Adventurous Eating Across the Globe
One of the highlights of travelling is sampling the local flavours. You might come across some foods on your travels that would test the limits of even the most adventurous eaters. From mopane worms in Zimbabwe, to a duck fetus in Philippines, we’ve highlighted some foods from around the world that you might want to add to your exotic food bucket list (or not!). Will you be brave enough to try any of these dishes?
Balut in Philippines
Balut is a popular Filipino street food, and if you’re adventurous enough to try it then you will be eating a duck fetus. Balut are duck eggs that are fertilized for 12 to 20 days. The longer the egg is fertilized, the more developed the duck fetus becomes. You may find yourself crunching on a beak, bones, and feathers if you eat a duck egg fertilized for more than 17 days! The locals enjoy it with a pinch of salt or a mixture of vinegar and chili oil.
Buchada in Brazil
Buchada could be considered the cousin of haggis. Traditionally eaten in Northeastern Brazil where goat meat is a staple, buchada is the stomach lining of a goat stuffed with whatever goat innards are on hand – blood, liver, heart, intestines, lungs, etc. The stomach is seasoned, sewn up and cooked, resulting in a dish with complex flavours and textures.
Fried tarantulasin Cambodia
Head to the small town of Sukon, nicknamed “Spiderville” if a fried tarantula is on your exotic food bucket list. This traditional snack sold by street vendors is a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike. The spiders are either served fried with spices or grilled and dipped in sauce.
Casu martzu in Italy
You might cringe at the thought of casu martzu, or rotten cheese, a traditional sheep milk cheese that is crawling with live maggots. Found throughout Sardinia, the pecorino cheese is fed on by larvae of the cheese fly. As the maggots eat the cheese, the fats are broken down and the cheese is fermented, resulting in a soft textured, strong-tasting cheese. Not for the faint of heart, the cheese is eaten while the maggots are still alive, and is often served with a strong, red wine.
Kopi luwak in Indonesia
One of the world’s most expensive coffees is believe it or not, made from poop. The Asian palm civet is native to South and Southeast Asia, resembling a mongoose or weasel. This nocturnal mammal roams the jungle feeding on coffee cherries. The coffee cherries are fermented as they pass through the animal’s digestive tract. The beans are then excreted by the civet, collected by workers, washed out, dried, and roasted. These gourmet beans come with a hefty price tag for 2 reasons: The civet’s digestive enzymes alter the composition of the cherries to produce a smoother cup of coffee, and it is thought that the animals will only eat the best and ripest cherries.
If coffee made from poop is not enough to turn you off, you still may want to think twice before choosing kopi luwak for your morning caffeine fix. It’s rare to find kopi luwak made from civets in the wild, so most kopi luwak is made from mistreated animals at commercial farms and results in an inferior product. There’s also a good chance that the “premium” kopi luwak coffee you are buying is fake, with more than 80% of retailers passing off regular coffee at the premium price.
Mopane worms in Southern Africa
If you’re travelling in Zimbabwe, Botswana, or South Africa, you may come across mopane worms on the snack menu. The mopane worm is actually a large caterpillar commonly known as the emperor moth. They large worms are plucked from the mopane trees that they cling to after the rainy season. Once it is picked the slimy, green innards are squeezed out of the tail. The worms are then laid out to dry in the hot sun. The mopane worms are considered a delicacy and are sold at the local markets, rated by size and location ofthe harvest. High in protein and nutrients, they are eaten immediately after being dried, or cooked in a spicy sauce and served with a maize porridge called pap.
Sannakji in Korea
Seafood does not come fresher than sannakji, which is a popular dish in Seoul and translates to “live octopus.” It is made from a small octopus species that is cut up and served immediately after it is killed. This might not sound so adventurous at first, until you realize the octopus tentacles drizzled in sesame oil are still moving on your plate as it is served to you. It can be a challenge to pick up the wriggling tentacles with your chopsticks, and you’ll want to prepare yourself for the tentacles’ suction cups that will stick to your mouth as you eat them.
Health risks of adventurous eating
If you decide you are brave enough to try any of these foods on your next travels, you might be asking yourself if there are any health risks of eating so adventurously. Adventurous eating, especially if the food is purchased from street vendors in rural areas, can increase your risk of some foodborne illnesses including hepatitis A, typhoid, and traveller’s diarrhea. Fortunately, there are vaccines for that! To find out if these vaccines are recommended for your next trip, call us at 604-251-1975 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment for a pre-travel consultation.