12 Weird Foods You Have to Try Once
One of the perks of travelling to new places is that you get to try new and interesting dishes. From the sushi in Japan to Italy’s authentic pizza, there is no limit to what you can come across when you’re in a new city.
However, things can get really weird sometimes. The following foods seem so weird and bizarre that some people actually consider them to be extreme dining. However, they are also interesting enough to make you curious to try these foods at least once.
So if you like to explore new places and new tastes, here are some of the weirdest foods from around the world that you should definitely try if you get the chance.
1. Fried Tarantulas, Cambodia
If you suffer from arachnophobia, you probably won’t look forward to these eensy-weensy spiders. These aren’t the tiny house spiders that you come across in the attic; these are big tarantulas you would come across while touring the streets of Skuon, Cambodia.
First discovered to be edible by the starving Cambodians during the bloody days of Khmer rule, fried tarantulas have now become a common delicacy for locals and tourists alike. The tarantulas are fried whole – legs, fangs, and all. They have a crispy exterior and a gooey body inside, with a flavor that resembles chickens or crickets.
So if you are in the mood of trying something exciting and can keep your arachnophobia aside, these fried tarantulas are something you should give a shot to.
2. Live Octopus, Korea
Yes, you read that right. In some restaurants in Korea, you may actually be able to have a live octopus for dinner. Sannakj, a raw dish consisting of live octopus is actually quite common in Korea. A live octopus is cut into pieces before being lightly seasoned with sesame oil and served immediately.
If you get squirmish easily, you may want to be wary of this dish, as the tentacle would still likely be moving when they are served on your table. To add to that, eating these live tentacles could pose a bigger challenge.
Not only is there the mental challenge of having to wrap your head around eating something that’s still alive, but you’ll have to physically fight your food to stay in place, as the tentacle will stick to any surface they touch; including your teeth, tongue, and the roof of your mouth. So be careful if you decide to give this extremely weird food a try.
3. Birds Nest Soup, China
Birds nest likely wouldn’t be something that pops up in your head while thinking about edible food – especially considering how birds can grab literally anything to build their little homes. Yet, the famous Chinese soup known as Caviar of the East is made up of Swift’s nest.
But don’t get mistaken; this isn’t a soup made of twigs, leaves, and pieces of wires. Swiftlets predominantly use saliva to build their nests. The saliva of this bird contains something that gives it a unique gelatinous, rubbery texture – making it one of the most expensive animal products consumed by human beings.
In fact, there has been so much increase in the demand for these birds’ nest soup that manmade nesting sites have started popping up. However, the original taste of the soup Caviar of the East soup found in China is unmatchable. So if you’re visiting the country any time soon, make sure to put this dish on your bucket list.
4. Surstromming, Sweden
Although you likely won’t find it next to the meatballs at Ikea, this fermented Baltic herring can be found on supermarket shelves all over Sweden. Caught in the spring just before it is about to spawn, the herring is then fermented in barrels for one or two months before it is tinned.
The fermentation continues for several months the canning. Due to the continued process of fermentation, the cans often bulge during storage and shipping. In fact, certain airlines even consider the pressurized cans to be potentially dangerous, like explosives or fireworks, causing them to be banned in these airlines.
The Surströmming is usually paired with a type of flat crispy bread and some boiled potatoes. While people sometimes drink milk or water with this unique seafood, the best way to wash it down is to have it with some beer.
5. Puffin Heart, Iceland
With its clumsy behavior and colorful beak, the puffing has always been considered an adorable bird. However, Iceland, being home to one of the largest colonies of puffins in the world, has used these seabirds as a source of sustenance for a very long time. In fact, a popular Swedish sport known as sky fishing involves catching these low flying birds in a big net.
The traditional method involved hunting these birds down, breaking their necks, skinning them, and consuming their fresh raw heart while it was still warm as an Icelandic delicacy. However, you don’t have to do that if it sounds too harsh.
The heart of this bird, which is like the fishier version of chicken or duck, can be smoked, pan-fried, or grilled to have as a Swedish delicacy. You may also have caught TV chef Gordon Ramsey having this interesting dish on TV a while ago.
6. Cobra Soup, Hong Kong
Who would look at a deadly cobra and thought, ‘Aah, that would make a delicious addition to my soup!’ Well, someone in ancient Hong Kong, likely. You may not think that the cobra is the most appetizing this ever, but the people of Hong King have a different opinion about these reptiles.
After having their fangs removed, the deadly cobras are dismembered and shredded to be boiled before being added to this soup. You won’t actually see any wholes snakes in the soup – so your ophidiophobia likely won’t be triggered.
However, they do add a unique flavor to the soup that can hardly be replicated. So if you’re in Hong Kong and are in the mood of trying something exciting, heading over to a restaurant for this famous cobra soup may be a good idea.
7. Jellied Moose Nose, Canada
Nowadays, we have the liberty to decide what we want to eat and what needs to be discarded. However, there was a time in human history where food sources were scarce, and people had to grip tightly on every morsel of food they could get their hands on. It’s fascinating to think how many of our modern delicacies were born out of this necessity – include the jellied moose nose.
Back in the day, some adventurous eaters from Canada, as well as Northern Alaska, began preserving the long snouts of the moose. After being boiled with onions and spices for a while, the snouts are removed from the stove and cooled down. Then, the hair is removed before the snout can be boiled again.
Finally, they are slice before being covered with a broth that is intended to set into a jelly. In addition to being a weird taste, the jellied moose nose is also an interesting texture to experience. However, you can’t really judge it before trying it first.
8. Stargazey Pie, England
That doesn’t sound that weird, does it? Well, wait till you actually see this dish which can rightfully be deemed the weirdest pie to come into existence. What makes this fish pie unusual is the multiple heads of fishes stick out through the crust, as if they were stargazing.
Only in this case, they’re actually staring at you. So if being stared at by dead fish isn’t your idea of a fun evening, you may want to skip on this one. But if you decide to try the stargazey pie, you will find that it is actually a pretty delicious meal.
Dating back to the 16th century, it is believed that a fisherman named Tom Bawcocks created this pie when he went fishing during a storm and needed to feed the hungry people with limited resources.
9. Snails, Morocco & France
While these aren’t as weird as most other dishes on this list, their consumption is rare enough for it to be considered a delicacy in most places around the world. They are especially popular in Morocco and France.
In Morocco, they are considered to be a beloved street food that is cooked in a spiced broth. In contrast, in France, they are carefully removed from the shells, cooked in chicken stock or garlic butter, and placed back into the shell before being served with butter and sauce.
No matter which snail dish you are able to get your hands on, both are equally delicious and a treat for your taste buds.
10. Puffer Fish, Japan
Another interesting dish to originate from Japan is the Puffer fish. However, you have to be very careful with this delicacy if you don’t want to end in the morgue. Despite having skin that contains the poisonous toxin tetrodotoxin, which is 1,250 times stronger than cyanide, the deadly Puffer fish is considered the ultimate delicacy in Japan.
This is why you should only try it in Japan. There, the dish is handled by expert chefs in licensed restaurants. Only after the chef has undergone proper training about how to kill the poison, they are allowed to prepare this deadly.
At the same time, even the literal risk of life (there is no known antidote to puffer fish poisoning) does not stop the Japanese from devouring this dish on a daily basis. It has to be one hell of a meal, right?
11. Grilled Beed Honeycombs, Laos
While neither honeycombs nor grilled food sounds weird on their own, putting those two together creates a fusion you may not have considered before. What makes it even weirder is that the honeycombs still have the small, whitish bee larvae housed inside when the dish is served.
Similar to an oddly shaped grilled corb-on-the-cob, these grilled bee honeycombs are a truly unique taste that everyone should try at least once. They are wrapped in waxy green banana leaves and cooked over hot charcoal for a significant period. The end result is a sweet, nutty, and juicy snack that is actually not as weird as it sounds.
12. Excrement Coffee, Indonesia
Who thinks twice when offered a cup of gourmet coffee? Well, if you’re in Indonesia, you may want to be a little skeptical. Or not; totally up to you! Besides, Kopi Luwak is actually the rarest, most expensive gourmet coffee in the world. So who’d want to turn it down, anyway?
Well, you may think about it twice when you learn that it is made from the excrements of an Indonesian cat-like creature known as the Luwak. This animal eats the ripest coffee cherries. However, its stomach is unable to digest the beans inside the cherries, causing them to be excreted whole.
The whole beans are then collected and, after a long process, ground into the finest coffee in the world. However, it comes with a prices tag of $120 – $300 per pound. So you may want to start saving up soon if you want to try this divine coffee.
It is true that trying new foods requires a lot of courage. Most of us are so set in our routine foods, that we likely don’t want to break into new tastes and cuisines very often. Sure, the occasional experiment at a five-star restaurant is fair. But doing it on a regular basis? And admittedly, some of the dishes on this list will make you think twice before actually eating them. Puffer fish is poisonous, for heaven’s sake!
However, there can be something amazing about trying new foods. Every time you try something new, you step out of your comfort zone and grow a little. And trying new foods is one of the easiest ways to do this. So if you get the chance, give the above dishes – or any weird dishes that you come across – at least one shot. You never know what you may end up loving!
And remember the wise words of Remy from Ratatouille, “If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff.”