when it comes to strange and exotic foods I’m usually game to try something new, especially when travelling. Pigeon soup, fertilised duck eggs, jellied eel, black pudding, dried squid sandwiches, crocodile… they’ve all passed my lips and made it into my stomach at some time or another.
William Buckland (1784-1856) went a lot further.
“He boasted that he had eaten his way through the whole animal creation, from mouse to bison. No sentimentality held him back as he devoured slices of crocodile, hedgehogs, puppies and snails.
His laboratory was his own stomach. Buckland could state quite categorically that mole was the nastiest meat of all (although he later changed his mind to blue bottle). Hapless friends were also guinea pigs.
John Ruskin, more sympathetic than some to Buckland’s eccentricity, wrote: “I have always regretted a day of unlucky engagement on which I missed a delicate toast of mice.”
His son, Frank Buckland, followed in William’s footsteps, both as a popular scientist and as an omnivore, serving up elephant and rhino, kangaroo and Chinese sea slugs to bemused dinner parties.
(“Tortellini” by Sergei Voichenko, Vladimir Zessler)
Once, when the Bucklands were visiting an Italian cathedral together, they came upon a stain on the flagstones, supposed to be martyr’s blood. Buckland senior dropped to his knees and licked the spot. “I can tell you what it is: it’s bat’s urine,” he announced.
For my adventurous readers I have sourced this delicious recipe for Parcht Locusts enjoyed in 1687 by William Dampier
“The Natives would go out with small Nets, and take a Quart at one sweep. When they had enough, they would carry them home, and parch them over the Fire in an earthen Pan; and then their Wings and Legs would fall off, and their Heads and Backs would turn red like boil’d Shrimps, being before brownish. Their Bodies being full, would eat very moist, their Heads would crackle in one’s Teeth. I did once eat of this Dish, and liked it well enough….”