There comes a point in every relationship I have—be it with a work colleague, a friend, an in-law—when I reveal the fact that I eat something many people would deem to be trash. I might let it slip that I eat whole shrimp—tails, heads, and all. Or maybe they’ll see me crunch down an entire edamame pod—casing and all. Or perhaps they’ll hear me crunching on a peanut, still in its shell. It’s at that point that they begin to think of me differently.
I try to ease people into my eating habits. I usually don’t list out all the “trash” that I eat. But I think it’s time I document it all. Because, really, I’m performing a service. In this crumbling world that’s overflowing with trash and waste, I am the human garbage disposal who is coming to the rescue, ready to clean your plate of crispy shrimp tails so they don’t end up in the bin. So, I’m writing down all of the things I enjoy eating that the general public accepts as “inedible.” This list will be available for all of my future acquaintances so that they may know me better and thank me for my service—and not look shocked when my bowl of in-the-shell edamame is completely empty at the end of the night.
Many people would side with me on this one. Crust is good. It’s a part of pizza. But I have seen enough plates filled with crescent moons of pizza crust to know that there are plenty of you out there who seem to think it’s an inedible pizza handle. Give it to me. I’ll eat it. I’ll dip it in ranch or sop up some stray marinara or I’ll just eat it plain. Don’t throw it away. Give it to me.
When you get an order of edamame at your favorite sushi restaurant, the beans arrive in a steaming bowl of vibrant green pods, often showered in salt or some sort of seasoning. And then you take the beans out of the tasty, seasoned pod and eat those? I’m not about to miss out on any flavoring. I’m eating those pods whole. Yes, they can be a little fibrous sometimes, but variation in textures is part of the joy of eating.
Again, the shells are where the salt is. I want that salt. I refuse to discard the only flavorful thing about a peanut. It is a little like eating tree bark mixed with cardboard, but the crunchy peanut balances out the flavor, making something actually quite nice. Plus, for all you calorie counters out there, you eat a lot fewer peanuts this way. This also applies to sunflower seeds but, honestly, who actually takes the sunflower seed out of its shell? Who has that kind of time?
Shrimp Tails, Heads, Shells
Shrimp meat is good but it’s missing texture. Enter: shrimp shells. They’re already there! No need to coat the shrimp in panko or wrap them in ultra thin potato slices before frying them. Shrimp are born crunchy, so enjoy the sensation. And the heads? They’re crunchy and full of tasty brains. Yum. I will say, I do have limits on how big a shrimp can be for me to eat it whole. Once they get to be classified as jumbo, the shells become too tough for even my powerful teeth. (Apologies to my dentist for everything I do.)
When I was a young child I heard that there was a trace amount of cyanide in apple seeds. I decided it would be cool to build up a tolerance to the poison by essentially microdosing it by eating apples whole, seeds and all. (Legend has it Rasputin did something similar.) Also, I am lazy. And if I can just eat something rather than get up and throw it away, I will do that. (Let’s just say Rasputin did this, too.) I barely notice it anymore. It’s just part of the experience of eating an apple.
I won’t go out of my way to eat completely uncooked popcorn kernels but if they’re in my handful of popcorn I will not weed them out. Ever-so-slightly-popped kernels, on the other hand, are a delicacy to be sought out. They soak up all the flavor and have all the crunch.
A little fuzz won’t kill you. But finding a compost bin or garbage can will inconvenience you. So, yes, I’ve been known to eat a kiwi skin. As a child, I would slice the kiwi in half, scoop out the fruit (being sure to maintain a centimeter or so of flesh around the sides), eat the fruit, and then eat the fuzzy but still fruity skin. These days, sadly, I’m a bit allergic to kiwis, so I no longer partake.
The Occasional Orange Rind
I’m not totally sure how I stumbled on this flavor experience, but if you take a bite of orange rind (we’re talking really good, zesty orange rind from a really good navel orange) and then chase it with a sip of Diet Coke, your mouth will light up. It’s absolutely delicious. Don’t judge me. It’s how I got to where I am in life. I eat food for money now.
What trash do you eat? I’m open to all suggestions in the comments.