What is food? For most people, food is sustenance. That’s how our relationship with food starts out. As the relationship evolves, food comes to mean many more things like pleasure and coming together with friends and family. Then something strange happened along the way. It started when I was young. I was in Taiwan visiting family and went to a banquet. I was happily eating some unidentified meat that no one else touched. It turned out to be some sort of sea snail. A few other people tried it, but ended up gagging on it. The mere thought of chomping on a snail was too much for them to take. At that point, I came to the realization that food could be so much more. Food could be a weapon. It could cause pain-and if used correctly, it could be very entertaining. And so my relationship with the dark side started.
My turning to the dark side didn’t happen overnight. It started slowly and had to be cultivated through trial and error. Some gross looking stuff turned out to be really good. I’ve ordered jellyfish in restaurants several times. Rocky mountain oysters were surprisingly good. Ditto for bone marrow, which turned out to be one of my favorite foods. And I always have a pack or two of thousand year eggs in my pantry. Last summer, I ran across a bottle of Dave’s Insanity Sauce at a local market. I bought it and tried it out. It was as painful as advertised, so I then tried to inflict that pain on everyone who came over. That bottle was a goldmine. Five dollars has never been so entertaining. In my search for something stronger, I came across something called The Source. Further research led me to Youtube, where I discovered Wreckless Eating. I then found their Facebook page and dared Matt to try a can of silkworm pupa. The rest as they say is history. I sent down a box of horrifying foods and laughed my ass off when Chris, Matt, and Havik tried with little success to eat the items I had purchased.
Matt in particular has great at cultivating my relationship with the dark side. I don’t think he’s ever said no to any idea I’ve brought up. He just told me not to kill any of them, and even though I told him there’s no way I could guarantee their safety, he still gives me free reign on pretty much anything I want to send down. How do I decide what foods make the cut? A lot of it is based on prior experience with the food. The silkworm pupa and snake wine are good examples of that. I’ve read articles about bad food, but there’s a lot of food on those “worst of” lists that I eat regularly. Actual testing of items is needed to insure that my reputation for sending horrible items isn’t ruined by a diamond in the rough. So I frequently buy strange items and try them. It’s been a great adventure. I ordered an extra pack of hakarl and threw a little shark tasting party a few months back. I also hosted a dinner where a lot of different animal parts were served: heart, ears, tendon, tails, whole head and uterus. So just because I’m involved in Wreckless Eating, that doesn’t mean my friends are off the hook. They still have to try all the gross stuff I inflicted upon them before. Only now, they’re my guinea pigs for main show items. They’ve not only seen the dark side of food, they’ve tasted it and gagged.