If a bacon sarnie just isn’t cutting it and you fancy something more exotic, how about sinking your teeth into some raw whale blubber? If that doesn’t quite float your boat, don’t worry, there’s always a crispy tarantula. If you’re hungry now, you won’t be by the end of this article. Here are 15 of the weirdest foods to try on your travels.
1) Crispy tarantula, Cambodia
If the eight-legged freak is your worst nightmare, then it’s debatable whether this option is better on worse. In Cambodia, don’t miss the opportunity to munch on the local delicacy of a deep-fried tarantula. Apparently the taste is actually quite bearable – think of a cross between chicken and cod (just with eight hairy legs attached).
2) Sheep eyeball juice, Mongolia
If you ever needed an alcohol deterrent, this is it. In Mongolia, the traditional hangover cure is a glass full of tomato juice, vinegar and sheep eyeballs. It’s full of vitamins and very good for you, but possibly the only hangover ‘cure’ that’ll leave you feeling more sick than when you started. Here’s looking at you, kid!
3) Century egg, China
You’ll need a strong stomach to handle this one, ‘hundred (or even a thousand) year-old eggs’ are black inside and are usually preservered for several months in a mixture of clay, ash and lime. They have a strong stench of ammonia and sulphur, so if you’re after a pungent, preserved delicacy, this is the one for you.
4) Frozen whale skin and blubber, Greenland
Known affectionately to locals as ‘muktuk’, this oily/rubbery treat is packed full of vitamin C and D. The skin and blubber from the Bowhead Whale is normally eaten raw, but if you fancy something different, you can get the deep-fried version.
5) Chicken feet, China
Warning: this is a gristly little number. As the old saying goes, the Chinese eat anything with legs, apart from the table. Crunchy to the core, chicken feet are as popular a snack in China as crisps are in the UK. Wherever you go, you’ll be able to grab a pack of these deep-fried fried morsels. If you don’t want the snack-food version, you can get them boiled in a soup, barbecued or marinated for hours so you’ve got something to look forward to when you get home.
6) Maggot-infested cheese, Sardinia
If you like ripe stilton or a cheeky wedge of gorgonzola, then you might just enjoy this one. Casu Marza is a decomposed soft sheep milk cheese that is home to the cheese fly larvae. When you order the dish, you’ll be able to see the insects moving, but be careful not to disturb them too much when you nudge the plate as they can launch themselves 15 centimetres in the air if aggravated (before being eaten of course).
7) Escamoles (ant larvae), Mexico
Escamoles are the eggs of the very aggressive giant black Liometopum ants. They’re found in the root system of agave plants and farmers often get bitten retrieving them. To prepare hem, they are first fried up with butter and spices, then wrapped in a tortilla. The consistency is like cottage cheese, the taste is buttery and nutty and they’re widely referred to as ‘insect caviar’.
8) Pufferfish, Japan
Known as fugu in Japan, the pufferfish is so dangerous that it can kill you. Nearly all pufferfish contain a poison known as tetrodotoxin, which can kill thirty people in one hit and there’s no known antidote. People still eat pufferfish though and put their lives in the hands of specially trained chefs who are taught how to remove the poison. Let’s hope your chef has a steady hand.
9) Guinea pig, Peru
High in protein, low in cholesterol, what’s not to love? Oh, the fact it reminds you of your beloved child pet. If you see ‘cuy’ on the menu, you’re going to get a stuffed, roasted or flattened guinea pig. Don’t think of Fluffy.
10) Seahorses, starfish and scorpions on a stick, China
You need to be very brave to get your jaw around this one. In China, they serve all sorts of things on a stick including sea horses and starfish. Be careful with the scorpions though as you’ll notice they’re so fresh that some of them are still moving.
11) Developing duck foetus (balut), Philippines
This one takes a boiled egg a step too far. Also known as ‘the egg with the legs’, there will be nowhere to dip your soldiers here. The egg contains an 18 day-old fertilised bird that still has its feathers, beak and bones – crunchy!
12) Dried lizard, Hong Kong
They’re crunchy, crispy, but you won’t get much flavour out of them. Dried lizards are a popular street-side snack and are often used in soup too. Sometimes they are even infused in alcohol and are believed to have medicinal properties such as being an energy booster, cold cure and even a weight loss aid.
13) Live octopus, South Korea
Sannakji is a dish that will slither down your throat – literally. In South Korea, the food is so fresh, they serve octopus live on a plate with sesame seeds and sesame oil. Just be careful because the active suction cups can grip on to the roof of your mouth or throat and become a choking hazard. Probably best to stick to the calamari.
14) Giant tuna eyeball, Japan
Like sushi? Well how about an eyeball? Pop to a local Japanese supermarket and you may just find a large tuna eyeball looking back up at you. It’s very fatty and surrounded by severed eye muscles, so definitely not for the squeamish.
15) Mouse wine, China
If you need something to wash all that down, check out these nine world’s weirdest alcoholic drinks. Bon appetit!