A shepherd used to herding goats thinks the sound of the he-goat is the loudest. This saying means you won’t know what you are missing until you travel and explore different parts of the world and cultures. True to this, discovering great foods requires exploring different cuisines.
In the same breath, in the spirit of exploration, you might stumble across the most bizarre diets. You realize what other people find sumptuous and healthy isn’t to you. We discuss some of the most unusual foods from different cultures here.
First off is Balut. A delicacy initially from the Philippines but has since gained popularity extending to the larger Asian region. Natives rank the meal very highly. The once regarded as a high-class dish has graced many people’s plates for over 200 years.
For most people worldwide, rotten eggs are a no. Interestingly, balut is not only a bad egg but also a fertilized one. Its preparation begins by incubating a duck’s egg at about 104 degrees over time. Once ready (an embryo develops), boiling follows.
You can see the unhatched embryo as you eat balut. For most people, this sounds unusual, to say the least. But this is another yummy street food for people of the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
2. Cat Meat
As it turns out, a cat is to Vietnamese what pizza is to Italians: a delicacy. You might spot a cat and think of a pet, but another sees it as dinner. Odd as it may sound, all customers need to do is identify one that appeals to them, then head into the restaurant and wait.
A butcher will slaughter, skin the animal, and then prepare it. Whether you prefer a well-done cat steak, medium rare, or boiled, you will have it delivered in due time. It’s another business day in Vietnam.
Even though it’s native to Armenia, Khash is a famous delicacy in other parts of the world, with varying recipes and names. Preparing the treat involves boiling a cow, goat, or sheep’s head until tender. You can also add other animal parts that people usually discard, including feet, testes, and tripe (stomach).
You can also drink the resulting soup from consuming the boiled parts. Natives believe the bone broth from the head of a cow, sheep, or goat has unlimited health benefits. Some even swear it boosts libido. While there is no scientific proof for this, there is nothing disapproving.
Have you ever seen an octopus and its tentacles? Most people find it creepy as it moves in specific patterns. Now imagine having to consume a live one. It turns out san-nakji is a fancy name for eating a live octopus spiced with a few ingredients.
Also referred to as the wriggling octopus, san-nakji is a raw dish popular in Korea. It doesn’t have any particular recipe. All you have to do is find an octopus, cut it into pieces, spice it with salt, and eat away!
Sure, the tentacles will still be wriggling in your mouth, but satisfaction awaits if you can see that part out. Seriously, though, if you are trying san-nakji for the first time, chew carefully. The octopus’ suction cups won’t go down your throat without a fight.
5. Century Eggs
Sometimes referred to as a hundred-year-old egg, century eggs are a delicacy for Chinese but a “no thank you” for most. While duck eggs are the most preferred ingredient, quail and chicken eggs can also work.
Its preparation involves mixing coal, calcium oxide, salt, and water, then covering an egg for 100 days. Over time, the shell dissolves, and the product becomes amber. The York turns green, almost moldy. You can then enjoy your meal as an appetizer. At least, that is how the natives do it.
Even though we can’t tell when this delicacy was first prepared, today’s preparation method is quicker and safer. About 5 centuries back, century egg preparation involved covering it with quicklime, ash, tea paste, salt, and wood ash.
Silkworms are just that: species of worms! The idea that some people consume them is not only unusual but freaking. On the flip side, these creatures contain nutrients, vitamins, minerals, lipids, and protein. If you can get them down your throat, you benefit greatly.
To prepare the meal, marinate silkworm pupa using your preferred spices. Spread them on a baking sheet, then bake them in an oven for 45 minutes. Many recipes of the delicacy are available, though. Feel free to tweak them to your liking.
7. Basashi Raw Horse Meat
Eating raw meat is unusual, leaving alone one from a horse. However, if there is one place where nothing is strange, it has to be Japan. Basashi raw horse meat is a perfect example. The meal, categorized under sashimi dishes, is widespread, unique, and tasty.
Different variants of Basashi are available, each varying with its recipe. For instance, there is one that only uses fatless meat sliced into fine pieces. It has a tougher texture compared to the rest. However, the one mostly in demand is Basashi with thoroughly marbled meat pieces. It is fatty and has an appealing color.
There is a third variety which uses very tender meat. Locals source this from the horse’s neck. It is rare and probably more expensive than the other two variants.