What we eat on a regular basis tends to be normal to us based on the simple fact that we are used to eating those specific foods regularly. Just as we might eat a hamburger once a week or so, in other places, it may be normal to have eaten larvae or snake. Of course, it is still hard to believe that there is anywhere in the world where blood is consumed regularly, yet there likely is. The word “food” means something different to everyone. What one finds appetizing might come off as unappetizing to someone else based off of any number of things, from taste to culture and mere preference.
Extreme is a word that is used when describing something in the highest degree, something at its peak. In some ways, this is what Jerry Hopkins book titled Extreme Cuisine: The Weird & Wonderful Foods That People Eat is all about. It takes the word food and brings it to the very edge of reason. It is a book which can boggle the mind simply by telling us things we may already know yet in greater detail. Most people have heard about at least some of the foods in this book, yet how much do we actually believe it? People eat dogs and cats. This is a fact, but any pet lover would be too appalled to even think that there is history and reasoning behind this. It is just too extreme a thought, hence the appropriateness of the book’s title.
Jerry Hopkins wrote this book to express his passion for food. He has tried many of the foods he has mentioned and even enjoys them. He writes facts as well as personal stories which range from humorous to stomach turning. It is a very humanizing way of presenting somewhat disturbing information. Not everyone is bound to take this book the same way, of course. Hopkins tries to make the book as appealing as possible to all readers by adding his human touch but he does not hold back so as not to take away from the experiences he is trying to convey. He is noticeably biased yet he knows he cannot change his reader’s minds.
If the descriptions are not enough to make you queasy, there are also recipes and pictures to add that extra little bit of tantalizing terror for the reader. Many readers will find themselves gagging on the words throughout the book, but the recipes and pictures will only make the book itself feel icky. Full color photos bring certain parts of the book to life, for better or worse. Recipes only bring the idea of everything as food to light all the more. It is quite humbling.
This book is not for the faint of heart or those just about to eat. Or for that matter, those who have just eaten. Of course, for people like Hopkins, perhaps it might cause some salivating. Needless to say it takes a healthy appetite, whether for food or information, to get through this book. It is an intriguing read for many reasons, as long as you find the right time to read it.
The book is also eye opening. If not simply for the mere fact that most people that eat within the comfort of their own home and/or their local eating places and shop at their own local grocery stores in the modern world, or possibly what their perception is of the modern world assume that food means the same thing to all peoples everywhere around the world. But the word food, means so many different things to different people all around the world.