Blergh! Could you eat these strange canned foods?

by Paul Michael on 30 January 2008 32 comments
Photo: Shuttercat7

I was raised on canned food. We never had much money, so my folks bought food in cans because it lasted forever, it was cheap and, if dented or without a label, really really cheap. Most times we'd open up a can like it was a present..."I wonder what's for dinner tonight?" I always ate it. Probably because most of the time, it was spaghetti hoops or green beans or something else just as inocuous. But what if the following items has been inside?

This article is not meant to poke fun at the foods of other cultures. I have long been a proponent of "I'll try anything once" and watch the show Bizzare Foods just to see what is out there. What's more, the good people of places like Japan, China, the Phillipines and Thailand understand frugality completely, using every part of the animal or plant to make a meal.

But as liberal as I am when it comes to cheap, canned food, I'm not sure how many of these I could stomach When I told my dad "I just couldn't eat that" he came back with "that's because you're not hungry enough" and he was right. When it comes to survival, we'd be surprised at what we could do.

So, imagine your pantry is filled with the following delicacies, and you couldn't get out of the house for weeks. Could you eat them? First up, something easy to understand. It was a big hit on Digg.com yesterday.

The Cheeseburger in a can! Personally, if I had been on the town and had a few beers, I would probably eat it. To my shame. I suspect most of you could, too. A nice way to transition into some of the more bizarre creations.

CB

Next up, the Whole Chicken in a can. Now I don't know about you, but this one looks about as enticing as an ice cold jacuzzi on a cold winter's day. Once again though, I doubt I'd have much trouble.

Whole chicken

 

Tongues aren't just for wagging, they're also for eating. And I should know - I've had a tongue sandwich before. Somehow though, it looked an awful lot better sliced than in this picture for a Can of tongues.

Tongues

 

One for the vegetarians out there, although I doubt anyone would really want to tuck into canned processed cheddar cheese. But it only gets worse from here.

Cheese

 

Just like momma used to make, a nice freshly baked loaf of canned bread. Mmmmm.

bread

 

For those of you who don't know this Scottish delicacy, it's a sheep's stomach stuffed with meat and barley. That's the simplified version. I've had it, it's not too bad. But imagine a haggis in a can, complete with the pale stomach lining and gray meat. I've suddenly lost my appetite.

Haggis

 

No joke. In some parts of the world it's quite normal to pick up a can or two of delicious whale meat, complete with blubber. Not knocking it, certainly not in any hurry to try it though.

Whale

 

Look again. This is not one of those 'snake in a can' practical jokes. In some parts of good ol' 'Merica, you can buy cans of genuine Rattlesnake meat. I've heard it's an interesting taste, a bit like tough chicken/pork. I'll give it a try...one day.

Ssss

 

This is a dish with real bite. Sorry, couldn't resist. I'm not entirely sure what kind of Fish Mouths are in this can of strangeness, but I'm not in a huge rush to find out either. Catfish maybe? I have heard fish cheeks are devine though.

Fish

 

I'd eat the next one. Not because I was forced but because I'd eat my shoe if it's covered in curry sauce. That's just the Brit in me. Anyway, Thai Green Curry with Crocodile sounds really good to me.

Croc Curry

 

I have to admit, we're getting into territory that even I can't face now. I'll give it a try if I have to, if I was hungry enough, but canned scorpions don't have that nice ring to it.

Scorpion

 

Sorry, no thanks. Pork Brains in Milk Gravy? Did they think that the milk gravy would make them a little more appealing? If it said Pork Brains in tangy chipotle BBQ sauce, you may have a winner. (By the way, check out the Cholesterol level on this baby...ouch!)

Brains

 

Canned Roasted Crickets with Eggs. As Forrest Gump would say, "That's all I have to say about that."

Cricket

 

Forget those BBQ chips. Don't tuck into dry-roasted peanuts. Instead, grab a big old handful of BBQ flavor Silk Worm Pupae. It's the crunchy snack that never fails to satisfy. In a can.

bug

 

AND FINALLY, to set the record straight...this is something I would eat any day of the week with vigour. SPAM!

Spam

I'm not joking, no sarcasm here, I was raised on it and so was my wife. If you want my recipes for Spam Fried Rice or Spam Musubi (a Hawaiian version of sushi) you are more then welcome to them. Great stuff.

 

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Guest's picture
Amanda

B&M Brown Bread (bread in a can) is a New England tradition and great with beans:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_bread

http://www.bgfoods.com/bm/bm_products.asp (about half way down the page)

Don't knock it until you try it. It is good stuff and travels well (especially for back packing---it doesn't get squished!).

Amanda

Paul Michael's picture

knock it, and I will try it. Thanks!

Guest's picture
Guest

I've got three cans of that particular brand of haggis in my pantry right now. It's actually made with beef and it's pretty much like hash. Excellent for camping breakfasts, and I've never had anyone turn it down. Surprisingly tasty . . .

Guest's picture
Bellen

Whole chicken in a can - I've used this on camping trips (in a tent with ice chest) to make Chicken and Dumplings. It really was good - just ask the tenters next to us having bologne sandwiches. Now, here in SW Florida, I keep that kind of stuff on hand for hurricane season - been thru one bad one named Charley, and now we're always prepared.

Paul Michael's picture

I was hoping people would write and let me know if they've tried it, and liked it (sorry, that's the Yo Gabba Gabba that my kids watch coming out in me). When you think about it, there's a demand for all of these products or they wouldn;t exist. Now...who's tried the canned scorpions?

Guest's picture

Tongue meat is surprisingly tasty. I've never had it from a can, though.

Guest's picture
N'Awlins Kat

Can't say I've tried the scorpions or silk worms, but there are lots of GOOD stuff on that list! I would sooo kill to find whole canned chickens again! They are the absolute BEST for making chicken a la king. They're pressure-cooked; the chicken falls apart in tender strings. You can't make it like that from scratch. And it smells DIVINE when you open the can.

I have a recipe for "rack of spam" that involves slicing the loaf most of the way thru and stuffing it with canned pineapple chunks, then grilling it. Two cans!

Alligator meat is very good, especially in sausage, so I'm guessing crocodile meat would be similar. Here, we eat alligator sausage on a stick; you can buy it take-out in the market in the French Quarter.

Processed cheddar cheese in a can? We use it all the time in making nachos and other dishes in bulk at my daughter's school fairs. Good stuff, but loaded with fat.

The cheeseburger in a can looks acceptable in a pinch. In college, I would have thought I'd died and gone to heaven if I found it in my kitchen.

Like Bellen, I'm in hurricane country, and after Katrina, we ate MREs for so long that almost anything in those cans looks good by compare. Well, except maybe for the toothy fish--that was stretching it just a bit.

Paul, you need to come sample the food here!

Paul Michael's picture

One of my best friends is from New Orleans, he often talks about the great food. And having sampled and MRE myself (my wife's father was a marine) I know what you mean. Wow, talk about sodium! Anyway, thanks for the feedback. If I find a Chicken in a Can retailer I'll let you know. They're fairly cheap, about $5 I believe.

Guest's picture
Nathan

The Russian fish mouths are herring.

Guest's picture
Guest

Yeah, in fact if you look closely the right side of the can clearly has English text on it - incomplete, but it's easy to see it says something like 'Atlantic herring in natural sauce'.

A good question is, though, is that some kind of a processing error or are there supposed to be jaws and teeth in the can? I'd say no, since it would seem to be impossible to use those in cooking in any way.

Guest's picture
Looby

I too have eaten haggis from a can before, and while not as tasty as fresh from a butcher, it's still pretty good. The curried crocodile looks delicious, I've tried crocodile before and it was pretty tasty and as a fellow Brit I can agree that everything tastes great in a curry! I really couldn't manage the fish mouths though.

Guest's picture
Guest

Here in the southern US, pork brains are an old-fashioned country delicacy. You scramble them up with eggs. (No I am NOT kidding.) The smell is indescribable -
but still not as bad as chit'luns!

Paul Michael's picture

I suspect cow brains are not allowed due to mad cow disease. Still, eating brains is something I'll have to try once..."Brains in Black Butter!" (If you know the movie, I applaud you...one of my faves.)

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

Dude, you love Spam Musubi?  I think I just love you a bit more now Paul.  Oh, cow and pig tongues are delicious if you aren't disgusted by the fact it probably used to produce a lot of saliva.  I haven't eaten pig or cow brain, but I am a fan of fish and chicken brains.  I am disappointed that you didn't find a picture of canned dog meat. When I was young my dad gave me some and it was actually pretty good. 

Guest's picture
Alyson

It's a snack in S. Korea, apparently sold on the streets like peanuts or pretzels in the USA. I have a cousin who teaches English in Korea (incidentally, private schools in Korea have TONS of time off for all those legislators out there who are saying Americans are school slackers) and was home visiting. He brought some with him and boiled them - smelled awful. The taste was pretty non-existent but there was this crunch and the knowledge that you were eating silkworm maggots that made it pretty gross. Good thing my aunt and uncle had a mint patch in their yard - MINT IS SOME GOOD STUFF.

Guest's picture
Margo

Did anybody else notice that the raosted scorpions are "smokey bbq" flavor? That must make them *extra* tasty

Guest's picture
SF-

I wonder if zombies would be distracted by the pork brains. That could be a very useful addition to the zombie survival kit.

Guest's picture
Gil

My husband has had fried and flavored meal worms that a friend had brought back from Papau New Guinea once. Interestingly he said they tasty just like popcorn. I wonder if the silk worm, crickets and/or scorpions have similar texture (and tastelessness).

Oh and from what I hear, rattlesnake taste a lot like jumbo prawns. Canned, I'm not sure if that would be as good... but who doesn't like a nice buttered prawn, I mean rattlesnake.

Guest's picture
Mary

Here in CA there have been different Hawai'ian BBQ places popping up, to the delight of everyone who goes there... L&L, mostly.

I also try to hit up this giant Asian grocery sometimes when I'm going to my parent's house. Koreans love all kinds of food considered strange my western standards, like pine or melon rind. This grocery also sells live bullfrogs, in a carefully labeled tub which reads "for consumption only".

Guest's picture
Olivia

Everythng but teeth, scorpions and bugs for me. My grandmom's parents were small grocery owners with a butcher shop in back, so she grew up using alot of organ meats in cooking. Tongue, tripe, and brains are all good if prepared well. From what others are saying the canned versions aren't bad either.

Guest's picture
Amy

I have a thing against a lot of canned foods particularly against canned meat. My mom didn't really cook and a special family dinner would be us sitting down to canned biscuits with Dinty Moore Beef Stew shoveled on top. When I got married, I actually thought that was how beef stew was made.

I am so glad I learned to cook- this stuff churns my stomach now. My mom and dad love coming to my house for dinner which is great because I can make them some really great beef stew now :)

Guest's picture
Robert Waldbauer

I'm reminded of the old joke -- Guy is asked if he wants a tongue sandwich...
"A Tongue Sandwich? From a Cow? I could never eat something that was in an animal's mouth, so just bring me some eggs..."

Guest's picture

It looks like the right hand side might say "altantic herring" or something like that. Who in the world would eat fish mouths? All those sharp teeth would be a pain to pick around.

Guest's picture

It looks like the right hand side might say "atlantic herring" or something like that. Who in the world would eat fish mouths? All those sharp teeth would be a pain to pick around.

Guest's picture
James

Had that when I was overseas in Iraq. The canned cheese is surprisingly good. IF you like that spreadable Brie cheese stuff, it should be right up your alley.

Guest's picture
Wilma

Japanese food tends to have all sorts of cool ways to make things. Though I haven't tried canned bread, I'd imagine it's like the cake-in-a-cup they have in Japan, which is very delicious and simple to make.

Also, whale meat is rather delicious. I'm not sure if that can has blubber in it, because it's whale curry. I'd say whale tastes like a cross between beef and tuna, and is even great as sashimi (tastes rather fancy). It looks exactly like beef, too. However, with pressure on Japan to stop selling whale meat, I doubt they still have canned whale curry.

Guest's picture
Sherbrooke

That processed cheese in a can is great stuff. Warm it up in the can and you have a tasty and instant cheese sauce!!

I have tasted fresh crocodile, locusts and fresh meal worms but wouldn't include them as part of my daily diet and would definitely steer clear of the canned variety.

The "private parts" of a bull are a huge delicacy in my country and it won't be long before someone cans them too.

Guest's picture
Eva

Wow, this stuff is disgusting!! I eat absolutely NO food out of cans.

:P

Guest's picture
Guest
Guest's picture
Michael

Mary,

Reading your comment about the bullfrogs in the market I wonder what else would you do with the frogs? I suppose you could keep them as pets but why would they discourage that and insist the creatures be consumed? :-)

Here in Seattle there is a huge asian market in the Chinatown area and they have some interesting things especially by the freezers! I should wander over there some day and see what canned treasures I could find. Most things are pretty mundane such as thin cookie-like sticks half covered in chocolate "Pocky!", but I am certain if I looked carefully I could find some more interesting items.

Guest's picture
Ron

Well live bull frogs do have a shelf life you know..

Guest's picture
Guest

l would like to get some rattle snake and alligator meat. anyone know who l could order from to get it shipped to Canada?