A Taste of Exotic Meats at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner

This past Saturday, March 17, was the 108th Explorers Club Annual Dinner. It was held, as ever, at the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan, because that's traditional and also because the Waldorf has a very liberal attitude toward allowing camels and kangaroos to mill around in its ballroom.

Before the live animals are trotted out on stage, the opening hour of the festivity is dedicated to cocktails -- such as the Explorers Club Martini, which has a cow's eyeball in it for garnish -- and exotic eatables, all sourced, prepared, and masterminded by Gene Rurka, the club's "Exotics Chairman."

Here at PopSci, we have a certain taste for exotic foods. Here's the full menu of delights that were served.

  • Moroccan Spiced Goat with Spiced Yogurt
  • Soffrito-Marinated Whole Crispy Boar
  • Maple Glazed Hog Mask
  • Applewood BBQ Bull Rods and Testicles
  • Kidney and Spleen Ragout
  • Pickled Eyeballs
  • Slow Roasted Elk with Rosemary New Potatoes
  • Ostrich Coq Au Vin
  • Herb Roasted Kangaroo with Mango Relish
  • Caramelized Yak with Braised Red Cabbage
  • Chipotle Glazed Bison
  • Whole Roasted Alligator and Gator Chili
  • Turtle Cakes with Caper Remoulade
  • Python Patties with Nueske's Bacon
  • Mustard Thyme Rubbed Rabbit
  • Rice Wine Pickled Duck Tongue
  • Crispy Chicken Feet with Garlic Chili Dipping Sauce
  • Rice-Crusted Tile Fish with Passion Fruit Sauce
  • Pan-Seared Grouper with Baby Spinach and Red Pepper Sauce
  • Grilled Octopus Salad with Fennel Slaw
  • Shredded Grilled Octopus in Endive Leaf Boats
  • Chinese Stir-Fried Jelly Fish with Bamboo Shoots and Snow Peas
  • Jellyfish Slivers in White Soy Marinade
  • Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches Infused with Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey and Citrus

Canapés

  • Pineapple towers with scorpion, pea pods, strawberry slices, melon balls and green grapes
  • Sweet cherry peppers, cucumber flowerets and cherry tomatoes filled with assorted creamed fillings: durian paste, herbed and spiced cream cheeses, and garnished with crickets, mealworms and scorpions
  • Two varieties of seaweed with mild spices and olive oil
  • Sautéed and deep-fried earthworms
  • Orchids (edible) with a honey-sweetened creamed dipping sauce
  • Chon and Kopi Luwak coffees, made from coffee beans that have passed through the digestive tract of small mammals

Desserts

  • Strawberries dipped in white and dark chocolate with housefly larvae and pupae sprinkles (maggots)
  • Cheesecake popsicles topped with mealworms and crickets
  • Strawberry pastry cups filled with maggot sprinkles

To Drink

  • The Explorers Club Martini – a vodka martini rimmed with bourbon smoked sugar and a skewer of olive, onion and pickled eyeball topped with a Tasmanian leatherwood honey-soaked mealworm

Eyeballs

Gene Rurka shows off some of the eyeballs that he is going to serve at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner.Paul Adams

Gators and Goats

Here in the subterranean kitchen of the Waldorf-Astoria, hours before the feast, the goats have already been rubbed with Moroccan spices. The alligators will be roasted whole.Paul Adams

Ready for the Oven

Rurka shows off one of his prize gators, skinned and grinning.Paul Adams

Mealworms and Crickets

A delightful hors'd'oeuvre plate.Paul Adams

Scorpions

Scorpions, it turns out, are delicious! They have the sweetness of crustaceans.Paul Adams

Astronaut and Alligator

By popular request: yes, there were some animals in attendance that didn't get turned into snacks. Here, Buzz Aldrin is handed an adorable alligator.Paul Adams