By Kelly Grigg
Alright, folks—I have a curious culinary confession to make. In 2016, deep in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest, while visiting a remote village… I ate grubworm. It had been cooked over a fire, tucked inside a banana leaf. Our group of six brave adventurers passed the worm around, each of us reluctantly taking a nibble off of the slimy creature before passing it on.
Another confession! I’ll admit, it actually didn’t taste that bad. In fact, one of our group members, a Chef from Australia, compared the flavour to soft-shell crab. The texture, however, threw me off—taut, crunchy skin on the outside (akin to taking a bite of bratwurst) with an oozing, gooey middle. I couldn’t forget that I was eating a WORM, no matter how hard I tried.
But… it’s really unfair to call any food weird, as it depends on where we’re from and what is commonly consumed there. However, there are quite a few dishes around the world that I’d wager many of us might view as strange. Here’s a collection of the five most unusual “delicacies” I’ve ever heard of. So, to those of you with weak stomachs—take heed!
Insects, Bugs And General Creepy-Crawlies
I simply cannot choose just one odd insect that is considered food, so I’m gonna enlighten you on a few of them now.
Israel is apparently crazy about locusts—deep-fried, chocolate-covered, etc.—(and I thought they just made cool sounds that lulled me to sleep)! A bonus is that they’re also Kosher!
Cambodia adores fried tarantulas so much that they’ve coined a town Spiderville due to the inhabitants loving their crab-like flavour so much. Not for this furry-arachnid-fearing girl!
Grasshoppers are probably a more widely-known insect for consumption, with the chocolate-covered variety as perhaps the most famous interpretation. In Thailand, they’re called “Jing Leed” and are seasoned with salt, chilli and pepper, then wok-fried.
Thailand can do little wrong regarding food, so I might deign to give these a try. After several Singha beers, that is!
However… there are a few things in Thailand I would NOT try. Like Scorpion!
I recall scorpion peddlers walking around the bar districts at night, selling the heinous things on wooden sticks to drunken tourists. Although these creatures are poisonous, the cooking methods have rendered scorpions safe to eat. Umm, still—no thanks!
Jellied Moose Nose
Yes, you read that correctly. I actually wrote MOOSE NOSE. Which has been JELLIED. Not your grandma’s style of gelatin dessert, no siree! It’s a Canadian oddity harkening back to the 1800s when moose were widely hunted, and literally, every part of the animal was used. This “treat” isn’t easy to create, either, as each hair from the nostrils of the moose nose has to be plucked (and heck, they’re probably used for toothpicks!).
The nose is then boiled a few times and immersed in a broth, turning it into a dense jelly. Finally, the nose jelly is sliced and served up. Something is starting to smell delicious! NOPE.
I’ll go on record saying that I HATE wasps. (Hoping that it doesn’t come back to sting me!) The wound hurts and makes me itch and swell for days. But that doesn’t mean I want to eat them!
In Japan, however, you can find what’s similar to a chocolate-chip cookie where the chocolate is replaced with digger wasps. I’m already feeling a buzzing sensation on my tongue, so it’s a hard pass from me.
Okay, I’ve heard of these before but opted to forget I had. These are, quite simply, fowl eggs (or foul eggs, IMHO) that have been preserved for a loooong time. The egg whites turn black and gelatinous, and the yolks turn green and squishy.
Originating in China, called “Pidan”, they were first left to sit for centuries, but they can be ready to go after just three months. Yay! (Sarcasm applied.)
This one fascinates me for many reasons. Hailing from Mexico, the name sounds super cute in Spanish, but it’s referred to in the USA as “corn smut”. Tee-hee!
Here’s what it is—corn overtaken by fungus. The result of the plant’s disease is that the previously yellow knobs turn blue-black and take on a mushroomy flavour, which also gives them the nickname “Mexican truffles”.
As I’m a fun girl who adores fungi, I’m IN on this one. Bring it, Mexico —with a side of 7 margaritas!
There is no shortage of weird foods around the world. We didn’t even cover pungent fermented fish, cow and sheep heads, intestines, chicken feet, ant larvae, fish eyeballs, or fertilised duck eggs, to name a few!
But if you’re a true foodie, sampling these peculiarities while travelling is a significant part of the adventure. So to those of you with stomachs of steel, happy (en)trails!