Oooh, I just thought of something I can't eat...my Nan's liver + onions, rest her soul, is something that is talked about to this day in my family for the waves of disorientation and hallucinogenic revulsion that overtook us all that fateful day she set it before us at the table.
I can still smell it, it's...it's...like a combination of that ruining-a-pan-by-continuing-to-boil-it-after-the-water's-gone smell + someone with extremely bad breath flossing for the first time in a long time + a very hot, nearly melting rubber garbage can. Maybe she just left a spatula in an empty saucepan on a burner. I don't know.
Anyway, I don't think I'd eat that these days. I also can't eat natto or any seriously fucked-up fermented Asian trickery. I'm making a distinction here between "edible" fermented Asian products (I eat miso often and happily; fermented black soybeans, rinsed and used in sauces, definitely; fermented shrimp pastes like gkapbi, trassie, belachan...yes please) , which I can eat and often do with great relish, and "gross" fermented Asian products.
I can only name one gross fermented Asian product, and that's natto. I don't think I can say anything about natto that hasn't been said better by Steve over at The Sneeze. For example:
"I dared to lift the lid, which made me regret that I needed to breathe. The natto was coated in some kind of sick slime and had the complex yet playful aroma of a dumpster in July. Actually, the little pile inside looked kinda like baked beans. It also smelled kinda like baked beans. If they were baked in the filthy heat of Satan's asshole."
Right. So go there if you're "hungry" for more.
So, the gross Asian products I cannot name are relatively numerous, and for many years I seemed to buy one about once a month or so. I cook a lot of Asian food, and when I would go to my local Asian grocer, which is often, I would almost always grab one or two things I'd never tried before. While I did find plenty of great things like furikake, basil seed and grass jelly drinks, sweet peanut congee, bubble tea (before it was called bubble tea)...I also found stuff that made us leave the house after I opened the package.
Where is this entry going? Why am I endlessly boasting about the resilience of my palate? I'll tell you. Zuurkoolsap. Sauerkraut juice. I've been drinking it. Why? Let me let Reuters Health tell you:
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Fermented cabbage--otherwise known as sauerkraut--could be even healthier to eat than raw or cooked cabbage, Finnish researchers report.
The investigators found that fermenting cabbage produced a number of different compounds, known as isothiocyanates, which have been shown in test tube and animal studies to prevent the growth of cancer, especially in the breast, colon, lung and liver. Isothiocyanates are found in many foods, including cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts, and wasabi, a pungent Japanese condiment.
Whether isothiocyanates have similar effects in humans, however, is not clear.
In the current study in the October 23rd issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers analyzed compounds in white cabbage that had been fermented to sauerkraut. Raw cabbage is rich in glucosinolates, another class of cancer-fighting compounds.
According to their experiment, the fermentation process breaks glucosinolate down into isothiocynates and other compounds that may fight cancer. Previous studies have found that isothiocyanates encourage precancerous cells in the digestive system to self-destruct, a process known as apoptosis.
"Our study implies that fermented cabbage can be a good source of plant-derived bioactive compounds such as breakdown products of glucosinolates," Dr. Eeva-Liisa Ryhanen, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health.
"Some of these compounds have shown anticarcinogenic effects in vivo in animal models. To show the anticarcinogenic effects of sauerkraut in humans, clinical studies (in humans) are required," added Ryhanen, from MTT Agrifood Research Finland in Jokioinen.
She said the research team is now investigating ways to optimize the fermentation process so that sauerkraut could be even healthier.
Sounds good, right? This camper needs all the anti-cancer help he can git. So, I bought some zuurkoolsap and (thankfully) refrigerated it before trying it. The taste...how to describe the taste. It's kind of like drinking the juice from a can of sauerkraut. Would anyone really do that? I like sauerkraut, but I never really imagined it without the cabbage. Anyway, I'd kind of compare it, not in taste, but in effect, to...grinding a cut lemon into your eye? Licking a poisonous tree frog? Downing a large shot of warm gin?
I know this sounds like a negative review. But as I was finishing that last sentence I was honestly just thinking about having another little glass of it.