Traveling to new destinations and experiencing the culture is truly exciting! But it can also be overwhelming at the same time, especially when it comes to exploring strange and unrecognizable food dishes, which can also add to the fun and excitement of the traveling experience.
“Bizarre” is a relative word depending on the region you’re visiting. What may seem out of the ordinary for you may be quite common for another traveler. However, cheese maggots, turtle soup, jellied moose nose, and tuna eyeballs may test even the most seasoned culinary palate. On the range of what you consider to be the most bizarre kinds of foods, how would the below bizarre foods around the world fare to you?
Tripe – Mexico
If someone offered you “stomach lining” outright, you might balk at accepting as your lunchtime meal, but tripe is actually quite common in Mexican dishes. When combined with spices and hominy in a savory broth it becomes an unofficial hangover cure for many as menudo. The lining is cut up into bite-size pieces and adventurous eaters can expect a chewy texture.
Khash – Middle East
Though not altogether appetizing when presented as a mushy, greenish-tinged soup, khash is a popular comfort food in Middle Eastern nations. Its main ingredients are stewed cow’s feet and head, which is boiled together until the meat is tender and the water becomes part of a flavorful broth. It’s traditionally served with lavash bread crumpled into the soup.
Spam – United States
Considered a staple in Hawaii, spam has made the rounds of many households, especially in earlier decades. For some, the love of spam runs deep and is based upon an upbringing of being served the chopped meat mixture fried to eat on its own or chopped up to add to gravy, rice, or as part of a sandwich. The ingredients may not be completely well-known but the name certainly is.
Starfish – China
Take a walk down any Chinese street market and you’ll see a common theme: snackable food on a stick. Believe it or not, starfish are one of the most popular crunchy critters up for grabs (in addition to seahorses and an assortment of bugs). But don’t chomp down one of its legs to get to the inside, you’ll need to break the outer shell (similar to a crab leg) to reach the inside.
Shirako or Uni – Japan
Japanese food is highlighted by sushi and sashimi, mostly as many uses for fish as possible. So why wouldn’t the reproductive organs be off limits for consuming? Shirako is a cod’s sperm sac that looks a little like grubs and has a soft, creamy texture to accompany its appearance. It’s prepared deep fried or steamed, while uni or a sea urchin’s gonads is eaten raw. The golden tongue-looking food is considered as “sea butter” by some, but a pass for others who can’t get past the briny flavor or consistency.
Durian – Southeast Asia
More of a novelty than an actual delicacy, as very few people have admitted to enjoying the taste or smell of durian. It’s even been banned from certain areas like mass transit and in hotels. The spiky fruit is extremely powerful, so cutting one open will carry a stench that won’t be able to be easily hidden. Its taste has been compared to moldy cheese, old meat, and odorous vegetables. For a food that’s considered to be a fruit, there’s nothing sweet about this bizarre treat.
Tarantulas – Cambodia
Fans of the arachnids have said the legs aren’t too dissimilar from the taste of crab. For the phobic, there’s most likely not a chance the snack will make its way across your plate. But broken down into crispy, fried legs, the Cambodian snack doesn’t seem as out of the ordinary as it would if the entire spider was deep fried and served up whole.
The tastes of different areas around the globe help define the region and adds to the cultural experience for any traveler. It makes a difference for what’s available in a respective region and what can be produced and prepared to serve as nourishment for its locals. If you’ve grown up eating a certain way, it’d only seem abnormal or strange for someone new to the experience.
If you have an adventurous spirit and palate, consider going outside your comfort zone and trying something out of the ordinary on every new adventure you take. Word to the wise, you may want to clarify what you’re eating before you bite into a strange texture or taste. Then again, in some cases, it might best not to know in advance and just go for it! Dare to indulge during your travels, and experience some of the most bizarre foods around the world.