Tag Archives: foreign foods

Would you eat this?

Travel is exciting – exploring new destinations, new cultures and…. new and sometimes, strange cuisine. Many people are understandably cautious about trying foods that they don’t know or recognise and also there is always the fear of getting sick while on holiday. Nobody wants that.

However a recent article in hostelworld.com got me thinking about strange food around the world. I think that particularly backpackers are brave when it comes to trying out new and weird things. Usually they are young and don’t have much money so eating local makes sense. Also bear in mind that what makes a delicious meal in some cultures might not be so appealing to others. So let’s take a look at some of the strange foods they looked at –

One of the dishes they feature in this article are chicken’s feet. It made me chuckle because this was something often sold in the local markets in the rural areas around Swaziland and was regarded as a cheap and fairly nutrious meal. It would be served with another part of the chicken that people typically do not eat – the head. Sold together they were locally known as “walky talkies”. You would find these on sale at many of the townships sold with “pap” (cornmeal porridge) and a tasty sauce.

Did I? Nope ….

Tuna eyeballs! I am not kidding. This is a delicacy in Japan. On my recent trip there one of our group said this would be the only holiday where she returned home having lost weight. But they never did serve us tuna eyeballs (thank goodness) …. so….

Did I? Nope ….

Snails! The typical dish that makes you think of France. Served in the shell – just in case you forget that it was once a snail. Look, having grown up in Cornwall where the fields are enclosed with stone walls I saw plenty of snails in my life. Big fat snails leaving long slimy trails behind them. Our Cornish snails were so good that we had people coming over from France to come and pick them and take them back there. I guess they were sold off as the genuine French Mademoisell le Snail!

Parlez-vous francais?

Did I – nope!

Guinea pig? Very popular in South America. You can even get guinea pig pizza. The website roysfarm.com extolls the virtues of guinea pig farming saying that it has a lower impact on the environment …. “Guinea pig farming business is a more profitable source of food and income than many traditional stock animals such as pigs and cattle, because these animals require much less room than traditional livestock and they reproduce extremely quickly. The guinea pigs can be raised in both urban and rural families for supplementary income. Meat of these animals is high in protein and low in cholesterol and fat. The meat is described as being similar to rabbit and the dark meat of chicken.”

I don’t know ….I keep thinking of those little guinea pigs that they used to keep in school running around in their little exercise wheels ….

Did I … nope!

Marmite? Very popular in England and Australia – it is a yeast based product, quite salty with a “love it or hate it” following.

Did I …. You bet! LOVE it….

Foreign foods and how to cope

I think I have mentioned before in this blog that I am not very adventurous when it comes to food. I am not really sure why …. I was raised in England so got very used to things like steak and kidney pie – and I know a lot of people just turn green at the thought of eating kidneys. Not to mention black pudding ….. (gosh I love that but I can’t believe it is basically a blood sausage – yuk – wish I didn’t know that).

So next week I am off to Japan. Yes – I know – I have a crappy job but someone has to do it 🙂

I have been looking through the food choices in Japan. Now some people just love Japanese food….. the jury is still out for me. I looked up the top ten foods to each in Japan – these are the top two favourites

Sushi

Sushi is, without doubt, one of the most famous foods to come from Japan. A dish that was born in ancient times, sushi originated from the process of preserving fish in fermented rice. Today it’s made with vinegared rice and fresh fish, presented in a number of ways and shapes.A variety of sushi© George Alexander Ishida Newman / Flickr

A variety of sushi

Sashimi

Centuries before Japanese people were eating sushi, they first enjoyed raw fish without the rice. While the name “sashimi” refers to any thinly sliced raw food, including raw beef (gyuu-sashi), chicken (tori-zashi), and even horse (basashi), fish and seafood are the most popular varieties.Assorted sashimi© electricnude / Flickr

Assorted sashimi

Sorry – but I can’t do either of those …..

but maybe I could……… I quite like smoked salmon with cream cheese…..

Tempuru looks quite nice – maybe a bit fattening but definitely yummy so I can add that to my list. Then I saw that grilled chicken on a skewer is popular. That’s great …. until I read ….

Yakitori is a dish of bite-sized cuts of chicken grilled on a skewer. It makes use of every part of the chicken — including heart, liver, and even chicken comb — to avoid wastefulness, an important element of Japanese food culture.

Mmmm. what even is a chicken comb –

Oh…. I see. Shame! Not sure why I feel bad for the chicken. I do love chicken wings and chicken livers. Damn it. I think I am going to have to go vegetarian.

Now the problem for vegetarians in Japan is that many of the dishes are made with a fish stock base – so best to ask for miso which is a base made from soybeans. I have read this is no problem in larger cities and the veggies there are amazing. But I can’t really go veggie while in Japan because I might get the chance to taste some Kobe beef which is said to be amazing. (OK OK it’s not Alberta Beef I know….)

Kobe beef is renowned for its superior flavor, tenderness and high amount of intramuscular fat, giving the meat a marbled appearance. It is often cited as being healthier than commercial beef because of its high concentration of monounsaturated fats and omega-3s.

So all in all it is going to be an interesting trip. Sushi, sashimi, miso and a new era for the new emperor – The Reiwa Era. I think people will still be celebrating when we get there so I will have to learn how to say Happy New Era in Japanese – and I promise to try the sashimi and just pretend I am in Scotland having smoked salmon – och aye the noo!

It’s what you eat

Are you an adventurous eater?  Do you try new foods all the time?  When I watch intrepid travellers like the amazing Anthony Bourdain tucking into strange foods I am constantly amazed by their bravery.  I have to admit I am a wuss when it comes to strange food.  I could never really get through that regular episode on the Amazing Race when they would have to eat weird stuff.

I am told that I am missing out and that I should be more adventurous.  What about you?  Here are some strange foods that you may come across on your travels – how do they rate?

PERU – could you eat a guinea pig?  Yes – those sweet little creatures that your kids keep in a little cage in their bedrooms.  In Peru they are a delicacy and you can even get them on a pizza.  Not sure what the Italians would think of that!

guinea pig

BRITAIN – could you eat a sausage made of blood?  Well hang on a minute now – this is one weird delicacy that I absolutely love – Black Pudding.  Maybe it is because I grew up in England and having no preconceived ideas about Black Pudding I ate it with relish.  I probably didn’t realise what it was at the time.  I was only little at the time.

CAMBODIA – scared of spiders?  How about a bowl of crispy tarantulas.  Gobble those down and it should put paid to your fears forever (or kill you!).  I have been to Cambodia – I have NOT tried this dish which apparently tastes like crab.  It came into use during the Khmer Rouge regime and you know, I get it. If I was starving I wouldn’t be too fussy.  Today it is a popular snack.

UKRAINE – just a piece of fat – that’s Salo.  Slabs of fat, smoked and stored for a year in the cool before being sliced off and eaten on rye bread.  Now before you turn your nose up – I can relate.  In England having lard from the roasting pan smeared onto a piece of bread was a treat second to none.

SCOTLAND – yes the noble haggis.  The ingredients are enough to turn your stomach (liver heart and lungs with oatmeal all trussed up in a sheep’s stomach)  but oh my goodness – the taste is to die for!  Yum.

haggisaddresstoned

FRANCE – yes snails.  I know, I know.  I don’t get it but many do.  In fact funny story.  Growing up in Cornwall England we noticed people combing the old stone walls of the fields for snails.  Our English snails were so plump and well nourished that they fetched a pretty penny in the fancy restaurants in France.

SOUTH AFRICA – crocodile pies.  Fresh from a bakery in Hout Bay, Cape Town.  Crispy pastry on the outside – a sinister greenish look on the inside – but very tasty nevertheless.  Rather like a fishy kind of chicken if that makes sense.

TAIWAN – grilled chicken buttholes.  Yes you read that correctly.  During my research I came across this entry ….

“I’ve eaten quite a few strange foods on my travels- all manner of bugs in SE Asia, a horse burger in Slovenia. In Iceland, I tried whale, puffin and reindeer in the same meal. On a walking food tour in Morocco I peeled back the face of a sheep to get to roasted meat underneath. But nothing to me was stranger than the time I ate grilled chicken buttholes on a stick in Taipei, Taiwan.”  Nathan from Foodie Flashpacker

CHINA – insect food and more things just defying description

insect-food-2-960x720

What has been your bravest culinary moment?  Do tell….