daily post challenge #205: what food entices me…yet i’m afraid to try

At the Big Pineapple

Image by yewenyi via Flickr

When I was in high school, a friend started pushing insects and frogs legs. Not like she was pushing dope or anything. Though I wouldn’t know the difference, since I’ve never been in the latter situation. But my girlfriend seemed an expert on the latest trend. Living on Maui in the 50s and 60s, who knew what the fad-of-the-day was anywhere else in the world. In those days I longed to get off the “rock.” Even moving to Honolulu was something I longed to do…the excitement of the big city, and all that went along. And it was nothing, nothing like it is today. But compared to life on Maui, Honolulu represented the “Big Pineapple.”

My girlfriend may have gotten the delicacies from family in the Orient. She was an only child of first generation Japanese parents. I know they ate very traditional dishes, prepared by her mom. I never ate with her family, and I’m sure if I did I wouldn’t have been overly appreciative. My taste buds were nowhere as developed then, as they are now.

My mom use to trawl the muddy, water habitats where taro leaves grew, taro being the root from which the Hawaiian staple, poi, is made. What she was looking for were large snails, called “pupus.” They might’ve been related to the French escargot. Upon getting her catch home, my mom would boil the snails in salted water, probably a couple of times to rid them of the grit and grime in which they crawled. 

As the shelled slugs boiled, the whole house stunk, the smell making me sick to my stomach. I’m not sure if my siblings relished eating them as my mom did. Watching her stick the sharp end of a safety pin into the opening of the snail’s shell and drag its dead body out, popping it into her mouth, would make me cringe backwards in revulsion. But now anytime there’s escargot on the menu, I’m up for the tasty treat. Who’d a thunk?   

frogs' legs

Image via Wikipedia

But I must say I was most definitely intrigued by my school friend’s offerings of chocolate-covered ants and grasshoppers. After all to a kid, chocolate is chocolate, insects or no. And frogs legs, fried to a crisp, which my friend kept wrapped like the delicacies that they were…in white tissue paper, looked irresistible. My friend said they tasted just like chicken. My mom once told me that about eating rabbit. She lied. To me, eating a bunny was gross, and the taste to me was weird, not the least like chicken. 

Others tried the edibles on a dare. You’d think I’d have tried them since they’d be a change from the canned food I usually ate. But no thank you. The thought of eating ants which I was inclined to squish with bare feet, and grasshoppers that I’d watch sitting on a leaf for what seemed ages, and frogs that I’d hunt down in cane fields and nearby murky ponds for biology class experiments, was repulsive to say the least. In my childish way of thinking, I imagined these critters would merely resume life as they knew it…in my innards. And as far as I was concerned there was definitely “no room in the inn…period!”

Chocolate Covered Ant Cupcakes

Image by Photos o' Randomness via Flickr

In college I again encountered chocolate covered insects. A friend with whom I worked at the University of Hawaii Bookstore, brought in a box she’d purchased at a fancy department store. I was sorely tempted to sample what I thought I might have missed as an inexperienced, young teen. But my second encounter with cooked bugs was no different from my first. In truth…I knew I was still a chicken when it came to swallowing things i don’t even want crawling around inside my house…

let alone have them making themselves comfy cozy…inside my body…pawk, pawk…ribbet, ribbet………hugmamma. 

grasshopper-1

Image by musical photo man via Flickr

cicadas, food poisoning, and bedbugs…???

Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deuteronomy ...

Image via Wikipedia

It was like the plague of locusts as foretold by Moses to the Pharoah, if he did not allow the Hebrews to leave Egypt. Wouldn’t you know that at the time we needed to undertake my daughter’s move from one apartment to another, made monumental by having to sanitize everything first, the cicadas would have to rise from “dead?” Evidently before the adults die they bury their eggs in the ground at the foot of a tree, and they all hatch 13 years later.

When we lived in Connecticut more than a decade ago, it was somewhat charming to hear the cicadas chirping outside our bedroom window at night. But I was not prepared for their dive bombing antics while we attempted to move stuff in and out of both apartments and the storage unit. My daughter and I had to hope a cicada wouldn’t fly into our ears or mouths as we weaved in between their flight paths. Nor was it fun to try sidestepping their seemingly dead bodies which lay everywhere, in the parking lots, on the walkways, on stairs, and most definitely forming welcome mats outside the apartment doors. Some were dead; others would suddenly take flight scaring the bejesus out of us. Even as we removed bins and garbage bags filled with my daughter’s furnishings from her car, we were waving our arms frantically so the cicadas wouldn’t find their way inside. One did. I had to kill it because it kept trying to fly at me.

A pair of Greek cicadas

Image via Wikipedia

For a month or so, cicadas were everywhere, in town, in neighborhoods, at malls, at grocery stores, at restaurants…everywhere! The buggers crawled up sides of buildings, houses. They seemed to occupy every tree and bush. Bumping into one accidentally would ensure being bombarded by cicadas not keen on being disturbed. It was my theory that if there were breezes, the insects remained in trees, but since that was few and far between in the torrid mid-90 degree temperatures, the cicadas preferred to find respite on the cool concrete of nearby structures. So it became us against them, as to who had the right of way in the buildings. Their sheer numbers made them mightier it seemed. We could hear the lone shriek here and there as women, us included, came under attack.

Thankfully, the cicadas were taking their leave of earth toward the end of my stay. Their numbers seemed to be dwindling. Since I’ve been home, I’ve not heard my daughter speak of them anymore. But she has assured me she doesn’t plan to be living in that state 13 years from now. Know what? I’ve already told her she’ll have to get her next boyfriend to help her move, whoever he may be. I’ll definitely be too old to repeat this once-in-a-lifetime experience. She laughed; so did I. Hmmm…

I mentioned the heat. Unless you live in the south, you don’t know what hot is. While the warmth was a welcome relief from Seattle’s wintry climes, I felt like I’d gone to hell, bypassing more pleasant destinations like Hawaii or Florida. It was wonderful dressing in shorts and flip-flops every day. But feeling the need to take baths several times daily was not joyous. The heat was made even more unbearable by the equally high humidity. But riding high on adrenalin, my daughter and I were not deterred from our task. Until another predator came calling, an invisible one…salmonella.

 

Salmonella typhimurium invading cultured human...

 

I’ve had my fair share of food poisoning episodes over the course of my 61 years, none worse than when my daughter and I visited NYC years ago. She was enrolled in a summer dance program at a well-known performing arts high school near Lincoln Center. Unfortunately the name escapes me, it’s so famous. I jest. It really is. I think Broadway and Hollywood celebs have attended it. Anyway…I took my daughter and a fellow student dancer to dinner at a local Italian restaurant. The food and conversation was great. As I downed forkfuls of one of my favorite desserts, a cannoli, it seemed the ricotta cheese filling was runny. It seemed odd, but I didn’t stop eating it. Huge mistake for which I paid dearly hours later.

Rather than spending the night in bed, I was in the bathroom relieving myself of every last drop of that rancid cannoli. Finding no reprieve I finally had to call a taxi to take me to the nearest ER. Vomiting blood scared me into leaving my daughter alone in a hotel room sound asleep. Fortunately my good friend Katie and her teenage son were in the same hotel, coincidentally deciding to visit NYC that weekend. So I alerted her to my situation and asked her to be on call should my hospital stay be longer than I hoped. As it turned out I was totally dehydrated, and the blood was from having aggravated my stomach tissues with all the vomiting. Intravenous fluids and rest got me back on my feet so that I was able to walk back to my hotel, a few long blocks away.

Returning to the present bout with food poisoning, my daughter was the first to begin vomiting and so on. She literally sat on the floor, head nearly in the toilet bowl, spewing forth everything she’d eaten within the last 24 hours. It seemed to go on and on. I was concerned that she’d become so dehydrated, that I asked several times if she needed me to take her to the ER. Having already been there, done that when I was with her in February, my daughter was not inclined to repeat that long, drawn out, 7 hour scenario in the hospital. Thankfully she started feeling better probably a day-and-a-half later. Knowing she needed to maintain a balance in her electrolytes, I got her Pedialyte juice. Once stabilized, she began having broths, soda crackers, and eventually more solid food. Meanwhile, I pushed on with cleaning and moving stuff, as my daughter lay resting. Unfortunately I didn’t escape her fate. As she seemed to be on her way to recovering, I took my turn at the toilet bowl. And then I was laid up in bed as well. We were two miserable human beings as we lay amid the mess in her old apartment.

You’re probably wondering why we opted to sleep where the bedbugs were rather than in my daughter’s new apartment? Well, remember the repairmen? This is where they come in, but that’s another chapter. So go have some coffee, a bite to eat, a snooze. But come back later…

and i’ll tell you another story…hugmamma. 😉  btw…i remember the name of that high school in nyc…la guardia performing arts high school…no memory loss here…just delayed…ha, ha.