Some time ago, as has happened before, I was approached by someone offering to write a guest post for my blog (you can read all guest posts by clicking on the label "Guest Posts" at the top of the page). We agreed on a food-related subject, and here is Marcela De Vivo's guest post:
The Most Unusual Delicacies From Around The World
If you’re going to go totally native while on location, diving into exotic food specialties is the perfect way; however, for people who think living on the edge means ordering a steak extra rare, heads up! Local delicacies can be highly subjective, but if you’re game for the world’s most exotic, here are some platters you might want to try.
Image Courtesy of Chris Huh/Wikimedia Commons
Perhaps the most frightening item on this list—which is saying something—fried scorpion is a well-known favorite in China. While no amount of convincing may sway the faint of heart, this arachnid's potent poison loses all its power in the cooking process. Not surprisingly, the deadly stingers are reported to taste like lobster or other shellfish.
You don’t actually have to travel to Japan to enjoy its famed fugu, or puffer fish; however, you do need to find a restaurant with a generous insurance policy. If the delicious fugu’s skin and innards are not removed properly, you’ll be nibbling on the poison tetrodotoxin, a powerfully fatal substance with no antidote. If you’re feeling lucky enough, fugu is often compared to being an even tastier version of yellowtail.
Birds Nest Soup (China)
On the one hand, the name of this dish is a case of truth in advertising: it really is made of the nest of swifts. Although the name suggests a nest of twigs and leaves, swifts’ nests are actually composed almost entirely of hardened saliva, which takes on a jelly-like consistency when soaked in broth. A true rarity, due to how difficult it is to reach swift’s lairs, a bowl of bird’s nest soup can fetch up to $100.
You don’t have to leave the continental U.S. to get a taste of the wild kingdom. Florida is host to many summer vacation hot spots, tourists and fried alligator. That’s right. With many flocking to the beachside accommodations and close-to-shore restaurants, such as Destin condo rentals, tourists and locals alike enjoy this tasty reptile as a plate or a sausage. Think of it this way: he’d probably eat you, too. Bayou Bill’s Crab House is famous for serving your choice of blackened or sauteed ‘gator.
Image Courtesy of Chris 73/Wikimedia Commons
The only thing more intimidating than the look and smell of this peculiar Icelandic shark dish is its even more bizarre fermentation process (In fact, we’ll keep that part a secret). Some say this ammonia-smelling seafood is an acquired taste, while others (including celeb chef Anthony Bourdain) say it’s “the worst thing they have ever tasted in their lives.” Why not let your own jaws be the judge?
Casu Marzu (Sardinia)
By now, some less adventurous readers may be ready to give up eating meat for a while, so we conclude with a famed cheese from Sardinia. Though this cheese is not strictly vegetarian, as it’s a fermented pecorino writhing with live maggots.
Supposedly, when the larvae digest the cheese fats, a fermentation process happens that makes casa marzu (literally, “rotten cheese”) taste like nothing else on earth. Since it’s been banned for sanitary reasons in other parts around the world, you will probably never have the chance to take on the heavyweight champion of oddball delights, but we thought you’d like to know it exists.
Most of these dishes aren’t for everyone, but remember each of them is a prize in its native land. The next time you casually say, “I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse”, be careful what you wish for.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from California who loves traveling around the world to not only learn about different cultures, but the cuisine as well. Her writing covers a range of industries, including travel and alternative medicine.
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Well, that was interesting, wasn't it! I had known before about some of the dishes mentioned here, and while I don't think there is a huge difference between eating scorpion and eating any kind of crab (the difference is just in our minds - dead animal is dead animal, after all), I am sure am never going to try it, for the simple reason that it holds absolutely no appeal for me (and I am not fond of crabs and lobster in the first place). Also, I see food writhing with live maggots fit either for the bin or for a Klingon table (am I the only one thinking of Klingons when reading about Casu Marzu?).
What worries me a bit is the bird's nest soup. Doesn't picking their nests endanger the species? I have not done any research on it, mind you.
Generally speaking, I do accept that different folks eat different things all over the world - I don't even have to go that far to find huge differences! Take RJ and myself, for example; he loves calamari, while I can't even look at the stuff without feeling nauseous, let alone smell it. My parents are fond of liver; just imagining the smell makes me gag. I can never get enough of cheese, while there are plenty of people who detest it.
Do you have any type of food that is a bit "particular" but you love it nonetheless?