The menu has featured everything from live octopus to pig hearts, goat kidneys and sauteed lamb's brains at meetings of the Gastronauts, a New York City food adventure club that pushes the boundaries between food and foul.
"Nothing's off the table," Gastronauts co-founder Curtiss Calleo told the Associated Press. "Any restaurant worth its salt has sweetbreads or tongue or pork bellies. There's a food renaissance going on."
Gastronauts was started in New York four years ago, and ever since Calleo and co-organizer Ben Raisher have been dining on extreme cuisine. The group meets at different restaurants on the first Tuesday of each month and its email list has about 300 members.
Nearly 50 people came to the group's March meeting at a Queens Korean restaurant where the adventurous sampled the live octopus and lobster sashimi "freshly vivisected, then displayed on the plate on a bed of lettuce in front of its meaty core," the AP reported.
And the New York Gastronauts isn't the only group for the gastronomically bold.
From Boston's Gastronauts to the Organ Meet Society of New York City to the San Francisco and Denver Food Adventure Clubs, the limits of avant-garde cuisine are being explored by adventurous eaters.
"Non-challenging foods are being eaten by the truckload," Kate Krader, restaurant editor for Food and Wine magazine, told the AP. "We're coming out of a time of very boring food in America."
The Denver club's next menu includes frog curry, pork-brain lettuce wraps and balut, a fertilized duck egg, poached or deep-fried and containing a partially formed embryo. But it's all in the name of resourceful eating in tough times.
"As a chef, sometimes opportunities land in your lap," group founder Jon Emanuel told the AP. "You get assorted pig parts or the random case of tongues. In these types of times, this is a responsible way to eat."