The most sinful tastes

The Chinese may enthuse about the perfect swallow’s nest and the Russians can’t seem to get enough of borscht. There are only a few rare delicacies, like the serial-killer puffer fish, however, that can actually make eating a deadly endeavor. Meanwhile, some legendary foods travel around the world before they make their way onto diners’ plates, like the Glass Eel which supposedly wander 6,000 kilometers before landing in European fishermen’s nets. Read on for a list of the bizarrest rare delicacies that you have to try at least once in your lifetime.

Glass Eels are of those delicacies that unfortunately can only be enjoyed on rare occasions. They are also referred to by their place of origin, either civelles if they are obtained from French waters, or angulas if they are fished off the coasts of Spain.
Tiny transparent baby eels fried with fresh garlic are a fantastic dish that few people have the opportunity to try. These tiny creatures supposedly swim almost 6,000 kilometers after they hatch, from the Sargasso Sea to the Spanish and French coasts of Europe. Those who offer this delicacy are more likely to discuss the eel’s impressive migration patterns than the enormous Eel breeding farms which are mostl found in Spanish waters. Fishing boats catch the real deal glass eels in enormous nets from mid-October to mid-April.

There are a variety of black truffles but the only real one is the Tuber Melano spore, characterized by its round shape, coal-black appearance and unique scent of earth, mushrooms or nuts.
The inside of these truffles is a brownish black with visible white veins (except towards the end of the truffle season). Known as Perigord truffles, they are generally harvested in the Perigord region of France or Spain. This versatile treat can be enjoyed raw, added to sauces or used to spice up chicken dishes. With its obscenely high prices, the Tuber Melano spore is an ideal target for fakers who try to sell imitations. Less expensive types are often colored and passed off as the real deal by savvy swindlers.

Instead of being eaten raw, the white truffels are best used as a special spice: when cooked, the truffles “melt”, creating a special delicacy. The prices are exorbitant but these truffles are especially intense in flavor and aroma.

Only 10 to 16 grams of this unique concotion are needed to transform a plate of noodles into an awesome taste-explosion. The fantastic sensation and complimentary aroma are almost too much for most to describe. Alain Ducasse, star chef from Monaco, characterizes the pricey food as “smelling like garlic and old Parmesan”. It might not sound particularly appealing but it makes for a truly fantastic dining experience. The best white truffles are generally available in mid-October and are predominantly grown in Italy and Croatia. Be forewarned that faux “truffle oil” doesn’t contain the true truffle aroma, but chemical scents.

With its spiny arms, massive pincers and enormous body (which can be up to a meter long), the Alaska King Crab looks like a sea monster from a 1960s cult horror flick. Don’t let its appearance scare you away from this delicacy however!
The biggest king crabs caught on record weighed from eight to ten kilo. Of course, the ones you’ll find at the store when you’re out shopping won’t be quite as large. Larger older crabs are not in demand because their meat is too tough and sinewy to enjoy. Most king crabs on the market are a mere 15 to 20 centimeters in size. The claws are harmless – chefs just fear them because it takes a lot of work to properly prepare them! This seafood treat is best enjoyed raw or with some homemade  butter.

As more and more caviar makes its way into the supermarket, people are losing the sense of what true high-quality caviar should taste like. For the record, the really good stuff comes from Iran or Russia.
Three varieties of caviar can be purchased in atores: beluga, sevruga and oscietra. The names refer to the Sturgion types. Beluga caviar is the largest and Sevruga the smallest. The mid-sized Oscietra Sturgion eggs have the nuttiest flavor of the three. Unfortunately, extinction threatens many of the wild. Sturgion and caviar harvesting is permitted only under very severely restricted laws. Caviar raised in captivity lacks the distinct taste of the wild product – and in really bad cases retains a taste of salt water. Even worse, many producers put out fake caviar, filling broken egg shells with a chemically produced material and adding a fake fish aroma.

The promise of well-prepared puffer fish is tantalizing to any true gourmet but this dish is only for the brave. Hundreds of Japanese puffer fish lovers die from this delicacy every year and there is no antidote against the fish’s lethal poison, tetrodotoxin.
Still, many would agree that a properly prepared puffer fish is worth the risk. The toxin is largely localized and most of the over 20 types of fugu carry the tetrodotoxin in the liver and, in the females, the ovaries. Depending on the exact breed, the eyes and gall bladder may also be off limits. The experienced chef cuts away the poisonous parts of the animal, without injuring the valuable meat. Many scientists have studied the wildly popular puffer fish: some claim that tetrodotoxin has hallucinogenic effects when take in small doses, making the meat a sort of maritime cocaine. The adrenaline rush that comes with eating pufferfish is an interesting plus as the diner realizes that any bite could be his last.

Abalone makes its home in a pearly shell in the ocean, attaching itself to rocks lining coastal shores.
Even those who haven’t eaten abalone have probably at least seen its shell in jewelry stores! Some would say that the edible delicacy is even more valuable than its precious home. Harved along coastal shores by wading fisherman or by diving teams in depths of up to 20 meters, abalone is valued for its unique blend of hazelnut and seawater flavor. Because the creature generally habitats its shell solo, it can be even harder to get the meat out of the shell than to retrieve it from the depths of the ocean. That’s why many Japanese chiefs simply vertically slice the meat off in fine strips while many European chefs go at it with a steak cleaver. This second technique makes the meat more tender but true connoisseurs prefer the Japanese variation.

Often described as having a“sugary fishy aroma”, sea urchin is an odd delicacy that many people pass over. Only the yellowish orange tongues nestled inside the spiky sea creature are eaten, of course.
A deep cut with a knife is required to get through the animal’s dangerous spines and into the delicious interior, and some hardcore gloves are needed in the process. An ideal sea urchin rangers from five to six centimeters in size. Smaller urchins lack the unique aroma that makes this eating experience complete. Connoisseurs prefer their sea urchin raw, on toasted brown bread or even thrown into scrambled eggs – for those who prefer an exotic breakfast.

Unlike most meats like veal and lamb, where young animals are considered to make for the finest meals, fish need to age appropriately before they make for good eating. Baby Turbot has caught on, becoming a fad in the fish market in recent years.
You haven’t tasted truly intense fish flavor until you’ve tried the middle piece of a six to eight kilo Turbot. Dover Sole also fall into this realm of ultra-fishy flavor, for the record. Shopping tips: when it comes to Turbot, the fish should be inflexible and firm, the gills red, and the meat pure white. Even the underside of the fish should be flawlessly white. May, June and July are the best times to look for top-quality Turbot.

Coveted by distinctive diners and hunters alike, the Scottish Grouse leads a precarious life in the highlands of Scotland. The bird is fast and flies close to the ground, however, so that hunters often have to shoot after the escaping bird.
Unlike chicken, this bird is best served when it’s almost still bloody after a quick fry in the oven. This prevents the bird from losing its uniquely earthy taste . This aroma is more intense during the hunting season, making an in-season Scottish Grouse truly irresistible. Even bird-lovers will find it hard to stay away from this piece of poultry.

Beef-lovers know that fat makes a huge difference when it comes to quality meat. Less fatty animals, like the French Charolais, aren’t always the best choice (even though they have such a fancy name). Marbled meat a la Kobe beef is the best bet when it comes to a delicious meaty treat.

The Japanese have created a cult-like following of fatty meat lovers thanks to their signature Kobe beef from the Wagyu cattle. The animals are given a beaker of beer daily and hand-massaged, making for finely marbled meat that has a reputation for making the best steaks on the planet. Kobe-lovers claim the meat is as tender as foie grass. In Japan, Kobe connoisseurs even enjoy the meat raw, dipping the thin slices in soy sauce for a tasty treat. But anyone who tries to treat Kobe beef like a steak and fry it for a long time will be disappointed: longer periods of cooking take away the meat’s tenderness, leaving it touch and chewy.

We have all seen the standard homarus americanus, the large red lobsters fished off the Canadian coast. The pricier – and less known – version is the homarus vulgaris, the blue lobsters found in the icy polar waters from the shores of England to Morocco.
One taste of blue lobster and it’s obvious why you have to pay more to have your lobster blue. The tasty meat is even juicier. It turns red once cooked so diner accustomed to standard red lobster don’t have to be deterred. The creatures are wild and can not be raised in farm environments. Blue lobsters have their own desire for delicacies, as the animals eat only other lobsters. A tip for buyers: females taste better than the males. One can see the difference because male lobsters have one larger claw, while females have equally sized pincers.


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