If you thought branching out meant trying something spicy at the Mexican restaurant downtown, think again. There are some downright crazy cultural delicacies on every continent. It’s important to keep in mind that what may appear questionable and unappetizing to some cultures is a delicious treat to others. Check out some of the most unique dishes around the globe and decide for yourself if you’ll ever venture out to try them!
1. Drunken Shrimp
This dish is popular in various parts of China. Believe it or not, these fresh-water shrimp are actually eaten while they are still alive! In order to help them go down, the shrimp are soaked in a strong liquor called baijiu prior to consumption.
2. A-Ping (Fried Tarantula)
This creepy, crawly dish is considered a delicacy in Cambodia. ”A-Ping” spiders, a species of tarantulas are bred in holes in the ground in various Cambodian villages in order to supply the high demand for the crispy snack. Some are as big as a human hand. It is said that this practice started during the years of food shortages during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, but nevertheless, fried tarantulas became a hit. The snack only costs about 8 US cents, so it’s definitely not a delicacy that will break your bank.
3. The Ramen Burger
Leave it to America to turn a noodle dish into a savory burger. The inventor of the Ramen Burger, Keizo Shimamoto, debuted the burger in Brooklyn, New York, selling each one for $8. The concept is simple: it’s a USDA prime beef patty sandwiched between two fried ramen noodle buns, slathered in a secret oriental sauce, and topped with scallions. This popular hangover cure just got taken to a new level.
You’ll never believe what this traditional Norwegian fish dish is made from. Air-dried or salted whitefish is incubated in a lye solution, the corrosive alkaline used in kitchen cleaners and drain openers. The fish has to be soaked in the lye solution for just the right amount of time so that the fish fats don’t turn into soap (yes, you read that right.) Chefs know the Lutefisk is ready to serve when it has a jelly-like consistency.
5. Black Pudding
You’re probably envisioning a dark, custard-like dessert, but black pudding isn’t pudding at all. It’s actually a type of sausage made by combining pork blood with a filler like fat, oatmeal or bread. It’s cooked and then left to cool in order to congeal. Black pudding is served in Britain and Ireland with the traditional breakfast “fry-up.” A typical fry-up includes baked beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs. Black pudding can be grilled, fried, baked or boiled in its skin— however the cook prefers.
6. Fugu (Pufferfish)
Fugu is the Japanese word for “pufferfish” and this is the most dangerous dish on the list. If you didn’t know, pufferfish contain a tetrodotoxin poison in its organs that can bring on an agonizing death by asphyxiation or paralysis to humans. To make it even worse, there’s no known antidote. There are strict laws that control the preparation process of pufferfish. Tokyo has some licensed experts who prepare the dish just right in order to assure that no innocent foodies are harmed in the process of trying Fugu.
Matura is an authentic Kenyan dish. It’s made by stuffing goat intestine wrappers with ground meat parts and goat blood. It’s boiled until almost cooked then thrown onto a grill to dehydrate the meat, giving it a savory, smoky taste. This protein-rich Kenyan sausage is a great way to get an authentic street meat experience in Africa.
8. Cuy Bien
This typical South American dish, served as a major part of the traditional diet in Peru, may be approached with caution by some. High in protein and very low in fat, Cuy Bien is literally just a roasted guinea pig— head, legs and feet included. Some compare the taste to various meats such as rabbit, rat, or the dark meat of chicken, while others prefer to give the guinea pig a name and take it in as a household pet.
9. Foie Gras
Foie Gras is a French delicacy typically served at high-end restaurants. However, it’s quite a controversial dish. Foie Gras is the fattened liver of a duck or goose through “gavage”, a practice that has many people ruffled. The birds are force-fed through tubes causing their livers to enlarge and provide a richer taste for human consumption. Many see this practice as inhumane, but others can’t resist the soft, rich, buttery flavor.
With their over population, Kangaroos are served in Australia as a low fat option for meat. The meat , however, is prone to drying out, so it’s generally cooked rare to medium, mainly on one side instead of both. It’s usually served with garlic, pepper, juniper, rosemary or fruity flavors such as orange and plum.
Feeling out of your comfort zone yet?
These dishes may seem extremely foreign to us, but they hold an important sense of cultural identity for each unique place around the world. The way to enrich life is to try everything once. You never know, maybe roasted guinea pig or fried tarantula will become your new favorite!