These Food Names Aren’t What You Think They Are

Yuck or luck?

They say we are what we eat. But, with the names of some foods, do you know what you're actually eating?

Many of us like pudding and oysters, for instance. Seems that we'd love black pudding and mountain oysters then, right? Sometimes what's in a name isn't always what's on the table.

In this slideshow, we've prepared you a menu of food names that belie their actual ingredients. Bon appétit!

Headcheese

Shift the focus away from the cheese part of the dish, and we get to the unappetizing head.

In reality, headcheese is made from real animal heads. Boil a couple cow or pig heads with some seasoning until the tongues are fork tender, then stuff it all into some gelatin (aspic) and slice it up. A great substitute for weeknight meatloaf?

Mountain oysters

When you see mountain oysters on the menu, don’t expect a lovely plate of mollusks caught at the base of Black Mountain in San Francisco Bay. Instead, you’ll receive a platter of fried bull, pig, or sheep testicles.

For this Rocky Mountain specialty to catch the diner’s eye, the ruminant’s testicular area was perhaps humorously likened to the precious pearl-bestowing oyster.

You know who loves mountain oysters? Idahoans, whose city of Eagle boast on of the word's largest mountain oyster festivals every year in the spring. 

Prairie oysters

Sometimes mountain oysters are called prairie oysters, but this name also describes an outrageous cocktail. The drink is said to have been invented in the 1800s by a Wild West cowboy.

The recipe, you ask? Break a raw egg into a glass. But, don’t break the yolk! That’s the oyster and if broken, it would ruin the marriage of delectable flavors to come. Next, add an ounce of vodka, two dashes of vinegar, a teaspoon each of Worcestershire sauce and ketchup. Splash in a dash or two of hot sauce and finish with a pinch of salt and pepper. 

It's said to be, of all things, a hangover cure.

Black pudding

Rich, silky, smooth, dark-chocolate mousse ... this is decidedly not that.

Black pudding gets its coloring from one key ingredient: blood. Pig’s blood, to be exact. Dark, congealed pig’s blood is what we've got here, hence black. Pudding, in the UK and Ireland, is a kind of sausage.

Black pudding tastes, perhaps unsurprising, a lot like sausage, and is served in an traditional Irish breakfast.

Cod milt

Cod is a meaty, flaky white fish with a mild flavor. Naturally, cod milt must be an interesting preparation of a classic cod fillet, like cod with chorizo and breadcrumbs, right?

A plate of cod milt actually looks like a bulging, knotted, pinkish-white mass. Milt is the sperm-containing secretion of fish. Know where we’re going with this?

Milt is an old Germanic word meaning “spleen,” but that’s not what you're getting here either.

Order a plate of cod milt, and you’ll be presented with a mound of cooked fish sperm. Brave eaters say it’s really delicious.

Millennium or century eggs

Millennium eggs are ova from the best, organic, sustainably-sourced, free-range chickens, fed with kale, quinoa, and avocado smoothies. Sorry, millennials!

In China, century eggs (or millennium eggs) are duck, chicken, or quail eggs preserved for a few months in a solution of clay, salt, ash, quicklime, and rice hulls. The whites turn black and the yolks take on a cheesy texture.

Eskimo ice cream

Eskimo Pies are those delicious chocolate-covered ice cream bars, so maybe Eskimo ice cream is just like that, but made with whale milk?

Eskimo ice cream, or akutuq, is a mixture, often of snow, berries, and ground fish blended with seal or whale oil and fat from a caribou, bear, reindeer, walrus, or muskox. Akutuq means “something mixed" in Yupik.

(Please note that Eskimo is seen by many Native peoples as offensive.)

Chitterlings

Chitterlings are pig intestines.

More popularly known as chitlins, fried pig guts are traditional on Southern tables, alongside collard greens, mashed potatoes, ham-hock beans, and fried chicken.

The word chitterling has been recorded since the late 1200s and may be related to a German word meaning "entrails." 

Andouillete

Andouille is a French-originating "spicy, smoked pork sausage, with garlic and Cajun seasonings." 

While sausage is meat encased traditionally encased in a skin made from intestines, andouillette, on the other hand, is a seasoned French dish where the pig intestine itself is stuffed. It's known for a strong odor from ... you can guess where.

Lamb's fry

For some, lamb has a strong aroma that the tongue can’t seem to slap away. So, maybe fried lamb would be more palatable, because fried anything is good, right?

For the record, lamb’s fry is not a fried leg of lamb. If you order the dish, you'll receive the lamb’s liver, heart, kidneys, brain, and abdominal fat ... sometimes a side dish of “lamb fries,” or testicles.

The meat is usually fried, though.

Mountain chicken

Mountain chicken is a popular dish in the Caribbean islands of Dominica and Montserrat. Wait a minute—if mountain oysters aren’t really oysters, are mountain chickens really “chicken testicles” in disguise?

First, mountain chickens aren’t chickens, but frogs—giant ditch frogs. And what does it taste like? Well, chicken.

The frog has become critically endangered in years, not just due to overhunting for consumption, but also due to a loss of habitat and a deadly fungus.

Love in Disguise

Finishing off this feast is a Victorian dish called Love in Disguise. It's a lovely name, but what's it disguising?

Here's the recipe from a 19th-century English cookbook:

After well cleaning, stuff a calf's heart, cover it an inch thick with good forcemeat, then roll it in vermicelli put it into a dish, with a little water, and send it to the oven. When done, serve it with its own gravy in the dish. This forms a pretty side dish. 

As they say, de gustibus not est disputandum. That's Latin for "there's no disputing about tastes."

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