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Spokane kids put taste buds to the test

Fri., April 9, 2010, 7:47 p.m.

Edible flowers and kumquats? Not too bad, Shaw Middle School students said Friday. Pickled pig’s feet and cow stomach, however – gag worthy.

The goal was to teach students not to be afraid to try new foods. But to keep middle school students interested, the gross factor was included, too.

It was the second year Shaw staged the event which, like the former television show that had contestants eating bugs for money, is called Fear Factor.

Exotic fruits and vegetables were offered as students filtered through the cafeteria for lunch. Only four students were selected to try the not-so-appetizing items.

This year, unlike last, no one threw up.

Justin Kerns, 14, popped a purple and white edible orchid in his mouth, noting that it tasted like nothing he’d had before.

Riley Beckham, 13, recoiled – pursing his lips and squeezing his eyes shut – when he tried the kumquat, a small citrus fruit that starts out sour, but ends in a sweet finish. “Very sour,” he said between cringes. Justin Williams, also 13, said, “It was gross.”

Most students were willing to try the starfruit, which is native to Indonesia. “It tastes sweet, like an apple,” said 12-year-old Chilli Gross.

Next up were the four students chosen to try the ickier stuff – Makinsey Finch, Johnathon Moran, Haylie Edinger and Enjoi Eukenio.

Doug Wordell, Spokane Public Schools’ nutrition director, led the tasting. A garbage can was at the ready.

He started them off easy with baby food – strained peas. That went down without a hitch.

Next up, jalapeños – the kids held strong and steady. Then Wordell kicked it up a bit with pickled pig’s feet, bringing a bigger “ewww” from the crowd.

That was a little harder to swallow. “It tasted like sauerkraut,” Moran said.

But the tripe – cow stomach – was the end for Finch. “It tasted like nothing, but the texture was ruffly. I almost puked,” she said.

And for the capper, just to prove he had no fear of trying unusual foods, Wordell held up an octopus and bit off a tentacle. “It tastes like candy,’” he declared.

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