Cuy (Guinea Pig)
La Cusquenita Tradicional Pikanteria in Peru
“Once-in-a-Lifetime Eating Experience”
Modern Toilet Restaurant in Taipei Taiwan
“A Perfectly Swirled Turd”
Shilin Night Market in Taipei Taiwan
“Like Stinky Shoes Times 100”
I’m a huge foodie and I am down to try any kind of food even if it’s intestines or bugs. Stinky tofu is a hugely popular dish in Taipei and you can smell its odorous scent a mile away. It’s a super popular street food and the Taiwanese say that the stinkier the tofu is, the better it tastes! It’s hard to describe the smell, kind of like stinky shoes times 100.
I loved stinky tofu! The most common way for the tofu to be cooked is fried. Once the tofu is in your mouth there’s quite a stinky kick that fills your mouth and your nostrils. It’s quite an experience and it is definitely an acquired taste. You must try it if you ever get to visit Taipei Taiwan!
Octopus on a Stick
Kyoto’s Nishiki Street Food Market Japan
“You Bite Into the Octopus and There’s a Little Surprise Inside”
In Japan, I tried many different foods. One that really stands out for me as the strangest food was Octopus on a stick. It’s the strangest food I’ve ever tried! Exploring Kyoto’s Nishiki Street Food Market, there are many weird and wonderful things to try. I spotted the octopus straight away. And after walking up and down the market street to see what else they had I returned to the stall.
I think it was the bright colour that seemed to entice me. Before I knew it I had handed over my Japanese yen. And was holding my octopus on a stick!
It wasn’t how I imagined. The taste was amazing! It’s covered in a sticky sauce which was a little bit sweet. Then, as you bite into the octopus there’s a little surprise inside. A tiny egg, I’ve no idea how it got in there. It was the perfect snack for a busy day of shopping.
Shark Attack – Shark Curry and Fermented Shark
Bilenbi at Market Street in Seychelles (Curry) and Cafe Loki in Reykjavik Iceland (fermented)
“I was Super Keen on Trying It.” “A Distinct Fishy, Sweaty Armpit Odour”
The strangest food I have ever eaten was ‘Shark Curry’. I love eating fish but didn’t know that people actually eat shark. In April 2017 I went to Seychelles. I love travelling off the beaten tracks and I always mingle with locals to get to know their culture, traditions and the people.
I met Kevin, a local from Beau Vallon who showed me around. We went to the market in Victoria, which is the capital of the Island Mahe, and Kevin took me to a takeaway place called ‘Bilenbi’ in Market Street. He told me that they sell all sorts of curry there. I decided to go for the ‘Shark Curry’ because I saw locals selling shark at the market we went to before. I was super keen on trying it. Basically how it looks like is chicken and also sort of taste like it. It was actually really good. I can definitely recommend eating it at this takeaway place!
Hakarl, or fermented shark is the strangest food I’ve tried while travelling. The process of making this type of shark involves burying the meat in the sand for a couple of weeks. Then, the meat is cut and hung for several months. Since it is an Icelandic national dish I thought that it would be delicious. It was far from that. At a fancy cafe overlooking Hallgrimskirkja Church, I was served these rubbery white meat cubes. The shark had a distinct fishy, sweaty armpit odour. The minute it landed on my tongue I decided this would be my first and last time eating fermented shark. Knowing that Iceland also serves rams testicles and Boiled sheep head, I guess Icelandic dishes are just not for me.
Boiled Horse Meat
Kazakh House of a Local Family in Mongolia
“The Host Was Very Excited About the Food as it Was His Own Horse”
Horse meat! Well, this was new. It is the strangest food I’ve ever eaten while travelling. The host was very excited about the food as it was his own horse that he was serving. It was boiled with only salt, potato, flour cake, and carrots. I thought to myself… “I’ve come all the way to Mongolia so I will give it a try!”. To my surprise, it tasted pretty good. I ate more, and more, and more – as every time my plate was empty the hosts would fill it back up. After a while, I had to hide my plate because I was so full! It was then that a fellow traveller told me that the Kazakh culture is to fill the guest’s plate as soon as it’s empty. So, if you really don’t want more food, you should leave a little something on your plate.
Fried Frog Legs
Night Market in Hanoi Vietnam
The Hanoi night market on a weekend is extremely vibrant. Locals sit around and make merry with a pint of Saigon beer and a plate-full of grilled delicacies. I was trying to decide what to eat for dinner so I asked some vendors about the food they were cooking. One was quick to answer with, “Frogs, legs, very good”. They coat the hind legs with semolina and deep fry the marinated meat. As I devoured the light, juicy and deliciously crunchy frog legs, I could at best relate the taste with that of a chicken. Later, I learnt I could also try a frog hot pot and fried frog skin! Definitely on my bucket list for my next visit to Vietnam, whenever the time comes.
Alex Sushi in Oslo Norway
“Fishy Rib-Eye Steak”
While the food in Scandinavia is very expensive, it is also very delicious. I’m an adventurous eater and I like to try food that is local and seasonal whenever possible. I had read about eating whale in Norway and wanted to try it. Ethically, I was torn. Norway, Iceland, and Japan are the few countries that still allow whaling. Norway only hunts minke and we were told that the population is not at risk. My favourite dinner in Norway was at Alex Sushi in Oslo. It was by far the best sushi I have ever eaten, EVER. We ordered the three-course tasting menu. It was magnificent and included whale and lobster. The whale is the piece on the far left. I tried whale once, I won’t again. As for taste and texture, it can be described as fishy rib-eye steak.
Fat Bottomed Ants
“A Case of Mind Over Matter”
The strangest food I’ve eaten was probably fat bottomed ants in Colombia. Known as hormigasculonas, they are a speciality of the Santander region of Colombia, and are served dry roasted with a little salt. I was unsure if I could eat a whole bag of fat-assed ants by myself, but got the chance to sample them when I was staying in a little colonial town called Barichara. The hotel owner asked me if I wanted to try one, and took out an old jam jar filled with the ants, emptying a few onto a saucer.
After a couple of deep breaths, I popped one into my mouth. It really wasn’t bad; kind of like an empty peanut – crunchy and not bad tasting. But then my brain reminded me that they were insects and I quickly swallowed. It was a case of mind over matter, and although they really weren’t that bad I don’t want to eat anymore!
L’Etoile Des Mers at Deauville France
“I was Blissfully Unaware of their Existence”
Until recently, I was blissfully unaware of the existence of whelks and I didn’t actually intend to try them. While on holiday in Deauville on the northern coast of France, I came across a great little fishmonger/seafood restaurant and decided to have lunch there. The seafood platters were affordable for a change, so I went for one without knowing what exactly would arrive on my plate.
Ice Creme and Cheese
On the streets of Medellin Colombia
“Columbians LOVE Cheese”
We felt brave enough to try this traditional Colombian dessert while exploring Medellin. Colombians LOVE cheese! They put it on everything from arepas to potatoes and even in hot chocolate!
The salpicòn itself was sweet, with the sharpness of the fruit providing a tangy contrast. It was almost like a booze-less English trifle, with cheese on top. Pieces of mango, banana, strawberry and papaya soaked in a rich fruity juice. Topped with vanilla ice-cream, strawberry sauce, a wafer and the all-important cheese shavings. While I love cheese as much as the next person, I just couldn’t get my head around the texture of the grated cheese on top of the ice-cream. The flavour was not that strong, but psychologically I just couldn’t enjoy it. I would still recommend you try it for yourself, just for the experience!
What’s the Strangest Food You’ve Ever Eaten?
Thanks to all the travellers who contributed to this article! Now I want to know, what is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten? Have/would you try any in this list?
Wishing you happy travels,