The Rôti Sans Pareil Is 17 Birds Stuffed Inside Each Other and It Is Delicious
To most people, the turducken, a solid slab of flesh created by stuffing a turkey with a duck, and that duck in turn with a chicken, epitomizes the egregious complexity and gluttonous obsession with meat that makes up a large part of modern American cuisine. But most people are pussies. In the historical world of engastration (stuffing animals inside other animals) and chimera (melding animals together) cooking, this 15-pound bird-block is about as interesting as a flaccid boiled hotdog. The true king of culinary absurdity comes from L’almanach des gourmands, an 1807 cookbook written by Alexandre Balthazar Laurent Grimond de la Reyniere, a man so outlandish he faked his own death to see who would attend his funeral. His creation was called the rôti sans pareil—the roast without equal—and it is everything that has made the half-dead art of engastration increasingly popular today: ambitious, ostentatious, and alluringly, inevitably delicious.
His recipe calls for a bustard stuffed with a turkey stuffed with a goose stuffed with a pheasant stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a duck stuffed with a guinea fowl stuffed with a teal stuffed with a woodcock stuffed with a partridge stuffed with a plover stuffed with a lapwing stuffed with a quail stuffed with a thrush stuffed with a lark stuffed with an ortolan bunting stuffed with a garden warbler stuffed with an olive stuffed with an anchovy stuffed with a single caper, with layers of Lucca chestnuts, force meat and bread stuffing between each bird, stewed in a hermetically sealed pot in a bath of onion, clove, carrots, chopped ham, celery, thyme, parsley, mignonette, salted pork fat, salt, pepper, coriander, garlic, and “other spices,” and slowly cooked over a fire for at least 24 hours.
Quick thinking and a community-college degree in automotive mechanics can work together to create a real “shocking” meal (if you know what I mean)!
—Food Pranking April Fools’ Day
Thinking of eating soup for that midday meal? Why not swap your buddy’s usual liquid lunch for a heaping bowl of Goya’s Mexican Jumping Bean Soup?
—Food Pranking April Fools’ Day
Secretly preparing a brutal brew is a sure way to make sure your victim’s day is up in smoke before he even heads to work! Forget creamer for flavoring and just substitute a little menthol!
—Food Pranking April Fools’ Day
Fresh Off the Boat — Chengdu, Part 1
It’s the season finale of Fresh Off The Boat. In Chengdu, Eddie—a.k.a. the Human Panda—returns to his bamboo roots and discovers that pandas watch panda porn. He gets a taste of Chengdu traditions with hip-hop pioneer DJ SuperBestFriend and eats pig-brain mapo tofu at a “fly” restaurant on the brink of demolition.
The Lost Boys of California Are Literally Dying to Pick Your Fruit
t the age when most American teenagers are trying to decide whom to ask to prom, Ernesto Valenzuela was instead weighing whether it was worse to die of thirst in the desert or have his throat slit by gangsters.
That’s the choice the 16-year-old faced in his hometown of Mapulaca, Honduras, a drowsy village where MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangsters are known for recruiting youth—sometimes as young as kindergartners—into their cartels. If the kids refuse, they are often killed. Now Ernesto was being recruited, and he didn’t want to end up one of the 6,000 people murdered each year in Honduras. With a total population just shy of 8 million, that means nearly one of every 1,000 Hondurans is a victim of homicide, making it the most dangerous place—after the war zones of Iraq, Somalia, and Syria—in the world.1
After mulling it over for months—and trying to dodge the tattooed gang members who wanted to sign him up—Ernesto decided his potential fate at home presented far more danger than what he might face at any distant desert crossing. So, early one morning in June 2013, after his mother sobbed and begged him to stay safe, he set out for a place he’d only seen in movies, a place where he’d heard a kid like himself—with just a fifth-grade education—could earn $60 a day working in the fields: America.
We Need to Quit Our Obsession with Meat Before It Kills Us
On Sunday, March 9, Pitt Cue Co.—the meat mecca just off London’s Carnaby Street—hosted a special evening, a one-off “Highland Beef Night” that featured a nose-to-tail menu of beef dishes made from a pair of Highland cows the restaurant bought a year ago from a Cornish farmer. The animals spent two months dry-aging, their flesh and bones eventually finding their way into dishes like beef scrumpets, beef and bone-marrow pasties, and the king of all cuts, rib of beef.
All of it was fucking fantastic. Not many places in London do the things to pigs and cows that Pitt Cue does. But with everyone smiling at each other—lips slicked with grease, teeth like fence posts that live animals had been fired into—I couldn’t help thinking that there was something a bit culty about a group of humans gathering together to eat two specific cows.
Locavore obsessives will kick their hooves at this. Speak to any chef, food critic, restaurateur—whomever—and they’ll give you the eat-better-meat-less-often argument, droning on about where the animals lived, what they ate, how humanely they died, which artisan coffee they drank, etc., etc. All of that is irrefutable. If you’re going to eat meat, you can do your part by eating the best quality available and, when you can, consuming the animal’s less popular parts (neck fillet, onglet, cheek, trotters, that kind of stuff) and not just the common cuts.
Meanwhile, we’ve become increasingly obsessed with meat. If an event like Highland Beef Night had been touted even a few years ago, there’s no way it would have pulled in the people it did on Sunday. Meat is now highly fetishized, especially among young people. Burgers are the new tits—if you look at any social media platform, there are as many 20-something men posting photos of ground flesh covered in neon sauce as there are sharing that zero-gravity Kate Upton video. We’ve become a society of rabid carnivores, and it’s not just getting tiresome—it’s fucking killing us.
Idiots in England Hold Annual Stinging Nettle Eating Contest
Over the course of one hour on the Saturday before the 2002 summer solstice, Simon Sleigh, an organic vegetable farmer from the village of Hawkchurch in Devon, England, crammed 76 feet of stinging nettles down his ravenous maw. The notion of ingesting nettles in some form isn’t odd, given the ubiquity and touted health benefits of teas, infusions, and even beers made from the weed. But eating the plant straight is another matter. Spiny stalks aside, each nettle leaf is tipped with thousands of microscopic hairs that, when brushed, detach as needles and inject a cocktail of irritating chemicals into whatever flesh tries to disturb them. The tongue and throat are abraded. The mouth turns black. And sometimes the nettles start to ferment in the gut with an audible gargling noise.
Sleigh wasn’t alone. He embarked on this test of endurance alongside several dozen others and a crowd of hundreds who’d turned up for one of southern England’s numerous bizarre spring traditions: Dorset’s own World Nettle Eating Championship, in the town of Marshwood.