Foodies like to pride themselves on being adventurous eaters. They aim to be worldly and try exotic new foods and like them. And if these foods are considered unpalatable by common folk, then all the better. Offal – what used to be considered the waste parts of a butchered animal – is now a delicacy served in many fine restaurants. If you ask a foodie if he or she would eat tripe (stomach), sweetbreads (thymus gland or pancreas), or bone marrow, the foodie will smile at you with a sympathetic look, and say something like “oh yes, but I’m very particular, I like my bone marrow on toasted Acme bread only” or “I prefer my veal sweetbreads fried in luscious duck fat.”
What’s the next fad going to be? Is there anything left that the most adventurous foodie won’t go near? There might be one thing that at least American foodies are still afraid of. Raw chicken. Foodies are human after all, and salmonella is still a problem in the United States.
But in Japan, chicken yakitori (grilled skewered chicken) joints are immensely popular, and a lot of them serve rare chicken or even chicken sashimi – raw chicken! Anthony Bourdain visits one of these yakitori joints on the Tokyo episode of his show No Reservations, and enjoys chicken skin, chicken spleen, chicken meat that’s browned outside but rare inside, and even chicken sashimi, all with a nice, cold beer. Apparently, the chicken is very fresh and has just been killed. As you can tell from the photo above, It looks almost like fish sashimi. In Japan and other parts of Southeast Asia where chicken isn’t mass-produced like it is in the States, salmonella doesn’t rear its ugly head as often. In Tokyo and Kyoto, you can also get grilled chicken cartilage, chicken uterus, chicken neck, and a variety of other chicken parts, often served up with a perfect orb-like raw egg yolk.
Are American foodies ready for raw chicken? Only time (and chicken farming practices) will tell.