“I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk.” – Anthony Bourdain
As wanderlusters, we love experiencing local fare from any given destination. If there’s a language barrier, nothing can break that barrier as well as food. Travelers and locals alike love talking about food, sharing food and telling you about the local hotspots (but only if you ask). Food is, without a doubt, the bridge between cultures. In every hole-in-the-wall taqueria or swanky corner bistro, you can get a glimpse of people’s way of life and their traditions through their food. And if you travel to learn how locals live, go where they go, eat what they eat–you’ll find yourself challenging your senses at least once.
With that in mind, Fodor’s editors wanted to hear from our audience on just that, so we asked you on Fodor’s Travel Talk Forums and on Facebook, what is the most adventurous food you’ve eaten on your travels? We were mostly impressed and, yes, kind of grossed out by some of the responses.
If you think about it, pretty much anything that walks, crawls, slithers can be whipped up into a dish and served to adventurous eaters. If you’re visiting a country where it’s widely accepted to eat animals or other delicacies that is uncommon to you, just remember that you’re a visitor and their practices have long been established as the norm. If you want to live with the locals, then you have to eat like them. But whether or not you’d like to partake is your prerogative!
Several readers shared their similar experiences on the most adventurous meat they’ve tried. There were many overlapping contenders, including but not limited to:
- Guinea pig
Also on the forums, wandered shared, “After playing with and cuddling kangaroos, [I] ate barbecue kangaroo kabobs…still feel guilty.” That’s rough.
One commenter on the Facebook thread chimed in that they made reservations to eat human meat in Asia. Ehh, that’s where we would draw the line.
Strange, Stinky and Surströmming
We’re familiar with oddly-shaped fruits like dragon fruit or cherimoya. They’re intimidating at first glance but the taste is delicious! Many of our readers have tried the smelliest fruit in the world: Durian. Its pungent smell is often compared to a skunk’s spray or raw sewage.
Suze wrote in the forums: “I don’t consider a fruit ‘adventurous’ really, but htat [sic] stuff is pretty nasty.”
You can also try Durian in the form of a refreshing treat, but Melnq8 still couldn’t stomach the strong taste: “I couldn’t get fresh Durian close enough to my mouth to actually taste it. The ice cream was nasty too. Only managed to choke down a bite or two.”
Speaking of stinky fruit, one reader tried “poop coffee” extracted from a civet in Bali, Indonesia. Civets (animals known as toddycats in English, Luwak in Indonesia, or uguduwa in Sri Lanka) are native to tropical Asia and Africa and primarily eat fruit. They wrote, “OK, it’s not a food but a drink: Luwak coffee in Bali. It has semi-digested coffee cherries which have been fed and defecated by an Indonesian civet. As it passes through the animal, the cherries ferment, giving the coffee a smooth and musky taste.” We’re not sure what musky-flavored coffee tastes like but sounds like they enjoyed it!
In a match between Durian and surströmming (fermented herring) for stinkiest food, which will have you regretting life decisions first? Odin told us in the Fodor’s Travel Talk Forums that the first rule of surströmming is to avoid opening the tin of fish indoors or anywhere near a house.
“I’m not brave enough to try surströmming, I’ve seen it for sale many times in Swedish supermarkets and have thought about buying some just to try. Some airlines forbid it to be taken on flights, in case the tin explodes, then it would take days to get rid of the smell,” Odin said.
Rustle up Some Grub
Take it from Timon and Pumbaa, experts on grub-rustling: These delicacies are “slimy yet satisfying.” There are various ways to prepare insects and grub which (sort of) helps to forget what you’re about to put in
INSIDER TIPIf you want to live with the locals, then you have to eat like them.
your mouth. Our readers have tried deep fried tarantula in Cambodia, termites in central Africa, ant larva in central Mexico, roasted cockroaches and the ultimate insect meal consumed by one person, tarantula with a side of silkworms and crickets.
One commenter on the Facebook thread paid $100 to try Sago Palm grub, also known as coconut worm, in Papua New Guinea. These “natural energy bars” are an excellent source of
protein and healthy fats! Plop one in your mouth and you’re good to go.
And of course, if you find yourself drinking with friends in Mexico City, pair your beer with crickets–a “delicious salty snack,” suggested a reader.
Playing It Safe
If you’re not up to eating raw grubs or smelly fish, that’s completely fine. It’s not for everyone. If the most adventurous food you’ve tried is a calzone during a road trip, then hey, that’s still a good choice! On the forums, thursdaysd said: “I see no reason to eat things like rat (seen in a Guilin market) or fried spiders (seen in Cambodia). I enjoy good food and I am not going to waste calories and taste buds on food that disgusts me.”
What’s the point of trying “adventurous” food?
One reader summarized it best, “Because I may never get the opportunity again. And I have decided to try all foods offered at least once. Except mayonnaise…that’s just gross.”