Squirrel, donkey and fish spines on the menu in 2012
January 6th, 2012
11:15 AM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

Now that we’re a week into the New Year, it’s time to stop talking about a 2012 diet. That moment is gone. Instead of giving up foods, wouldn’t it be great to bring some new things into your life: squirrel, fish bones, black water. Here’s a few things you should start eating immediately to be on the cutting edge of the food world.

Chocolate-Covered Sprouts
Last year, Frito-Lay began putting natural foods in their snacks. (Brief round of applause for them.) Now comes junk food that’s having even more of an identity crisis. Lulu Chocolate’s Smoked Sea Salt Almond raw Organic Chocolate Bar (that’s a mouthful) is made with sprouted almonds—sprouts being a super cool health foods these days. Is that better than Shiloh Farms Dark Chocolate Covered Sprouted Almonds? There’s only one way to find out.

Fish Spines
We’ve come a long way from the days when nose-to-tail was a novelty (back in the olden days, about eight years ago). Even fried fish bones are now almost as ubiquitous as sliders on menus, at least in New York City where I live, at places like EN Japanese Brasserie and Brooklyn’s Isa in Brooklyn. The new frontier is fried fish spines. At Blue Ribbon Bar and Grill in midtown Manhattan, they serve specials like fried wild eel spine - it’s the size of a pencil.

They’re also eating the gills from wild king yellowtail. First they dehydrate them, then they fry them, and serve them “just for fun,” says Blue Ribbon Manager Rich Ho.

Unnaturally Black Foods
Black foods are nothing new - it’s foods like squid ink pasta and blackout cake (what I like to think of as “naturally occurring black foods”) that have paved the way for this new breed of black foods. Specifically, the jet black burger buns that anchor the “Darth Vader” burger which will debut in February at France’s fast food chain, Quick.

There's also blk., the black health water that’s the brainchild of Albie and Chris Manzo, who you know from the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Like the Manzo brothers, you might not understand exactly what makes the water black, but is that really the point of this water? No, it’s not.

Random Animals
Recently, some high-profile people in the food world have offered opinions on what we can eat in the name of causes like saving the planet and pushing boundaries. Rene Redzepi, chef of Noma in Copenhagen, aka the world’s best restaurant, recommended that people in the States start eating squirrel (he hashtagged them “rabbit of the sky” on Twitter) [Editor's note: We like "chicken of the trees"].

And "Bizarre Foods" hero Andrew Zimmern came back from a trip to Beijing energized by a 10-course donkey tasting. “Donkey should be on everyone’s plate in 2012,” he says.

More from Food & Wine:

Top Restaurant Dishes of 2011

Super Bowl Recipes

Best Pizza Places in the U.S.

Best Fried Chicken in the U.S.

50 Best Bars in America

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Bite • Content Partner • Food and Wine • Offal • Squirrel • Taboos

soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. rad666

    Broiled Squirrel pg 59 of Justin Wilson Cook Book

    January 9, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  2. ash

    squirrel is really good but nothing beats bringing home a friend for dinner and not warning them first. dad hit a deer with the car once and went back for the backstraps. that night when asked by my friend what he was cooking he replied "roadkill". no explanation. but for the rest of us that was pretty normal. plus frog's legs jump out of the pan when frying. you gotta catch them and throw them back in. it keeps the kids occupied:)

    January 9, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  3. jim armstrong, fayetteville,nc

    go to:::: Click here: Dehydrated squirrels so you can spend more time at home and less time hunting ( http://www.internet-grocer.net/squirrel.htm) It's already voque to use squirrel in a multitude of recipes, and finally you can get farmed raised ones. :)

    January 9, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  4. Buckeye Guy

    Grew up hunting and fishing with my Dad – good times.
    And we ate what we caught.
    Have to say that squirrel is better than rabbit – but neither can hold a candle to frog.
    I've had frog legs in expensive French restaurants – but it's not the same.
    You have to gig them yourself from a local pond or lake.

    January 8, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  5. procopio

    Poor squirrels , too bad many people shoot them for fun . Wondering if HSUS has something to say about killing this animals. Squirels are part of nature , and hope we can save them , they're wonderful animals .

    January 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • ummm

      Every single thing you eat is "part of nature"...

      Just sayin.

      January 9, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • Emperor Norton

      One of the reasons why people are talking about eating squirrels is because there are a couple of breeds that aren't originally native to North America which are displacing the indigenous type. Hunting a squirrel helps restore that balance a bit.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  6. Moogie

    Just because it is marketed, hyped, and put on a plate, doesn't mean it is edible. Squirrel is nasty...not much meat; alot of bones and lets not forget...it IS a rodent. Foodies should get back to the basics and start consuming food that is nutitrious and appealing. The tastebuds of many have disappeared and now we eat anything.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • ummm

      People have been eating things like squirrel long before people have had the luxury of whining about what was available. Also, whether or not something is appealing to you has nothing to do with healthy eating.

      January 9, 2012 at 7:08 am |
  7. Amacha

    Grandpa like to eat Squirrel and dumplings and Squirrel brains and eggs for breakfast. They are more like rats than rabbit but cleaner. They are pests and we need to get rid of them. They taste OK. How are we going to harvest them though? No use raising them since it would not help to reduce the wild population. People running around with .22 rifles is a good way to get people shot.

    January 8, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • B

      You should eat the squirrels in my yard. They are well fed, they get nut and oranges from my back porch in the winter. Surprisingly enough, they leave my tomatoes and herbs alone in the summer!

      January 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • animalsrule

      Hopefully all of you pigs will die of heart disease very soon!!!



      January 8, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
      • ummm

        There's also an overpopulation of people like animalsrule. We should eat them first, then the vegans.

        January 9, 2012 at 7:09 am |
      • John

        Should have started with yo momma.

        January 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  8. teamom

    When I was in college, I dated someone who hunted. His mother would cook most anything except squirrel – she called them "rats with a bushy tail".
    Donkey? Of course. It's election year.

    January 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Yeb your tinfoil Teabag hat just can’t help it. It’s a pea size brain, ugly stinky elephant butt, buddy! At least a donkey has class and self image which elephants don't other than destroying vegetations. Not only that, they don’t think of tomorrow. Its election year 2012, tinfoil Teabag buddy!
      Obama wins hands down 2012. Get your tissues ready and order them in bulk for there’s going to be a lot of emotionally disturbed elephants wailing from morning-to-sunset for the next 5-yrs.

      January 9, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  9. Clark

    Where's Eddie, doesn't he usually eat these things?!?

    January 8, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  10. Gaten

    2012?? Cousin Eddie from National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation" was eating squirrels back in 1988, according to his wife, Catherine. Apparently, he was way ahead of everyone on discovering this latest "delicacy"!

    January 8, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  11. praveen

    The holy grail is man eating man. I think, this is where its all headed.

    January 8, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
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