Let’s be honest: part of the thrill of traveling is all the delicious food you get to eat. But a lot of people, whether exploring unfamiliar locales at home or abroad, will be quick to flock to the familiars of big name fast food. These are the people that will go to New York and walk past a Deli or Pizza joint and stroll into a Subway or Sbarro’s. Or the ones who win a trip to Tokyo and indulge their appetite for McDonald’s.
We know that locals don’t necessarily always eat there. Each culture has its own foods– whether delicacies or common fare– that can cause tourists to raise a few eyebrows and reach for something that reminds them of the conveniences of home. While trying new foods can take a lot of mental preparation, kick back with the locals of whatever town or city or country you may be visiting, and give these “strange” foods a taste.
Escamoles (Mexico)– This nutty tasting dish is made up of the edile ant larvae! The ants themselves are found near tequila agave and maguey.
Rocky Mountain Oysters (US)– These bad boys definitely aren’t oysters. Instead, they’re the prepared teticles of bulls and, less commonly, sheep or pigs. A stable of “cowboy fare”, you’re most likely to find these delicacies in the American West.
Jerk Chicken (Jamaica)– Delicious! Tangy and spicy, Jerk Chicken is the pinnacle of Caribbean flavor. What gives the chicken its unique flavor? It’s all in the rub– a combination of allspice and Scotch bonnet pepper.
Haggis (Scotland)– Offal has a place in cuisines all across the world. Scotland is represented by Haggis, a kind of pudding containing a mix of a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs (called “pluck”). Traditionally, it is served in the stomach of the sheep, but now you may find it in an artificial casing.
Steak Tartare (France)– When you order steak tartare, you’d better be ready to have a steak that’s rarer than rare. This dish contains raw ground beef served with onions and capers. It is usually served with a raw egg on top.
Svið (Iceland)– This delicacy is a remnant of the times when no part of the animal could go unused. Svið is a sheep’s head cloven in two and boiled. And yes, if you were wondering, the brain is removed. Many superstitions surround consumption of the dish: Don’t eat the ears, lest you be accused of theft; if you don’t break the bone under the tongue, a child who has never spoken a word will remain silent forever.
Khash (Middle East)– This Caucasian delicacy is also found in Iraq and Mongolia. It consists of a cow’s head (and sometimes feed), boiled into a stew. It is most commonly eaten at social settings near breakfast. Variants exist throughout the Caucasus region. For example, one Azerbaijani and Iranian derivative is known as Kale Pache, which uses sheeps head and hooves. Iraqi and Albanian spins also exist.
Kare Kare (Philippines)– This stew mainly consists of oxtail, but sometimes contains ham hocks and offal. Consumption of this comfort food stretches back to pre-colonial times, and was a favorite dish of the Elite classes.
Century Eggs (China)– These fermented quail, duck, and chicken eggs are a delicacy in china. They are preserved in an earthy mixture for up to several months, and eaten on special occasions. As you can imagine, they have a very strong smell, but a nation of at least 1 billion people find them super tasty!
Kangaroo (Australia)– Yup, Kangaroo meat is a thing. It was the traditional source of protein for many indigenous tribes. Today, you can find it in supermarkets and use it wherever you might use beef or other ground meats.
Marmite (Australia and New Zealand)– This is a spread that is made from the dregs of beer brewing. Sounds odd, but it is a savory addition that spreads on toast and crackers. It is also eaten in the UK.
Black Pudding (South Africa)– This is a kind of blood sausage made from congealed pork blood and oatmeal. Many people find it delicious, and it is widely consumed throughout Europe as well.
Jollof Rice (Nigeria, throughout West Africa)– This is an awesome and versatile rice dish. The rice is combined with onions and tomato paste, and can be served with nearly any type of meat or vegetable. It’s most likely an ancestor of Jambalaya.
Baklawa (Egypt)– This dessert pastry has its origins in Ottoman times. It consists of many layers filo dough and molasses, topped with nuts.