Seven Strange Foods from Around the World
One of the coolest parts of traveling the world is trying the local specialties of a region- sometimes exotic and delicious, and sometimes just plain weird!! It can be quite disorienting to be faced with a dish made of animal parts not normally utilized in one’s own home country- but what better way to learn about a foreign culture than by stretching your comfort zone (and stomach!) and sampling some zany grub!
Birds Nest Soup- China While you might imagine this soup to contain sticks and grass, it’s name instead comes from the bird saliva used to hold their nests together. The saliva gives this soup a unique, gelatinous texture and happens to be one of the most expensive animal products consumed by humans.
Eskimo Ice Cream- Known as akutaq, this is definitely not your regular chocolate or vanilla treat. The frosty dish is made of whipped fat- usually reindeer fat, but can also be seal, moose, or whatever’s on hand… then mixed with fish, eggs or berries. The natives starting making this centuries ago for survival, and it’s still a favorite of the Eskimos today in Alaska. Ice cream sundae, anyone?
Fried Tarantulas- Cambodia Personally afflicted with minor to moderate (alright, pretty severe) arachnophobia, I don’t think I could bear to face one of these…but for those brave souls craving a little 8-legged snack, you’ll find them sold all over the streets in Cambodia. They’re picked right from their burrows and fried whole- legs and fangs and all- flavored with salt, sugar and garlic, they’re apparently a delicious source of protein.
Frog Sashimi- Japan How you feel about eating live animals will determine whether sampling frog sashimi will get crossed off your list of exotic foods. At some Japanese sushi restaurants, the chef cuts up a live frog and serves up its still-beating heart, known as asadachi, before dicing up the rest into raw sashimi.
Casu Marzu- Italy (Sardenia) This could be the only cheese in the world requiring eye protection while eating it. It literally means rotting cheese, and is essentially Pecorino sheep’s cheese with maggot larvae living inside. The larvae help the fermentation process and give the cheese a soft, almost liquidy texture- the only problem is these maggots can jump out of the cheese so watch your face if you decide to imbibe in this (illegal) Sardinian delicacy.
Balut- Phillipines Easily one of the weirdest foods out there, balut are duck eggs that have been incubated long enough for the fetus to grow feathers and a beak, then boiled alive to give the whole thing a crunchy texture from the partly-developed bones. Balut are as popular and prevalent in the Phillipines as the hot dog is in America, and they’re eaten at all times of day with a pinch of spices and often guzzled down with a beer.
Escamoles- Mexico It looks like cottage cheese, but it’s actually the eggs of the giant black Liometopum ant- and it’s popular to eat in a taco with guacamole- yum! Surprisingly, the taste is buttery and nutty, so you might not even notice if your taco is filled with these lumpy, squishy ant larvae.