Eating unique and seemingly bizarre foods while traveling has become increasingly popular thanks to fearless food bloggers and television shows like Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods.” If you’re looking to venture out of your comfort zone on your travels, give one of these strange foods a chance.
The century egg, also called a hundred-year egg, is a preserved egg. While its name suggests it has been preserved for 100 years, it only takes from a few days to a few weeks to prepare. The eggs are soaked in a saline solution which is typically made up of clay and salt, but it can include other things like rice hulls and ash too. This process causes the yolks to become creamier and the white part to become a dark-colored jelly. Really adventurous individuals will eat one in its entirety, but it’s common to see them cut up and served in congee at breakfast.
If your travels bring you to Mexico, consider trying huitlacoche. This is essentially “corn smut,” which is a fungus that covers the corn in dark spores. While some people might throw the corn away as if it was diseased, Mexicans consider it a delicacy. It has a woody and earthy flavor, but it definitely can be an acquired taste.
Although they are called oysters, rocky mountain oysters are anything but. They are testicles from cattle. They are typically deep-fried and served as an appetizer in the American West and Western Canada. You may also see them called prairie oysters. Testicle removal is not for culinary purposes. It helps control breeding and can help with temperament. This is why ranchers started experimenting with them to see if they could have another use, especially in times when food was scarce. Today, you’ll even see “testicle festivals” in some states.
Haggis is one of those foods people either love or despise, there doesn’t seem to be an in-between. Haggis is a Scottish dish that is typically made with a sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, and then it’s mixed with oatmeal, suet, and other spices. Traditionally, it’s encased in the animal’s stomach, although it’s common to see an artificial casing used now. Traditional accompaniments include “neeps” (turnips) and “tatties” (mashed potatoes).
The odor of stinky tofu in a Taiwan night market is unmistakable. There is a lot of variety with this dish, both in the way the tofu is fermented, and how it is prepared. You can eat stinky tofu from two vendors in the same night market and have a completely different experience. Generally, tofu is marinated in a brine that contains a variety of ingredients, including fermented milk, meat, dried shrimp, Chinese herbs, and more. The length of fermentation can vary, but some people will ferment it for several months. Mass-produced stinky tofu often marinates for only a few days, giving off the stinky odor rather than a complete fermentation. The most common preparation seen in Taiwanese night markets is deep-fried and served with a chili sauce. If you aren’t headed to Taiwan anytime soon, you can also find plenty of stinky tofu in Hong Kong and China.
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Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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