Don’t fear the freaky… food

By Georgia Kay

There’s food, and then there’s … food. With one, we are all too familiar: it’s not weird, we eat it multiple times a day, have a little too much or a little too little, but we would otherwise die without it. Then, on the other hand, there are a number of chefs throughout the world getting a little freaky with their food. Heston Blumenthal is well known to be different with his cooking; however, there are others out there. From eating sushi off naked bodies to breaking down dirt to make it edible, there is a lot one can do with food that we regular human beings should hear about.

For example, in New York, a Japanese caterer has taken to offering her guests an experience that is usually not had out of the bedroom. Delving slightly into the diners’ sexual fetishes, guests are presented their dinner on the body of an ‘approved’ naked woman. All her naughty parts covered by shellfish, her body is laid with small serves of sushi which are replenished by the host throughout the meal. A journalist from a popular New York magazine had the chance to experience being the platter and found that although nerve-racking at first, the only issue she had by the end was a painful toe cramp. This is a trend that I could see becoming popular with a few of the richer indulgers in Australia—perhaps not Adelaide though, as unless you’re wearing a mask, it’s likely you will recognize your fellow, slightly perverted, diner.
Away from the sexy and into the dirty.

I’ve eaten dirt as a child—good old mud pies—however, I never expected to hear about a new experiment from a chef in Japan, who is using dirt as the main ingredient for his degustation menu. The meal comes at $110 per head, and chef Toshio Tanabe offers French-inspired dishes such as salad with dirt dressing, Sea Bass and dirt risotto, potato starch, dirt soup, and dirt ice cream. The dirt used is sourced by the chef and is of a top quality. Sounding pretty freaky? Don’t be scared; reviews have come back saying that the food is ‘refreshing and doesn’t taste like dirt at all’.

Besides real dirt, edible fake dirt has become huge in restaurants everywhere in the world. It’s made by drying or charring ingredients such as vegetables, olives or beers and scattering them over a plate or in a pot to give the effect of dirt, soil or sand; it looks really good and tastes great, most of the time, too. I even tried making a dish using a Heston Blumenthal recipe where you dry out olives and chop them really finely to look like soil. This is then spread on top of an aioli with baby vegetables ‘planted’ into the mini-garden. It was really fun to make and was one of the few achievable recipes in Heston’s book.

If you’re interested in some quirky cooking I suggest looking through a few cookbooks: Heston Blumenthal books, Noma, Quay, el Bulli and even Adriano Zumbo’s book for interesting sweets. Here is a recipe for Heston Blumenthal’s Bacon and Egg ice cream. In the recipe he suggests to use dry ice to freeze the mixture for the best texture, but an ice cream machine should do the job!

Bacon and Egg Ice Cream

  • 400g sweet-cured smoked back bacon
  • 1kg whole milk
  • 30g semi-skimmed milk powder
  • 24 large egg yolks
  • 120g caster sugar

Pre-heat oven to 190C. Lay bacon on a lined baking tray and bake in the oven for 25-30 min.

When cooked, drain on kitchen paper and cut into strips. Place in a bowl, pour over the milk and leave to infuse for at least 12 hours.

After 12 hours, place milk and bacon in a saucepan, add the milk powder and bring to a gentle simmer. Remove pan from heat.

Meanwhile, blitz the egg yolks and sugar using a hand blender.

Add some of the warm milk into the egg yolks and sugar and whisk thoroughly. This will bring the temperature of the egg yolks up to that of the milk mixture and prevent the eggs scrambling. Add the milk, egg and sugar mixture to the rest of the milk and place over a medium heat, stir thoroughly and continue to stir until the mixture reaches 85C.

Once at that temperature, remove from the heat and pass the ice cream through a fine sieve into a clean container, pushing the mixture through with the back of a spoon. Cool immediately by placing the container in a bowl or basin of iced water. When cold, blitz with a hand blender until smooth.

When ready to make ice cream, churn in an ice cream machine until frozen. Or use dry ice, safely, if you want to. Eat immediately or store in a container in the freezer for up to 5 days.

Recipe from Heston Blumenthal at Home

Clearly there are a few interesting and strange things going on with food at the moment. Please don’t be afraid to try them though; if you’ve always wanted to eat food off a naked person, go for it! Feed the fetish! Or if dirt takes your fancy, I wouldn’t recommend going to the backyard and scooping up some soil to add to your chocolate cake; however, I don’t think it will be long before recipes for earthy foods come out. Maybe play it safe and make some fake soil? Delicious.

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