leave your inhibitions at the door
If you’ve been following this series of posts, you’ll know that I successfully found a way to cook bitter melon that doesn’t lead to me yakking up lunch and we roasted a whole (albeit suckling) pig. But there’s still one challenge that eluded me, like Mt Everest eluded Captain Ahab, confounding him for eternity.
For all my bragging about being a worldly foodie, there was still one thing that I couldn’t eat. And the worst part is that, as a kid, I used to eat it on the regular. But somewhere along the line I lost my taste for it. I tried a couple years ago but, even with a giant shot of tequila in my stomach and the burden of intense pressure from my brother, I still couldn’t do it.
What is “it?”
It’s “The snack that quacks” or “The treat that tweets.” Although I’m hereby adopting that second one as my nickname. As soon as I can figure out what the hell I’m doing on Twitter.
Now I had an opportunity to make things right.
It was at the same family reunion where we roasted the piglet. Group texts were going around about the pig and one of us brought up the subject of getting some Balut. It started off as an innocent joke but, given we’re a bunch of male idiots, the taunting and posturing started to escalate. Finally my brother Panhead from NYC said that he could bring some. There was an eerie text silence that was broken when yours truly said , “Sure! Get a dozen!”
Ugh. I didn’t think he would.
Knowing his cheap-assed self I figured he’d head out to Central Park and raid some duck nests. After either striking out or getting questioned by the 5-0 he’d give up. But I somehow forgot he lived close to Chinatown. Double ugh.
When he said he scored some, we thought there was NO WAY he’d get it through airport security. Think about it – you can’t even bring a snow globe on a plane. Can you imagine the look of total horror on the TSA agent’s face when he saw the x-ray of 12 little duckling fetuses? We were assuming the TSA would see that mayhem in his backpack and give Panhead a 3-knuckle-deep body cavity search.
Well, he got through so it was apparent that this was going to be happen. Out came the tequila. But since that wasn’t enough for me the last time, I insisted on a few rounds of beer pong first.
Now we were ready.
There were only six of us on that original group text that said we’d do it. (OK, only 2 said we’d do it – the rest were trying to hide.) But last I checked there are twelve eggs in a dozen and there’s no way in duck hell I would eat two. So we tried to recruit other
suckers eaters. What shocked me the most was that the older generation of Filipinos – ones that spent half their lives there before coming to the States – refused to participate. I think it was my mom that said something to the effect of “there’s a reason we left the old country.”
So we pulled the “respect your elders” card and coerced some of the college-aged kids to do it. Mind you, these are kids who barely eat seafood. The only ones I felt the slightest tinge of guilt about where Shady and his girlfriend. They weren’t even blood-related or anywhere near Filipino.
It was time. First, a toast.
It wasn’t looking good for my brother. He didn’t even take a bite yet.
He was the only failure of the night. I was still chewing when I heard the garbage disposal turning on behind me.
There was also a lot of wincing.
Surprisingly, Shady’s girlfriend downed it with no problem. Cool as a cucumber –
But in the end, we did it. And what did it taste like?
One word – VICTORY!