Gentlemen in tuxedos and ladies in ball gowns gathered at the stately Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan on Saturday evening for the 109th annual dinner of the Explorers Club. But standard party fare was nowhere to be found; here, waiters passed around delicate hors d'oeuvres topped with cockroaches, scorpions and meal worms.
The Explorers Club, which was founded in 1904, describes itself on its website as a "professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore." Past members have included individuals to achieve firsts: first to visit the North Pole, the South Pole, the summit of Mt. Everest, the deepest point in the ocean and the moon. It's in keeping with the club's ethos, then, to value culinary exploration.
Also on the menu Saturday night were dishes made with goat penis and testicles, camel, earthworms and rattlesnake. A full-sized, roasted ostrich was also on display, its long neck propped up with wire as a waiter sliced meaty portions for adventurous diners. A whole elk, a goat, a beaver and muskrats were similarly displayed and carved.
So what's the point of it all? "Ninety-eight percent of the population of America will not go outside of the beef, pork and poultry diet," said club member Gene Rurka, who headed the dinner's Exotics Committee. "The hope is that you'll see something that you think is despicable, and you're willing to try it. That's where the adventure comes in."
Check out dishes from the Explorers Club's out-of-this-world cocktail party below: