Top Five Delicious Foods (With Disgusting Ingredients)


We're well aware that the terms "delicious" and "disgusting" are subjective. One man's "Best Burger Ever!" is another man's "Craptastic Beefy Abortion." We know. We're going by general popularity here, dishes that most of you eat, yet most likely significantly fewer of you are familiar with the production of. We'll be avoiding things that only bug hippies, like RBGH, high fructose corn syrup, and any number of preservatives and dyes that are rumored to poison your chakras and muddy your third eye. We'll also be avoiding bologna and hot dogs, because pretty much everyone is well aware that they're made out of elbows and assholes, and most of us are cool with it. Seriously, using every part of the animal, y'all: It's what the Native Americans would do, if we hadn't killed them all.

1. Jell-O™ (and other gelatin-based foods)

Is there any dessert more fun than Jell-O™? It wiggles, it jiggles, it comes in a kaleidoscope of colors, and there's always room for it. A uniquely appealing texture and a variety of fun ways to shape and mold it mean that most of us have had a soft spot for gelatin-based desserts ever since we were little. And it looks so pure! There's no discolorations or uneven spots or grit or chunks or anything, it's the same color and consistency all the way through. How on earth could such a beloved food betray us?

The Secret Ingredient: Skin and bones

Gelatin is made from collagen, which is made by boiling the bones, skin, connective tissues (like ligaments and cartilage), and organs of various animals, usually cows, but sometimes pigs, lambs and, yes, horses. Of course, the collagen goes through so many processes of purification and acidization, the U.S. government no longer even classifies it as a meat or animal product by the time it's ready for consumption, which sort of seems like the U.S. government is missing the point on why you label things "meat or animal," but whatever. What we're really driving at here is that every time you enjoy a gelatin dessert, you're eating something that got its start as "calf's foot jelly," which is the most accurately descriptive food name since Krusty's Partially Gelatinated Non-Dairy Gum-Based Beverage. And yes, collagen is the stuff they shot Melanie Griffith's face full of until she started looking like Philip Seymour Hoffman. Remember that the next time you watch an Antonio Banderas movie; when the poor guy goes home, he snuggles up next to a face full of beef goop.


2. Sweetbreads

A versatile dish, sweetbreads are usually served breaded and fried, and do tend to taste sort of sweet, for meat. They're stuffed into pâtés, grilled into Argentinean asado, served in bread, and go well with risotto or pasta. More popular in Europe and Latin America than in the U.S., sweetbreads have been around since at least the 16th century, and derive their name from the Old English word for "flesh."

The Secret Ingredient: Glands

Before it gets all spiced up, rolled in batter, fried and covered in tasty sauces, sweetbreads start out as the thyroid and thamus glands of a calf or lamb. Yep, that means those little baby critters had their throats and hearts torn out for you to feast upon, which wouldn't be so bad if it didn't make us think of the part in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom that was almost single-handedly responsible for the invention of the PG-13 rating. Yeah. Now imagine if Mola Ram had just taken a big ol' bite like Chairman Kaga in the opening credits of Iron Chef.

Barbacoa tacos.
Barbacoa tacos.

3. Barbacoa

Not only does the word "barbacoa" provide the historical and linguistic basis for the more familiar English word "barbecue," it's even become popular in its own right. Traditionally made from a cow or sheep slow-roasted over a hole in the ground lined with maguey leaves, barbacoa is famous for being tender and savory as hell. We tend to eat it in tacos all the time, and we're particularly lucky here in Houston, where good barbacoa is relatively easy to find.

The Secret Ingredient: Cow Face

Note the description above provides the "traditional" cooking method. Here in the U.S., barbacoa is usually not made by the traditional method. Stateside, we prefer to make our barbacoa by cooking an entire cow's head, peeling the meat off, and putting it on tacos hopefully without anybody finding out. Robb Walsh ran an article on the process some time ago, and it remains famous for receiving a storm of complaints regarding our photo content. Look, meals are only supposed to be pretty when they reach your plate. They're under no obligation to be nice to look at in their raw, unprepared forms. If seeing the process of meat preparation makes you lose your appetite, then maybe you shouldn't be eating meat.

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