What makes it weird?

What turns one diner’s stomach may be dinner to another. Chris Cosentino, chef at San Francisco’s Incanto restaurant, food blogger, and enthusiast of all the nasty bits, worries that he might not “have enough offal on the menu.” He solves the problem with a dish of grilled lamb liver, heart, and kidneys, dressed with salsa picante. A photo is posted to his blog, with a warning for viewers not to drool on their keyboard.

Food blogger Mary Ladd recently attended one of Cosentino’s “Whole Beast Dinners” at Incanto, and reported her experience eating an entire pig-pointy ears to curly tail-on SFist. She admits, “some of our pregnant friends cringed and kept their backs turned,” when the pig came out, but says, “the heart was petite, very tender and tasted and felt clean.”

No newcomer to adventurous eating is Eddie Lin, one of the authors of Deep End Dining, a blog devoted to consuming the unusual, odd, and sometimes illegal (a recent “outlaw dinner” featured foods that are banned or forbidden, or will be soon). Though being a devotee of the nasty bits can have its drawbacks. Eddie recently suggested a dinner out to his wife who replied, “Honey, I’m six months pregnant. I really can’t handle eating fetus or baby anything, not even veal. Nothing weird at all. Please tell me we’re going to a normal restaurant.”

Perhaps the larger question is, what really makes food “weird?” In response to her recent Chez Pim post about cooking with horse fat, Pim readily admits, “My weird meter is probably calibrated quite differently from other people’s.” She says that growing up in Thailand exposed her to “all kinds of stuff that people here or in Europe might find weird.”

Numerous and interesting comments on her post continue the conversation. “I’m still amazed at what the average American will/will not eat,” writes reader Linette. “They turn up their noses at things like tripe, calf brains, fish-head curry, and sea-urchin, then they go eat processed, packaged crap from the supermarket. Please! Who’s the crazy one here?”

In the end, is eating molded green jello salad with cubes of canned fruit floating in it any stranger than tripe?