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How To Eat Rocks

A Helpful Guide for the Beginner

by T.Mike

Greetings and welcome to this handy guide to eating rocks for beginners. A lot of this guide is just good ol' plain common sense, but you'd be surprised how often people make the same stupid mistakes eating rocks.

* Firstly, and I can't stress this point to the beginner enough, start small. I know, I know, you're excited, you want to eat a rock, but in your misguided enthusiasm, you go straight for the biggest one you can find and you end up hurting yourself. You simply must pace yourself! Start small, and then slowly work your way up. Before you know it, you'll be devouring enormous boulders like a old pro.

Almost as important as size are shape and texture. Avoid rocks with rough, jagged edges and irregular shapes. Go with smooth oval or spherical shaped rocks. I always take beginners to the nearest beach or river - these are excellent sources of small, smooth, rounded rocks. Even with a perfectly shaped rock, remember what Mom said at the table- Don't gulp your food! It's not a race!

*Second, wash the rock before you eat it. This is a common mistake, usually also due to enthusiasm- you want to eat a rock and without even thinking, you run outside, grab one off the ground and pop it in your mouth. Well you may not realize it, but animals frequently wipe their feet on rocks and in some instances, even urinate on them. Rocks should be washed with hot water and soap for at least one full minute. Vegetables and tubers grow in the dirt, but we wash those, don't we? If you have a rock with deep cracks, you may need to purchase a small, long-bristled brush to get into all the nooks and crannies. I find an old toothbrush works well.

Aside from matters of simple hygiene, washing your rock of dirt, grit and organic residue allows you to taste the pure rock itself, unsullied by any other distracting flavors. (Although some connoisseurs prefer rocks topped with a nice lichen or moss.) Also, don't let anyone tell you that washing rocks before you eat them makes you some kind of a wimp and that real men just grab 'em straight off the ground. This kind of macho idiocy gives rock eating a bad name. People like that are into rock eating for all the wrong reasons.

* Thirdly, know when and when not to chew. Sometimes I think rock eating beginners are supporting the entire denture industry. Many beginners don't realize you don't have to, and indeed shouldn't, chew every rock. It's a matter of simple physics! Your teeth are only about 4.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale (10 being diamond and 1 being talc). Your teeth are going to give long before that piece of granite is, so don't even try! Obviously, your chewing rocks are the ones lower on the Mohs scale: talc, limestone, mica, sandstone, halite, gypsum, graphite, chalk, coal, etc. I recommend beginners start off with a nice piece of talc and just gently gnaw on it, as a practice exercise. Here's a good rule of thumb:
  • Igneous - do NOT chew
  • Metamorphic - do NOT chew
  • Sedimentary - use your best judgement
Non-chewable rocks should be sliced into bite-sized pieces and swallowed whole.

*Fourthly, and this may sound a little silly, but be sure it's a rock. I know this seems obvious, but you'd be surprised at what you find on the ground these days, especially in more urban areas. Many's the time I've seen a newbie pop what they thought was a delicious rock in their mouth only to then spit out in disgust a chunk of brick, concrete, asphalt, or cinder block. Yuck! In more suburban areas, be alert for such misleading objects as dirt clods, charcoal briquettes, and discarded urinal disinfectant cakes.

*Condiments and seasonings - This is purely a matter of personal taste. Some like them plain, some like to marinate, some swear by tabasco sauce, heck, I met one gent who wouldn't touch anything without ginger slices and wasabi! Don't let anyone tell you how to season and flavor your rocks, but by the same token, always keep an open mind. Your tastebuds know what they like. My advice is start plain, then experiment.

*Eating fossils - There is still a lot controversy about this topic. Is it right to eat a rare archeological specimen? Do they really taste better? I come down in the middle- I stick to trilobites. They are an extremely common fossil, and it's incredibly unlikely you'll ever come across one science hasn't long since catalogued before. And personally I think they have a terrific nutty, piquant flavor.

I hope that this short guide has been helpful. I know I wish I'd had something like this when I started out. Good luck and bon appetit!

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