When you create your ultimate travel bucket list, what kind of items are you most accustomed to adding onto it? Do you stick to simply listing out the cities, and perhaps adding some of their most iconic sights? Or do you dig a little deeper and add some of the most traditional things to do, see and EAT?
Why not challenge yourself even further by adding a little bit of edible adventure to your next travel experience. From weird snacks to strange vegetables to unique desserts, and from American to Japanese, below are more than 60 weird foods from all over the world. Which ones will you dare to try?
1. ✧ Airag (Mongolia)
Also running under the name Kumis, this is a typical Mongolian beverage. And not just any type of a beverage, but a low alcohol percentage drink made out of mare’s milk! It is prepared fermented, using filtering through a cloth and stirring with a buluur, the process taking a couple of days to complete.
2. ✦ Alligator (United States)
Both in the past and present times, you can find alligator food to sample in the Southern states, specifically in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas. It is considered to be a healthy alternative to red meat, with a taste similar to fish or chicken. If you want to take it up a notch, you might also want to try alligator eggs.
3. ✧ Alpaca (Peru, Chile, and Bolivia)
Although it may sound odd for us from outside of Latin America to even consider eating such a cute animal, alpaca meat is a fairly normal part of cuisine especially in Peru. Its meat is tender and mildly flavored, with a lower fat content than red meat. Alpaca meat can be prepared in diverse ways, many of which are similar to that of beef and pork.
4. ✧ Ants Egg Soup (Laos, Thailand)
If you happen to be visiting Laos or Thailand, here is one weird food that you’ll want to try to get a full feel of their cuisine! The ant eggs are likened to be protein rich, full of minerals and sweet in flavor. There are a couple of dishes, especially in Northern Thailand, where ants eggs are used, ants egg soup being one of the most popular.
5. ✦ Balut (Phillipines)
Another egg dish is Balut, prominent in the Filipino cuisine. It is made of a fertilized egg embryo, which has been boiled. It’s custom to eat it directly from the shell and you’ll have little trouble finding a street stand selling them. I actually ate the one below while on a food tour in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City.
6. ✦ Basashi Raw Horse Meat (Japan)
Once you’ve tried raw fish and raw beef, you may be ready to progress to this strange food which is a dish specialty in Japan’s Kumamoto region. Much like sashimi (raw fish) and raw beef in Eastern Asia, raw horse meat is often served on a “bed” of leaves, with soy sauce to dip it in. To make your culinary experience complete, or easier to digest, may I suggest ordering some sake to go with this dish?
7. ✦ Beef Tongue (North America, Mexico)
Though this may sound like an incredibly weird food to some, you don’t have to go further than North America to find beef tongue served as a dish. It is especially common in Mexican cuisine, where it’s often used as an ingredient in tacos and burritos. You can also find many dishes utilizing beef tongue in Puerto Rican cuisine.
8. ✧ Beondegi (South Korea)
Made of silkworm pupae, beondegi is a common and popular snack sold by street vendors all around South Korea. It’s typically served steamed or boiled, and occasionally they’ll be served as a side dish in a fish restaurant. Some liken its taste similar to nuts as they can be quite crunchy.
9. ✧ Bird Nest Soup (Southeast Asia)
You can’t use just any bird’s nest to create this strange dish; they’re specifically created from edible nest swiftlets. Bird nest soup is considered an expensive and luxurious delicacy, and you might have to make your way to a high end restaurant to find it on the menu. Besides Southeast Asia, this is a dish that can be found in the Southern parts of China as well.
10. ✦ Blood Sausage (United Kingdom, Ireland)
Blood sausage is made from various meats and mixed with fresh blood which gives it a distinctive dark color. Many countries actually have their own version of blood sausage. In the UK-Ireland axel, it is called black pudding rather than blood sausage, because of its high consistency of oatmeal mixed with pig blood. You can eat it in a variety of different ways, either grilled, fried or boiled, and it’s actually part of a traditional full breakfast.
11. ✦ Brain (Italy, France and Mexico)
You’d be surprised by how many different world cuisines use brain as one of the ingredients! There are different animal brains in use, as well, ranging from pigs to squirrels. In French cuisine, for example, you can sample cervelle de veau or tête de veau if you’re interested in eating brain.
12. ✧ Bushmeat (Africa)
Bushmeat translates as meat from different wildlife species that have been turned into food. They’re typically the primary protein source for those living in the humid tropical forest regions, and you can find it served in several different African countries with such environment. You’ll want to exercise some caution when sampling this weird food, however, and make sure it’s safe for human consumption.
These photos are from visiting the Hadzabe bushmen while I was on an African safari tour in Tanzania. They had just hunted a monkey and were having it for breakfast.
13. ✧ Camel Burger (Somalia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan)
It’s exactly what you think it is: a juicy burger, but with beef replaced by camel meat! If you visit one of the countries where it’s commonly served, you’ll probably find it served with similar toppings and sides as any other burger would be. Camel meat is considered to taste meatier than your regular beef, so for that alone it’s a great weird food to try out.
14. ✧ Casu Marzu (Italy)
At first sound, casu marzu might actually sound like a pretty “normal” food to eat: it’s cheese made of sheep milk, typical for Sardinia region. Tough, it is also known as “World’s Most Dangerous Cheese”. Why? Because it consists of live insect larvae! In other words, it is served with a few extra wriggling friends—maggots! One piece could be populated by thousands. Gross! And if that’s not enough to get your bizarre food dreams going, here’s another cool fact: technically EU does not allow for this cheese to even be consumed, so you’re a true rebel if you get to try this one out!
15. ✦ Century Egg (China, Southeast Asia)
Century eggs, also know as the thousand-year egg, are another Chinese delicacy that you’ll just have to have on your bucket list for when you visit this enormous country. They’re made by preserving eggs – duck, chicken or quail, typically – in a mixture made of ash, clay, quicklime, salt and rice hulls for weeks or even months. They’ll look incredibly cool once ready to be eaten, with each part of the egg having a distinct flavor.
16. ✦ Chicken Feet (Asia)
Chicken feet is a dish that can be found in several different regions of Asia, cooked in diverse ways depending on where you’re eating it. In China, for example, it’s served as a bar snack, in a soup or even as a main dish. In Korea, it’s typically made as spicy as it can get, popular to be eaten together with some strong alcohol. I had some tasty ones at Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong, known as one of the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world!
17. ✧ Coconut Worms (Vietnam)
A specialty of Vietnam’s Southwest region, you can find these coconut worms served in different kinds of dishes, from grilled to pickled. They’re big and might be terrifying at first to see. But they can also be a delicious treat to eat!
18. ✦ Cuy Guinea Pig (Peru)
Another cute animal that’s part of the cuisine in South America, most specifically in Peru (though it can be found elsewhere as well). Locals usually save this dish for special events, but it is available for tourists to sample in restaurants and at food vendors. If weird food is your thing, this could be towards the top of that list! We had some fried cuy in Cusco as a celebratory meal after hiking the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
19. ✧ Donkey Penis (China)
Yes, you read that right. It’s another dish that might weird many of us out while being considered a delicacy in China, where it does actually exist as a dish.
20. ✧ Durian (Southeast Asia)
You’ve probably already heard of durian, the tropical fruit native to Southeast Asia? In a way, it’s one of the least weird food items on this list, and it does exist in various forms like ice cream, cream puffs, and so on. However, what does make this particular fruit so strange and (in)famous is the strong foul odor it carries – so strong, in fact, that you’ll get fined if you’re caught carrying durian with you on the metro in Singapore!
21. ✦ Baby Eel (Spain)
Did you know that baby eels are actually one of the most expensive foods in Spain? It wasn’t originally so, and they were a quite common dish in the Basque Country, but they’ve since become more a luxury than a commodity. There are a couple of different ways that you can use baby eels in a dish, but one of the most typical of them is to just spice it up with some garlic and oil.
22. ✧ Escamoles (Mexico)
Escamoles are edible ant larvae and pupae, native to the Central Mexico region. They’ve said to have existed since the Aztecs days, so make sure to stop by a restaurant and try them out while you’re on your Aztecs tour! They’re usually either served pan-fried, in tacos, in omelets or with guacamole and tortillas.
23. ✦ Escargot (France, India, Italy)
These land snails are another dish on this weird list that, while a bit strange, probably isn’t one you’re hearing about for the first time. But did you know that France isn’t the only place where it’s custom to eat them? They’re most typically served as an appetizer – or, as an hors d’oeuvre, as the French like to say.
24. ✦ Foie Gras (France)
Another delicacy typical to France, foie gras is made of duck or goose liver. It literally translates to “fat liver”, an appropriate term to use as the livers have been enlarged using a specific feeding technique. Though drawing some controversy nowadays, it is still considered to be one of the globe’s top luxury foods.
25. ✦ Frogs Legs (France)
This is a rather popular French dish, made of frog legs that are often prepared with butter, garlic and parsley sauce. First you’ll have to dip them into flour, of course! You’ll likely end up liking this dish quite a lot, so don’t shy away from trying it.
26. ✧ Fugu Blowfish (Japan)
There’s no way you haven’t heard of this one yet! The Fugu blowfish is considered one of the top delicacies to eat in Japan and it’s probably one of the weird food dishes around the globe that people would be most excited to try out. However, in good and in bad, what makes this dish so famous worldwide is that blowfish can actually be dangerous to eat – deadly so!
27. ✧ Haggis (Scotland)
For the Scottish, haggis is a national food they might not blink at the thought of eating. But the rest of us may shutter upon hearing it’s not just any kind of savory pudding, but one specifically cooked with a mix of sheep’s liver, heart and lungs. And yet, it’s not a meal experience you’ll want to pass up!
28. ✧ Hákarl (Iceland)
Another one for national dishes is hákarl, an Icelandic national dish. It doesn’t lose out to haggis in its weirdness level, however, as it is a cured and fermented dish made of shark meat. Because of its strong scent and fishy taste, it may not fit everyone’s taste, and the Icelandic typically eat it specifically during their midwinter festival time, but if you’re up for the culinary challenge then it’s fairly easy to find in stores in Iceland.
29. ✦ Heart – Chicken, Cow or Lamb
Another one that may cause cold chills run down your spine, trying out an animal heart for dinner can be a surprising dining experience. For example, chicken heart is considered to taste just like any other lean meat and be highly nutritious. Beef heart is also lean and tasty, as are lamb hearts.
30. ✧ Hormigas Culonas Big Butt Ants (Colombia)
Just the name alone intrigues me to try this dish native to Colombia’s Santander region. You’ll also find yourself in trouble trying to find this centuries old dish anywhere else outside of Colombia, making it a truly special treat to try on your vacation. You can go to a restaurant, and order a dish which includes these ants in some fashion, or you can just get some as a snack from a street vendor.
31. ✧ Huitlacoche (Mexico)
Another Aztecs dish, huitlacoche is a type of fungus growing on corn ears. May not sound appetizing, but it’s actually used in a variety of dishes in Mexico, including enchiladas. If you want to try your hand at creating a dish with this weird ingredient, a Mexican food specialty store is your best bet.
32. ✦ Jelly Fish (Burma, China, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand)
There are specific type of jellyfish that are edible, which is what a variety of countries use to make their dishes with. For example, in Japan you can get jellyfish sushi, in Thailand you can order noodles made of jellyfish, and many countries also use jellyfish in salads. Japan takes the strangeness to a whole new level, though, as they’ve also discovered jellyfish ice cream!
33. ✧ Kangaroo (Australia)
For the rest of the world, kangaroo may be a cute animal that symbolizes Australia and can’t be seen in the wild, but in Australia it is a somewhat common meat to eat. It is high in protein and incredibly low in fat, plus it’s loaded with a lot of nutrients. Its meat tastes similar to the meats you already are familiar with and a safe point start sampling kangaroo meat from might be a kangaroo burger.
34. ✧ Khash (Azerbaijan and Georgia)
Traditional to several countries in the region that Azerbaijan and Georgia belong to, khash is a boiled meat dish made of various cow and sheep parts, not uncommonly including feet, head and stomach. It’s typically eaten in soup form, and in some places, like Armenia, you’ll actually eat it with your hands. Khash is definitely a dish often eaten exclusively at winter time, preferably with some alcohol to help digest it.
35. ✦ Locusts (Africa, Middle East, Asia)
Another food that can be found across different continents, yet be considered a weird food, are locusts. Known also as grasshoppers, one main reason for utilizing them in the kitchen is to decrease the damage done to crops in the areas there are many of them. Locusts are also liked for how high in protein and minerals they are.
36. ✧ Muktuk (Greenland)
If you ever happen to find yourself in a place as extraordinary as Greenland, then you must try their extraordinary dishes as well! Muktuk is a traditional dish for Inuit and Chukchi, made from the skin and blubber of whales, most often bowhead whale. It can be eaten raw or in various other ways like frozen, deep fried or even pickled.
37. ✦ Oysters (Worldwide)
Although raw oysters are a worldwide delicacy, they deserve their spot as a strange food to eat! For the very best oysters, you may want to make your way to France, or so they say, but you can also get some yummy oysters in different parts of the US, like Maine. To complete your oyster eating experience, don’t forget that glass of red wine!
38. ✦ Pigeon (France, Britain, Ireland)
Yep, surprisingly many weird foods come out of Western Europe! In France especially it’s considered a delicacy, with history dating back centuries, occasionally combining with another weird French dish, foie gras. Pigeon can also be found at many dinner tables in Britain and Ireland during the fall season which is their wood pigeon game season.
39. ✦ Pigs Tail (South America, Puerto Rico)
Though it may at first sound unappetizing, it just might be the South Americans and Puerto Ricans know what they’re doing incorporating it in their food culture. The cooking methods vary based on the region and the dish in question, making pig tail surprisingly and wonderfully diverse as a food ingredient! The weirdest may be Puerto Rico where pig tails are eaten raw in sandwiches.
40. ✧ Rats (Southeast Asia)
In Vietnam rats are actually seen as quite the surprising delicacy. They’re more common to be eaten in the regions where farming is the norm, thanks to their protein richness, but you may be able to find it on the menu in some city restaurants as well. And just like other meats, rats can be prepared in various ways.
41. ✦ Rattlesnake (China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand)
Rattlesnake’s meat is described to be tender and light, with a taste similar to chicken. Some common ways to eat rattlesnake is by frying it. You may also sometimes come across huge liquor bottles with rattlesnakes inside.
42. ✦ Reindeer (Norway)
When you’re visiting the Northern regions in the Northern Europe, don’t be surprised to find out that reindeer is common to be consumed as food there! You can eat it in several different ways, like in soups or sauces, but also stews and casseroles. There is a long tradition behind eating reindeer, and it is especially traditional for the indigenous Sami people of this region.
43. ✦ Rocky Mountain Oysters (Canada, United States)
Raw oysters were already mentioned on this weird food bucket list, but don’t confuse Rocky Mountain oysters with them! For one thing, they’re actually made of bull testicles as opposed to oysters! With that said, if you’re curious to try them out, you can find them all around the Rocky Mountain area, and will basically have your pick with how you’ll want them prepared – deep fried, braised or poached, to start.
44. ✧ Salo (Ukraine)
Salo is a pork fatback dish native to Ukraine and its nearby countries. It consists of slices of cured meat, sometimes with skin and sometimes without. Mostly it is a weird dish because of the absence of lean meat cuts in it.
45. ✧ Sannakji (Korea)
An actually weird delicacy to come from Korea is sannakji, which basically means live octopus. Yes, you read that right; the octopus is and isn’t alive when you begin eating it, wrapped in leaves and spice slapped on top, as the octopus has been cut into pieces immediately before serving and the pieces will still be moving once it’s in front of you (and that’s the whole point!). You can easily find sannakji at a fish market, but several restaurants serve it as well.
46. ✧ Scorpion (Southeast Asia, China)
Although scorpions are known to be poisonous, in China and Southeast Asia they’ve found ways to cook it to make it safe for eating. So while eating a scorpion sounds like a cool thing to do, remember to only try it out in a trusted location. Your options for scorpion won’t be scarce, especially not in China where it’s a common street food.
47. ✦ Scrapple (United States)
Scrapple lends itself to the old country school of thinking of not letting any part of the animal go to waste! It is a mush made of pork scraps mixed with flour and spices. It’s then made into a loaf before getting pan-fried. The dish is native to Pennsylvania state and it’s quite possibly one of the least strange foods to make this list, so a good place to start checking off this bucket list from!
48. ✧ Sea Cucumber (East and Southeast Asia)
This healthy dish rich in vitamin A is popular to eat across East and Southeast Asia. You can find it both raw and dried, and something in between. In Japan it’s often served as a sashimi dish and in Korea’s Jeju region it’s considered a street food.
49. ✦ Sea Urchin (Japan, Chile, United States)
If you’ve ever seen a sea urchin, the first thing to come to mind probably wouldn’t be “hey, let’s eat it!”. Well, as it is, once upon a time someone came up with exactly that feeling, and now we can find it as a street snack in Japan and in a Chilean sandwich. If you happen to be in California, especially the San Francisco and Northern California areas, you can find a range of restaurants serving sea urchin in a variety of dishes.
50. ✧ Shirako (Japan)
To be honest, Japan has a lot of competition for the weirdest food in the country, but some think shirako takes the cake. That is because shirako is fish semen, but while it sounds crazy at first, if you’re a fan of roe then this might not be a big of a food jump for you. The most common ways to serve shirako is either deep fried in tempura or on top of rice.
51. ✧ Snake Blood (Vietnam)
Typically served as a type of wine, you might be surprised by how easy it is to find snake blood to drink in Vietnam. It doesn’t seem to matter which part of the country you’re in, and Hanoi in particular is known for its snake restaurants. Whether it’ll compare to wine made out of grapes, you’ll just have to find out for yourself!
52. ✦ Snake Whiskey (Laos, Thailand)
A slightly less jarring way to utilize snake in a cuisine is by turning it into whiskey. To make this drink, a snake is trapped in a bottle, which is then filled with rice wine or sake. It’s definitely the most unique kind of whiskey you’ll ever taste.
53. ✧ Stargazey Pie (England)
Initially, this pie, native to England’s Cornwall, doesn’t sound so strange: it’s made of baked pilchards mixed with eggs and potatoes, with a pastry crust on top. And then you’ll notice the fish heads peeking out of the crust, seemingly gazing upward, hence the name. Whether you’ll find this amusing or disgusting, the dish could be delicious either way.
54. ✦ Steak Tartare (France)
When you were growing up, you were probably taught, on several occasions that meat should never ever be eaten raw. And then in comes France with its raw beef steak dish! To make the dish complete, a raw egg will be added on top.
55. ✧ Surströmming (Sweden)
A traditional dish in coastal Sweden, surströmming means Baltic herring fermented in salt sauce and sold in tin cans. When utilizing it for food after fermentation, you’ll want to remove its insides like roe, and then cut the fish into smaller pieces. It’s typically served with boiled potatoes and white bread.
56. ✧ Tequila Worm (Mexico)
Okay, calling it tequila worm is technically not correct as it’s actually Mezcal worm. Mezcal is an alcoholic drink similar to tequila, just not as known worldwide. The worm is also not a traditional part of mezcal production, but has somehow made its way as a common addition to it.
57. ✦ Tripe (Worldwide)
Another dish that is eaten worldwide, although may not be as commonly known, is tripe. It is a type of edible lining from various different farm animals’ stomachs. Because of how tough this meat is, it’s usually cooked by boiling or stewing to get its texture chewier for eating, typically added into soups, stews and sausages.
58. ✧ Tuna Eyeballs (China, Japan)
In Japan, you can most commonly find tuna eyeballs served as a snack in izakayas, which are Japanese style pubs. They’re typically either sautéed or braised before serving. You can eat it in similar fashion in China.
59. ✧ Turtle Soup (China, Malaysia, Japan, United States)
Though Turtle Soup sounds more like the type of food you’d find served in East and Southeastern Asia, and it does exist there as well, you can also find it to be a common dish in Minnesota of the United States. Well, more specifically speaking, it used to be a somewhat common of a dish but these days it’s largely the older population that will readily eat it. You can find the version of turtle soup that’s eaten in the States to be most popular to be eaten around Lent.
60. ✧ Wasp Crackers (Japan)
I’m not sure wasp crackers are the souvenir you’ll want to bring home from your trip to Japan, it’s a neat little snack to try once whilst there. To make these crackers, the wasps are boiled and then added to a rice cracker mix. Unlike most other items on this list, wasp crackers are actually a recent invention Japan came up with.
61. ✧ Witchetty Grub (Australia)
To finish off this list in style, here’s one more type of larvae for human consumption! You can eat it either cooked or simply raw as it is. Traditionally it’s been cooked over hot ashes for a brief moment.
. . .
Be honest: how many of these seriously weirded you out and how many of them seem surprisingly similar to what can be found in your home cuisine? What is the weirdest food you have tried out to date? Of these weird food items on the list, which one are you most likely to try out next and which ones will never make it onto your bucket list? If you already have some experience trying these strange foods out, I’d love to hear about them!
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