I am not a timid eater and have, in fact, tasted everything from sheep brains to chicken feet, pig intestines, lamb hearts and kidneys, monkfish liver and more. That said, I am by no means one of those intrepid eaters who will put anything in my mouth just for shock value. I have tried most of these foods within some relative cultural context– sheep brains in Morocco, lamb hearts in Italy, monkfish liver in sushi bars and chicken feet at Chinese dim sum. Some of these things I liked better than others and, in general, those things that I didn't particularly care for had more to do with their texture than their flavor. The lamb hearts and kidneys, for example, were delicious, sauteed with onions and deglazed with balsamic vinegar. The texture of the hearts however, took some getting used to. The chicken feet, also, had great flavor, but the sensation of putting that entire little foot into my mouth and then backing it out while the toes fragmented apart, joint by joint on my tongue, was a little too distracting to make the adventure pleasurable.
The one thing I had sworn never to try was bugs because really, unless I found myself being held captive in an exposed dirt floor prison cell in the jungle, or on television vying for a million dollars, why would I? Here's why: because when you're trying out a new Korean restaurant and one of the nightly specials is boiled silkworms, it's hard to resist asking the owner what silkworms taste like. When said owner also happens to be the consummate host, and brings out a small dish of worms on the house for you to try, just because you asked about them, how do you say no? Well in my world you don't. You either pretend to eat them and spit them out into your napkin and hide them in your pocket for later, proper disposal, or, you psych yourself up for the experience of a lifetime, choose one of the smaller, less meaty little buggers and go for it.
Getting past the initial sensation of the corpulent, segmented annelid as it lay on my tongue was tough, but I took a deep breath, bit down hard and chewed fast. The taste was actually not half bad. In fact, it was fairly pleasant– quite a bit like shrimp. The texture, however, is what once again gave me pause. These worms were boiled and softer on the outside than I expected (or would have liked) and while I'm no expert on worm munching, I'd venture a guess that a crispy, fried worm might be a bit more pleasing to the palate than this softer, mushy variety. As I bit through the worm, I found the outside of it to be reminiscent of a cooked shrimp shell– tender, with just a little bit of give, followed by a slight snap. Once pierced, it yielded a small spurt of sweet liquid followed by a glob of wet-sawdust-like innards. As gross as this may sound, it was actually less disgusting than I thought it would be and by the time I had popped the third and final one in my mouth, I was almost used to the fact that I was eating worms.
Would I, given the chance, ever again order boiled worms? No way. That said, now that I've had the boiled variety, I have to admit that if the opportunity to sample a fried worm or two presented itself, I would most likely say yes, if for no other reason than to see if my boiled versus fried worm theory is correct.