003 10:45:11 AM

oh, of course thursday was what i meant...

Damon   Nov 4, 2003 2:53:04 PM

That sounds neat - of course I want to meet ya!

Peter, I will arrive in Vienna Suedbahnhof from Breclav at around 11:40 am. See you there?

Peter   Nov 4, 2003 3:08:27 PM

Sure. Will do my best to be there :)
Guess I shouldn't sleep late tomorrow ;)

fraZ   Nov 5, 2003 9:21:16 AM

hey damon i thin ki virous has effected your emial account your massye one. anyhow, where are you now by the way?

Rimmers   Nov 5, 2003 3:19:23 PM

@ Damon and Peter

well, possible meetings points...

what about Stephansplatz? (the centre of vienna). we can decide either to walk around from there or just sit in a café. depends all on your plans of course. is tomorrow, early afternoon ok for you? make a suggestion for the time, and i´ll be there, or make a completely different one.

Maladroit   Nov 5, 2003 4:33:16 PM

So, for all these mini-moots, are we going to get lovely pictures of the back of the head of all who attend (a la NZ meet)?
Not that we don't want to see the backs of your heads.
Just leaves more open to speculation - are those his *ears*, or is he wearing ear muffs?

Damon   Nov 5, 2003 6:29:58 PM

Um, my Massey account has been shut down ever since I stopped lecturing. So yes, I think you may have some problems with that one.

Rimmers: sweet, we will sort something out and let you know as soon as possible, in the next few hours hopefully; there will certainly be a place and time online by tomorrow morning. We will aim for early afternoon, somewhere.

Mal: joke's on you, my ears look like earmuffs!

Damon   Nov 5, 2003 9:53:57 PM

Okay, here's the plan: we'll be having a look around Schönbrunn in the morning, all morning, and we'll be wandering the inner city (seeing Stephansdom, Augustinekirche, Staatsoper, Sezession, etc.) for the early afternoon, so how about we meet a bit later and sit in a cafe and chat for a while?

Our suggested meeting place and time: Stock im Eisen in Stephenplatz, about 4pm-ish. If this is not convenient Peter has sent you a Smarch PM with his cellphone number - call and we'll sort something out, earlier or later as you prefer.

fraZ   Nov 6, 2003 9:04:45 AM

, fun. I thin ksomeone used your tomato sauce, im tno sure who.....

Damon   Nov 6, 2003 9:41:06 PM

Not my tomato sauce!

Oh, and I checked, and my Massey e-mail address has been deleted for some time, so I don't know what the story is with those virus e-mails bearing that address as the From: line. Just ignore them.

Peter   Nov 8, 2003 12:55:08 AM

*double checks that the name in the "author" field is Peter, not Damon*

Damon has left for Venice about 2 hours ago and should arrive there tomorrow morning. I hope he's going to get a good night's sleep on the train, because he certainly needs it.

He's been walking around Vienna for two and a half days and he probably gained a bit of weight as well, because we (my parents and I) did our best to feed him Austrian specialities, most of which are meat or sweet meals. We don't mind healthy food, ... as long as it keeps it's distance.

Damon is a great guy of course and a lot of fun to be with, but most of you probably know that already ;) . He must have done a great amount of thinking before he left and while he was travelling around, but I'm not going to reveal more than that. I am also not going to divulge any information about the sights he's seen in Vienna, simply because it's his job.

So despite all the useless text I've been typing and that you've been reading (well, the select few who made it this far...), you'll have to wait for his next report...

So you'd better hope there's cheap net access in Italy...

Peter, signing off for the weekend and crawling off bedwards

el mariachi   Nov 8, 2003 3:00:58 AM

*frown* Did he get a chance to tell you I said you were cute Petjorn? O:)

fraZ   Nov 8, 2003 5:02:28 AM

no more lies, it WAS morgan who had your food

lian   Nov 8, 2003 10:59:10 AM

what's with all that mystery, peter? (or as someone once put it, 'swedish boyfriend?')

*lamely tries to fidget*

*feels much to saturday-morning-comfy to succeed*

Now, fraz, is there something like Damon's private sacred tomato sauce or what's the fuss about...? *chuckles*

Charlotte   Nov 8, 2003 12:11:38 PM

*hopes for a new report soon*

*laughs at the tomato sauce issue* Surely after four months of not being used the tomato sauce would be all nasty anyway?

Morgan   Nov 8, 2003 12:54:48 PM

Never come between a Kiwi and his tomato sauce.

Charlotte   Nov 8, 2003 2:21:24 PM

*impish grin* Whose 'his' were you refering too?

Peter   Nov 8, 2003 5:49:16 PM

I was sitting right next to him when he was reading your mail bandit, and he informed me immediately.

Thus I have been properly reminded ;)

el mariachi   Nov 8, 2003 6:24:55 PM

*cackle* to work. ;_; Shouldn't be allowed on Saturdays, especially while other people are probably boating down Venice's canals even as we speak. *grumble*

Peter   Nov 8, 2003 9:51:48 PM

Well, depending on the weather and the quality of the boat, it might not be all that enjoyable.
And you can get back at him anyway... ;)

Charlotte   Nov 9, 2003 11:55:32 AM

*taps fingers* Impaaaaaaaaaatient!

When's the next report, Damon? More than a week without one is too long. If you don't write one soon, I'll, I'll ....*thinks hard for a bit for a suitable threat* .....
I'll eat your tomato sauce, that's what! So there! *pokes tongue out and stalks off in a huff*

fraZ   Nov 9, 2003 12:18:12 PM

it did taste a little off, ...... umm.. is what morgan said...

Peter   Nov 9, 2003 1:13:34 PM

Well, I'm partially to be blamed for the delay, Charlotte.

While he was here, I was talking too much and keeping him way too busy to write a report. Another problem was, that I couldn't find anything weird enough to make for a good report title...

And then I was rather slow in preparing some stuff he needs for the report, but I finally put that up yesterday in the evening, so you may expect a report as soon as Damon has net access...

Charlotte   Nov 9, 2003 1:27:36 PM

*humphs* Well I'll just have to eat your tomato sauce too, then, since you're taking the blame.

lian   Nov 9, 2003 2:01:09 PM

yea verily, good clue, I'll go cook now.

Guess what...

I'm really curious what prague was like. Damon, you're my scout for all the places that I plan to visit (some day...) Malta, Prague (...and what about Venice?)

So yeah. Tomato sauce. Mmmh....

Peter   Nov 9, 2003 3:42:44 PM

Charlotte: Ok, I'm mortally afraid now. Spaghetti without tomato sauce are simply inacceptable to me...
lian: Does that mean you don't intend to visit Vienna? ;)

Damon   Nov 9, 2003 4:40:41 PM

Okay, Venice was excellent despite all the rain (and there was a lot of it) but there was a big orienteering contest on so absolutely no accommodation. I therefore packed every site I could into one day, and legged it to Milan in the evening. That is where I am now, but it seems very hard and expensive to find Internet access here, so the next report will have to wait for a bit. I am off to Zurich tomorrow, and perhaps Liechtenstein as well, so hopefully there is something a little cheaper there.

Peter   Nov 9, 2003 6:04:09 PM

Well, it's either going to be free, or expensive like hell, I suspect. Switzerland is not counted among the cheapest countries to live in... not by any stretch of the imagination.

Rimmers   Nov 10, 2003 12:02:27 PM

so the next report will be from Swizerland, i suppose?

hope you enjoyed vienna. it was really great to meet some smarchers in persona, finally. now we have our smarchmeet as well, weeha!

Captain Roberto T. Fruitbat   Nov 10, 2003 3:27:43 PM

Venice in the rain, sounds like fun. Just look on the bright side. At least you weren´t on a campsite and had to dig trenches to prevent yourself and all your posessions from getting swept away. It could have been worse. It could have been raining.

Peter   Nov 10, 2003 5:06:48 PM

You'd think a bit of rain wouldn't make a difference in a city like Venice...

Damon   Nov 11, 2003 12:09:58 AM

Okay, a quick update. First of all, sorry the new report is taking such a long time: Net access is horrendously expensive in Switzerland (surprise surprise), so I shall do it properly on Wednesday or Thursday. Plus there will be a special feature: a picture gallery, at last, displaying some of the sights of Vienna (and perhaps a locust or two).

I wandered around Liechtenstein today...

Peter   Nov 11, 2003 8:35:01 AM

*thinks "good, cheap internet access for Damon" thoughts*

Peter (admin)   Nov 11, 2003 12:56:32 PM

My ISP has informed me, that there might be connection outages from Thursday night to Friday morning (Austrian time). So it's probably going to be just a connection outage and not the end of the world, if this site can't be reached at that time.

Sorry for the inconvenience,

Sahi   Nov 12, 2003 9:51:19 AM

Damon is coming to Amsterdam!

*has mailed all Dutch smarchers she knew of*


Damon   Nov 12, 2003 10:27:19 AM

Right, writing a new report right now...

Sahi   Nov 12, 2003 5:05:35 PM


Damon, after tonight I won't be able to read my e-mail. I'll send you an e-mail with my mobile phone number.

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