Dare to eat – Adventurous Foods around the World

My discovery of adventurous foods has been solely through other’s experiences. I always get a hold of the right friend to harass with questions like “Have you eaten that? And that? So do the guts flow into your mouth?” The curiosity never dies.

The last time I felt my stomach churn was when I watched an episode of Kalki Koechlin’s travel show. The actress ate (very reluctantly) a bowl of silkworms, a local delicacy. Without generalising, I think it can be said that the North East is India’s hub of bizarre foods- they’ve got dog meat, silk worms, rotten potatoes, Jadoh (pig intestines and chicken blood), frog legs and more. However, there’s tough competition from other parts of the world as well.

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Here are 6 of the weirdest foods from around the globe. Move over Andrew Zimmerman!
Warning: If pineapple on a pizza bothers you, don’t proceed. This one’s not for the faint-hearted because it comes with pictures! <<Insert evil laughter>>

Cobra Soup

Hong Kong is littered with snake soup shops. While most of them are harmless, one of their delicacies is not- the Cobra Soup. The deadly reptile first has its fangs removed as soon as it’s brought in. The first bit is the bile sack, that is served raw for good health. It’s known to cure diseases and boost energy.

Snake_soupThe rest of the snake is dismembered so quickly that the snake continues to wriggle, often with its heart still beating for a while, even with the head, brain and skin removed. The locals call it Chi, or life force. The meat is quickly shredded, boiled and incorporated into the liquid component of the soup. Eat it before it eats you!

Adventure Foods Rating: 3.5/5

Chaprah- Red Ant Chutney

This surprisingly tasty and crunchy side dish is found in our very own Chhattisgarh! India is known for its sweet, savoury and spicy chutneys, but this one’s clearly got the bite (pun intended)! The main ingredient? Red ants and their eggs, dried and crushed with spices and salt.

indian food adventureThe formic acid in the ants is said to be of medicinal value. The local Dhuruva tribe calls it quite an adventure because eating it will feel like setting your tongue on fire. Suddenly the Bhut Jolokia seems quite tame!

Adventurous Foods Rating: 4/5

Casu Marzu- Maggot Cheese

Found in Sardinia; cheese made with sheep milk and infested with live maggots. The EU banned this but it can still be found on the black market. The cheese is first made and the crust removed, to invite flies to lay eggs. It’s then left for months for the eggs to hatch and turn into larvae. The excreta of the larvae is what gives the cheese its flavour.

20130128-casumarzu-cheeseWhy is it dangerous? The cheese is usually eaten with the maggots alive; dead maggots indicate that the cheese has gone bad. Now, maggots can jump pretty high when threatened, so diners need to watch their eyes!

Not only must you watch out for jumping maggots, you also must chew them properly before ingesting, because if they enter the body alive, they could make holes in the intestine! Oh well, the wine that’s paired with it might make the pain disappear!

Adventurous Foods Rating: 5/5

Almost anything at Guolizhuang

Most of the dishes at this Beijing restaurant are made from animal genitalia. Even though they’re given inviting names, they’re just ox, sheep, goat and even yak penises, cut into various shapes. Because of their uncommon offerings, the restaurant’s waiters must explain each dish’s properties. For e.g., women may eat the penises but not the testicles, as they are believed to disturb the natural hormonal balance and make their voice manly!

For e.g., women may eat the penises but not the testicles, as they are believed to disturb the natural hormonal balance and make their voice manly!

Yak-PenisExpensive dishes include yak penis, called the Dragon in the Flame of Desire, pitched at $220, and the Penis Platter. Want to go premium? If you hold the platinum, gold or silver membership, you can eat the Tiger penis (seriously) for 1500$, although you must place the order months in advance!

Adventurous Foods Rating: 4/5

Runner up to this is the ‘American Mountain Oysters’, deep-fried testicles of sheep, bulls and pigs, eaten in Western America and Canada.
Here’s Buzzfeed’s list of various genitalia that people eat.

Wasp Crackers

Made in Japan, these are just like your regular chocolate chip cookies. Except, instead of chocolates, the biscuits are stuffed with wasps! These wasps are hunted by professionals, dried and incorporated into the cracker mixture. The type of wasp that is stuffed into the cookies is said to taste like a raisin, only slightly acidic.

Adventure in a cracker
Image: Textbook Travel

While it seems like quite a challenge for your tongue, it may just be an acquired taste! Also, if you’re feeling like taking a bite right now, you can order them off of Amazon!

Adventurous Foods Rating: 4/5

Hákarl- rotting shark carcass

This deadly dish, with a name to match, is Iceland’s offering. The Icelandic shark carcass is first buried in an underground pit and hard pressed with stones. This allows its internal fluids, poisonous, to drain out of the body. It’s hung and dried for months, and then shredded into strips and served. It’s said to have an overwhelmingly strong ammonia- like smell.

Adventurous foods

American TV chef, Anthony Bourdain, said that of all the dishes he’s tried, this one was “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing.”

Adventurous Foods Rating: 3.5/5

It’s crucial to try local cuisines while making an attempt to discover the culture of a region. While I am probably not going to let any of these yummmm looking treats anywhere near my mouth, if you’ve tried one of these or something equally or more bizarre, let us know in the comments below! Pictures are welcome!

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