An Eating Club for the Brave: The Gastronauts

Our VideosBy Liza de Guia on Jun 18, 2010
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If you had a rotted shark and live baby eel in front of you, would you eat it?

Well, there’s a club of 400 people in New York who would take a bite without even blinking… Meet The Gastronauts, New York City’s adventurous eating club founded by Curtiss Calleo and Ben Pauker, two very good friends with an appetite for the weird and bizarre cultural foods of the five boroughs.

They started their eating club four years ago simply because their girlfriends didn’t want to join them anymore on their food adventures. So, for fun, they decided to open up their dinners to other like-minded eaters, friends, strangers, anyone who was “game” for eating what most Americans won’t. And what they discovered was that there were more people out there like them than they thought. Now, with over 50 club “meetings” under their belt from Staten Island to the far corners of the Bronx, they can only say that they still have so much more bizarre food to go.

So enjoy this little story about The Gastronauts. I hope you find, like I did, that their mission goes so much further than finding weird stuff for you to eat, it’s about enjoying the flavor of cultures, meeting new friends, and honoring animals from nose to tail.

For more information on joining or to see past menus and photos, you can visit Ben & Curtiss online at: http://www.gastronauts.net/

Happy eating! Thanks for watching food. curated.

Comments

  1. Yasmin says:

    You Guys would probably LOVE our “Wild Foods Festival” here in New Zealand. Every Year Hokitika on the Westcoast of NZ hosts this fabulous and crazy festival. The mottos could be “If it crawls, it’s dinner”.
    Possum, kangaroo, crocodile, salmon with sandfly sauce, pickled or raw punga (fern fonds), wildberry waffles, westcargots – snails in garlic butter, and haggis are among the tamer entrees.
    Or you can eat soup made with deer genitals, ‚Äö√Ñ√∫sushi‚Äö√Ñ√π with live worms, huhu grubs (live or roasted), ‘colostrum shooters’, whitebait patties (lots of tiny whole fish in a light batter), duck giblets, mountain oysters (grilled sheep testicles), sheep/pig eyes, scorpions, candied crickets, grashopper, worm truffles, bulls penis sausages, and wasp larvae ice cream.
    Here is their official website:
    http://www.wildfoods.co.nz
    But you can google “hokitika wild food festival” for lots of photos.

    Hope you can make it there one year. I have been to lots and love it every time. Lots of new and wacky things turn up every year. :)
    Cheers, Yasmin

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Yasmin, that email made my day. I can’t believe the types of food you can experience at that festival! I’m going to alert Ben & Curtiss about it. I think you may just have yourself some new attendees. How many years have you been going? Do you like most things you try?

  2. Yasmin says:

    You Guys would probably LOVE our “Wild Foods Festival” here in New Zealand. Every Year Hokitika on the Westcoast of NZ hosts this fabulous and crazy festival. The mottos could be “If it crawls, it’s dinner”.
    Possum, kangaroo, crocodile, salmon with sandfly sauce, pickled or raw punga (fern fonds), wildberry waffles, westcargots – snails in garlic butter, and haggis are among the tamer entrees.
    Or you can eat soup made with deer genitals, “sushi” with live worms, huhu grubs (live or roasted), ‘colostrum shooters’, whitebait patties (lots of tiny whole fish in a light batter), duck giblets, mountain oysters (grilled sheep testicles), sheep/pig eyes, scorpions, candied crickets, grashopper, worm truffles, bulls penis sausages, and wasp larvae ice cream.
    Here is their official website:
    http://www.wildfoods.co.nz
    But you can google “hokitika wild food festival” for lots of photos.

    Hope you can make it there one year. I have been to lots and love it every time. Lots of new and wacky things turn up every year. :)
    Cheers, Yasmin

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Yasmin, that email made my day. I can’t believe the types of food you can experience at that festival! I’m going to alert Ben & Curtiss about it. I think you may just have yourself some new attendees. How many years have you been going? Do you like most things you try?

  3. Yasmin says:

    Hi Liza,
    I have been probably about 7 times or so. I missed out the last 4 times as I was out of the country. But we have just returned to New Zealand, so I will be there again with bells on for 2011 – yay!!
    I have liked most things I tried. I do admit that apart from the worm truffles and sushi, I have avoided most insects – I just can’t get myself to eat them. But I enjoy watching others. But I have tried lots of the other weird and wild foods. They do make an effort for things to actually taste good. And they do!!! E.g. the BBQ ‘mountain oysters’ (sheep testicles) with onion taste a bit like pan-fried liver, just softer in texture and not as strong. The cooked punga tastes a bit like asparagus. And I remember stinging nettle soup tasting like spinach.
    And the examples I wrote about above are just a fraction of what is available each year. There are close to a hundred stands (I’m guessing here). And a wide range of entertainment all day. When I last went (4 years ago, so not sure how up to date my pricing is) most things cost less than $5 (New Zealand dollar).
    As the actual wild food day is only one day, my strategy has been to get tickets before the day, get there early and then I eat all day – lol! I’m absolutely stuffed by the end of the day :). during the day I have only a small amount of alcohol here and there (the ‘Moonshine’ liqueur is divine) so that I can fully concentrate on the food.

    If you do consider to come to NZ for this, make sure you book accommodation as soon as you decide to go. Many places are booked out a year ahead. Or hire a camper van to sleep in (again book ahead). You can camp in a tent, but anywhere within the vicinity on Hokitika will be Tent-city and noisy. If you are happy to party through the night (there is a ball in the evening) then it doesn’t matter. There will be lots of bonfires at the beach and usually a collection of driftwood sculptures too.
    A word of warning, the Westcoast is capable of unbelievable downpours, so coming prepared just in case would be useful (gumboots, good raincape/coat/hat, really tough tent). I have only had one rainy day, but it didn’t stop me – or many others. Plenty of things are in huge tents.
    XX Yasmin

  4. Yasmin says:

    Hi Liza,
    I have been probably about 7 times or so. I missed out the last 4 times as I was out of the country. But we have just returned to New Zealand, so I will be there again with bells on for 2011 – yay!!
    I have liked most things I tried. I do admit that apart from the worm truffles and sushi, I have avoided most insects – I just can’t get myself to eat them. But I enjoy watching others. But I have tried lots of the other weird and wild foods. They do make an effort for things to actually taste good. And they do!!! E.g. the BBQ ‘mountain oysters’ (sheep testicles) with onion taste a bit like pan-fried liver, just softer in texture and not as strong. The cooked punga tastes a bit like asparagus. And I remember stinging nettle soup tasting like spinach.
    And the examples I wrote about above are just a fraction of what is available each year. There are close to a hundred stands (I’m guessing here). And a wide range of entertainment all day. When I last went (4 years ago, so not sure how up to date my pricing is) most things cost less than $5 (New Zealand dollar).
    As the actual wild food day is only one day, my strategy has been to get tickets before the day, get there early and then I eat all day – lol! I’m absolutely stuffed by the end of the day :). during the day I have only a small amount of alcohol here and there (the ‘Moonshine’ liqueur is divine) so that I can fully concentrate on the food.

    If you do consider to come to NZ for this, make sure you book accommodation as soon as you decide to go. Many places are booked out a year ahead. Or hire a camper van to sleep in (again book ahead). You can camp in a tent, but anywhere within the vicinity on Hokitika will be Tent-city and noisy. If you are happy to party through the night (there is a ball in the evening) then it doesn’t matter. There will be lots of bonfires at the beach and usually a collection of driftwood sculptures too.
    A word of warning, the Westcoast is capable of unbelievable downpours, so coming prepared just in case would be useful (gumboots, good raincape/coat/hat, really tough tent). I have only had one rainy day, but it didn’t stop me – or many others. Plenty of things are in huge tents.
    XX Yasmin

  5. Great video Liza. Love the flow.

  6. Great video Liza. Love the flow.

  7. Geoff Map says:

    I never thought Le Bron James would be going to Miami, of all places!! WTF!

  8. Geoff Map says:

    I never thought Le Bron James would be going to Miami, of all places!! WTF!

  9. Jason Roth says:

    Liza,

    Great video – in fact, it’s the third in a row I’ve just watched (also the Red Hook vendors one and the Ben Sargent, a.k.a. underground lobster roll guy). Really nice stuff. Your editing is one of the big things that sets you apart, including from a lot of TV shows. It’s obvious how much effort was taken to thrown out the less important stuff and keep the videos jam-packed with interesting content. Really enjoyable, and I look forward to watching more.

    By the way, my wife and I tried signing up to the last Gastronauts event (guinea pig night), but weren’t fast enough and didn’t get in! We will try again next month. Looks like a great time.

    -Jason

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Jason, it’s awesome to hear from you and to get your feedback! I am so very passionate about good food and people that I can only hope that it comes through in my storytelling. Hope you make it out to one of the next Gastronauts dinners b/c I’d love to meet you in person! One of my favorite videos is the SCRATCHbread piece if you need another bit of inspiration. What do you do btw?

  10. Jason Roth says:

    Liza,

    Great video – in fact, it’s the third in a row I’ve just watched (also the Red Hook vendors one and the Ben Sargent, a.k.a. underground lobster roll guy). Really nice stuff. Your editing is one of the big things that sets you apart, including from a lot of TV shows. It’s obvious how much effort was taken to thrown out the less important stuff and keep the videos jam-packed with interesting content. Really enjoyable, and I look forward to watching more.

    By the way, my wife and I tried signing up to the last Gastronauts event (guinea pig night), but weren’t fast enough and didn’t get in! We will try again next month. Looks like a great time.

    -Jason

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Jason, it’s awesome to hear from you and to get your feedback! I am so very passionate about good food and people that I can only hope that it comes through in my storytelling. Hope you make it out to one of the next Gastronauts dinners b/c I’d love to meet you in person! One of my favorite videos is the SCRATCHbread piece if you need another bit of inspiration. What do you do btw?

  11. John H. Smith says:

    I’ve tried rotten shark in my youth, and I am sure baby eels are delicious, but I would never try it.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/10/1009_031009_endangeredeels.html
    http://www.hsus.org/hsi/oceans/sharks/more_about_sharks/shark_biology_contributes_to_population_decline.html

    Glad people such as these gastronauts have a curiosity towards food, but would be more glad if their curiosity were extended to finding out which products they are helping deplete for the next generation.

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Hey John, You do make a valid point. I was at a restaurant recently with a friend and they ordered sharkfin soup for the table…I passed. After reading so much about the shark fin industry, I just didn’t want to support food like that. I guess everyone has different values. But it’s good to put the info out there and make folks more aware of the bigger picture.

  12. John H. Smith says:

    I’ve tried rotten shark in my youth, and I am sure baby eels are delicious, but I would never try it.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/10/1009_031009_endangeredeels.html
    http://www.hsus.org/hsi/oceans/sharks/more_about_sharks/shark_biology_contributes_to_population_decline.html

    Glad people such as these gastronauts have a curiosity towards food, but would be more glad if their curiosity were extended to finding out which products they are helping deplete for the next generation.

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Hey John, You do make a valid point. I was at a restaurant recently with a friend and they ordered sharkfin soup for the table…I passed. After reading so much about the shark fin industry, I just didn’t want to support food like that. I guess everyone has different values. But it’s good to put the info out there and make folks more aware of the bigger picture.

  13. Horror Glee says:

    You Guys would probably LOVE our “Wild Foods Festival” here in New Zealand. Every Year Hokitika on the Westcoast of NZ hosts this fabulous and crazy festival. The mottos could be “If it crawls, it’s dinner”.
    Possum, kangaroo, crocodile, salmon with sandfly sauce, pickled or raw punga (fern fonds), wildberry waffles, westcargots – snails in garlic butter, and haggis are among the tamer entrees.
    Or you can eat soup made with deer genitals, ‚Äö√Ñ√∫sushi‚Äö√Ñ√π with live worms, huhu grubs (live or roasted), ‘colostrum shooters’, whitebait patties (lots of tiny whole fish in a light batter), duck giblets, mountain oysters (grilled sheep testicles), sheep/pig eyes, scorpions, candied crickets, grashopper, worm truffles, bulls penis sausages, and wasp larvae ice cream.
    Here is their official website:
    http://www.wildfoods.co.nz
    But you can google “hokitika wild food festival” for lots of photos.

    Hope you can make it there one year. I have been to lots and love it every time. Lots of new and wacky things turn up every year. :)
    Cheers, Yasmin

  14. Horror Glee says:

    You Guys would probably LOVE our “Wild Foods Festival” here in New Zealand. Every Year Hokitika on the Westcoast of NZ hosts this fabulous and crazy festival. The mottos could be “If it crawls, it’s dinner”.
    Possum, kangaroo, crocodile, salmon with sandfly sauce, pickled or raw punga (fern fonds), wildberry waffles, westcargots – snails in garlic butter, and haggis are among the tamer entrees.
    Or you can eat soup made with deer genitals, “sushi” with live worms, huhu grubs (live or roasted), ‘colostrum shooters’, whitebait patties (lots of tiny whole fish in a light batter), duck giblets, mountain oysters (grilled sheep testicles), sheep/pig eyes, scorpions, candied crickets, grashopper, worm truffles, bulls penis sausages, and wasp larvae ice cream.
    Here is their official website:
    http://www.wildfoods.co.nz
    But you can google “hokitika wild food festival” for lots of photos.

    Hope you can make it there one year. I have been to lots and love it every time. Lots of new and wacky things turn up every year. :)
    Cheers, Yasmin

  15. Raquel says:

    I COULD NEVER!!!!!

  16. Raquel says:

    I COULD NEVER!!!!!

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