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THE RAW AND THE LIVING: Become a Connoisseur while Eating Live and Uncooked Foods

It doesn’t matter what kind of consumer you are, as long as you find it important to recognize that all diets are different, from all around the world. For some folk, it can seem intimidating, unhealthy, or even just strange to think about eating uncooked and raw meals; to others, eating raw is a preferred diet, and is not just for vegetarians or vegans. Before building assumptions on raw foods and diets, let’s do some investigating.

Have you ever thought to detox, or give your body a “spring cleaning”? Choosing a raw food diet has been proven to help the body in a some ways. This is because raw foods contain natural enzymes, water, oxygen, hormones, and a lot of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Choosing a raw diet also helps you to lose weight because it is usually very high in fiber and does not contain all of those extra calories, fats, and sodium levels found in a non-raw diet.

In Fact, Trying a Raw Diet…

  • Boosts your immunity to allergies, headaches, diabetes, arthritis, and other aches and pains
  • Leaves you feeling rejuvenated, and, sometimes, 10 years younger
  • Naturally gives your skin a new glow, your hair more shine, and a happier mental state
  • Rebuilds and strengthens your memory
  • And, it helps you to lose weight.

When most people think of eating raw or uncooked food, typically the visuals of raw fish, raw meat, raw eggs, fresh greens and sprouts feed their imaginations. This is all true, but what most people don’t realize is that there are raw prepared dishes, such as the Danish delicacy known as “Noma Salad”, which exist. Meals similar to this lemongrass-flavored ant-covered salad are literally crawling, wiggling, and sometimes even gasping to get your attention.

Time to explore some new and interesting ways to really LIVEN up any raw diet:

KOREA: “Sannakji” Sannakji / Octopus

  • Ah yes, good old Sannakji, a wonderful option for those who want a more exotic raw dish. For those of you who don’t already know what Sannakji is, another word for it is: Live Octopus! Eating live octopus is traditionally a Korean cuisine, topped with sesame seeds and sesame oils, but is also popular in Japanese, Polynesian, and even Mediterranean cuisines. The octopus is often served by itself, in sushi, soups, pastas, and can even be enjoyed grilled, fried, or boiled. When served by itself, the octopus is arranged as an entire specimen, or as chopped tentacles. Either way, your mouth will love the sensation of the tentacles grasping and sucking on your lips and tongue. You’ll also love what eating octopus can do for your body. It’s high in protein, calcium, a multitude of vitamins, and is a great source of iron. Octopus also has the organic acid taurine, which acts as an antioxidant that can also reduce chances of heart disease and even help improve your blood sugar levels. Be it well advised to make sure you are chewing your entire live octopus before swallowing, as there is real danger. Although these cute wiggling creatures are tasty and high in protein, they are very much able to choke you, if they decide to climb back up your throat 1.


ITALY: Sea Urchin Raw Sea Urchin

  • Although the Sea Urchin may not seem edible, it very much is. In fact, it’s quite easy to eat despite all the spiky spines on its exterior surface 1. You can either cut the reproductive organ in half, or your use scissors to get in through the bottom.  Inside of the Sea Urchin is a powerful source of protein, zinc, and taste. You can also eat it in various ways: cooked, raw, with a spoon, with a chop stick, in pasta, in a soup, and beyond. This is also a really great raw specimen to eat because helps lower your cholesterol and lower your blood pressure. Sea Urchin dishes are also served around the world, anywhere from Korea to San Francisco, California.


UNITED STATES: Oysters Raw Oysters

  • One of the most healthy and more popular choices in raw foods is the Oyster 1. In fact, most people don’t even realize that the oyster is a raw food. Although the shelled seafood has a lot of calories and has high sodium levels, it also has protein, potassium, and carbohydrates. The oyster is a great choice for vegetarians and vegans as they also very high in iron, zinc, and vitamin B12.


HAWAII: “Opihi” Opihi

  • Similar to Oysters, “Opihi” is a small snail-like gastropod which thrives on the coasts of Pacific Ocean. In Hawaii, the small dish is usually served raw and uncooked. It has high levels of cholesterol and is even more calories, but don’t worry, there is a bit of protein in them too. The matter is abley plucked from the shell with almost any utensil. There are varieties of this dish also found in Korea and Japan.


JAPAN: “Ikizukuri” Ikizukuri

  • This is alternative example of how to consume your raw and literally ‘live’ meal. The Japanese specialize in a dish called “Ikizukuri”, or Live Fish. The fish is usually chosen by the consumer, and then the chef will skin the fish without actually killing it 1. When delivered to your plate, the fish’s body is still intact, but without the skin. It looks up at you while you notice its heart exposed and still beating and its gills are still gasping for air. Your chef also adds to your plate a rather morbid portrait of the fish’s skin arrayed in unique patterns. On a good note, the fish is high in protein, vitamins, and is low in sodium.


CHINA: “Yin Yang Fish” Yin Yang Fish

  • Somewhat similar to the Japanese’s cuisine of eating live fish, the Chinese has perfected a way to fry a fish’s skin without really cooking or killing it. That’s right, fried fish served live. They are able to do this by skinning the fish, covering it in oil, and placing it on the frying pan. What’s crazy is that the fish is still able to move after its adventure in the frying pan.


CHINA: “Drunken Shrimp” Drunken Shrimp

  • Liquored up, large, and very much alive shrimp will excite you and you taste buds if you choose to embark on the delicious dish in China, known as Drunken Shrimp 1. The adult shrimp are thrown into a large bowl, marinated in a tasty and strong brandy; this enables the shrimp to get quite drunk. This is helpful when you are trying to consume the live sea creatures, as they won’t crawl as fast when trying to escape your cavernous mouth.


CHINA: “Fresh Donkey”

  • Without getting too descriptive, I’ll just note that there is such a thing as raw donkey meat 2. Served in restaurants in China, donkey meat is also used in various salami meats sold in Italy. Although I’ve read that “Fresh Donkey” meat tastes like pork and chicken, I would imagine the dish to taste much grassier. Moving on.


CHINA: “Frog Sashimi”

  • If you haven’t tried live-beating fish hearts before, do so, and let me know how you like it! Frog Sashimi is a dish composed of a skinned,  dead frog and it’s still beating heart. The raw part of this meal is the still beating heart; it is consumed before the rest of the frog 1.


VIETNAM: Snake Hearts

  • Similar to their live-frog-heart eating friends up north, the Vietnamese enjoy eating the live-and-still-beating-snake-hearts on a plate. Something about watching your dinner squirm and pulse before you actually taste its natural salty flavor of blood is rather exciting for some.


DENMARK: “Noma Salad” Noma Salad

  • For a whopping $300 a plate, you can enjoy one of Denmark’s finest salads found in Copenhagen. The Noma Salad includes green leaves topped with raw yoghurt and lemongrass-flavored ants. Yes, ants. Surprisingly, ants are a great solution for weight loss as they are high in protein and low in saturated fat. The ants are pre-chilled which helps slower their crawl-speed on your plate. When eaten, flavors of the lemon-grass infused insects, whose natural citrusy-acid and surprisingly hint of smoky bacon flavor combine with the raw yoghurt, begin excite and surprise your taste buds.


AUSTRALIA: Insects Galore!

  • Like in many other parts of the world, there are a handful of ethnic groups that can indulge on some insects and grubs.  Most insects are very high in protein, and even have a satisfying earthy flavor.


ITALY: “Casu Marzu”  ….Best for Last? casu marzu

  • Soooo…. There is this thing called Casu Marzu 1. It is also known as “formaggio marcio”, which of course translates to “Rotten Cheese”.  Although it is possibly the most unappealing dish on my exotic raw foods list, it seemed to have struck some gold in Sardinia, Italy. Back in the day, farmers would make cheese with sheep’s milk and a strange fermenting process that included maggots. The farmers would set the cheese outside, pulling only part of the rind off, which left room for any cheese fly to lay their odd number of 500 or more eggs at a time. From the eggs, came larvae. As larvae would then eat their way through the cheese, the acidity in their digestive systems would break down the fats in the cheese, making it much softer in texture. The cheese, thought of as an aphrodisiac, was then served with some flatbread, dark red wine, and still the cheese eating maggots. Although the maggots were only about 8mm in size, they could jump 6 inches out of the cheese bowl is they ever felt disturbed. But, when maggots were dead, the cheese was no longer safe to eat. The cheese eventually became outlawed, sold on the black market, and is now in question by the European Union of food hygiene and health regulations.


It’s important to note that while some raw foods are extremely   beneficial to you and your body, sometimes you just have to keep an extra eye out as they can also become easily contaminated. If raw food just isn’t for you, keep in mind that there are benefits of cooking food. This includes the breaking down of fibers and cellular walls so that nutrients can pass through the body. Cooking carrots enhances the beta-carotene your body craves while cooking tomatoes brings out the lycopene your body needs. Another benefit of cooking is that it can  cut certain chemicals or a variety of bacteria which inhibit the absorption of important minerals such as iron, calcium, and protein. Instead of cooking and char-broiling your meals, try steaming or lightly stir-frying your vegetables and meats. That way, they are not entirely raw, but not cooked to the death of enzymes and essential nutrients.


Whether it is sprouting from your garden, wiggling out of the ocean, or resting dead flat on your plate, it seems that the best way to eat your meal is by combining both raw and cooked foods into your diet. Also, be adventurous!


Raw food just isn’t for you? Here are some amped up and extremely exotic cooked meals to try:


FRANCE: “Ortolan Bird”

  • After it’s captured, fed millet, grapes, and figs, the Ortolan Bird of France is then drowned in a delicious tasting brandy and roasted for 6-8 minutes. It’s suggested that the consumer should eat the bird while covering the mouth with a napkin, which helps to catch the decapitated head of the specimen. Nothing like mouthing some little bird bones and brandy 2.


JAPAN: “Dojo Tofu” Dojo Tofu

  • The Japanese have another cuisine which is both creative and somewhat torturous. Also known as “Tofu Hell”, “Hell Boil”, or “Baby Eel Tofu”, Dojo Tofu is a dish made of tofu and baby eels, or loaches. Preperation: start with boiling water, drop in a cold chunk of tofu at the bottom of the pot, and then dump live baby eels on the matter. What happens: The baby eels squirm into the chilled tofu to find solace from the boiling water, but then cooked alive in the tasty trap. In other news, tofu is a great source of protein, calcium, and iron for all those who are vegetarian or vegan 2.


VENEZUELA: Chicken Heart

  • Loved by many Venezuelans and other surrounding cultures, this hearty meal is served typically on skewers, either grilled or baked. It is very, very high in protein.


So, which dish are you going to explore first?!

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Written by Rachael Bogdans

I am a recent graduate from Grand Valley State University where I studied Film/Video and Anthropology. My goal is to serve the world with communication of and about other cultures; the many different practices, alternatives to cooking and medicine, and to enlighten those who may have suffered from xenophobia.

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