I’ve traveled to enough countries and been lucky enough to try some amazing food in my travels. Most turn out to be amazing foods that I would go back to eat in a heartbeat. Others, not so much. Here are some of the weirdest foods I’ve come across and eaten for my years of travel.
- Cuy – Guinea Pig
- Chicken Feet
- Stinky Tofu
- Luwak Coffee
When in Peru (and especially if you’re visiting Machu Picchu), you’ll more than likely have the opportunity to eat cuy. Cuy, aka guinea pig, is a pretty common food item that I found served in the Cusco region. You can even find restaurants where you can pick and choose your guinea pig at the door (much like you can choose your meal at Red Lobster). Although I didn’t go that far, I certainly tried the cuy multiple times.
I thought the meat was rich and delightful and I believe if they weren’t pets in the US, we’d eat them too. I actually thought it was rich like duck and it seemed like it was all dark meat (which is a huge plus for me). I had it plainly roasted in a wood burning fire but I think I saw them served in stews as well. I’m sure they’re served every way imaginable because they really are good. If you’re in the region, definitely try it.
These aren’t as uncommon for many depending on where you live and where you’re from. You can certainly find them in many dim sum restaurants here in California.
I’m not a huge fan of these bad boys only because it seems to me like it’s a lot of work for very little payoff. The feet have hardly any meat on them so you’re just gnawing on the feet and enjoying the cartilage and skin. I wouldn’t necessarily order them over and over again and it isn’t something I really feel the need to eat, but it’s certainly interesting to try.
This is one of those things Australians really get a kick out of making Americans try. My understanding is that it’s like jam or butter that you’d put on toast in the morning. However, the taste is nothing like it.
To describe the taste, it’s like I took a 6 pack of Guinness and boiled out all the liquid so the only thing left was the concentrated essence. Then imagine adding an entire bag of salt to it. That’s what it tasted like to me. I didn’t hate it and it certainly wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever eaten, but it also isn’t something I’m racing out to try again. When I had it, I was trying to be polite and it took every ounce of strength to not gag and spit it out.
This is a fruit mainly found in SouthEast Asia that looks like a spiky bowling ball. You can find these at almost every street market when they’re in season and the price can get up there depending on the quality. You can also find these pretty easily on regular super markets as well if you’re so inclined.
At first glance, it looks innocent enough. However, looks can be deceiving. When you see it in the package, you’d think it’d be somewhat firm like an apple or a pear (it’s that sort of off white/yellow color). But when you pick it up, it’s the texture of mush. Like very soft mashed potatoes that you can just barely pick up with your fingers. The smell however is what gets you. It smells like sweaty gym socks or like rotting onions. The smell is so bad that it’s actually banned in places like the subway or hotel lobbies in some countries.
The TASTE though is actually really surprising. It doesn’t taste anything like you’d think it would and it’s actually really sweet and DELICIOUS. I’d say it’s a cross of like bananas and pineapple. It’s really good. It might be the weirdest food because your expectation is that this is going to be disgusting but it turns out to be really good.
Ahh..my arch nemesis. You’ll see this in Asia as well and you’ll know by the smell that you’re near. Here’s the thing. There are 2 types of stinky tofu. There is the benign, street food version that you can find in Hong Kong that’s often deep fried. That’s not bad at all and I thought it tasted just like firm tofu that was fried. Just didn’t taste like much (the way you’d expect tofu to taste….bland).
Then you have the real stuff. The stuff tales are written about and told as horror stories around campfires. This stinky tofu lives up to the name. I remember having it in Myanmar and even before I set foot into the eatery, the smell made my nose hair curl. I don’t know how to describe the smell other than it’s off putting. The taste wasn’t very discernable because the smell was so pungent. I only had 5 small bites of it but to be honest, I wasn’t focused on the taste because the smell took center stage.
This is coffee. And as a very seldom coffee drinker, I couldn’t tell you the difference between expensive coffee and something that comes from a tin of Yuban. However, this is known as the most expensive coffee in the world. Why is it so expensive? Because the coffee beans are eaten by the luwak cat and then crapped out. The turds come out looking like a PayDay candy bar. The beans come out whole, are collected, cleaned, and roasted to make this “special” cup of coffee.
You can find this in Indonesia and I went to a luwak coffee roaster where you can see the animals and see the process from start to finish. At the end, you’re given a chance to buy a cup of this premium coffee. Again, I couldn’t tell the difference but I don’t drink coffee on a regular basis.
This is a Morroccan dish that I found to be strangely satisfying but others may not. It’s a way of preserving meat and it’s stored in plastic containers of fat at room temperature. It isn’t rotten meat (or maybe it is?) but it’s certainly odd how it can just sit there at room temperature and be eaten.
I saw this in Fes and you’ll just see plastic tubs of it that just look like congealed fat with bits of meat inside. I don’t know what kind of meat is used but it’s typically served as a breakfast food cooked with eggs. I tried it as is, straight out of the tub. It didn’t really smell of anything and it actually tasted like beef jerky. The fat immediately melts on your fingertips and the meat is actually well seasoned and tasty. If you can get past the looks, give it a try.
So that’s my list of food so far. I have a lot more foods to try and countries to visit so the curious foodie in me will always want to try whatever is next. That’s the joy of traveling. The ability to see and try foods that you wouldn’t otherwise know about.
What are some of the weirdest foods you’ve ever eaten?