Wild and weird goodies tempt gourmands

DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 19:48 08/03/2014
Ben Murgatroyd
Fairfax NZ
STALLION FODDER: Ben Murgatroyd, 23, of Christchurch, samples a horse protein shot.

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A balmy day on the West Coast has blessed the crowds for the Wildfoods Festival’s silver anniversary.

For 25 years, the wild and wonderful has tempted palates at the Hokitika event and this year, some weird additions have proved popular.

Crouching Grasshopper's stall had the creepy addition of crispy tarantulas, which were imported from Thailand and sold out in a matter of hours.

Mikhail Kozijevic, 25, of Christchurch, sampled one of its poisonous spiders’ legs and said its flavour was impossible to describe.

''It was a little bit acidy. It did have a lot of flavour though.’’

Stall-holder Fiona Anderson, who bred the grasshoppers for about 6 months in her Hokitika living room, said the critters were always popular.

``I feel a bit bad but it’s quite good, it really is,’’ Christchurch woman Sarah Jackson, 21, said as she tasted a live grasshopper for the first time.

The iconic event attracts young and old, as proved by Rangiora man Keith Heyworth.

At70, it was his first trip to the festival, arriving with his son and his girlfriend, who had timed a trip home from London to coincide with it. Heyworth was on a mission to taste many of the stomach-churners on offer, including a hard-boiled seagull egg, which he said ``wasn’t horrible’’.

``I tried to tell myself it’s chicken but it’s not chicken.’’

He also sampled a live huhu grub, which was ``very juicy’’ and a live grasshopper, which didn’t have much taste but ``was like swallowing a big capsule’’.

Another festival first-timer, Shaz Bennet, 25, of Auckland, thought the roasted seagull at the Squawking Gull’s stall tasted ``just like chicken’’ but its paua poo shots proved deeply unpleasant by the look on her face.

Scorpions were another treat awaiting patrons, which many bravely chomped with aplomb.

They tasted ``different’’, admitted Christchurch friends Glen Dugan, 24, and Andy Heard, 27, who washed the creepy crawlies down with stallion semen.

There were plenty of offerings that tasted pleasant on the palate, albeit with a quirky twist, such as at the Holy Smoke Café.

Parishioners from the local Catholic church donned nuns’ habits to raise money for St Mary’s, which was closed and needed $2 million in earthquake strengthening.

Among its divine offerings was `wholey water’ and `nectar of the Gods’ but it also had a confessional with nuns happily punishing patrons for their sins.

''I enjoyed the spanking,’’ Oamaru man Kent Beauchamp admitted as he walked away.

Feral Fashion at the Foods, a fancy dress competition supported by Annah Stretton, was another new addition with a group of goldminers claiming first prize, a $1000 Air New Zealand travel voucher.

Air New Zealand offered 55 seats on a charter flight from Auckland and Wellington to Hokitika for the day, which proved a huge success.

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Festival organiser Mike Keenan was rapt the weather was a stunner for the small township’s biggest annual event and hoped the crowd proved large enough to ensure its ongoing future.

- The Press

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