While the movie “The Bucket List” isn’t exactly a must-watch for everyone, it did introduce the title concept to the general public. And now it seems like everyone has their own personal bucket lists of things they want to do before they die, whether it’d be the places they want to visit, things they want to do, and the foods they want to eat. Allow us to help you add to your list with the latter, with these 15 Foods You Need To Eat Before You Die.
If this was a list of the top 15 foods that sound gross when you find out what they are, sweetbreads would probably be on there as well. However, despite their peculiar ingredients, they are still a delicious item that you need to try, at least once. Telling you what they’re made of will probably make it harder for you to take that tasting leap, but we’ll do it anyway. So, here goes: sweetbread isn’t bread at all. And it’s not sweet. It’s actually made of two different glands of young calves or lambs – the thymus gland and the pancreas gland from the throat and the heart respectively. Not exactly the kind of sweet treat you expect. You see, we can assume that it got its name to entice people into eating it. Because let’s face it, if a menu listed “calf pancreas gland” as an appetizer, it probably wouldn’t be flying out of the kitchen.
When you think of Switzerland, the first things that come to mind are stuff like skiing, political neutrality, and banks where you can safely hide your money. But the Swiss also have a solid culinary history and one of their classic dishes everyone should try before they head to that great kitchen in the sky is Raclette. For the uninitiated, Raclette is potatoes with melted cheese all over them. And to add even more yumminess, it is generally served with pickles and charcuterie. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? And to make things even better, you usually get to “cook” it yourself by melting the cheese at your table. You can also buy raclette sets that let you create the traditional dish at home. It’s easy, lots of fun, and, most importantly, as tasty as it sounds.
13. Fresh Self-Picked Fruit
Most people love fruit, but the fruit you get at the grocery store, while good, is never as good as it could be. That’s mostly because of the time it takes for the fruit to get from the field to the grocery store. Either it’s become not so fresh or the farmers had to pick it when it wasn’t perfectly ripe to allow it to make it to the store in a properly ripened state. The point is, nothing can beat the fresh fruit picked right off the vine in the perfect state of ripeness. And yes, if you can make it to a farmer’s market, it’s often the best option to get close to fruit perfection. But, picking the fruit yourself is even better, whether it’s apples, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, etc. Making the trip to a local farm that lets you pick a basket of fruit for yourself is a trip everyone should make as least once in their lives.
12. Real Maple Syrup
If you don’t live in the North-Eastern United States or Canada, this one might not make much sense and you might ask yourself what is “fake maple syrup?” However, many of you would be asking this question as you reached for a bottle of Aunt Jemima. And that is when all Canadians and Northeasterners would all say, in unison, “that is!”. If all you know about maple syrup is Aunt Jemima or similar-type products then you are missing out on one of the true joys of life… Real Maple Syrup! We’re talking maple syrup that has actually been derived from the sap collected from real maple trees. The real deal! Not that cheap, bogus syrup sold in a vulgar plastic bottle. Even to say that it’s 10 times better than that “fake” maple syrup isn’t doing it justice. The difference is like night and day and once you try it, it’s almost guaranteed that you won’t be able to pour anything else on your pancakes or french toast. And while we’re at it, it’s really okay if you pour it all over your entire breakfast plate (eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes…). It’s just that good!
11. Steak Tartare
The tartares you most likely know are probably salmon and tuna, as they’re the most common. With Sushi being such a popularized meal, the idea of eating uncooked fish doesn’t phase most people. However, the idea of chowing down on uncooked meat seems to go against everything we have been told. And as such, it is understandable that steak tartare is something you may have been avoiding up until now. But we should tell you that you are missing out on something truly wonderful. Now, this doesn’t mean you should go out to your local grocery store, grab some meat off the shelf, rip off the plastic, and take a big bite. No, please, don’t do that! Eating just any raw meat can make you sick. However, if it’s high-quality meat and it’s prepared properly – by someone who knows what they are doing – then those risks are removed and you can savor every single bite without any worries.
10. A Fresh Avocado And Tomato
We all know the joy of great guacamole and that a BLT sandwich isn’t the same without the “T.” But, have you ever simply sat down and taken a moment to spoon feed yourself avocado right from the skin. Or served yourself a plate of nothing but a sliced up tomato? Well, you most definitely should. Sometimes less really is more, even when it comes to food and these two items are great examples of that. You don’t need lots of sauces or extras. Just a fresh and perfectly ripe tomato or avocado. And a little bit of salt. Yes, too much salt in your diet isn’t good, but a little bit (we recommend a Kosher salt) sprinkled on top of your tomato or avocado will punch up the flavor of both items and take them to the next level that if you’ve never tried salting before, will amaze you and your taste buds.
While the idea of eating back fat will have vegetarians skipping right to the next item on this list, those of you still paying attention need to take some time in your life to try lardo! The back fat in question comes from pigs and is cured with love and care, and a few spices, for anywhere from a few weeks to months and months. And what you get in the end is literally melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Lardo has its origins in Italy going back centuries. For the most authentic lardo experience you could take a trip to the Tuscan hamlet of Colannata. They have been making lardo there since Roman times so, let’s just say, they kinda know what they’re doing when it comes to this cured delicacy.
8. French Fries With Mayonnaise
People in France, Belgium, Canada, and a few other places in the world are already aware of how amazing mayonnaise is on french fries. But there are still plenty of folks who still haven’t gotten the memo and refuse to even try it, sticking to their stubborn assumptions that ketchup is the only condiment that a fry needs. But the bright, creamy flavor that mayonnaise brings to the table is a truly wonderful compliment to a tasty french fry. And we need to point out that this is in no way meant to degenerate ketchup. In fact, for those truly in the know, you know that a ketchup and mayonnaise combination is maybe the most perfect landing spot for your dipped french fry. But if that sounds too adventurous for you, just start with the mayonnaise and work up from there.
7. Ramen (Not From A Package)
You don’t have to be a starving college student to enjoy a nice bowl of ramen. While you might not eat it as much as you once did in your college days, it’s safe to say most of us have at least a pack or two sitting in our cupboard. You know, in case of a major noodles craving, you can never be too careful. But, did you know that Ramen doesn’t just come in packages or pre-packaged styrofoam cups? There actually are Japanese restaurants you can go to that make fresh ramen. And let us tell you that a homemade broth with nori, slices of porc, and noodles that weren’t rehydrated using boiling water is a delicious and comforting culinary treat. It’ll make you forget all about that flavor packet that once made you so happy.
6. Homemade Whipped Cream
You can’t deny that there’s a definite joy when taking a can of store bought whipped cream, giving it a shake, and spraying your mouth full of that sweet, fluffy stuff. And if you’ve never tried it, then you need to ASAP. However, while this delivery method might be cooler, when it comes to the actual whipped cream itself, there is nothing better than making it yourself. And it is so, so, so easy! All you need is some whipping cream, some sugar and vanilla. Grab a mixing bowl and an electric mixer and in 5 minutes (maybe less) you will have homemade whipped cream. Grab a spoon, or just stick your fingers right in the bowl. Because all you need is one taste and you’ll immediately understand why it’s on this list.
5. Tomato Soup And Grilled Cheese
Just like peanut butter and jam, tomato soup and grilled cheese are both great on their own. But they reach a whole other level of deliciousness when brought together. Unlike the combining of peanut butter and jam, we are not saying that you have to put your tomato soup on your grilled cheese sandwich – although the opposite is quite a tasty combination but, if that seems a little too outrageous for you, just enjoy them as a meal together but separate – A bite of one, a spoonful of the other. The flavor profiles of both items truly do work well together and the absolute warm, crunchy comfort of this particular meal is hard to match. And please, just once, at least try dipping the sandwich in the soup. The crunchy, grilled bread holds up well to the soup without getting soggy. And we know that lots of people enjoy ketchup with their grilled cheese – and what do tomato soup and ketchup have in common?
4. Cacio e Pepe
Don’t be intimidated by the fancy Italian language. Cacio e Pepe literally translates from Italian as “cheese and pepper.” This one is so simple, yet so delicious. While we, in North America, often have these ideas that a good pasta dish needs to be full of sauce and meat, piled on with heavy ingredients, some of the most amazing tasting pasta dishes are actually very simple and paired down. And Cacio e Pepe is one of them. It’s exactly as the name suggests. Pasta with a cheese sauce topped with black pepper. That’s it! You will find some recipes that suggest multiple cheese combinations and the noodle used might vary as well (although they are always a long noodle: spaghetti, fettucini, tagliatelle, etc). But other than that, this fantastic pasta dish is all about mastering the simple preparation. It has been described as an elevated mac and cheese and with that in mind, allow us also to suggest a little cracked pepper on your next bowl of KD.
If you have a Korean restaurant near you that you are always walking by thinking how you should go there for dinner one night… Do it! Although, first take a look at the menu and make sure they serve Bibimbap. Bibim means “mixing ingredients” and bap refers to “rice.” Order this dish and you will get, depending on the restaurant, a bowl of rice topped with namul or kimchi and gochujang, soy sauce, or doenjang. Often a fried egg is placed on top as well – break the yolk as you mix everything up and enjoy the added creaminess it provides. Oh, and did we mention that the dish is served in a hot stone bowl? The bowl takes the dish to the next level, keeping the dish warm and crisping up the rice at the bottom of the bowl which just goes and adds another layer of crispy goodness to the already delicious culinary experience.
2. Breakfast For Dinner
Most of us have done it, but this is something everyone needs to do at least once (if not 100 times). Pancakes, french toast, hash browns, eggs, breakfast sausage and, of course, lots and lots of bacon! All of that is a great way to start the day, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great way to end it too. Look at McDonald’s. They started serving breakfast all day because so many people were asking for their breakfast items throughout the day. Sure, Sheldon Cooper would probably never do it. But he also can’t eat French toast in the morning on oatmeal day. The truth is, there’s no reason not to have breakfast for dinner. In fact, we all know how sleepy a big breakfast can make us. And unlike in the morning, heading to bed after a big breakfast in the PM is much more socially acceptable. And if you aren’t super hungry but still want to join the breakfast for dinner revolution, why not a bowl of cereal?
1. Freshly Made Ricotta
Ricotta cheese is a delicious staple of many Italian dishes like manicotti and of course lasagna. It is also something that most people never even considered making themselves because they assume that it’s super confusing and complicated to do. Well, it isn’t. All you need are a few simple ingredients and about a half hour of your time. There are recipes all over the internet and they all involve pretty much the same basic process so pick one that looks good to you and go for it. As a general rule, anything you make yourself is going to taste better than buying it at the store and ricotta is no exception. Making your own noodles isn’t that hard either. Imagine a lasagna comprising of noodles and ricotta cheese you made at home? Talk about impressing everyone at your next dinner party or, maybe even more importantly, all of your jealous, foodie Instagram followers: #foodenvy.