Friday, February 26, 2010



Perhaps it’s the arctic weather or maybe I’m going through a midlife masochistic phase, but for the past couple of months, I’ve had an insatiable appetite for hot wings. Now normally, I’m a wimpy-palated mild wings gal – anything spicier is a belly bomb with a very short fuse – but such is my newfound fervor that even the pleasantly piquant punch of medium wings makes taste buds scoff derisively.

So I set out to find the towering inferno of hot wing recipes and in doing so, stumbled upon a shindig that takes place the first weekend in Albuquerque called the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show ( After perusing a dossier of dishes that sounded more like a punk band lineup – Scorned Woman, Widow Maker and Hot … er, “female dog” at the Beach, among others – I decided maybe I don’t have a Teflon tongue after all.

Wondering just what other questionable concoctions people are willing to toss down their gullets, I turned my deep-fried dreams into a fest quest, a foray to find freaky food fiestas across the country. What I discovered was … well, let’s just say that if the adage, “You are what you eat,” is true, the folks who frequent these far-out festivals are buggy, gritty and just plain nuts.

Here’s a smorgasbord of strange snack celebrations sure to surprise, shock, satisfy … or sicken:

Rattlesnake Round-Up – Sweetwater, Texas
March 11-14
The dish du jour is fried Western Diamondback rattlesnake, which I hear has a real bite to it. Events include the Miss Snake Charmer Pageant, snake-handling shows and a snake meat-eating contest, which I’ll bet is hiss-terical to watch.

The World Grits Festival – April 16-18, St. George, S.C.
Inspired by the 1985 discovery that the residents of St. George consumed more grits per capita than any other place in the world, the fest is highlighted by a rolling-in the-grits contest. I reckon that’s one way to sow your wild oats.

SPAM Jam – April 24, Waikiki, Hawaii
A yearly block party so big it shuts down the city’s main drag, SPAM Jam has spawned such creative cuisine as SPAM Cabbage and Garlic Spaghettine, SPAM Nachos and Guava Mango BBQ SPAM Sliders. Personally, I’d rather sacrifice the canned, jellied meat (it IS meat, right?) to the volcano gods.

RoadKill Cook-off – Sept. 25, Marlinton, W.Va.
Dishes don’t have to be made from actual roadkill, they’re merely required to include critters commonly found dead on the side of the road as their main ingredient. There’s also the crowning of Miss WV Roadkill, who I hear was so nervous last year, she froze like a deer in headlights.

Bugfest – Sept. 25, Raleigh, N.C.
You can literally rustle up some grub(s) at Bugfest, where the delicacies include Ant-Chiladas and chocolate chirp cookies made with crickets.

Turkey Testicle Festival – Near Thanksgiving, Huntley, Ill.
As if Tom Turkey didn’t have enough to worry about. I’ll stick to the parts of the bird that flap or trot, thank you!

Friday, February 12, 2010



Valentine’s Day … oh, the images those two words evoke! Lovers gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes, heart-shaped boxes brimming with chocolaty goodness, long-stemmed roses and the trill of love in the air!

For some, however, ‘tis a day of dread, a reminder that the only person gazing in their eyes is the one in the mirror as they mourn a lost or not-yet-found love. Cheer up, mopey - being single on Valentine's Day isn't the end of the world. If it were, Cupid would have fallen on his own arrow by now!

For those single by choice, it’s like Independence Day, a celebration of the freedom to gaze openly at whomever they want without having to sleep on the couch later! For those who view marriage as an institution to which they never want to be committed, it’s apt that Valentine’s Day is named after a guy who was imprisoned and sentenced to death.

Whatever their reasons for being uncoupled, singletons have one thing in common: Being overlooked on Valentine’s Day, even on the airwaves, where they’re subjected to Lionel Richie promising his endless love and Sting vowing, in stalker fashion, that every breath you take, he’ll be watching you.

Paul McCartney had it all wrong – some people HAVE had enough of silly love songs. If you fall into that category, here’s a bouquet of lovelorn laments and caustic kiss-offs for your commiseration or celebration:

1. “All I Want From You (Is Away)” – Loretta Lynn

2. “Anti Love Song” – Lenny Kravitz

3. “Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)” - Mötley Crüe

4. “Flushed from the Bathroom of Your Heart” - Johnny Cash

5. “Get Your Tongue Outta My Mouth ('Cause I'm Kissing You Goodbye)” - Ray Stevens

6. “Hate Everything About You” - Ugly Kid Joe

7. “Have a Nice Rest of Your Life” – Randy Travis

8. “Heartbreak Hotel” - Elvis Presley

9. “I Don’t Want You Back” – Eamon (Explicit lyrics)

10. “If The Phone Don't Ring, It's Me” - Jimmy Buffett

11. “If You Can't Live Without Me, Why Aren't You Dead Yet?” - Mayday Parade

12. “I’m Gonna Forget About You” – Sam Cooke

13. “Kiss This” - Aaron Tippin

14. “Love Bites – Def Leppard

15. “Love Don't Live Here Anymore” - Rose Royce

16. “Love is a Losing Game – Amy Winehouse

17. “Love Stinks” - J. Geils Band

18. “Not Tonight (I Have a Heartache)” - George Thorogood

19. “Since You've Been Gone” - Weird Al Yankovic (“It couldn't hurt any more if you shoved a red-hot cactus up my nose!”)

20. “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed” - Barbara Mandrell

21. “Song For the Dumped” - Ben Folds Five

22. “Tainted Love” - Soft Cell

23. “Take Your Love and Shove it”- Joe Pesci (Yes, THAT Joe Pesci.)

24. “Thank God and Greyhound She's Gone” - Roy Clark

25. “The Last Word in Lonesome is Me” - Roger Miller

26. “What Part of ‘No’ Don't You Understand?” - Lorrie Morgan

27. “Where Did Our Love Go? ” – The Supremes

28. “Without You” - Nilsson

29. “You Hurt Me (And I Hate You)” – Eurythmics

30. “You've Lost That Loving Feeling” - Righteous Brothers