Bizarre Foods with Coach Parker

Bizarre Foods with Coach Parker

Claire Payne, Reporter

Despite teaching Biology and coaching Softball, Coach Parker’s life is comparable to an episode of Fear Factor. In case you don’t remember the wild show, Fear Factor was a stunt/dare reality show in which contestants were dared to eat the strangest of foods and other audacious acts. Parker goes on mission trips to exotic places like South Korea and Peru, and then dares himself to eat meals that are indigenous to the area, no matter how repulsive they may seem.

One of Parker’s more memorable experiences was when he went to the Philippines and had a traditional meal called Balut. This is a developing duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in the shell. In order to prepare it, the duck or chicken egg is taken away from the mother a few days before it hatches, and the egg will ferment. Then, you crack the top, drink the juice, peel the rest of the egg, and eat the developing embryo– which still very much looks like a baby duck. After this peculiar meal, Parker said he would never eat it again.

A few other unusual meals he recalls are tarantulas, goats, and even dog meat. However, the tarantula was definitely the one that stood out. In Africa, the tarantula is cooked inside of a green sugar cane and is then smashed on a rock so that its hair falls off. The insect is then served on a banana leaf; the legs are considered the most appetizing part. As unappetizing as it sounds, some even eat the abdomen.

However, not all of these meals were absolutely horrifying. In fact, he particularly enjoyed the pan-fried rice cake. This delicacy is very sweet, not American sweet, of course, but sweet in the sense that it’s served in a banana leaf or a spring roll. This snack is served of the sidewalks of Vietnam.

Now, even though this is quite the daring act, Parker doesn’t try these exotic foods to see which ones his stomach won’t react to; he tries them so that he can get a full feel for the culture. Parker says, “ They just eat what’s available, [they] prepare it, serve it, [and it] gives you a feel for what they have.” In other words, these meals directly correlate to the current economic status of the country or village.

Through Coach Parker’s interesting travel tradition, he is able to get a more complete look at each culture. Many times, food serves as a way to get just a small slice of the many cultures that this world holds.