Whenever I travel, one of the first things I look to do is to see what strange things I can put in my mouth… ok, that didn’t read as I wanted it to… Being a big foodie, exotic or bizarre foods that test my limits are always something I look forward to try. After 5 years of traveling, I have had the opportunity to try some pretty weird stuff. Here is a list of my favorites along with some that ended up being as disgusting as they sounded. Hope this makes you hungry! (ranked from best to worst)
I had seen pictures of these half developed chicken eggs, with their insides that resembled a moldy egg with intestines and other bits around it. Pictures however, did not prepare me for the first time I cracked one of these eggs. After a but of initial gagging from the sight of these half developed eggs, I decided to give it a go. After sipping on that savory juice that tastes like the best chicken noodle soup you’ve ever had, you will be hooked for life. To eat, carefully remove the top part of the egg and drink the juice found inside (the best part). Then you can peel the rest of the egg, salt it and eat it all up! Balut eggs can be found in many Asian countries including The Philippines and China. Be sure to add salt as desired.
This is a popular dish in China and I ended up loving it. I even took a bag home with me as a snack for later. I remember ‘raising’ these pesky bugs in the summer time with my friends when I was a kid. We would even heat up grass and leaves on the car to give them a warm meal. Well, sadly it has come to the day where I ate my little friends and fell in love with how they tasted. Like many bugs, it is hard to taste what the bug itself tastes like due to the wonderful spices they are fried in. Whatever spices these guys were fried in, they were fantastic!
3. Chicken Feet
Although by appearance it may look rather inedible; if cooked right this can be a savory addition to your meal. When cooked in a soup, The ‘meat’ of the foot should just melt in your mouth, requiring you to spit out all of the little bones. Only thing you have to watch out for are the sharp talons at the end of each foot as I am sure it would feel worse than biting down on you tongue. Tastes like Chicken but a more fattier and creamier version, particularly the padded area on the bottom of the foot. Surprisingly delicious. Many countries in Asia serve this dish but China was my favorite spot to dine on it.
4. Lamb / Duck Blood
The idea of eating blood for the first time sure made me squeamish but the novelty of the idea convinced me to try it to. I was rewarded greatly with an excellent way to finish off a meal of Hot Pot. The blood is served congealed and sliced into bite size cubes. To eat it, you first have to cook it in a boiling soup in the middle of the table. After a few minutes the blood cube has gone from a bright red to a dull purple color. Blood has a similar texture to tofu and takes in the spices and flavoring of the soup perfectly.
I looked forward to trying this one for two weeks as I planned my first trip to Beijing. Despite this insect looking extremely bad ass, the poison factor also made it sound more adventurous (even though the poison becomes inert after frying). Having a very hard shell, Scorpion was extremely crunchy but had loads of meat inside the exoskeleton. The meat was very sweet making this the most delicious bug I have tried.
6. Pig Feet
While most certainly not the most appealing looking of foods, pigs feet is actually pretty good. In China, they are traditionally stewed for a couple of hours is soy sauce, ginger, and spices. The result is a fall off the bone meat with a yummy skin. If you can get over the appearance, this is a great dish to try… and have again.
Out of all the foods I have tried Snake has best fit the cliche saying “It tastes like Chicken”. No other food came to mind while trying it in Cambodia. Annoying thing about eating snake… Lots and lots of tiny rib bones.
These are a great snack and loads of people sell and buy them in Cambodia. Not gross in texture due to being a small insect, these are a delicious snack filled with protein. You usually buy a bag of them so be prepared to chomp down on a few of them as you walk around!
9. Giant Centipede
Despite looking rather repulsive, centipede doesn’t taste too bad. Like Scorpion, Centipede has a lot of meat under it’s exoskeleton. However rather than being sweet, the meat tasted quite bitter. Not the most enjoyable strange food I have tried, with all its pointy little legs, but not the worst. These are from the Beijing Street market.
10. Sheep Penis
This tasted like everything else at the Chinese BBQ, completely covered in spices, but the fact that it was a penis and the texture made this drop towards the end of the list. Sheep penis is extremely tough and had the consistency of biting down on a bunch on tendons. Interesting to try but I have no desire to try this one again.
Honorable Mention: Three Penis Wine
A specialty of Shandong Province in China, this alcohol is brewed with three different types of animal penis. Drinking the wine is supposed to aid men in their performance in bed. The drink has a medicine like flavor and is fun to try just for the novelty of drinking three dick wine. Good for some laughs. It makes a great gift for friends back home.
Foods that didn’t make the list…
Worst of the worst:
When trying Tarantula, everything was going well until I bit down into the abdomen. The abdomen was filled with Spider crap, and body fluids which resembled thick yellow goo. Taking one look at this sappy goo and the bitter taste that accompanied it was enough to make me feel a little sick. Glad I tried it but never again! In Cambodia, they farm these bad boys for consumption.
Honorable mentions for worst strange foods:
My friends thought it would be amusing to watch me try it so they ordered it at a BBQ place in China. It tasted fine but they had an unusual soft, mushy texture. It didn’t have the same texture as meat, or fat…. more like tofu… Sorry but BBQ Balls will never sound appealing to me… even though I seem to have them every time I go to visit my buddies in Linyi…
Silk worm Pupae
Mushy, gritty… not very tasty… gross
Tastes like fish but the appearance and texture resemble shit. Was just too fishy tasting for my liking and a little bitter.
*adapted from previous article written by myself in 2014