Weird Food and Drinks. One is bound to come across it at some point in your life if you love venturing outside of your home town. Whenever I travel, I like sampling the local food and drinks in every country that I visit. However, this usually means there are some oddball delicacies you won’t find anywhere else – or want to try for that matter!
Here is a list of some of these culinary oddities that I’ve experienced, plus a couple of others I’ve come across via others.
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1. Chicla Beer, Bolivia. Chicla Beer is fermented from corn instead of barley, and looks like a yellow cloudy concoction. Tastes like alcoholic corn syrup. It’s an acquired taste.
2. Warthog Pie, Namibia. Tastes like lean pork. Quite nice.
3. Horse Sausage, Kazakhstan. Lean and salty.
4. Baron’s Black Wattle Ale, Australia. This unusual but tasty brew is fermented from barley and native wattle seeds and resembles a light bodied stout.
5. Guinea Pig, Peru. There’s not much meat on Guinea Pigs, and the bit that you do ingest is usually dry and salty. They are served whole, with the head, eyes and teeth facing towards you. It’s hard to eat one of these when you had one as a pet during childhood.
6. Haggis, Scotland. Basically, offal encased by more offal.
7. Rakija, Balkans Region. A spirit distilled from fermented plums, towards the rocket fuel end of the alcohol spectrum. Guaranteed to send you into orbit.
8. Horse Steak, Switzerland. Like cow, but leaner and tougher. Expensive at around $40 per kilogram.
9. Chip Sandwich, New Zealand. Potato chips between two slices of bread and tomato sauce. Carbohydrate overload.
10. Deep Fried Mars Bars, Scotland. A heart attack in a chocolate bar.
11. Drinking Beer in La Paz, Bolivia. La Paz is about 4000 metres above sea level (about 12000 ft). At this altitude, atmospheric pressure is considerably less than at sea level, so the carbonated bubbles in beer escape more rapidly. This means beer foam literally pours out of the bottle as soon as the cap is removed. Frustrating.
12. All You Can Eat Meat, Buenos Aires, Argentina. You have a red and green coloured wooden block placed on the table. Green means more meat, red means stop. Waiters come around and literally chomp off large slabs of protein onto your plate until you’ve eaten so much meat, the meal sends you into a long hibernation. A vegetarian’s worst nightmare.
13. Small Size Drinks, United States. Like large sized drinks in the rest of the world.
14. Crocodile Sausages, Australia. Like salty chicken, but quite tasty.
15. Kangaroo and Emu Steaks, Australia. Australia must be the only country where people can eat their national emblems. Actually, they are both very good for you – kangaroo meat has high protein, and low fat (<1%).
16. Vegemite, Australia. A black, tacky, salty yeast extract to spread on toast.
17. Beefy Bovril, England. Like Vegemite, but fermented from cows with the consistency of treacle.
18. Caparinha, Brazil. Do you wonder why Brazilians seem to party hard? Caparinhas are the reason why. A spirit called Cachaca is distilled from sugar cane juice, served straight over ice with limes and sugar crystals to make the Caparinha. It’s happiness in a glass.
19. Baby Beef, Argentina. Ironically, the only thing baby about the beef is the age. I’ve had one that was 700 grams and took me a week to digest. I didn’t bother with entree or salad.
20. Kopi Luwak Coffee, Indonesia. This coffee is made from beans that have been digested by the Asian Palm Civet (a cat sized mammal). That is, the coffee beans are removed from the Civet faeces and processed! Apparently, the enzymes in the Civet’s stomach remove some of the bitter coffee taste. It’s the most expensive coffee in the world, selling between $100 and $600 per pound!
21. Flaming Chorizo, Portugal. Chorizo is a delicious sausage flavoured with paprika and other spices, and is usually smoked. You can eat it as is, or have it served over a flame fuelled by a spirit. Make sure to extinguish the flame before eating.
23. Springbok Cocktail, South Africa. The Springbok is a two-alcohol drink containing a green layer of mint-tasting liqueur not dissimilar to mouthwash, overlain by a creamy layer of Amarula, a milky drink fermented from the native Marula fruit. The dangers of drinking a Springbok lie not in the actual drink itself, but the drinking ritual. It involves placing both hands behind the back, stomping the feet alternately, snorting through the nostrils, squealing, picking up the Springbok shot glass via front teeth, and sculling the drink without spilling a drop.
24. Kava, Fiji. It’s a plant that is crushed and mixed with water, and drunk in groups. Effects include mild sedation, numbing of the mouth, and vivid dreams. Usually drunk in a group.
25. Betel Nut, Papua New Guinea. The Areca nut is chewed with the Betel leaf to produce a mild stimulant. Side effects include red teeth.
26. Jellyfish Rings, China. A salty rubber band type appetizer.
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27. Durian, South East Asia. A smelly fruit whose odour can often resemble rotten meat. They are banned on Singapore’s Mass Transit System (there are even No Durian signs there!).
28. Ugali, Kenya. Starchy substance that sticks to the roof of your mouth. A staple for many Africans.
29. Ham off the Bone, Portugal. Go to any supermarket or delicatessen, and you can literally watch cured ham being shaved off a pig leg. In fact, there are rows of pigs legs there, depending on how you like it.
30. Fish Heads, Philippines. Filipinos like fish-head stews and soups boiled up from fish heads.
31. Spam, Philippines. Spam (SPiced hAM) is a staple diet of many Filipinos and is found in almost every food cupboard in the Philippines. There is even a restaurant in Manila called SpamJam, which specialises in Spam dishes. The menu sounds like a Monty Python sketch (Spam with spaghetti, Spamburger, etc).
32. Borewors, South Africa. These fatty but tasty sausages are basically intestines stuffed with meat and offcuts, spiced with herbs and cooked on a braai (barbeque). The strange thing about Borewors is their presentation – coiled up like a dog poo. Worth the extra artery coating.
33. Blood, Kenya/Tanzania. The Masai people survive on fresh blood drawn from the neck veins of livestock such as cows and goats. Liquid protein.
34. Witchety Grubs, Australia. Basically, moth larvae about the size of your small finger. Used to be only eaten by Aboriginal people, but now a local delicacy. Eaten raw or cooked in hot ashes.
35. Fermented Horse Milk, Kazakhstan. Enough said.
36. Glacier Sorbet, Ecuador. Locals who live near the Chimborazo volcano trudge up to the summit regularly to cut off 50 kg blocks of glacier ice. They bring up their donkeys to 5000 metres above sea level, and each donkey hauls 2 blocks each. The locals then catch a bus to sell the ice blocks to a sorbet vendor in another town for only one (1) U.S. Dollar per block! The sorbet vendor says this is cheaper than buying factory ice, and the quality is better.
37. Grass, North Korea. Allegedly, people are going hungry in the Kim Jong Il run state, that some have resorted to eating grass.
38. Pie Floater, Australia. A culinary delight of placing a meat pie upside down in a bowl of pea soup, topped with tomato sauce (ketchup).
39. Tree Honey, Tanzania. The Akei tribe of northern Tanzania often have to travel far for food. One of their staples is honey. However, they stick their hand directly into tree hollows to remove the honey and honeycomb, whilst their entire body is stung by hundreds of bees. Funnily enough, most Akei are immune to bee stings.
40. Entire Crocodile, Ethiopia. During long droughts, some tribes have to resort to hunting crocodiles at night for food. However, they do this with a canoe, a couple of flashlights, and two spears. Sometimes they haul 5 metre monsters into their barely swamp-worthy canoes. However, since no refrigerator exists, the entire animal is cooked up and eaten in one sitting.
41. Battered Hot Dog, New Zealand. Usually bought from fish and chip shops.
42. Snake Bite, England. A cocktail made from cider and lager beer.
43. Blood Sausage, England. Also called Black Pudding. It’s pig or cattle blood cooked with a filler that congeals when cooled.
44. Family Dinner, Italy. Usually consists of seven courses. You normally have to run for 2 weeks to burn the calories off.
45. Chimmichurri, Argentina. This is basically Parsley pesto and accompanies the large steak you’ve just ordered. Sounds strange, but the combination of steak and chimmichurri is delicious.
46. Inca Cola, Peru. A sickly sweet soft drink that tastes like Creaming Soda without the bubbles.
47. Morcilla, Argentina. Argentine version of Black Pudding.
48. Apple Strudel, Namibia. The town of Solitaire has a single digit population and is located in the middle of the desert. But the local bakery produces superb apple strudel, a hangover from previous German colonisers.
49. Game Meat at Carnivore’s Restaurant, Kenya. After you have viewed the game at the Masai Mara National Park, you can eat the list you’ve just ticked off at this famous restaurant in Nairobi.
50. Biltong, South Africa. Biltong is dried spiced beef, or sometimes, African game meat like Kudu (similar to Beef Jerky). Whilst Biltong may look like a speckled dry brown dog turd, the combination of meat and spices is addictive.
51. Sheep Head, Morocco. After it has been sitting in the open amongst the flies all day, bring it home and boil it up into a soup. And finally…
52. Airline Food. We have to eat this stuff whenever we go abroad. Is it food?
Anyway, if you come across these Weird Food or Drinks, say Cheers!
Have a tip to add to the list? Have a full list of ideas? Email us!