Top 5: Foods Best Eaten Alive

Categories: Top Five

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Photo by Groovehouse
Oysters on the half shell at Gilhooley's.
While I'm not a full-on advocate of the raw food or paleo eating movements, I have to admit that both have their strong points. Many foods are, in fact, better left uncooked. And some are flat-out best eaten at their most uncooked: when they're still alive.

But I'm not a monster. I can't stomach the viral footage of Chinese fish being eaten while still alive, and I'm not a fan of the Korean practice of eating octopus alive either -- but only because I'm too afraid a suction cup would catch on my throat and kill me.

With moderation in mind, here are the five foods that are best consumed while they're alive.

5. Oysters

Whether you choose to believe new scientific studies that show raw oyster consumption was vital in spurring brain growth in early humans (thanks, omega-3 fatty acids!), you can't deny the fact that this is a food that is terribly good for you. Even vegans agree: oysters are all right. Just exercise common sense when eating oysters: Just as you shouldn't eat a raw oyster that's dead, an oyster has to have been alive immediately prior to being cooked. That, and no eating raw oysters out of our warm Gulf waters in the summer months just to be safe.

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Photo by animalvegetable
Notice how tiny and pink the clams are in comparison to the oysters.
4. Clams

You rarely find raw clams down here in Houston aside from sushi restaurants. Witness this pitiful exchange on Yelp, which ended with the statement, "Houston is not known for the freshness of its seafood." Which isn't true; clams on the half shell just aren't as popular here as they are in, say, the Northeast. But you can find them, cropping up on fruits de mer platters at places like Brasserie Max & Julie, and I'm hoping to see clam pop up in more crudo preparations as well. The shellfish's live flesh tastes like an oyster with a lot of chew to it, briny and sweet.

3. Alfalfa sprouts

These sprouts are very high in fiber and other nutrients, but can be dangerous when purchased commercially as they are very prone to carrying bacterial contaminants like salmonella. Instead, try growing your own at home; it's extremely easy to do, requires almost no equipment or experience and can be harvested very quickly. You'll tear or cut them straight from the seeds to your plate, so they're technically still alive while you're eating those crunchy sprouts.

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Photo by popartichoke
Cave-aged blue cheese.
2. Blue cheese

You think your cheese isn't alive? Cheese with mold running through it, like blue cheese, certainly is. Those cheeses are filled with healthy molds like Penicillium roqueforti. Although it's in such a minimal amount that it won't have any affect on your health, the mold helps keep the cheese healthy and protected from bacteria like Staphylococcus.

1. Yogurt

There's a very good reason for eating your yogurt alive: The cultures such as Lactobacillus acidophilus inside yogurt help keep your insides healthy and clean by eating bad bacteria. This has become so commonly accepted that yogurt brands are now marketed on containing "live bacterial cultures," with acidophilus mentioned most often. Which is silly, really, because all yogurt has live bacterial cultures in it. Yes, all yogurt. But there's even cooler news about those bad bacteria-eating cultures: lactose-intolerant folks can usually eat yogurt with no problems, since the cultures eat the lactose too!



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13 comments
Divesafe
Divesafe

Some of the best oysters I've ever eaten were at Pappas Bros steakhouse in Houston.

Dicky
Dicky

So you point out foods to be eaten alive.  then throw up things that really....aren't technically alive.  Good show faggot.  Way to earn your money.

Gus Don
Gus Don

 There are many choices of food in my country, most contain cholesterol ... But people still like it ... In my country even rats, bats, dogs, snakes, monkeys, sharks, lizards, cats also became a meal if there is no other choice .... I do not know whether it is healthy! This article is good and I just knew that if true, though still hesitant to eat it!

thefifthtaster
thefifthtaster

Anyone know a good place to buy fresh clams in bulk?

Ffrisbee
Ffrisbee

I thought the pastuerized cheese in America was fairly dead, especially after being wrapped in plastic and stored.I remember Koto Sushi, long ago under the original owner. Very disturbing. Lobster sashimi as the lobster watched his tail being fileted, his antennae flailing, eyes moving. Was delicious enough to win best Sushi that year.

Me M
Me M

My father use to eat oysters right out the gulf when we would go trawling.  He's still alive.  I still don't eat them, raw or otherwise.

As for the other living foods, I love them!

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Sweet shrimp would have been great with this list. While I haven't seen it in Houston, sweet, live, just-decapitated and peeled shrimp that are still squirming are a bit scary, but for the more adventurous, it makes the ultimate ama-ebi. 

ostiones
ostiones

You must mean the bay.  Oysters don't live in the Gulf, it's too salty, they require some fresh water to survive. 

Mike N.
Mike N.

 You gotta fry the head and eat that too.

Dragana Harris
Dragana Harris

Mai - Randy Rucker served small live West Bay shrimp at the first anniversary dinner at Bootsie's not long ago.  I was a little squeamish at first and removed the antenna!  As with other fresh, live seafood, it turned out to be one of those marvelous gastronomic surprises.

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