Eight Foods More Trouble to Eat Than They’re Worth; Plus Some Replies on Twitter


Lots of effort required to extract the marrow — and nary a single marrow spoon in sight!

Some foods take a lot of effort to eat, some are extremely messy — or both. Others are dexterously challenging — like trying to eat chicken wings with a fork and a butter knife. Here, then, is a list of items that are not worth the effort it takes to eat them.

1. Bone Marrow
The massive majority of the “food” on the plate that sits before you is inedible; it’s merely over-baked bones. Yes, you paid $14 or so to get at the marrow, but the marrow is a shrunken, shriveled blob of jelly that sits at the bottom of the hole like a baby fallen in a well. Does the restaurant provide expensive bone-marrow spoons? Probably not. Ten minutes of effort may get you enough rancid goo to spread on a single piece of toast.

The barbecued rib “sandwich.”

2. Biscotti
Why would anyone make a cookie as hard as a rock? Truth be told, these adamantine biscuits were invented centuries ago to be dipped in wine, and they were twice-baked so that no crumbs would fall into your vino. But nowadays people treat them as cookies, except you have to put 10 times more effort into chewing them, so that your jaw aches and you’re in constant danger of losing a filling or chipping a tooth.

3. Peanuts in the Shell
Goobers in the shell are a mixed blessing. Do they taste better than peanuts out of the shell? No! Are they harder to get at? Yes! But it’s not the initial effort that makes eating them a pain in the ass; it’s the extra work you’ll have to do cleaning up the mess, as cracked shells and detritus fly everywhere, forcing you to reach for the vacuum or the broom.

4. Pomegranates
When I was a kid, we debated whether you should eat the seeds or spit them out. Spitting them out always won, as it did when we argued about the same issue vis-à-vis watermelon. Of course, now we know you’re supposed to eat the actual seeds, which can be strewn over a salad or used as a colorful counterpoint to vanilla ice cream. The question remains: Don’t the seeds completely get in the way of enjoying the fruit? And who wants to chew up so many seeds?

5. Rib Sandwich
Down South, they’ll put almost anything between two slices of white or whole wheat, including pork ribs and fried chicken. But how the hell are you supposed to eat these bony sandwiches? Sure you can work them around in your mouth, letting your teeth and tongue tear off little bits of bread and meat, but you usually end up taking the things apart and eating the components separately, with the bread slices acting as a sort of edible napkin. So, if the thing is intended to be taken apart, why call it a sandwich?

Shabu-shabu — in which you cook the raw materials by “swishing” them through the broth — is an incredible mess to eat.

6. Shabu-Shabu
A plate of thin-sliced meat, a tray of veggies, and a giant pot of boiling broth, and you’ve got yourself a meal referred to as shabu-shabu in Japan. The trouble is, the broth tastes like nothing, and dipping your bland vegetables and meat into it doesn’t really improve the soup — which you’re supposed to eat at the end with noodles — all that much. What’s worse is that, in the act of dipping everything, swooshing it around, then ferrying it to your mouth, you end up raining drops of hot liquid all over everything, including your clothes and skin. Ouch!

7. Quail
Used as a verb, “to quail” means to shrink in fear, and there’s definitely something shrunken about the bird called quail, too. You get it in fancy restaurants, where you’re likely to pay $10 or so apiece, only to discover that it’s mainly skin and bones. There’s no way you’re going to be able to eat it daintily with a knife and fork, so you have to pick it up and totally grease up your mitts in the process. There’s not enough meat to even bother. You’re better off swallowing sparrows. Raw.

8. Korean Barbecue
They call it barbecue, but let’s compare it with the thing we call barbecue in America. Here, you get massive hunks of meat long smoked to unctuous tenderness. There, you get little tiny strips of rib meat or offal, a quantity so minuscule that you could eat an entire serving in three bites. Yes, I know you’re supposed to wrap up the morsels in lettuce leaves with all sorts of other vegetable matter, but doesn’t that kinda defeat the whole idea of barbecue?

Next: Some replies via Twitter.

I asked which foods were so hard to eat that they weren’t worth it on Twitter, and the following are a selection of the replies I got:

@tusktusktusk: I almost always get tired of peeling crawfish before I get tired of eating crawfish @robertsietsema foods more trouble…than they’re worth. 2:50 PM Jul 9th via web

@MayaStanton: @robertsietsema One vote for periwinkles, in the shell. 1:35 PM Jul 9th via web in reply to robertsietsema

kludt @robertsietsema i nominate this 1:09 PM Jul 9th via TweetDeck in reply to robertsietsema

@ronlieber: @robertsietsema Artichokes, all those crabs in Maryland, pomegranates, the dreaded durian, tootsie pops… 1:03 PM Jul 9th via web

@davetheubergeek: @robertsietsema 12:57 PM Jul 9th via web in reply to robertsietsema

@VillageVoiceRS: I think Pomegranates — worse yet, they stain! RT @robertsietsema Making a list of foods more trouble to eat than they’re worth 12:55 PM Jul 9th via web

@brettmartin: Controversial, but I say crab. RT @robertsietsema: Making a list of foods more trouble to eat than they’re worth 12:54 PM Jul 9th via TwitterGadget

@jonice: @robertsietsema starfruit and i’m gonna say snails 12:54 PM Jul 9th via Echofon in reply to robertsietsema

@marlenaspieler: @robertsietsema foods more trouble to eat than worth…not sure but rite now tired of shelling peas;love eating em,very tired of shelling 12:51 PM Jul 9th via web in reply to robertsietsema