Last week, we all joined in helping California mourn the impending loss of foie gras owing to a statewide ban. This got us thinking about all the other banned and impossible-to-find foods here in the U.S., and how, as dutiful food writers, we'd like to try them all someday. Surprisingly, things like blowfish, shark fin, and horse meat (see this bologna M. Wells recently served on a grilled cheese, with foie gras, too) are still legal. (California just outlawed shark fin last year, though people can still sell it there until July 2013.) Okay, Grub Street draws the line at human genitalia, but what's wrong with some real, non-canned Scottish haggis? Check out all the food that's banned, but shouldn't be, straight ahead.
These small, ultraflavorful plums are a specialty of Lorraine, France, and can be found occasionally in England and elsewhere, but never in the U.S. because of import restrictions on fresh produce.
Taiwanese Pig's Blood Cake
Pig's blood cake on a stick — sort of like British black pudding — is a street-food staple in Taiwan. Customs wouldn't look kindly on you trying to bring this stuff back here, and a rumor that the USDA had banned the production of pork blood cake altogether in the U.S. sent shockwaves through Taiwan. But the rumor turned out to be unfounded (though you still can't import it), and Taiwanese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley near L.A. occasionally serve versions of it. Industrious food-cart operators should take note! This could be a hot trend for 2013.
Raw milk has become a cause for major crackdowns in L.A., and perhaps with good reason — at least ten people got sick from a bacteria found in raw milk last month from a Fresno County dairy. Still, unpasteurized butter tastes really good, and raw foodists still insist that raw milk is way better for you than that pasteurized, bacteria-free stuff.
These German candies, also known as Kinder Eggs, are chocolate shells with toys inside. Apparently choking hazards aren't that big a deal in Germany. The kids should know better, basically.
Once a delicacy among the British aristocracy, swans have become taboo food in England and the U.S. In this country, several swan species, including mute and trumpeter swans, are protected and endangered, and in England, since Elizabethan times, all swans have been "owned" by the royal family and therefore protected.
Real Italian Salumi
Sure, lots of chefs are making great salumis in the States now. But there's nothing like the real thing from a salumeria in Italy. Good luck getting that stuff through Customs.
So pretty, isn't it? Commercial haggis is just like sausage these days, but real Scottish haggis, which you'll never see here, is a savory pudding made from sheep offal that's been stuffed and simmered inside the sheep's stomach. A ban in the U.S., dating back to 1971, pertains to the fact that real haggis contains sheep lungs, which are not allowed to be imported.
These fruits, similar to lychees, are native to Southeast Asia and hard to come by on our shores, again owing to import restrictions.
Jackfruits are not technically banned outright, but they have to be imported and irradiated, and some markets won't even sell irradiated fruit, so they tend to be hard to find at best. The giant fruit found in Jamaica, Thailand, and elsewhere in tropical climes are apparently very sweet and delicious, but we cannot say because we've never tried it.
Young, Unpasteurized Cheese
In order to pass muster with the USDA, imported cheeses made from raw milk have to be aged for 60 days or more, to let any potentially harmful bacteria die off. But honest-to-Dieu camembert should only be aged 30 days, and that stuff is illegal here — but CHOW claims that it's easy to get by mail order and some cheesemongers carry plenty of the less-aged stuff, which just has fibs about its age on its labels. We will, however, draw the line at cazu marzu, a raw cheese from Sardinia that contains live maggots.
Feldsalat, or field salad, is a vitamin-rich, aromatic ground-cover that's frost-resistant and has been traditionally used in Germany in place of lettuce in the colder months. Also known as rampion or rapunzel, it figures in the Grimm's fairy tale of that name because it was a craving for the plant that led to Rapunzel's mother having to give her up to the witch next door, who put her in that tower. So obviously it must be delicious. It's not something you can ever find in a market here, but it is commonally available across Europe.
A common and popular fruit in Mexico and Colombia, guanabana doesn't really grow here and isn't found often as an import. Also known as soursop, the guanabana's flavor is described as being some combination of strawberry and pineapple with a citrus tartness.
Anthony Bourdain, of course, has had it. Former French President François Mitterrand requested it for a final feast shortly before he died, on New Year's Eve 1995. The tiny, endangered, two-ounce songbird is a coveted delicacy of the French aristocracy dating back to Roman times and is said to represent "the French soul." Before being eaten, the birds were blinded and fattened in a cage on a diet of millet and then drowned in a bowl of Armagnac. They're then supposed to be roasted and eaten whole, tiny bones and all, just biting off the head and beak and letting it fall into a napkin. (Mitterand is said to have performed the traditional ritual of covering his head with a white cloth to eat his ortolan so that God could not see him doing it.) Bourdain described the experience of eating ortolan thusly: "There’s a vestigal flavor of Armagnac, low-hanging fumes of airborne fat particles, an intoxicating delicious miasma. ... I bring my molars down and through my bird’s rib cage with a wet crunch and am rewarded with a scalding hot rush of burning fat and guts down my throat. Rarely have pain and delight combined so well. ... With every bite, as the thin bones and layers of fat, meat, skin, and organs compact in on themselves, there are sublime dribbles of varied and wonderous ancient flavors: figs, Armagnac, dark flesh slightly infused with the salty taste of my own blood as my mouth is pricked by the sharp bones." Yum?
Most Viewed Stories
The 12 Best Garlicky Dishes in New York Right Now
The 10 Best Lines From Jay Rayner’s Brutal Steakhouse Takedown
Will Letter for Lunch: One Woman’s Plan to Hand-Write Menus in Exchange for Food
Above the Fray: How Restaurants Become Impervious to Criticism
First Look at Empellon al Pastor, Now Open in the East Village
What to Eat at Cotenna, the New Italian Restaurant Inside the ’ino SpaceAll openings »
Gordon Ramsay at the London Is Finally, Mercifully, ClosingAll closings »
Search by name
Or, search by
Latest News on Grub StreetAbove the Fray: How Restaurants Become Impervious to Criticism
To be above a certain threshold is to enter a kind of realm of immortality and myth, immune to the random quibbles of everyday life.Here’s an Entire Japanese New Year’s Feast That Comes in a Pokemon Ball
Choose this Poké Ball and get 26 traditional osechi dishes for $136.Brave Chili’s Cook Vows to Capitalize on Shirtless Viral Photo Shoot That Got Him Fired
"Trust and believe I'm capitalizing."First Look at Empellon al Pastor, Now Open in the East Village
Alex Stupak has flung open the doors of his much-anticipated bar-tortilleria in the East Village.Eataly’s Wine Shop Makes a Triumphant Return
The celebration includes free glasses of sparkling wine tonight.The Race to Create America’s Premier Carbonated Cold Brew
The Austin-based company Coffer has already attracted attention from coffee industry heavyweights.Ben & Jerry’s Defends Its ‘Hazed & Confused’ Ice Cream
The company told angry parents nothing about it "condoned hazing, supported hazing, or even inferred hazing."Yotam Ottolenghi on Instant Ramen, Plenty More, and His Secret Candy Stash
"People are becoming quite precious about what they eat."New York Taste Returns Next Month
Our annual culinary extravaganza happens November 10 with more than 40 of New York's best chefs and restaurants.The 10 Best Lines From Jay Rayner’s Brutal Steakhouse Takedown
"The most unintentionally funny restaurant to open in London in a very long time."
The Breuer building is closed, but the huckleberry pancakes will be back in May of 2015.The 12 Best Garlicky Dishes in New York Right Now
Now is not the time to worry about minty-fresh breath.A New Study Shows That Calorie Counts on Menus Don’t Do Much at All
"People don't really understand what it means to say a typical soda has 250 calories," says a researcher who thinks the number-board system of listing calorie counts is not effective.New York Attorney General Sues Papa John's Franchisee for Labor Violations
A franchisee with four Manhattan locations not only allegedly cheated its employees out of hourly wages, it forced them to pay for their own bicycles, helmets, safety gear.Some Poor Waitress Had to Tell President Obama That His Credit Card Was Declined
"Turns out I guess I don't use it enough."Starbucks Gets One Step Closer to Having Your Drinks Ready the Moment You Arrive
It won't be long before the Starbucks app knows everything about you, but at least your drink will be hot when you get these.Grub Street’s Restaurant Power Rankings: Take Root, Marta, and More
Find out where to eat in Grub Street's weekly ranking of the city's most-buzzed-about restaurants.French Bakery Maman Sells NYC’s Most Impressive New Chocolate-Chip Cookie
It's made by a Michelin-starred chef.Garrett Oliver to David Chang: Shut Up About Crappy Beer Already
"Dear Dave, I'm a little worried about you."Kate Mara Grabs Coffee at La Colombe; Mindy Kaling and Malcolm Gladwell Party at the Standard
This week's Celebrity Settings.
The celebrity chef's team defends their decision, saying that David Mason served his time and deserves a shot at rehabilitating his life.Introducing Delancey & Co, London’s First Lower East SideThemed Takeout Shop
It may be British, but there is lox on the bagels.Chef Sean Brock Eats Bologna in Nashville and Blood Sausage in New York
"I got my regular order: meatloaf with Creole sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans, fried green tomatoes, white beans, corn pudding, and sweet tea."A Lot of People Were Outraged by Michael Ruhlman’s Response to a ‘Shrill’ Times Essay
"I like girls in kitchen a lot: it does bring that testosterone level down a little bit, it makes it not so aggressive," a British chef said recently.Pharrell Williams’s Ubiquity Now Extends to Fancy French Macarons
He and Ladurée have made peanut-butter and cola macarons.Eating Vegan Ice Cream With Jason Schwartzman and Director Alex Ross Perry
"It's hard for me to relate to people who don't have a huge sweet tooth."This Coffee-Making Robot Is the World's Worst Barista
It can whip up a Nespresso in about three minutes.Animal Rights Group Blasts Starbucks for Using Eggs From ‘Cruel Farms’
Despite claims that they're "ethically purchased and responsibly produced."Thug Kitchen Is Officially a Best Seller
It's also No. 1 on Amazon's best seller list of vegan cookbooks.11 Places to Find Fancy Hummus
Truffle hummus at Claudette, burnt-jalapeño hummus at Empéllon Cocina, and more.
He's holding "high-level meetings" on "the best way to reach that goal."See How 7 Fast-Food Burgers Rot (or Don’t) Over Time
The burgers all look pretty horrible to begin with; at least the month-old ones have penicillin.Saltie Stays Open Late to Morph Into Mr. Curry
Chips and curry sauce, naan, and rice and pickle are on the menu.Against All Reasonable Odds, a Man Insists This Giant Mouse Was in His McDonald’s Coffee
It was a total "surprise" when he took the lid off.19 Defining Moments in the History of Yogurt
Congratulations, New York, you have a new state snack.Here’s a Start-up That Promises to ‘Age’ Whiskey Instantly
Why put the whiskey into the barrel when you can put the barrel into the whiskey?‘Veggie-Forward’ Williamsburg Pop-Up Chez José Is Reborn As Brick-and-Mortar Semilla
Chef José Ramírez-Ruiz, who has worked at Per Se and Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, will serve a $75 prix-fixe at his restaurant's 18-seat U-shaped bar.Restaurant’s Waitstaff Quits Midday, Alleging Racism and Way Too Many Flying Bugs
He allegedly fired people for being black, old, or fat.Why James Oseland Left Saveur to Clean Chicken Coops
"I closed all the blinds in the apartment, turned off the TV, lit a couple candles ... "The NYPD Thinks a Yelper May Have Smoke-Bombed Bar Pitti
"They're looking for stuff like, 'This place sucks and I'm going to blow this f--king place up.'"
The restaurateur says he's got a location on Gansevoort Street.Esquire Names America’s Best New Restaurants for 2014
Brooklyn's Take Root is "an oasis of passion, a crack in the rock of a cynical world."Meet the Creative Genius Who Turns Starbucks Cups Into Art
His masterworks morph the Siren into Colonel Sanders, a Lego minifigurine, and PSY.Colors Comes Back to Life As a Gluten-Free, Living-Wage-Paying Restaurant
The cooperative East Village restaurant is serving "upscale comfort food."Mario Borgatti, the Bronx’s Pasta Patriarch, Has Died
Borgatti was born in 1917 and was just 17 when his parents opened up shop on East 187th Street in 1935.Here’s a Guy Who’s Banned From Every Bar and Restaurant in London
35,000 establishments he cannot enter — a citywide first.Will Letter for Lunch: One Woman’s Plan to Hand-Write Menus in Exchange for Food
"I have a service and I'm hungry."Rick Bayless Will Cook in New York With Alex Stupak Next Month
The chefs will team up for one night only.Here’s What It Looks Like When Eric Wareheim Makes a Cookbook Trailer
It's like a gastrique made of punk, gluten, and early 1990s public-access TV.What to Eat at King Bee, a New ‘Acadian-Inspired’ Restaurant in the East Village