. Weird and bizarre foods from around the world : Budget Travel Adventures

Weird and bizarre foods from around the world

Admittedly, I am not a food connoisseur.  I do enjoy trying cultural and ethnic dishes when I travel but food is not the reason I travel.  I have a fascination with culture, people, history, and museums.  Quite honestly, I have an incredibly difficult time spending a lot of money on food, both home and abroad, no matter how good it is.

So why do I have a post on food?  For many people, food is one of the main experiences of traveling.  So while I am no expert, here is a great post from Switched on Media about some bizarre foods from around the world.

Weird and bizarre foods from around the world

Weird and bizarre foods from around the world Philippines balutAre you hungry? Perhaps it’s lunchtime when you’re reading this. Depending on where you are in the world, you might be eating very different things for your midday meal. In China, you could be settling down to a live skinned frog. Or if you’re in Laos, you might be craving some blood bouillon.

Trying new and interesting foods while overseas is one of the most exciting parts of the travel experience. It could be relatively safe cuisine, such as French cheese when in Paris, or a kangaroo burger or vegemite toast in Australia. But it can also be more extreme. If you’re feeling adventurous, one of the best ways to get to know and understand a different culture is through its unique food.

Get your iron stomach prepared, and make sure you’re hungry! Here are a few of the most weird and strange food choices for you to sample on your travels.

1.  Balut – Bird Fetus (Philippines). Balut is essentially a half-hatched chicken egg, meaning that it has been fertilized for 15-16 days. To eat it, just open it up and plop the incomplete chicken fetus into your mouth. You’ll be able to feel the feet, eyeballs, blood vessels and feathers through the skin of the chick. This one’s not for the faint-hearted! It’s a favored Filipino snack.

2.  Beating snake heart (Vietnam). Only the bravest of the brave attempt this dish. First of all, you choose your snake. Then, the handler cuts the snake’s neck for the blood, empties the bile, and then takes out the still-beating heart.  Usually, the snake’s blood and bile is mixed with rice wine and served in shot glasses, as an aperitif before the beating heart is taken in one gulp. Rumor has it that it still-beating heart can be felt as it goes down your windpipe!

3.  Monkey brains (Indonesia) – Most monkey body parts are considered a delicacy in Indonesia. Whether this is their brains, or deep-fried monkey toes, you’ll look at these furry friends with new eyes when in Indonesia!

4.  Bat skewers (Burma). If you’re hungry on the streets of Burma, then you might like to try a bat skewer. The bats are skewered then roasted over a flame. Delicious and nutritious!

Weird and bizarre foods from around the world Scotland haggis5.  Haggis (Scotland). This traditional Scottish dish is a kind of savory sausage that is cooked in the casing of a sheep’s intestine. The heart, liver and lungs of a sheep, mixed up with onion, oatmeal and other spices and stock simmers in the sheep’s stomach for up to three hours. Then it’s ready to go!

6.  Fried Crickets and Tarantulas (Cambodia) – in most Asian countries, fried bugs are a common street side snack. On the pavements of Cambodia, you’ll be able to pick up fried crickets and tarantulas to sate your appetite! (Although you may need something to wash them down with).

Everyone’s definition of ‘weird’ is different. For the Scottish, Haggis is a beloved traditional meal. In Australia, however, the Scottish may find it bizarre to step off flights to Brisbane in Australia and eat kangaroo meat or beetroot on their burgers.

It’s all part of the experience! What are the most bizarre foods you’ve tried in a foreign country?

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  1. I wish I could say that I’m adventurous when it comes to food, but I’m not. There’s not one of those foods in the article that I would try — but I do so admire people who would! I love to eat and I definitely try new dishes when I travel, but they are the “safe” choices.

    It was fun to read this, though. I always enjoy knowing about different cultures and what people eat.

  2. I like to try traditional foods when I travel but there’s definitely a limit. There’s no way I’d eat any of these!

  3. Erin says:

    Great post! You know I’m game for trying for almost anything, but balut is definitely where I draw the line. Just thinking about it makes me want to gag — I know it’s available a few places here in Taiwan, but no way!

    I’ve certainly experienced some new and interesting foods moving to Asia — some of the more bizarre include pig’s blood cake, chicken anus (on a skewer), century eggs, stinky tofu, snake blood wine, pufferfish (including blowfish fin sake) and my personal favorite — fish testicles at a sushi restaurant here in Taipei.

    I’m still working myself up to chicken uterus, rooster balls, rooster comb, and duck tongue. I’m looking forward to trying bat in Palau when we go diving later this year. That’s about as adventurous as I get. :-)

  4. We pride ourselves on being able to try anything but some of these, there is just no way. Balut sounds disgusting. I read an Anthony Bourdain book once (was it called ‘Cook’s Tour’?) and he ate ‘the still beating heart of a snake’ as mentioned above. I couldn’t do that one either. Crickets and haggis, okay. Haggis is lovely!
    Most weird thing we’ve eaten in Turkey? Lamb’s intestine sandwich. Positively tame compared to that list. :)
    Julia

  5. Lauren says:

    I really want to try some of these crazy foods! That’s easy to say though when I’m sat at home… I’m sure when I’m face to face with them, it won’t be so easy! :D

  6. robin says:

    Agreed – haggis is absolutely delicious. Nothing wrong with it at all! As for the rest here, I consider myself adventurous and a food lover but my mouth isn’t exactly watering…

  7. Christopher says:

    I’ve tried haggis once. Once. :)

  8. Jillian says:

    Beating snake heart? I’m adventurous, but even that is too much! Interesting list of things perhaps to avoid. :)

  9. Ted Nelson says:

    I am so angry at myself that I did not try Balut when I was in the Philippines. The only time I came across it was when I was really hammered at 3am coming home from a bar. I wisely decided that it was not the time to try it; however, I wish that I would have actively sought it out afterwords because I wish I would have said that I tried it.

  10. While I enjoy traditional local food while traveling I will not eat just anything. In fact, not one of those items on your list would make it passed my lips!

    Some of the guys I work with brought in Balut. Nope didn’t try it and it is disgusting to look at that little chick :( Yes I guess I’m a food wimp.

  11. Yikes! Jeremy, have you tried any of these delicacies?

  12. jade says:

    I will happily pass my plate on numbers 1-3! Haggis… eh, not so bad. I just don’t think I could ever get over eating a fetus. it gives me the willies!

  13. Yes, great post! I’m a huge fan of food and especially bizarre and unique specialties! I was disappointed when I couldn’t find any bat skewers when I was briefly in Burma, next time I go back I need to search harder!

    Balut dipped in a bit of chili vinegar is quite delicious!

  14. I am not adventurous with food. I suspect you love the show on travel channel with a similar name. I would shut it off and even the commercial would get to me.

    Thanks for coming by my website and commenting

    eileen

  15. Laurel says:

    I try to be understanding of local foods, but eating monkeys is just plain cruel, especially when it’s not done for survival. I also wonder about the impact that eating some of these animals is having on local animal populations. I.e. eating shark fin soup has now left 30% of shark populations endangered.

  16. Haha good list! Since being out in South America we have tried llama which was quite nice and soon we are going to try Guinea Pig! You do see some strange foods while traveling…

  17. Jellyfish in Singapore. And while I can’t prove it, I think it made me hallucinate.

  18. I would not eat anything on this list! I’m so not adventurous when it comes to trying weird foods.

  19. Jeremy B says:

    @Cathy and @Michael – I like different foods from other cultures. I don’t mind trying new things. However, don’t think I would eat any of these things either…possibly haggis.

    @Erin – I know you are a food connoisseur but not sure how you eat all those things. You definitely have lots of opportunities where you live though!

    @Julia – I may try the lamb’s intestines and haggis!

    @Lauren – with your upcoming travels, you should have plenty of opportunities to taste some unique foods! By the way, Slovenia and Hungary are two of my favorite countries!

    @Robin and @Christopher – seems you two don’t agree on haggis! :)

    @Jillian – me neither on the snake heart although I have eaten snake!

    @Ted – being drunk at 3 am may have been the best time to try balut!

    @Debbie – not a huge food fan but you’re not alone avoiding these foods!

    @Leslie – no, I haven’t and most of them I won’t! :)

    @Jade – I will put haggis on my list. I will try it.

    @Mark – with all your adventures in Africa, I am sure you have tried many unique foods!

    @Laurel – I am all for eating animals but some are much harder to eat than others!

    @Jozef – lama sounds intriguing! Let me know how it tastes!

    @Ben – been stung a couple of times by jellyfish. Don’t like and they surely don’t like appetizing!

    @Christy – I like cultural foods but there are some weird foods I just have to pass on.

  20. Grace says:

    #2 3 and 6 I will never dare eat. Have you tried the balut yourself?

  21. One of my favourite parts about travel (unlike you), is trying the different foods that different cultures enjoy…. I don’t have the strongest stomach however, so I’d be unable to try the really weird ones (eww, tarantulas?!)..

    I did eat Alpaca and guinea pig meat in Peru, and I’ve eaten corn mold (which is actually delicious), fried crickets, and all sorts of innards (liver, brains, intestines) in Mexico, most of which I didn’t particularly enjoy!

    Great post

  22. Matt Hope says:

    I don’t think there is any chance that I could handle the bird fetus…

  23. Jill says:

    as a vegetarian the most adventurous thing I’ve ever eaten is fermented soybean. It actually is much worse than it sounds.

  24. David says:

    Haggis almost feels out of place among the other ones. Then again, maybe it’s because I’m European (worse, I’m French land of snails, frog legs, blood sausages, lamb brains and much more). I’d be SE Asian, it’d be another story. :-)

  25. I mean I know everyone has their favs but I can really see ever trying a beating hurt or fetus. The bat, crickets, and spider i could do just to say I tried them.

  26. Abdul Rehman says:

    Oh my god. Number 1 is just too gross. I wonder how people can ever eat a half developed chick without throwing up. An interesting read though, I’m glad I stumbled upon this. :D

  27. Idelish says:

    I’ve had 1 out of 6… (haggis). I don’t think I’d be upping that number anytime soon!

  28. Interesting to see Haggis among the list. It probably is the least offensive compared to the rest. I don’t think I’d be that adventurous with odd food!

  29. Jeremy says:

    I ate Balut in Vietnam. Tastes like chicken. No lie! Do it!

  30. eva hamori says:

    I would totally try Haggis! And maybe some of the other foods too. I love to eat, and don’t really care what I am eating as long as it tastes good. The idea of eating tarantula doesn’t gross my out, maybe if it was alive, but served up with a nice side of potatoes and gravy, ah everything goes down!

    • I think I would try haggis as well. However you are a little more adventurous than I am. As you living in France now, I do admit that escargot tastes pretty good. Maybe if I drank a little more, I might be willing to try more stuff. I do agree with you that if it tastes good I don’t care what it is. In those situations, ignorance is bliss!

  31. brandy bell says:

    I’ve never sustained the chills for the ENTIRE duration of a blog post, Jeremy- congratulations… these delicacies freak me out!! I’ll stick to coffee ;) thanks for bringing us these comparisons, so we can all be thankful for what’s on our dinner plate tonight :)

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