Ant Rant: Why Do You Let Your Brain Ruin New Experiences?

by | May 4, 2014

Some annoying comments on one of my Instagram posts last week got me thinking about all the limiting beliefs we have that keep us from being healthier and happier. For this post, ranting seemed more appropriate than my normal, rational writing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Here’s the offending picture, along with some other amazing things we ate in Copenhagen:





(^^ this one had “cricket paste” in it, btw. Delish.)


What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

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43 Responses to “Ant Rant: Why Do You Let Your Brain Ruin New Experiences?”

  1. Blair says:

    That food looks amazing! However I think your rant may be a tad overblown (though I suppose that’s the point of a rant =p). When I read those “rude” comments, I took them as mostly light hearted jest.

    I do agree with your point, though, that opening yourself up to new experiences is the best way to live life, especially when it comes to food. It never ceases to surprise and delight me the weird and wonderful things people eat.

    Thanks for sharing these pictures, it’s now my life mission to get to that restaurant!

    • Darya Rose says:

      I’m admittedly a bit hypersensitive to this stuff. There were a lot more comments on FB/Twitter too.

      • Hi Darya
        I have been following your blog for quite some time. I think this is one of the best rants I have seen. I could not agree more. As a chef I so wish ppl would open their minds and eyes to what is happening to our food system and be far more open to new food experiences. love the noma pictures on instagram

    • Evan White says:

      I think you are exactly right. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

  2. Annie says:

    Seems to me that if you post pics in a public forum then people are going to give you their honest feedback. Sometimes that may not be what you expected nor pleasant. Frankly, it doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to know that the average person will find the first pic pretty repulsive. While you may be an extremely adventurous eater, most of us in western society are not that open to eating insects (knowingly anyway) and what appears to be raw meat.

    Context is important. If someone left a piece of meat out and ants crawled onto it and they snapped a pic which they then posted, you’d likely be grossed out, too. That’s all we are seeing. In the context of your meal at Noma, the dish may have made perfect sense and been delicious and novel. I would not get all that from your picture.

  3. Pat Eyler says:

    While our kids were growing up, the rule at our table was, “You don’t have to try anything, but you can’t say it’s gross unless you do.” I think that encouraged them to try a lot of things that they wouldn’t have, and they found out they enjoyed many of them.

    I think your rant is spot on. We turn away from so many foods because they don’t fit our cultural norms, and offend our hosts thereby.

    What’s the weirdest thing I’ve eaten? That depends on what you think is weird. Frogs legs, normal in many places (I think they taste like swampy chicken). Ants, crickets, grasshoppers — all delicious. Seasoned, rendered goose fat smeared on rich rye bread (oh, my that was good … ).

  4. Matt R. says:

    A lot of my coworkers and friends are amazed at the fact that I’ll try anything once. My father used to travel around the world a great deal and always brought home weird snacks or recipes. We also grew up right on the Mexican border and learned very young to enjoy offal.

    These days, I greatly enjoy going out with people from other cultures and asking them to order for me and not tell me what I’m having. That way I have no preconceived notions of it. If I like it, I like it. If I don’t I don’t.

    I’d love to see more people do the same.

  5. Alexandra says:

    I have eaten beef tartar but without ants lol! Ants kind of scare me, but I am pretty open minded about food. I would possibly try it. Perhaps after a glass or two of wine:)

    • Tracy says:

      Me too! I grew up in the upper Midwest, where we did tartar on saltines, smothered in raw onions, pepper and salt. Here in WI, they put it on rye. That’s the weirdest thing I’ll eat. Except for whatever goes into weiners (beak of chicken?) and Hershey bars (urban legend?) in the factory. Whatever’s in those, they are deeeelicious. (as long as I’m blissfully unaware) You all are amazingly adventurous, and nonchalantly so! Love it. 🙂

  6. Adrienne says:

    I completely understand your need to rant. Last week a particularly close-minded coworker made some negative comments about a food truck that just started coming to our office. He spoke with such certainty and authority when he’d never eaten there. I felt so angry. It still bugs me a little, but I feel better knowing the food truck has a loyal following. I’ll continue to eat there when I want to and remember to maintain a friendly coworker demeanor if I ever end up in an (involuntary) food discussion with this coworker.

    The weirdest thing I recall trying was a plate of sausages including wild boar, duck and pheasant. They were delicious and exposed me to my current favorite accompaniment: pickled red onions. I keep a jar of homemade pickled onions on hand at all times. The leftover brine also makes a delicious oil-vinegar-mustard salad dressing 🙂 Hooray for trying new things at the best restaurants around!

    • Alexandra says:

      I had an experience with a coworker too. She was an older lady, and we were talking about cheese and I mentioned goat cheese. She gave me a strange look and asked if it was rancid.
      For the life of me I did understand whey she would even think that, and was rather annoyed at her. Being close coworkers I had to seriously hide my annoyance.

  7. Ashley says:

    This reminds me of Ze Frank’s video “Don’t yuck my yum.” It’s worth a watch if you’ve never seen it.

    I agree with your rant, but would probably chalk it up more to ignorance and lack of world view than arrogance.

  8. Rosanna C. says:

    Your last point was spot on. We eat a lot of nasty stuff every day without thinking about it because we don’t know any better. But like the others say, when you share unusual things like that publicly, you have to anticipate the irritating comments.

  9. Hi Darya,

    Growing up in Sicily for a while we would have horse quite often. In Sicily and Italy horse has been considered a delicacy.

    When I lived in Vietnam and other Asian Cities while living with my Mom and Dad at Embassies we have been served dog and cat. Not knowing until afterwards. The other thing I did have was a dish called Ants on Tree. The real ants were stuck to noodles in a very sweet and savory sauce that I still remember.

  10. Noelle M. says:

    I was totally expecting the first two points but the third floored me. Not because I didn’t know about industrialization of meat (which absolutely does gross me out), but just because it was an excellent and unexpected point!

    I enjoyed your rant. 🙂

  11. Stephen Adams says:

    Took the time to watch the entire “rant”.
    Condemning others won’t do you or others any good. You’ve lost many followers, and I’m one of them. All the best to you.

    • Dave says:

      Stephen –
      Are you kidding me? I just watched this video at the top of the page (perhaps it is not the same one you watched), and she said absolutely nothing out of line.
      If you travel to points around the world, you will quickly realize that Americans are looked down upon, and sometimes even despised for our arrogant and holier-than-thou attitudes. And, as a stranger in THEIR country, I observed boors that made me want to hide as an American… ‘I am an American, and would NEVER eat THAT slop’, and more idiotic statements along that line.
      This ‘rant’ has merit, and absolute truth.
      It truly is unfortunate that you will forsake this lady because she spoke the truth, and did so very eloquently. Sorry that you were offended, but observe other Americans when you travel overseas.
      Then, you can apologize for your indignation.

      • Stephen Adams says:

        Thank you for your insight. Wasn’t aware that you know all minds and hearts.

        My reply had nothing to do with the food – I’m open to all foods – just the condemnation of others. One can disagree and not condemn others in a rant.

    • Barbara says:

      Dear Stephen,
      I do not think that the rant was a condemnation. It sounded to me like the expression of frustration. I am not an American, but I am married to one. And beeing on family tripps in the states got me close to similary frustration than people expressed their opinion about food from my home country without ever having tried it. I usualy sit at these family gatherings and smile tight lipped because I do not want to offend them, but in my heart I want to rant too.

  12. Monica says:

    I’ve been trying to rectify my general open-mindedness and interest in food with my typical Western hesitation towards insect eating.

    Many friends are from (or at least traveled to) places where insects are part of the local cuisine and have given rave reviews, and I’ve known the issue is all in my head (but in my head all the same).

    However, a turning point for me was watching an NPR video about an insectivory enthusiast in the Bay Area waxing poetic about her favorite delicious insects. Then it dawned on me – what if my favorite flavor is a bug, and I just don’t know because I haven’t tried it yet? To your point, I don’t want to miss out on any potentially awesome life experiences. I’ve been seeking out bug eating opportunities (like chapulines at Mezcal in San Jose, or eXo cricket bars off Kickstarter), and I hope more opportunities to explore new flavors crawl my way. 🙂 If you find any bug-slinging spots in the Bay Area, please share in a future post!

  13. Roz says:

    Amazingly I hadn’t noticed the ants and focussed on the dish with flowers (not part of our diet either). The reader’s reaction certainly provoked some thought about what we do actually eat. It reminded me of a film I was shown 30 years ago where a child in New Guinea was pretty adept in bringing all the legs of a spider together before eating the body. Yes we do have to look at life from an perspective or things will never change for the better.

  14. Rebecca Jakob says:

    Your final point about the double-standard of “Ew” for ants hand-harvested from a Danish forest but “Ah” for meat that is the product of unhygienic and cruel industrial farming methods was unexpected but makes perfect sense.
    Great comeback, and thanks bringing the mistreatment of animals in industrial farming to the foreground. Your rant capital (I suspect, like political capital, there’s a finite amount?) has been put to good use!

  15. Darya, I’m glad you had such an amazing food experience. Don’t let it be marred by being frustrated that some other people don’t share your enthusiasm for eating insects. I don’t eat CAFO meat myself and do try to spread the word about the best meat, but without ripping apart people who aren’t there yet.

    I remember when people used to just eat what they eat and not concern themselves about what everyone else was eating. So many in all niches of the food world have a tendency to feel a bit superior about their food choices. Let’s all just eat what we eat and play nice!

  16. cpb says:

    Yes! Thank you for this. Close-mindedness when it comes to food gets under my skin too. Some of the best meals I’ve ever had were a result of trusting the chef instead of ordering from a menu—most of which I probably never would’ve ordered on my own. I have several people close to me that regularly make rude comments about the “weird” healthy foods I eat, while they wolf down frozen TV dinners and fast food everyday.

  17. ciel says:

    Hey Darya! Are you still in CPH? I’m a big fan 🙂

  18. Linda says:

    Ok, I am a really open-minded person. And I admire those who are open to new experiences. And having been a vegetarian for 37 years now, some days I do think about what I’ve been missing all these years (the smell of bacon still turns my head). But I am not sure that even if I was a hard-core meat eater I would have gone for this…you are one brave little foodie! I am way to chicken (or should I say chik’n) to ever try something made of raw beef AND bugs.

  19. kerry says:

    I’m going to have to agree with some that the rant was a little much. Some people are open and some aren’t. You can’t condemn them, just like you don’t want to be condemned for eating a strange thing. (well strange to the average american). I don’t eat fish. I just don’t like it. And it annoys me to no end when I get asked consistently why I don’t. But I don’t rant at these people. I simply say I don’t like it and try to steer the conversation in a different direction. To each his/her own.

  20. Darya Rose says:

    For the record, this wasn’t meant to condemn anyone, just to provide a bit of perspective on the limiting beliefs we all have and how they affect your life and the lives of those around you.

    Brutal honesty and occasional reality checks are important in every aspect of life.

  21. Julie says:

    I thought the rant was great! So true about the meat people eat in this country…but even more true how close-minded people are. I live in RI one of the most amazing states for seafood. I have several friends that think all seafood is “gross”. They have never tried it but still say it is gross. One will not even sit next to me at dinner if I order seafood because of the smell, as she orders processed mac and cheese from the child’s menu at the other end of the table. I truly believe this is more mental than physically not liking the food or the smell.

    You do a great job opening people up to new foods and ways to prepare them. Every time I go to the farmers market I always pick up one item I have not tried before. I try to prepare it 2 different ways to get some variety and if I don’t enjoy it I don’t get it again. I have found that 9 out of 10 times I find a new food I love. A great example is beans, I never liked beans. After reading your book I tried cooking dried beans, I now say I do not like canned beans. What a huge difference!! Thanks for your work and opening my eyes to new things.

  22. Being raised in a different culture, I have gotten immune to such comments. If you haven’t tried this delicacy in the Philippines called BALUT, you’d say it’s yucky. I almost did too, until I tried it. I think people, in general, are just too opinionated. A lot of people try a lot of different exotic food everyday, so it is better to keep your mouth shut until you’ve tried it first-hand. As they saying goes, “Don’t judge the book by its cover”. I’d say I hate bitter gourd, but I’m not gonna say it’s “YUCKY”. I just don’t like it, period. There are various ways to explain ourselves, and some of the people in your comments just had to choose the wrong way to do so. Great rant, I must say.

  23. Phil Swain says:

    My philosophy is to try anything once, no matter how disgusting it may look or sound. And hey… as i kid I pretended I was an ant eater and ate ants anyways LOL 🙂

  24. Dee says:

    Thanks Darya for this post, it opened my mind to the world of food. Yes people eat termites and grasshopper
    And are totally fine. Sometime some things may seem gross or extreme like scorpions or dogs as food….I’m not sure about the nutritional quality.

    The weirdest thing I’ve eaten – alligator curry

    Foods other people may think its weird – armadillo, agouti (yum)….

    I’m from a tropical island (Trinidad) So there maybe some things that are normal that you may find weird and vice versa.

  25. Dory says:

    Ants are a common food in my husband’s region of Colombia although Colombians from other regions tend to find them gross. They eat them toasted and they taste a bit like popcorn. I ate one and said I had tried them. Actually it didn’t taste bad. I just don’t care for the visual presentation. Maybe I should apply the learn to like new foods idea, except that they are rare and precious here. Next time I go….

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