Today I found out that the largest item on a menu in the world is whole camel which is often stuffed with a lamb which has been stuffed with chickens which has been stuffed with fish or eggs; the whole lot also tends to have rice and other fixings mixed in at each stuffing stage.
As you might expect, cooking this particular menu item is no easy culinary act. So, given that it’s hard to get an invitation to such events as dinner parties with a Sheik, where it is occasionally served, and the relative difficulty and expense of preparing the thing, it’s not surprising that, for a long time, whether such a menu item was actually ever prepared was a controversial topic of discussion among foodies of the world, despite it being in the Guinness Book of World Records. However, documented cases of it being prepared can be found, such as in The Fearless Diner by Richard Sterling where he both partook in such a dish and met someone who’d actually been asked to make it for a wedding for a Sheik, which he subsequently did.
One of the most popular variations of this dish is in the cookbook ‘International Cuisine’, 1983. This particular version of the recipe says you first skin, trim and clean a medium-sized camel, lamb, and chickens and boil them until tender (one wonders where you get a pot big enough to boil a whole camel). Precook the stuffing: peel hard boiled eggs, cook fluffy rice and mix it with fried nuts. This stuffing goes into chickens which together with more rice go into a lamb. Finally, the whole camel should be stuffed with the stuffed lamb and even more rice, wrapped in palm leaves and broiled until brown over large charcoal pit 3 feet in depth and served with rice. It takes about 20 to 24 hours to cook the stuffed camel and it can feed as many as 80 people.
- Camel meat has been eaten for centuries. A whole roasted camel was recorded by ancient Greek writers as a dish in ancient Persia at banquets. Camel milk is rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins with less fat and cholesterol than cow milk. Also, camel’s blood is sometimes consumed as a source of iron, vitamin D, salts and minerals.
- One of the most popular stuffed recipes in North America is Turducken – a boneless turkey stuffed with a boneless duck that’s stuffed with a boneless chicken; the gaps in between are filled with cornbread, oyster and sausage. The dish is an American invention by the southern chef Paul Prudhommes.
- Among the most bizarre dishes in the world is a balut which is a 15-16 day fertilized duck or chicken egg with an embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. This item is also known as ‘the treat with feet’ and commonly sold as a street food in the Philippines.
- If you’ve ever thought “real” Chinese food was disturbing, perhaps it is because, classically, Chinese chefs had the mantra: ‘Anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies with its back to heaven, is edible’.
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