Top 10 Most Difficult Foods to Eat
When I decided to go with a Top 10 Most Difficult Foods to Eat, I thought, no problem. I'll do a search in the Sun archives, key phrase "difficult to eat," byline "Large."
But I found that in almost two decades I've used the phrase three times: once to describe someone who finds it difficult to eat healthfully around the holidays, once complaining that Wayne's Bar-B-Que's wings had so much sauce they were difficult to eat, and once saying that the baguette at the Vanguard Cafe, which had been toasted, was so crunchy it was difficult to eat. (Vanguard Cafe? I don't even remember it, let alone its baguettes.)
In other words, there are few foods greedy people find difficult to eat, and I imagine that's true of most of you foodies.
Still, the object of this exercise is to think back to when you were first introduced to something, perhaps at a dinner party, that you had never faced before. Raw oysters on the half shell might fall in that category, but they are sort of self-explanatory. The idea behind this Top 10 is foods that either a) made you feel a little panicky that you would embarrass yourself if you tried to tackle them or b) take so much work they are hardly worth the trouble.
I decided to eliminate hardshell crabs from contention because, hey, all of us have been picking crabs from birth, right? And because you thought they would be No. 1 on the list.
1) Whole lobster. Not only does it take specialized equipment, you have to know what's edible and what's not. The telsons? The tomalley? The mouth parts?
2) Pomegranates. I wondered what advice I could find on the internet, and here is a list of the equipment (not sure why the plurals) you'll need to get pomegranate juice, which admittedly is not exactly eating them, but still:
* food processors
* nut picks
3) Snow crab claws. Why these would ever be served as part of a buffet (see link above) is beyond me.
4) Escargots in their shells. Remember that scene in Pretty Woman where the shell slips and goes flying?
5) Marrow bones. When you eat your osso buco, you can suck the marrow out or use your marrow spoon.
6) Whole fish, not filleted for you, especially when it's fried and sauced.
7) Sushi. Whether you have to eat it in one bite is still a controversy in the U.S. If you do, you could choke on some of the bigger pieces. And do you know what to do with the wasabi? Do you know when to eat the pickled ginger root?
8) Whole artichokes. If you had never seen one before, could you guess that you scrape the bottom of the leaves off with your teeth, or that you scrape off the choke with your fork to get to the heart?
9) Mangoes. It's like when George Burns, playing God, admitted he made a few mistakes, such as making the avocado seed too large. The mango seed, it seems to me, is a much bigger error.
10) Brazil nuts and hazelnuts in their shell
Bonus food: Rice with chopsticks if you're not Asian.
You may think I didn't do any work putting this list together because I stole so many suggestions from my readers. You would be wrong. I just did a survey in which I asked five editors if they thought small game birds were difficult to eat because of the bones and lack of meat. I got two vegetarians, one who said she didn't even look if someone else ordered them, one who had never eaten them, and one who said, "No."
I also had one editor say, "Why would I want to read a Top 10 list of things that are difficult to eat?"
OK. Next week we revisit Top 10 Crab Houses.
(Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune/MCT)