Oh the things we eat

I love ground beef. It's a working woman's best friend in the kitchen. You can make anything with ground beef. Casseroles. Stews. Soups. Meatloaf. Lasagna. Spaghetti. The list is endless.

Over the last few years, I've begun substituting ground beef with ground turkey because it's better for you.

Harry eats just about everything except chicken.

I eat almost anything except mushrooms. I can't stand the feel of them in my mouth. It would be like laying a snail on my tongue. I don't care what you call snails, even if you give them a fancy name like escargot, they're still snails-little slimy things that look like worms. I don't put worms in my mouth and I'm not putting snails or mushrooms in my mouth.

A friend of mine, Jeffra, told me about a seafood salad she ordered in a restaurant. It arrived and was placed in front of her. It was almost a work of art. At first she didn't know what was so creatively arranged on the top of the salad. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be an itty bitty octopus! She began to remove it but her dinner companions urged her to at least try it.

"I cut a small piece of one of the tentacles and put it in my mouth. But as soon as I felt a little suction cup, I was done for," she said. She removed it from her mouth to her napkin and the octopus from her salad. "It was awful!"

I had a conversation with a business man, John, who travels extensively to the Orient. Some of his dining experiences leads me to believe, if it moves, people will eat it.

John has eaten dog, cow esophagus, duck webs and chicken ligaments.

Crazy Sam Higgins, author of the cookbook, "Snake, Rattle and Rotel," says "You can come up with a recipe for cows, pigs, deer, armadillos, 'possums, 'coons, rattlesnakes, chickens, and just about anything that can't run across a double-lane highway fast enough."

Crazy Sam also says, "If you take a chicken, eat the best parts, you can still make one or two meals out of what's left."

But I did not see a recipe in his book for chicken ligaments.

We hear about the large population of the Far East and meeting the needs of the people is great, so I imagine they take an animal and make the most of it. But ligaments?

I'm kind of sorry now I cleaned all my plates when I was a kid. I remember many a time my mother scolded me for not eating everything on my plate because there were starving children in China who would love the rest of my lima beans. Maybe if I had sent them my lima beans, they never would have had to eat chicken ligaments.

I want to know, what do you do with chicken ligaments? Do they eat them like spaghetti served with a tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese? How many do you need to make a cupful?

Cow espophagus. Do you cut it up in chunks, dip in egg and bread crumbs then deep fry? Esophagus fingers, anyone?

Duck webs. Do they make great dippers for dips?

In many ways I envy John who has become a knowledgeable world traveler, experiencing many exciting cultural adventures. Yet I shuddered and made a face as he talked about his exotic cusine experiences.

Becky saw me shudder and was quick to remind me that I use to eat ketchup sandwiches when I was a kid.

"Hey, don't knock two pieces of white bread with a good dousing of Heinz ketchup until you tried it," I replied.

Maybe my ketchup sandwiches would make someone from China shudder. Or my mom's cold baked beans sandwiches. Or Harry's penchant for souse. Then there's pig stomach, pig's feet and beef tongue that is enjoyed by many Americans. Down south, eating gator, rattlesnake, possum and even skunk isn't unheard of.

Crazy Sam says, "Food is always edible as long as it isn't raw, burnt, don't upset your stomach or give you the hives."

Well, I always say, if in doubt, ground it up or pour ketchup on it. I bet if you took cow esophagus, ground it up and made lasagna out of it, you'd never know the difference. It would just be ground beef. Kind of.