In the Can: 6 Canned Foods We're Reluctant to Try

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With hurricane season almost upon us, it's time to start stocking up on bottled water, extra batteries and canned food. But why stick to just beans and corn? Here's a look at some more exotic (read: disugusting!) canned foods we found.

Pork Brains in Milk Gravy

On Heroes, serial killer Sylar gets his powers by eating people's brains. A while it's not clear whether eating pork brains will give you superpowers, eating them will almost certainly give you a heart attack. One serving of the brains contains 1,170 percent of your daily cholesterol intake. It only gets worse if you follow the recipe on the can, which calls for the brains to be served with scrambled eggs. Another serving suggestion on the Internet is to fry the brains in butter and serve with toast, but that's not going to help clear your arteries any more.

fried dace.jpgFried Dace

If pork brains don't appeal to you, but you're still looking to ruin your body, fried dace is a good alternative. The fish is popular in Hong Kong, but also contains plenty of salt, especially when served with black beans. The delicacy might be hard to find now, though; in 2005, the Hong Kong government banned foods with malachite green, a dye used to protect the fish from parasites.

simmenthal.jpgSimmenthal Jellied Beef

Simmenthal is the canned equivalent of mystery meat. The most definitive information out there is this enigmatic statement from the label: "Does not contain meat from Simmenthal cattle." The beef apparently comes from Brazil, rather than Simmenthal, the Alpine region where the stuff is canned. So, what exactly is in the stuff? The cans contain strings of beef in a clear jelly, recommended to be served with olives and cheese on pasta or salad. Other than that, your guess is as good as ours.

Fungus-infected corn, fiddleheads, and assorted weeds all after the jump!

cuitacoche.jpgCuitlacoche

Corn smut. Maize mushrooms. Mexican truffles. Raven excrement. With such pleasant names, it's no surprise that Cuitlacoche has a tumultuous history. The fungus infects corn and turns it black, so most American farmers destroy infected crops. But in Mexico, the fungus is preserved and cooked because of its mushroom-like taste. Advertised as Mexican truffles, recent demand has grown so much that the USDA intervened to allow allow farmers in Pennsylvania and Florida to intentionally infect their corn to sell it to restaurants.

Fiddleheads

belleofmaine.jpgFiddleheads from Maine are not, as you'd immediately think, crabs, but rather a "unique" vegetable. They're the shoots from the fresh ostrich fern, the only fern that humans can eat! People who like 'em describe the flavor as a mixture of asparagus, okra and spinach. Unlike those other greens, however, when fiddleheads are picked, they're covered in a "brown membrane" so thick that they actually need several rounds of washing before being canned or served. While fiddleheads are usually served seasoned with butter, salt and vinegar, they can also be used in quiches, salads or seafood medleys with shrimp. And despite their tough-to-market name, fiddleheads are surprisingly big sellers. In fact, one company, Belle of Maine, handles between 25 and 30 tons of the fern every year, both fresh and canned.

dandeliongreenslarge.jpg Dandelion Greens

Also from Belle of Maine (which apparently specializes in canning off-kilter veggies) comes dandelion greens. Oddy enough, these are the very same dandelions that always ruin your yard- only more expensive! The greens are best bought in cans, however, because they have such a short harvesting season (after they start growing, but before the plants flower). Whether you enjoy the taste or not, dandelion greens are definitely worth eating; they're rich in vitamins A and C and a cup contains more calcium cup-for-cup than cottage cheese. The greens are very popular in France (not always a solid endorsement for palatable food), where they're often sautéed with bacon and garlic.

Big thanks to Kara Kovalchik for her legwork!

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July 27, 2007 - 3:33am
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