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AskReaders: What food has made you wonder, “How did our ancestors discover that this was edible?”

We asked our regular contributors through e-mail What food has made you wonder, “How did our ancestors discover that this was edible?” We got many interesting responses. Here are some of them. We have just copied and pasted their responses, not editing them in any way.

1. Cashew nuts. The shell is poisonous, the oil from the shell is poisonous, the nut is ok. If you pick one, shell it and eat it you will get a poison ivy type reaction everywhere it touched you.

Potatoes, the leaves are poisonous, the weird bubbly sh*t on the roots is fine, but only if you cook them. Wild potatoes can make you quite sick eaten raw.

– HoodsInSuits

2. The Gyromitra esculenta

Not only does eating this raw will kill you, boiling it once will also kill you, BUT!!! If you boil it twice, you can eat it.

– theFreakpanda

3. Who saw spiky ass sea urchins and decided to try them out.

– 13Degrees

4. Yoghurt.

“Hey man, this is pretty good. What is it?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

Conversation 2000 years ago.

– KraesTutorials

5. The answer is always grains. I can’t figure out how our ancestors discovered that prehistoric varieties of wheat or barley were edible.

– klod42

6. Surstromming.

You know, the Swedish fish that is put underground to rot.

– rabid_pee

7. Cheese.

Who was like “I’m gonna eat the solidified part of this bad milk!” ?

And the process to make cheese is so complicated I can’t figure out how it was discovered in the first place.

– jimmyjohnjohnjohn

8. Hákarl.

It’s made from sharks which usually are not edible. IIRC that’s because they lack bladders, so all the nasty stuff accumulates instead of getting flushed out.

As a matter of fact, however, it can’t be eaten unless you:

  • gut and decapacitate it

  • bury it

  • place stones on top to squish the shark and press the nasty stuff out

  • leave it alone for 1-3 months

  • dig out the corpse and cut it into strips

  • air the stripes for another 3-4 months

  • remove the brown crust

Sounds delicious, huh?

– TheBoldMove

9. Durian.

Let’s take this spikey ass fruit that smells like sh*t and crack it open, see some yellow gooey sh*t and start eating it.

– gabergaber

10. Civet coffee.

Although more of a recent discovery (18th century). But who in their right mind decided, “I’m going to make coffee with this animal’s poop!”?!!

– pommomwow

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