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Fear Factor fun impacting on Wildfoods Festival

Fear Factor fun impacting on Wildfoods Festival

Television fans fascinated by the Fear Factor programme are expected to flock to next month’s Wildfoods Festival at Hokitika in search of the same type of challenging food.

Festival organiser Mike Keenan said Fear Factor producers in California were keen on trying some of the West Coast food on next series’ contestants.

``They were interested in sphagnum moss, ponga fronds and huhu grubs,’’ Mr Keenan said today.

``We are too busy to check with Ministry of Agriculture staff at the moment but we’ll look into it after the festival.’’

More than 20,000 people are expected to attend the 14th annual festival at Hokitika on March 8 which includes new food some people may struggle to stomach.

Fear Factor’s Los Angeles producer Rich Brown said he had heard about the West Coast event and they were looking for new ``gross and disgusting’’ new delicacies for their next series.

On offer next month are bulls’ penises, sheep’s eyes, pig offal, scorpions, worms, seagull eggs, horse meat, rams' balls grasshoppers, spagnum moss, snails, rams’ testicles, slugs and ponga frongs. The event has received such widespread international publicity that a romantic couple from England want to get married in Hokitika during their festival visit. The 90 stalls will feature some of the most daring delights imaginable including farm-bred scorpions from the United States. One stall – the Crouching Grasshopper, Hidden Peanut - is selling mealworms or larvae which turn into beetles like small huhu grubs. ``The larvae we are serving a teaspoon of [live or cooked] larvae in a shooter cup,’’ stallholder Liam Farrell said. ``This festival has an edge to it, as stalls keep on offering more extreme foods as well as the typical fare.

``Last year we sold 1500 (grasshopper) bugs in two hours. People couldn't get enough of them. Our live bug display was also eaten with even more gusto than the cooked variety,’’ Farrell said.

The grasshopper bug is sweet tasting, almost like eating a prawn - rather crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Scorpions will be offered for the first time this year.

When cooked from raw they also taste like prawn, however the US and Mexican-imported scorpion for the Hokitika festival have been in alcohol for months and taste like vodka. Meanwhile, preparations for the March festival include the construction of a giant HOKITIKA sign made out of driftwood on the beach which will be visible by passengers on international flights.

Hokitika is on the Christchurch to Sydney flightpath and the sign will stand out like a hole in the snow.

No other festival in New Zealand gets near the big South Island West Coast event in terms of variety of wild and unusual food. Nine of the country’s top chefs will be cooking off for the New Zealand Wildfoods Festival Chef of the Year title. The chefs are required to produce a mouth-watering two-course meal within an hour.

The guest-chief-judge this year is chef Greg Heffernan, who has made many television appearances and is a consultant chef for Air New Zealand. He is an ambassador for NZ Beef and Lamb.

Just 1800 people attended the first festival in 1990 compared to 20,663 at the last event.

The festival is the annual showcase of the West Coast’s traditional pioneering lifestyle and is regarded one of the finest events in the country.

It has featured in media all around the world and provides an opportunity for people to try strange food they are unlikely to see on an average restaurant menu.

The festival generates more than $2 million for the Hokitika community.

© Scoop Media

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