Remember the American game show that Joe Rogan hosted called Fear Factor? Remember how the contestants had to eat testicles, brains, cockroaches, worms or other creepy stuff?
Well, there is an entire food festival based around this very notion, except the participants are more than willing to pay for the fearful grub. It’s the annual Wildfoods Festival in Hokitika. Every March people travel from all over New Zealand to enjoy a day of eating ‘wild’ food and drinking lots of piss (the fermented, alcoholic kind..lol).
The event is sponsored by Greymouth brewery, Monteiths, but if beer is not your thing, there is also cider, wine, flower power bubbles, honey mead, kava, moonshine, kowlua and milk shots scattered around the 74 stall event. Still thirsty?
How about a strawberry flavoured shot of horse semen? They are sure to get a rise out of you!! Pure protein and testosterone. I considered trying one but my stomach said no. The stall was certainly active with keen participants and curious onlookers.
I’m sure that has your mouth watering for some other tasty west coast delicacies. Being that it is a food festival, there are plenty of yummy and crazy morsels to fill you up. And it’s not all what you may be thinking! There are sweets to be had.
Waffles with fresh blackberries, strawberries and ice cream; fudge, crepes, pancakes, churros, donuts, honey and licorice are just some of the sweet treats to drool over.
But if you’re more of a carnivore or a wannabe Coaster (person living on the West Coast) you may want some real protein. How does sheep’s brains, eyeball eggnog or mountain oysters fancy you? In case you’re wondering, mountain oysters are lambs balls! They’re quite chewy!!
If you’re not that adventurous, there are plenty of other dead animal parts to tempt. Venison, pukeko, rabbit, paradise duck, ostrich, wild pork, BBQ beef, sausages and chicken were all served up in different ways.
I was all set to try the pukeko but they had run out of samples by the time I got there. The paradise duck was yummy and not at all what I expected wild duck to taste like.It was more like a red meat.
Fish and seafood are big favourites of the west coast and there was an abundance of it at the festival.
Whitebait is a local delicacy and there were five different stalls selling the fish patties. I was delighted to see the Curly Tree Whitebait Company offering gluten-free patties!! With a bit of fresh lemon, they were delicious.
Other sea and river dwelling snacks included: trout, salmon, scallops, tuna, paua,kina (sea urchin), mussels, smelt, shark, prawns, octopus and snails.
I’ve had escargot before (even in Paris!) but the snail I enjoyed from the Westcargo stall was very plain. It was fine, but I do prefer my snails to be drowning in melted butter and garlic.
And save room for the crunchy selections……
There were lots of huhu grubs, grasshoppers, crickets and chocolate covered beetles. I did try a BBQ huhu grub. It is not something I would order again but I am proud that I gave it a go. They certainly were a popular item with a hand-full of stalls offering the crawly goo-filled creature. Some say they taste like peanut butter. I love the stuff but did not relate the two at all. My favorite exhibit was the Hoki Hocki Huhu Grubs where they had strong blokes chopping the huhus out of the wood pile. Can’t get any fresher than that!!
If you plan to be in New Zealand in March 2013, be sure to include Hokitika and the Wildfoods Festival on your list of TO DO. But book your accommodation well in advance!! The small town of under 3500 residents jumps to over 15,000 on the festival day!
EAT, DRINK & BE SCARY!!!