Tarantulas in Cambodia, live sea worms in Samoa, maggot cheese in Italy (an actual illegal food!), cobra in Vietnam, scorpions on a stick in Thailand, and yes, even coffee beans plucked from the poop of a civet cat in Indonesia. All of these delights and more await you in this little book. What's more, the author has actually eaten the foods he describes. I haven't decided whether that makes him studly or just stupid, but he declares most of the "delicacies" in the book to be scrumptious. I'll have to take his word for it. No live octopus tentacles for me today, thanks. I'm not a picky eater, but I don't seek out disgusting and potentially dangerous culinary experiences. They're fascinating to read about, though.
There are excellent close-up photos of each (ahem) "food," and entertaining, concise descriptions. For each item, he tells what exactly the food consists of, where in the world it is eaten, how it's prepared and eaten, and what the actual taste/texture experience is like. His sense of humor makes it fun to read. I had quite a few laugh out loud moments. I liked the entry for bull penis, where he says, "Don't be a dick. Eat one instead."
I think the cover of this book may keep the squeamish away from what amounts to a fun and educational look at food that Westerners consider bizarre, but is staple fare for folks in other parts of the world. Every page is filled with vibrant images of food we think of as inedible, producing the train crash effect - horrific, yet you just can't look away. Eddie Lin's commentary is both deliciously humorous and informative and as Bill Cosby used to say, "If you're not careful, you just might learn something." I won't spoil the fun, but on one entry he turns the tables on Western culture by providing a popular American food item that gets sideways glances from other cultures. The bottom line here is that so much of the world's cuisine is misunderstood, and if Lin does nothing else he fills the role of goodwill bizarre food ambassador. The text is brief and down to earth, and I'm confident that his take on the food described within will pique your curiosity and may even get you to step outside your comfort zone to try something new, unique and exciting. Food adventurers may tell you that you don't know what you're missing - in Extreme Cuisine, Eddie Lin schools you with humor and culinary derring-do. Forget Frommer's - this is the book to take with you on overseas trips...
I might not be as daring an eater as Eddie Lin, author of Extreme Cuisine: Exotic Tastes From Around the World (General Pictorial), but I found the book very interesting. It opened my eyes to other dishes from all over the world. I discovered that some things that I might consider strange, are typical in other parts of the world. I was also amused to find some of my favorite foods, such as the prickly pear cactus, on the list. And surprisingly, I have actually tried about seven of the dishes mentioned in the book! Since Eddie also indicates the source he used for each dish, if I decide to try something new, I now know where is a good place to try. I definitely recommend this book to anyone wishing to give their palate a tasty adventure!