Cooking With Dirt at Tokyo's Ne Quittez Pas
Like some dirt in your potato soup?
Eating dirt is not a new thing. In the form known as "pica," pregnant women and children have historically consumed dirt, clay, and rocks in places as far-flung as Malawi, India, and Mississippi. In Hindu scripture, Krishna is said to have eaten earth, and so it long ago became a religious observance among certain cultists. In Africa, people are sometimes forced to eat earth out of sheer hunger, while others eat it to protect themselves from germs and parasites, reports the Cornell Daily Sun.
Be forewarned about this restaurant in the Gotanda District: It's going to be dirty inside.
Sometimes eating dirt - also known as geophagia - is a response to vitamin deficiencies, since earth contains iron and other nutrients that may be missing from a practitioner's diet. More recently, a clay-eating fad has emerged, and websites that tout the stuff often promise the practice leads to well-regulated bowels, enhanced alertness, and a release from tension. To justify eating it, one advocacy website claims we should do it because animals are often seen eating clay:
Animals are instinctively drawn to clay, often when it is in the form of mud. Animals lick the clay or if injured, roll around in it to obtain relief from their injuries.Many herbivorous animals will eat clay after ingesting herbs loaded with tannins, a toxic substance.
Well, now a Japanese restaurant is offering a menu in which every dish contains dirt. Even weirder, the dirt is disguised as French fare (or at least the Japanese idea of French cuisine: see the original Iron Chef). Located in Tokyo, the place is called Ne Quittez Pas, a name that admonishes us, "Do Not Quit."
Indeed, this may be the first time dirt has been eaten because it tastes good! The restaurant offers a multi-course tasting menu for the American equivalent of $110. The source of the dirt? A composting company called Protoleaf, which concocts its earth at least partly from used coffee grounds and palm fibers. So eating dirt is good for the Earth, right?
It makes FiTR a little jealous that the Japanese seem able to invent restaurants even stranger than our own.
How 'bout a nice bowl of sea bass and dirt risotto?
Turn page for "Dirt Course" at Ne Quittez Pas
Salad with a dirt vinaigrette
SALAD WITH DIRT DRESSING EGGPLANT, TURNIPS, TOMATOES, AND ROMAINE LETTUCE
ASPIC WITH CLAMS AND SEDIMENT
DIRT RISOTTO WITH SAUTEED SEA BASS AND BURDOCK ROOT
DIRT ICE CREAM
DIRT MINT TEA
How about a quenelle-shaped scoop of dirt ice cream?
Thanks to FiTR San Francisco correspondent Tracy Van Dyk for the links!
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