As nomads, we live for sampling different cultures and food. Granted, some may be more palatable than others — just check out the dishes served in these countries (Warning: it may make you squeamish). Whether you see them as delicacies, downright weird or bucket list stuff, it’s all part of the adventure!
Between October to November every year, many Fijians and Samoans stay close to the waters to be able to bag (or rather, net) some palolo worms. These coral worms only appear during a short period of time and are eaten raw, cooked in butter, fried with onions or spread on bread.
Thailand is a goldmine when it comes to creepy crawly delicacies as the locals famously eat many kinds of insects. From fried spiders, crickets, cockroaches to dung beetles that are harvested during monsoon season, the most popular of the crunchy snacks are grasshoppers, which are also commonly eaten it other parts of the world (in Mexico, they’re often served with lime and garlic while in Uganda, they’re pan fried).
Indian dishes are loved worldwide for their spicy flavours but in Chattisgarh in central India, they take the bite in their food to another level with their signature dish, the chaprah chutney. Made with red ants and their eggs, which are dried and crushed with salt and spices, the ants contain formic acid that’s believed to yield medicinal properties.
Does the sight of a spider make you jump? If you answered yes, then you might not like the Cambodia’s fried spider delicacy. Particularly, the big spider species of tarantulas, which is probably the stuff arachnophobic nightmares are made of. Usually deep fried and served with lime and black pepper dip, the critters are said to be crunchy inside out.
In the city of Dongyang, there is a local delicacy dish called ‘tong zi dan’ or virgin boy eggs. “Harvested” every spring, urine is collected from school boys under the age of 10 and eggs are soaked and boiled in the golden “broth” for several hours. Clearly not for faint stomachs, locals believe that the eggs decrease body heat, promote blood circulation and treat yin deficiency.
In Central Mexico, the locals enjoy a plate of Escamoles — ant larvae that’s harvested from the root of the blue agave plant. Dubbed ‘insect caviar’, the grain-like eggs resemble small pine nuts and bear a nutty taste. Often pan-fried with butter and spices, Escamoles is served as an accompaniment to tacos, omelets or served on its own with a side of by guacamole and tortillas.
In Iceland, the Atlantic puffin forms part of the national diet and puffins are hunted by a technique called sky fishing, which traps the low-flying birds with a big net. The fresh heart of a puffin is a delicacy, as are decomposed sharks. You read that right – the hákarl which is decomposed shark meat that’s been buried to ferment in its own fluids for several months, is then cut into strips and dried. It’s said to be an acquired taste, like blue cheese is.
How do you like your eggs — scrambled, fried or close to hatching? In Philippines, they like the latter. A local delicacy popularly served around the country, ‘balut’ is an almost full formed, 18-day-old fertilized duck embryo boiled in the shell so you get a good mix of soupy poultry liquid and yolk, tender meat and some crunch in the beak and developing wings.