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Volunteer Overseas

Wonderfully Weird Food From Around The World


September 23rd, 2015Travel, Volunteering, Gap Year, Food, Culture, Latin America, Asia, Africa
By Samantha Evans

A bowl of Mopane worms

Image courtesy of Flickr, NH53

Part of the fun of travelling abroad is trying new foods and discovering culinary combinations you never knew existed. If you’re daring enough, the options really are endless. I highly recommend you embrace any opportunity presented to you and sample some of the weird and wonderful local delicacies out there. It’s a chance to broaden your cultural horizons and try something new, and at the very least you’ll come away with a fun story and a photo to show all your friends just how adventurous you are. I chatted to the rest of the team here at Projects Abroad about some of the interesting meals they’ve eaten while travelling and this is what they had to say…

Rambutan in Zanzibar

A Rambutan in Zanzibar

Image courtesy of Gemma Cowan

Gemma Cowan

“Whilst in Zanzibar, I went on a tour of Hakuna Matata Spice Farm. The guides took us around the farm, showing us a variety of weird and wonderful local fruits and spices. At the end of the tour, they treated us to a tasting of some of their produce. One man climbed a palm tree and brought down fresh coconuts for us to eat and we had bananas that tasted smoked - nothing like the ones we are used to at home. My favourite fruit was the rambutan, which is a cousin of the lychee fruit. It has a beautiful red, spiky skin but the fruit inside is soft, sweet and creamy.”

Red Tree Ants in Cambodia

Emmanuel Pousse

“When in Cambodia last year on a field trip, a mate of mine living there brought me to a street restaurant and ordered me red tree ants with holy basil and beef. I did feel a bit strange in the tummy area on the following day, but I have to admit it was pretty delicious! I recommend them as a starter before you move on to the skewered bugs.”

Fried Grasshopper in Amsterdam

Fried grasshoppers

Image courtesy of Ashanti Forssman

Kristin Sievers

“The weirdest thing I’ve ever eaten is fried grasshopper which I had when I was with a friend in Amsterdam at a tourism fair. We came across one stall selling traditional Mexican food. When we noticed that they were serving a dish containing fried grasshopper we dared each other to try it. It came in different flavours and actually just tasted like the spice you chose. My friend had the grasshopper leg stuck in her teeth which looked hilarious.”

Live Squid in Korea

A plate of live squid

Image courtesy of Stephanie Klink

Stephanie Klink

“When I lived in Korea I ate sannakji which is a dish of live squid. The trick to eating sannakji is managing to pry the sticky tentacles from your spoon or chopsticks and transferring it successfully to your mouth without spilling soy sauce and wasabi everywhere. It tastes just like regular sushi and locals will appreciate your bravery in trying it!”

Termites in Belize

Meg Kennedy

“My parents forced me to eat a termite in Belize when I was 12 years old. We took a tour of the Mayan Ruins and the tour guide said that the Mayans enjoyed the delicacies around them. He then ripped open a rotting stump to reveal termites. He said the Mayans enjoyed working for their food and usually snacked on these creatures live! I was a disgusted teenager and wanted no part in it until my parents told me they did not want their daughter to grow up narrow minded and uncultured. In the end the insect was pretty delicious, but I never told my parents that!”

Tarantula in Cambodia

A tarantula

Image courtesy of Flickr, Bart van Dorp

Rebecca Walton

“I think one of the best things about travelling by bus is getting to stop along the way. Whilst making a 7 hour journey in Cambodia we made a pit stop along the way to get some food for lunch. We spotted a stall nearby which had a long queue forming in front of it and immediately took our place in it, assuming that what was being sold must be delicious given the amount of people lining up. However, as I got to the front of the line I was surprised to find out that lunch for the day was about to be fried tarantula legs! I ate them hesitantly at first but must admit that they weren’t too bad and were cooked in a delicious spice mix, so I’d definitely recommend giving them a try!”

Surströmming in Sweden

Erik Scharberg

“In the north of Sweden they have something called surströmming. It’s basically fermented herring. It stinks like nothing you've smelled before. I always get a kick out of serving it to visitors from abroad. I've yet to meet a foreigner who can finish a portion. You normally put it on a special thin kind of bread with boiled potatoes, red onion, and sour cream, then you make a wrap out of it.”

Guinea Pig in Peru

Roasted guinea pig

Image courtesy of Karlien van der Colff

Ian Birbeck

Having spent about three months in Peru I had managed to avoid eating guinea pig, which is known as “cuy” to the locals. With a couple of days of my trip left I was walking through the main square of Calca where many of our volunteers were staying when I bumped into the mayor of the town who was also a host to some of our volunteers. He insisted I come for lunch. With my limited Spanish it was difficult to turn down this invitation. After a shot of Pisco Sour (the local firewater) I realised I wasn’t going to escape Peru without having cuy. You definitely knew you were eating a guinea pig with the eyes staring out at you and the paws clear to see. It was fairly tasty with a few too many bones for my liking. I left the town able to say I had tried out this local delicacy. Later that day I was invited to another party by one of the local staff. By 5pm I was tucking into my second cuy of the day, having avoided it for three months!

Have you tried any strange food while travelling? Were you ever brave enough to try any of the items we’ve mentioned? Share your experience with us by using the comments box below ?

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