It may not be until you start traveling that you realize just how regional food and tastes really are around the world. One of my favorite activities when I arrive in a new location is to go grocery shopping so that I can get a feel for what the local culture enjoys to eat, and also so that I can wrap my head around the fact that I won’t be able to get everything I crave while spending time there. Let’s face it; food in some parts of the world is different, and sometimes it is a bit strange compared to what we’re accustomed to. Here are some of the most unusual snack food from around the world.
Guinea pigs, like the furry friends many American kids keep as pets, are considered a specialty in certain parts of Peru. It is here that you can get a guinea pig served up fried on a stick or as part of a pachamanca – a Peruvian dish baked with hot stones.
Fish and chips gelato
Meat flavored ice cream and gelato has been popping up all over the place as of late, with maple and bacon becoming all the rage. However, the Aussies have taken it one step further by producing the first (and last?) fish and chips gelato.
I, for one, do not smell what appears to be rotten onions or gym socks and think, “Mmm, where can I get a taste?” Others, however, get a whiff and start to drool because they know that is their beloved durian. Durian is a popular tropical fruit found naturally in Indonesia and Malaysia, but the odor of this fruit is so strong and pungent that it has been banned from many hotels and public areas. I hear this fruit tastes much more mild than it smells, but I just can’t get myself to try it.
Fried, roasted and toasted bugs
Southeast Asia is known for its strange snack foods, one such being the inclusion of bugs into the equation. You can walk around the markets of Thailand and order a quick snack of silkworms, grasshoppers or water bugs… if you so desire.
Salo is a Ukrainian and Eastern European snack that sounds a bit more disgusting than it tastes. Basically, this is a slab of cured fatback that is sliced and served, typically on a piece of bread, as an accompaniment to vodka or borscht.
Scorpion suckers would be considered a novelty, but they do exist. You can catch a taste of an authentic scorpion sucker – with a real scorpion inside — in parts of the Southwest of the USA and Mexico.
The Korean specialty of Sannakji is a raw dish with attitude. To prepare the dish, the chef takes a live baby octopus and chops it into several pieces, seasons it with sesame seeds and oil and serves it immediately. In fact, it is served up so quickly that the parts may still be wriggling around on the plate. If you do order this dish, be aware that the suction cups on the tentacles may still be active and can stick in the mouth and throat if not chewed up sufficiently.
It is hard to imagine that ant larvae would be considered a delicacy, but in Mexico it is just that. Escamoles, or ant larvae, is said to have a buttery and nutty taste. People in Mexico eat escamoles in a taco with guacamole.
Deep-fried tarantula is a Cambodian snack food that has been frightening and intriguing travelers for years. The spiders are deep-fried until the legs are stiff and seasoned with anything from MSG to garlic. Perhaps not ideal for those with arachnophobia…
Balut is a popular in the Philippines and is a duck egg that is fertilized and left to grow for several days before it is boiled and served in the shell. Once the shell is opened, it is easy to see the appearance of the growing baby chick which is eaten in its entirety.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
Despite the name, these oysters are not of the seafood kind. To make Rocky Mountain Oysters, one must take the testicles of bulls, peel them, coat them in flour and seasonings, deep-fry them and serve them up as an appetizer with dipping sauce. You can get this delicious sounding dish in certain parts of the USA, Canada and even Spain.
Lutefisk has Nordic origins and remains a popular dish in that region, as well as in certain parts of North America. The name translates into “lye fish” because it is simply a white fish that has been aged in – believe it or not – lye. It is said to have a strong smell and takes on a gelatinous texture.
Pickled pigs feet
Pickled pigs feet are considered a snack food delicacy in the southern parts of the United States, Ireland and Korea. These fatty pork bits are often smoked and then canned in a vinegar brine.
What’s the weirdest snack food you’ve tried on your travels? Comment below or read more about unusual food around the world:
- 11 Delicious Street Foods From Around the World
- 10 Weird Food Delicacies
- 6 Places to Find Great and Exotic Street Food
- A Dish for All Seasons: What to Eat and When to Eat it Around the World