Hello to 43!

Today is my 43rd birthday! I'm really excited. I like celebrating my birthday and always have. For my first 39 years, I celebrated March 12 with presents and cake, perhaps a party, special outing and/or dinner out. But starting in 2012, I've turned a day of celebrating into a year-long adventure of sorts. That year, I challenged myself to do 40 Things that I'd never done before. They weren't big or expensive or outrageous, but they were awesome. I had the best year. Project 41 followed. It was fantastic. Discover 42 didn't turn out as I'd hoped, but I'm glad for what I did accomplish. 
So what will I be doing this year? I'm calling it...

43 New-to-Me!

The idea came to me just after we'd just returned from our Canada adventure, where I had tried a variety of local, regional and national specialties (most notably, poutine). My nephew would be traveling to Australia for his Make-a-Wish trip soon and suddenly I was hearing about interesting Australian foods everywhere I turned. I asked my sister to bring home a bunch of uniquely Australian foods for me to try. She promised to do her best.

When we went to my niece Allison's birthday party a few weeks ago, Kari had this delightful spread for us to sample:

From left to right:
  • Chocolate Brownie Tim Tam (delicious)
  • Original Tim Tam (excellent)
  • Salted Caramel Tim Tam (outstanding)
  • Pineapple Lumps (fantastic)
  • Kangaroo Jerky (completely disgusting)
  • Vegemite, spread on a cracker (ok)
  • Emu Jerky (only slightly less disgusting than the kangaroo)

A note about the Vegemite. Everyone else thought it was revolting and couldn't even finish their small sample, so they sent me home with the whole tube of Vegemite. It was a bit too salty for me to just spread on bread and eat, but the flavor was fine. I've done some googling and found a lot of recipes that use Vegemite (or its British cousin, Marmite). I'm going to do some experimenting and see if I can convince my parents, sister, BIL, nephew, husband and son that Vegemite is not awful.

Once we finished tasting the above items, Kari remembered that she had tucked the Pineapple M&Ms away and got them out. Yum! I'm not sure why they aren't sold in the US. They should be.

When we saw my mom the following week, she shared three Uncle Toby's Yoghurt Topps with us. I liked all three flavors and would happily have them again.

Tasting all these interesting Australian foods for the first time was so much fun! So, during my year of being 43, I'm going to try 43 foods that I have never had before. And, of course, I'll document it all as I go. I am so excited!

I've done some googling and found some promising items. I've poked around the ethnic groceries in town and seen a lot of unfamiliar stuff that is intriguing. If anyone has a suggestion of something I should try, please leave it in the comments! I'm up for just about anything as long as it isn't seafood or insects. Or too spicy. Ideally, I'd like suggestions of things you actually like and think I'd like. In the spirit of celebrating, it'd be nice if I didn't spend the next 12 months grossing myself out.

Happy birthday to me! 


  1. Happy happy happy happy BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Welcome to 43!!!! LOVING all the foods you tried!! And I love that one of my names is an ACTUAL word in Australia!!! Tucker : food
    Tucker-bag : food bag

  2. Cindy, that is one of many reasons why I love traveling: new foods! And I'm a very picky eater, but have found things I LOVED in other countries because i'm willing to try new things when there. I now LOVE figs because I didn't realize what I was eating in Israel when there last year for breakfast every morning. Anyway, I was wondering if you have ever eaten tongue. Specifically beef (cow) tongue. Growing up in WI we had it often. My mom had a hard time picking the tongue up and putting it in the pan of boiling water (with herbs etc in it) so I always had to do it. If you are interested in giving it a try, I can send you my recipe. I see that you can find it easier now in other states because Mexican grocery stores with a meat counter usually will have it.

    1. I don't think I've had tongue, but I'd be willing to try it. I'm not much of a meat person though. As for buying it and preparing it myself... that's iffy! Just like your mom, I'd have a hard time picking up the raw tongue and putting it in the pot.

  3. Happy Birthday, Cindy! :) As soon as I saw you were having Australian foods, I quickly scanned down to make sure Vegemite was on the list! :) I have an Aussie friend that raves about it, but everyone I know that has tried it (other than JJ), thinks it's awful. I'm surprised about the kangaroo jerky - was it tough, or 'gamey?' Anytime someone gets a deer in the family, there's plenty of deer jerky and venison chili to go around. They're both good, but I didn't care for the steaks. I wondered, since kangaroo seem to be super lean, like deer are. I can't wait to hear about your new food finds! I have to admit, I still have the frozen bag of rhubarb in my freezer, LOL! ;) I need to pull it out in your honor this weekend and make something with it! :)

    1. To be fair, I don't like beef jerky very much. I'm not much of a meat eater, but when I do eat it, I don't want it to be dried out, salty or spiced. So it's not surprising that I wouldn't like the kangaroo or emu jerky. But the kangaroo in particular was revolting and I had to spit it out.

      Use the rhubarb! It's so good!

  4. Happy Birthday, Cindy! How fun to try the foods. I have tried Vegemite. It didn't float my boat but my eldest son liked it.

  5. happy birthday
    have fun trying the 43 new food items

  6. Happy Birthday! Have you ever tried poi? The last time I had a meal at my family's home in Honolulu, I had to ask them what half the stuff was. No poi that night, though.

    1. Yes, I've had it several times. Not the worst thing I've ever had, but not horrible.

  7. Fun idea! I tried to think of a few foods that are common in the South that may not be as common in your area. All of the following are totally yummy. I wouldn’t put something yucky on your to-try list. Here you go: skillet cornbread, cheese straws, pimento cheese sandwich, Cuban sandwich, fried green tomatoes, chili slaw hot dog, Brunswick stew, chicken and dumplings, grits, rice pudding, eggs Benedict, fried plantains, tres leche cake, pineapple upside down cake, banana pudding, pralines, starfruit, kumquats (citrus), persimmons, boiled peanuts, tamales in a traditional corn husk, and a mint julep or a mojito.

    1. Thanks for all the suggestions! I've had many of these. Not only have I traveled to the South several times, but my neck of the woods is such a melting pot that we seem to have it all. That's a blessing, of course! I don't think I've had cheese straws, a pimento cheese sandwich, or a mojito. I'm 99% sure I've had everything else.

  8. I was just talking to a good friend this morning needing an unusual fruit for my 40 Before 40 because the one I had planned for is out of season now and won't be back till after my 40 (Guess I should have planned better!). She is going to bring me rambutan and a couple others. She is my go-to for food and cooking.
    I love trying new foods, so I am going to be following you through this for sure!

  9. Finally catching up on my reader today (can you tell?!).... so happy birthday (again -- I swear I said it on FB!!) :) Anyway, you saw my British beverage suggestion.... you know I LOVE to recommend and try new foods.... here's my list of suggestions and I will send you more as I think of them!
    *Ben & Shaw's Dandelion & Burdock drink (already sent you a link!)
    *Botan Rice Candy -- it's Japanese and you actually unwrap the candy from the plastic, then eat the paper it's wrapped in! You can find it in the Asian food section at Safeway, small red/green box.
    *Saladitos -- salted apricots and plums -- they are a Mexican candy. Let me know if you can't find them... they are everywhere in my town! ;)
    *Pastillas de Leche (soft milk candy) -- had these once... YUM http://www.instructables.com/id/Pastillas-De-Leche-Philippine-soft-milk-candy/
    *Macarons (I think you tried these?) they are my favorite French food item and not to be confused with the American Macaroons (coconut cookies)!
    *Brazilian Barbecue -- if you haven't had meat prepared in this way, you have to try it! Usually these restaurants are expensive because you pay like a buffet -- they bring the meats around for you sample and eat as much as you like. Also they have a variety of Portuguese foods to try -- I had salads, dressings, soups and drinks that were all new to me at the one I went to! It would be a great place to sample many different new foods if you haven't been to one before!
    *PERi-PERi Roasted Chicken -- So I know you haven't had this LOL This is a restaurant I went to with some friends in DC. AMAZING food. The chicken is marinated in a sauce for 24 hours, then grilled, then served with more of the sauce on the side. PERi-PERi is a spice in Africa and it is so delicious! You can learn more here: http://www.nandosperiperi.com/about-us. I'd recommend trying this recipe: http://www.nandosperiperi.com/recipes/recipe/detail?id=1147. It's not that spicy, so I wouldn't worry too much. You can buy the sauce here: http://www.nandosperiperi.com/sauces. After sampling all of them in the restaurant my favorites were the Medium and the Garlic. Mild was also good. The other too aren't that hot/spicy, but if you don't like spicy food I would avoid those two! :)

    1. I've had rice candy (we had 4 Japanese exchange students when I was a kid, so there aren't too many Japanese things I haven't tried). I've had saladitos, pastillas de leche, macarons (one of my 40 Things, on your recommendation!), and Brazilian BBQ with meat cut from the skewer. You're right - I haven't tried PERi-PERi. I have almost no tolerance for spicy food, but that does sound tasty.


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