TRUE TALES OF THE FOOD: Switchfoot meets the balut

It would’ve been nice to talk about the whole Christian rock thing with the Grammy-winning Christian rock band Switchfoot,  which played at Rexall Place May 27 as part of YC Alberta , the annual Christian youth conference – but sadly, like the Rapture, it was not meant to be.

The good news: One of the band members, guitarist Drew Shirley, was kind enough to submit a TRUE TALE OF THE ROAD via email and a photo to go with it. Enjoy.

“When asked to give a tale from the road, I am always stumped.  A large portion of what happens in our travels is normal and mundane, like getting up for a 5 a.m. flight or eating out until you can’t wait for any kind of home cooking. However, there are many days that are different and somehow fascinating or at least interesting to people who aren’t in a rock band for a living. Having been in a band for 15 years, and this being all I know, many road stories have accumulated over the years, but this one show in Manila in the Philippines recently really stood out.

“We were playing one night in Manila, and the crowd was going nuts. Our keyboard player Jerome was born there, so he came forward to the mic and said some words that sent the crowd into a frenzy. After he talked, the promoter took the mic and said that he had a surprise for the band. Then he brought out a sack that had a local favorite food that he wanted us to eat in front of the crowd. The people screamed and laughed as he took out the balut (ba-loot)!

“BALUT is a half cooked duck fetus inside of a fertilized egg. It is a traditional delicacy that they crack, suck the ‘juice’ out, and then bite into the baby duck fetus…feathers, beak, and all!

“I couldn’t possibly stomach it, so I hid behind the drums as the other guys tried biting into this disgustingly amazing surprise treat in front of thousands of hysterical Filipino fans.

“All in a day’s work for a rock band in a foreign country. I love The Philippines. The BALUT? Not so much.”

Switchfoot has been spreading its music and its message across the world for a long time, so perhaps Drew and his bandmates may have encountered some other exotic delicacies:

HUITLACOCHE – Mexico: A stalk of corn infected with fungus that makes it look like a slimy grey brain, this food item, also called “corn smut,” has been compared to a truffle for its delicate corny flavour and mushroomy consistency. Sometimes used as an enchilada filling.

CASU MARZU – Italy: This already ripe cheese purposely infested with maggots has a “soft” texture and must be eaten while the maggots are alive or it becomes toxic. Used as a spread.

KOPI LUWAK – Indonesia: Coffee beans that have passed through the digestive system of a native wild cat can sell for up to $300 a pound. The brew is said to have an earthy, caramely flavor.

BIRD’S NEST SOUP – China: The real thing, made from the dried saliva nests of a particular bird that lives in Southeast Asia, has a “gelatinous” consistency and lots of essential minerals.

PRAIRIE OYSTERS – North American West: Bull’s testicles – collected during the annual branding – are often deep-fried, served with spicy sauce and comparable in texture to chicken gizzards.

Bon Appetit!