Bizarre Foods from Around the World : Part Two

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Bizarre Foods from Around the World – Part Two

As I started my blog in September 2013 and only became vegan in May 2016, there are several non-vegan posts pre-vegan era.  As an example of how someone can change their path in life drastically, I have made the decision to leave the posts up even though I am ashamed of them.  I hope you will take this example and think on it.  Also, see my animal activism page or travel page on ideas for ethical animal tourism and vegan food around the world.  My inbox is always open should you have questions about changing your lifestyle to better serve animals, our planet, and your own health.

Most people will label something as bizarre or strange when they don’t understand it.  I think the same goes for cultural delicacies.  What we aren’t used to eating, we see as weird, but to the people that eat it, it’s completely normal.

While some of these truly do gross me out, I’m overly fascinated by cultural differences in food.  I reached out to fellow travel bloggers to hear what they had to say was the weirdest thing they’ve ever eaten and I was so excited the response.  Given the positive feedback and extra participants, I decided to do a Part Two.

Goong Ten—Rant & Roam

Ever heard of “goong ten”? Didn’t think so! Goong ten, a popular dish in Northern Thailand,  loosely translates as “dancing shrimp.”That’s because it’s main ingredient is live, jumping, baby shrimp! When I heard about this dish, I knew I had to try it. The little translucent shrimp are tossed with roasted chili, coriander, and other seasoning, topped with lime juice and served up in a lidded container. Why the lid? Because these shrimp jump right out at you! It’s a bit creepy feeling when an antenna or two tickles your nose while chewing, but it’s an entertaining eat to say the least! Goong ten stays true to the salty, spicy, and sour flavors of other Thai salads, but I dare you to get past the idea that it’s ALIVE!

goong ten, thailand, bizarre foods

Pig Feet – My Tan Feet

Pig feet is a special dish in Taiwan and China that is served on someone’s birthday. Pork is a meat that is served and eaten more among others and eating the feet is supposed to give you vitality. Normally the pig feet are boiled and braised in a soy sauce and vinegar suace so that it is nice and tender and is eaten with long noodles to symbolize a long life. Pig feet are cooked and eaten with the hoof and it has a chewy and a soft meaty texture.

3 pigs that had better learn to fly

Fried Baby Birds – Gallop Around the Globe

These are fried baby birds of some description, stacked up on a market stall in central Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  It was not unusual to see these on a regular basis, along with fried tarantulas.  I imagine the meat is a lot more tender than on a fully grown bird, so it’s not that dissimilar to us eating lamb or veal, but what is bizarre is the way these birds are presented – whole with their heads still attached, but hanging limply from their bodies where the neck has been broken.

unnamed

Fruit Soup – Pack Me To

Another strange food item I’ve yet to wrap my head around is fruit soup. Normally served as a starter, I’m told it is a refreshing way to enjoy something cold and tasty during the summer months. Every Hungarian family makes it differently, using different fruits from sour cherries to different berries to tropical fruits like pineapple and mango. This one contains sour cherry, peach, apple and pear made by the mother of one of my Hungarian friends. My Hungarian boyfriend loves it, but I don’t understand why you would ruin perfectly delicious fruit by turning it into a bright pink soup, especially as an appetizer. I’ve tried it many times, but this is a pass for me. 

unnamed (1)

Haggis –NZ Muse

Black pudding, haggis … my husband will eat anything and everything, but I am the complete opposite! While at a small cafe in Edinburgh he ordered haggis for lunch while I tried not to gag at the idea. When it arrived it looked so innocuous on the plate – just like a bit of normal minced meat. I scrunched up my face and sampled a spoonful and to my surprise, it didn’t taste much different than the filling of a meat pie. Who’d have thought?

Haggis

Whale – NZ Muse

Whale and puffin are two of the more unique delicacies you’ll find in Iceland. Price and squeamishness ruled out the latter for me, but when we met up with a local friend in Reykjavik and went out for seafood, we wound up ordering a few different items including a whale skewer. I wasn’t expecting to like it at all, but it was surprisingly tender and succulent – thumbs up on both taste and texture. That said, once was enough for me – I don’t support whaling and I felt quite conflicted about trying whale at all, let alone enjoying it.

Whale Sashimi

Fried Scorpion – The Crowded Planet

I was in China, in a town called Luoyang. The couchsurfer I was staying with, a Thai guy that called himself Lovelush, asked me if I fancied trying scorpion. I am not one to turn down a challenge; during my travels, I have eaten all sorts of things, from guinea pig to bamboo caterpillars.
However, scorpion sounded really weird for some reason, perhaps because I knew it’s mildly poisonous. Lovelush reassured me it was fine; scorpions are fried, and the heat makes the poison inactive. So off we went, to a massive food court/shopping centre in the outskirts of Luoyang. A girl in a yellow bridesmaid dress was singing Chinese pop on a stage, dozen of teenagers were dancing along.
Lovelush disappeared for a few minutes, then handed me a stick with three fried scorpions on it. I looked at them for a minute. They were fried whole, claws and stinger and all. I tried the first one. It was the saltiest thing I’ve ever had, crunchy and vaguely spicy. When I bit into the second one, I was in for a surprise. The stinger went straight to the roof of my mouth, and I felt a strange tingly sensation. I can’t say it was pleasant. I don’t think I’ll have scorpion anytime soon.
bizarre foods, scorpion

Black Pudding – A Brit and A Southerner

As a Brit who loves stereotypical English food, when I hear the concept of bizarre foods it really makes me cringe. You read about all these ‘foreign’ foods that people classify as delicacies and well, they are really not for me. However, one particular food that I am fond of I don’t personally classify as bizarre but I know that many people around the world turn their nose up at – Black Pudding!
Let me tell you a little about the core components of black pudding. It is made of pork blood which is curdled and subsequently boiled, mixed with chunks of pork fat and spices and then stuffed into a sausage casing. Is that enough to gross you out yet? Ok well let me tell you before you start pulling your face that this actually tastes really good. I can’t describe it comparable to anything else, it’s very unique and as a taste of its own. But it’s great served with breakfast or even with malt vinegar as a lunch time snack.
I am actually from Ramsbottom, England which is home to the World Black Pudding Throwing Championships so that’s my claim to fame with regards to Black Pudding. North-West England is famous for having some of the best black puddings around so if you are ever planning on taking a trip to England, pay a visit to Bury Market near Manchester and ask for a black pudding with vinegar – trust me, you won’t be left disappointed!

Egg, Ham and Leek Pie with Black Pudding - pastry - Il Fornaio AUD9.50, AUD5.50

Check out Part One which includes some especially tasty items such as Balut, Tarantulas, Cow Brains and Live Octopus.

Which of these would you eat?  Which of these would you say hell no to?  What else would you add to the list?

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Traveler. Freelance Writer. Blogger. Vegan. Risk Taker. Voice for the Voiceless.

40 Comments

  1. Brittany @ Paws for Beer

    May 3, 2014 at 7:14 PM

    I think I’d pass on some of those! I’ve had a fruit soup before and thought it was quite delightful.

  2. Phoebe @ Lou Messugo

    May 4, 2014 at 2:21 AM

    I’ve eaten some wierd things in my time including dog, silk worms and other larvae and snake. I don’t think I could bring myself to try scorpions though especially after reading that they can sting in the mouth!

  3. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

    May 4, 2014 at 2:37 AM

    I can’t remember whether or not I’ve had pig feet. It really seems like something I should be able to definitely remember, but I’m not sure. Live shrimp would be a definite no. I’m squeamish about killing things, so doing it in my mouth would be too much for me to handle. Haggis now sounds better than I thought. I would order fruit soup immediately.

  4. Molly S

    May 4, 2014 at 2:37 AM

    Being from the north of England, I’ve had black pudding and haggis several times before – they aren’t too bad! The fruit soup looks quite nice, but I don’t think I could bring myself to eat baby bird or pig’s trotters…..I have to admit that weird and wonderful food is something I struggle with when I’m abroad.

  5. Sammi- Wanderlustin'

    May 4, 2014 at 3:09 AM

    I love black pudding, we made it where I used to work once, I covered in blood but it was great fun and easily the best I’ve ever had. Pigs feet (or trotters as they’re called here) are popular (ish) in the UK, too. Don’t think I’d be up for trying scorpion tho’ X

  6. Emma

    May 4, 2014 at 7:09 AM

    I have tried some very odd food stuffs in my time, including insects, ostrich, crocodile and quite a few other things some people would find strange. I love that black pudding and haggis have made it on to this list though, not strange at all to me! 😀

  7. Dennis Kopp

    May 4, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    Ashley, it’s interesting to see that pretty much all these bizarre and gross foods have to do with meat! As a vegetarian I would easily resist trying any of them, safe the fruit soup. While I am not sure why Adelina doesn’t like this colorful looking dish, I would certainly like to try it, even as a starter… 🙂

  8. Brianna Simmons (@Casualtravelist)

    May 4, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    I will try most foods as long as it is a staple of the area I’m visiting. Thousands of people can’t be wrong!

  9. Tamika

    May 4, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    Wow Ashley I have never seen the baby birds thing! I couldn’t do that!

  10. Margherita @The Crowded Planet

    May 4, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    Wow Ashley, what a cool post, I’m so proud to be featured in this. Some of the stuff actually looks quite good, I love haggis and black pudding and wouldn’t mind giving fruit soup a go. I would probably pass on the whale though!

  11. Daidri | Thee Getaway Gal

    May 4, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    Not sure if it’s because I just finished lunch but the thought of eating most of these makes my tummy turn, especially the pig feet. I suppose the fruit soup doesn’t look too bad. These posts always make me think of Fear Factor and having to close my eyes when the contestants had to eat weird food and would gag. HA!

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  13. Anna | slightly astray

    May 4, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    Pig’s feet is not that weird to me since I’m Chinese and my family occasionally eats that (but I’ve never been a fan and at some point years ago refused to eat it anymore!). I love learning about other cultures’ delicacies, but anything buggy is too gross for me to try. And the Hungarian fruit soup actually looks really good!!

  14. Carmen@CarmensTravelTips

    May 5, 2014 at 7:11 AM

    I don’t think I would ever be able to eat any type of bug. Pig’s feet is very common among Cubans in Cuba, since it’s the only meat they can eat. I’ve had it several times.

  15. Corinne

    May 5, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    Ashley, Great list. I’ve tried about half on them. The very first one, goong ten, sounds the best to me. How come I didn’t know about that while I was in Thailand?! It’s so much fun to talk food!

  16. Lauren

    May 5, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    The only one I would consider trying is the fruit soup – because I don’t consume animals! But yeah…I think that some of these are only for the very adventurous eaters!

  17. Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    May 5, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    Wow, I always thought I was a reasonably open-minded eater of global cuisines – until I saw this post!! 😀 Fascinating to see what kinds of different foods are eaten around the world and the cultural differences that exist but I’d be lying if I said there were many on here I’d actually be up for trying!

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  19. Syd

    May 8, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    Ugh on the baby birds. I like black pudding though. And I’ve had amazing watermelon-mint soup. However, the fruit soup in the picture looks pretty gross to me. Kind of like vomit. Sorry. Haha.

  20. frankaboutcroatia

    May 9, 2014 at 1:03 AM

    Another entertaining post, Ashley! I am pretty open to taste traditional dishes wherever I go and no matter how weird they look. However, I would probably pass on those baby birds and scorpions.

  21. Samantha

    May 12, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    Ahh whale! Oh gosh that I don’t know if I could do at all, plus I heard it’s not very good. Fruit soup doesn’t sound gross but the picture looks gross and the more I think about the concept is sounds yucky. I like my fruit in whole pieces thanks haha

    • Ashley Hubbard

      May 13, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      Fruit soup does sound gross – I’d be more likely to the other things on this list than that haha

  22. jennifer

    May 14, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    I thought the fruit soup looked so delicious! The rest of the items, not so much.

    I will be in Luoyang in a few weeks and I will not be trying a scorpion!

    • Ashley Hubbard

      May 14, 2014 at 12:55 PM

      Come on Jennifer! I need someone else to do it before I do haha

  23. Brianna

    May 14, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    Oh, I don’t think I could do the dancing shrimp. I just couldn’t eat something alive.

  24. Christina

    May 15, 2014 at 1:29 AM

    The only food I would try is the Hungarian fruit soup. All the other meals: No, thanks! Vegetarian.

  25. I would eat all of these apart from the black pudding, just not my thing! You can eat pig feet even in Spain (and around Christmas a whole suckling pig)

  26. Jen D.

    May 15, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    Ashley- not sure if I’m impressed or appalled. But great post. 🙂 Just soup for me, thanks.

  27. Rebekah Voss

    May 16, 2014 at 6:33 AM

    I recently ate snails in Vietnam – not the fancy, escargot kind, but the kind people dig for in the forest! It was explained to me that during the war when people had no food, they were forced to eat whatever they could find (frogs, snails, dog, cat, etc). So a generation has grown up on snails, and they’re delicious! They’re tossed in garlic and spices and you suck the meat right out of the shell.

  28. Paul (@luxury__travel)

    May 16, 2014 at 7:23 AM

    I would be up for trying goong ten. It doesn’t worry me that it’s alive – no different from oysters in that respect. Have tried all the others, I think, except for fruit soup and scorpion.

  29. Samantha

    May 16, 2014 at 7:58 AM

    Eww think I’ll pass on most of those however I have eaten the pigs hoof. It’s also an Italian delicacy often eaten at new year. They call it cotechino traditionally eaten with lentils. Not as bad as you think 🙂

  30. Karen Warren

    May 16, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    I’m not convinced I’d try any of the foods in this article apart from the fruit soup. I had rhubarb soup in Norway and liked it enough to try making it at home. The weirdest things I’ve had are whole prawns (with heads and shells) in batter in Thailand and a red bean ice lolly in Hong Kong.

  31. Rashad Pharaon

    May 17, 2014 at 7:49 AM

    I really fancy the idea of the dancing shrimp, but definitely not the pig’s feet! I’m a little curious about the Fruit Soup too…

  32. Emily

    May 17, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    I haven’t tried any of these, and I’m not sure I could bring myself to either! The weirdest thing I’ve tried is probably shark in Malaysia, I’m not a very adventurous eater!

  33. Bianca @itsallbee

    May 17, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    oh my goodness. I am not a fuzzy eater by a long shot but I dont think I can stomach of this list. You are brave folk.

  34. Michele

    May 18, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    Ron is the adventurous one of our partnership and he will try everything that comes his way the worst he says was the boiled duck egg with the developed foetus (feathers included) aaarrrrggghhh
    For me Fermented Mares milk was way out of my comfort zone and definitely not something I would line up for again.

  35. antonette

    May 18, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    Oh not sure if I’d try any of those. Maybe only the pink soup … the weidest thing I ever ate was a fried spider in Cambodia… just a sip of it though..

  36. Nina

    May 18, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    I’m not a picky eater and I think I would try anything from this list, depending on the smell of it! 🙂

  37. Ashley and Alex

    May 19, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    I would like to think of myself as an adventurous eater but I obviously am not. Most of these were totally cringe worthy foods, except the fruit soup, that just seems strange more than anything. Alex however, would probably try all of these. He has had fried scorpion, camel’s lung, and many other things I try not to think about

  38. Laia | colibrist

    January 18, 2015 at 3:40 AM

    Wow, I like trying new food but some things are over my limit. I could not eat insects, spiders or scorpions… or anything that is still alive. The fruit soup looks tasty, though 🙂

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