Do you know what really p*sses me off? Fussy eaters. Those ‘urgh-I’m-not-eating that’ and ‘ooh-that-looks-weird’ type of people. People who don’t have an adventurous bone in their body.
I try most things once. From escargot to frogs legs, aloe vera jelly to chicken’s feet, steak tartare to smelly durian fruit, there are so many things I’ve been open enough to try (although it’s not always enjoyable). It bores me to hear the urghs, ewws and dramatic gasping. Luckily, I can’t hear anything through the blogosphere so read on…..
At the end of the day, food is food. If a whole nation is eating it then maybe it ain’t so bad? If it doesn’t kill you, it’s probably fine – that’s my philosophy. And if it kills me, at least there’s an interesting story for someone to tell. Most of it, I would never, ever touch again but that’s more for conservation reasons rather than fear or disgust. If you think about the junk that they put into the sausages you have for breakfast on a Saturday morning, you’ll realize that the list below isn’t too far off.
My Top 10 List of Weird Foods
Here I’ve compiled a list of some of the weird and wonderful (some not so wonderful) things that I’ve tasted in my time. Personally, I think it shows my love of travel and adventure, and also my appreciation of other people’s eating habits. Some on the other hand, may just find it absolutely insane. Oh, the life of an adventure travel writer eh?
1.Lizard Wine (Hong Kong)
Lizard wine, Hong Kong
Not to be consumed as a wine as such, but more of a shot? I wasn’t sure what I was doing. All I know is, I didn’t like it. But then again, doing shots isn’t exactly about the taste sensation. In traditional Chinese medicine, this rice-based fermented wine is designed to cure headaches. But I’m pretty sure that if you drink the whole bottle, you’ll get a headache.
2. Fried Tarantula (Cambodia)
Fried tarantulas, Cambodia
This is a very hairy and chewy street treat (if you can call it that) found almost anywhere in Cambodia. Sold along with many other bugs such as cockroaches, beetles and crickets, these fried bugs are also available in neighbouring Thailand. I read that bugs were consumed during the Khmer Rouge as a form of survival, but deep down, I suspect that this is a big joke played on western tourists.
3. Whale Steak (Norway)
Whale steak, Norway
Firstly, let me say never again. I was traveling with a very adventurous ‘I’ll-eat-anything’ kind of guy when I was in Norway but the environmental issues surrounding this dish makes me a little bit sorry. Whaling is a century old tradition in Norway and it’s the only place in the world still serving whale. I splashed out and had mine with a Beluga caviar salad.
4. Bear Meat (Finland)
Canned bear meat, Finland
I picked up some canned bear meat from Finland. The packaging was somehow very intimidating. Compressed into the can like a luncheon meat, it didn’t smell too appetising when I opened it. I tried a little with my melba toast but for some reason, I just couldn’t face the rest.
5. Bird’s Nest Soup (China)
Birds nest soup, China
Made from the saliva of Swifts or Cave Swifts, this soup has a slimy and glutinous texture and tastes very sweet. It’s very expensive for a bowl of syrupy slop but in China, it is believed that it’s the answer to all your skin aging problems, so you’ll see women queuing up for it.
Reindeer fillets (Norway)
Reindeer fillets, Norway
I hold my hands up. I ate Rudolf. Like most venison dishes, reindeer meat was a little on the tough side. I’m not sure whether the chef had overcooked it or whether it was supposed to be like that.
7. Thousand Year Old Eggs (China)
Thousand year old eggs, China
Century eggs, also known as thousand year old eggs are a secret pleasure of mine. I tried these in a dim sum restaurant in China and they are surprisingly nice. I doubt many people will agree with me (well, apart from the whole population of China) but these preserved duck or quail eggs develop a really interesting texture and flavor that kind of melts in the mouth.
They are preserved for months in a clay, ash, salt and lime mixture. The egg white turns black and the yolk turns gray. It looks disgusting. It even smells disgusting. But they’re ok I promise.
8. Ants’ eggs (Thailand)
Red ants' eggs, Thailand
Does it count if I put one in my mouth, bit into it then spat it back out again? I heard stories of families going on a hunt for these eggs because they were such a nice weekend treat for the kids. I tried to tell myself that it was just a lychee, but it was truly awful. Sorry – turns out I’m a big baby after all!
9. Pig’s intestines (Spain)
Pig's intestines, Spain
I bet you didn’t expect to see Spain in this list! I’ve actually tried pig’s intestines twice – once in a Malaysian broth (not good) and once in a Spanish tapas bar in Barcelona. Known as ‘El Botillo’, it is served in a tomato base sauce (standard) and perhaps a pinch of paprika, and the texture is a rather chewy.
10. Hakarl Iceland
Smelly fermented shark, served in tiny little yellowy coloured cubes. Need I say more? It wasn’t nice but it wasn’t the worse thing in the world. There was a really weird flavor to it, the sort of flavor you would never associate with food. I guess that’s the ammonia taste that people had told me about? Put it this way people – it’s a really acquired taste – and this is coming from the girl who eats tarantulas.
Think Yer’ Tough? Tell Me About Your Weird Food Experiences
I’d love to hear about your experiences with weird foods from around the world. Feel free to leave your comments, tell me I’m disgusting, tell me you’ve done better or just to give me a pat on the back.