With spring comes food trucks, travel, and getting off that damn sofa! If you are feeling particularly antsy this spring push yourself and take a food risk! Here is a list of street foods that would scare most American tourists and make you a badass foodie!
10. Centipede on a stick
Yum yum yum. Okay, picture this. You’ve coerced your besties to join you on a backpacking trip to Asia and you think that you have to live like the locals so decide you are going to buy all of your food at markets and cook it in your kitchen in your air bnb because you’re cool that way. Right? Once you get to the market, let’s say it’s the Donghuamen Night Market in China, and you are feeling like you are in your element, you’ve got this, you’ve traveled before, no biggie. Then you see it. You see those creepy crawlers on a stick and even though you know that you would typically scream, stand up on a chair, and spend ten minutes trying to get rid of the thing… you know you are now in Asia and that this automatically makes you braver and that screaming or being scared of these bugs would be totally lame. So you eat it. You eat the centipedes on a stick. They crunch between your teeth. Can you imagine that crunch!? Feel their body moving around in your mouth? The centipede is not mushy or chewy. They do not ooze. They are crispy and best served with some salt. You better hope they are not raw though… Eating raw centipede can be dangerous and not as crunchy and delicious as they are intended to be. So, you know… just make sure they look cooked! If they are not cooked there is a chance… a possibility that your body gets infected with a parasite that can get into your brain. But, that only happens super rarely to people who don’t know that the centipede from the markets in Asia need to be cooked through and pack a good crunch!
9. BBQ Bat
Usually they fly around on summer nights when we are safe at our camp fires roasting marshmallows. They see through sonar hearing and make little squeaks in the night air. But, if you find yourself in Indonesia you can actually eat one of these black bats that we know so well. They are served in street carts all over the place, but they can also be found in restaurants! Go figure! The fur is normally removed. Thanks chef. As are the wings and the head. Yeah, thanks for that too. Then, the bat can either be cooked BBQ style, or stir-fried, or even stewed. They taste kind of like chicken and are pretty ‘clean’ eating for us humans because bats have a fruit diet. So if you are looking for the healthy choice and wanting to be adventurous barbequed bat might be the street food for you! They are delicious, affordable, and not that hard to find if you’re in the right country… Bats are such a popular snack choice that in some locations they are being made endangered. Apparently you can head over to Tomohon Market in North Sulawesi for some of these tasty treats. No, you will not get any special hearing powers if you ingest these creatures. Too bad though… supersonic hearing could be a pretty dope superpower.
This picture says it all doesn’t it? Looks just like a typical family picnic. What about you? No? Well, guess you caught us. We don’t typically have rats present at our summer cookouts but you just never know what could happen. In Africa rats are a favorite! These animals have delicious tender meat that may rival some of the food you are used to. Rats, rats, rats! Who is salivating just thinking about eating one of these? We will never know until we try right? Rat meat is usually very safe to eat. It is farmed in certain countries, as any other meat would be, and is even being sold at a premium price in some cases. Laura Ginn, a Brooklyn based artist included the eating of rat in one of her exhibits! She had been a vegetarian for sixteen years and broke her pledge to eat veg by hosting a 100$ per rat dinner. It is not completely crazy to think we may see rat popping up locally. Keep a look out for this street food that may just tickle your fancy.
7. Snake Soup
If you are lucky enough to find a food cart that serves snake soup you know you have hit the jack pot. This warm delicacy is normally found in China. If can be boiled up to perfection with other meats, such as pork, chicken, or beef. The meat from the snake is cut into fine, thin slivers, and can sometimes be sucked up like you would suck up spaghetti. A bowl of this will make you thankful not only in a “I did it – I am such a cool person” way or a “watch me travel the world like Anthony Bourdain” way, but in a “Oh my goodness this is amazing my tummy is so happy” kind of way. This soup is a luxury that is enjoyed by the wealthy. You might get lucky though and see this soup pop up on the streets of Hong Kong in the winter months. Cooking snake also takes a very skilled chef. Snake shops are not as prevalent as they used to be because not as many chefs are taking the time to learn the much needed skills required for serving snake. So, really, if you are lucky enough to find a place that serves snake soup you should get in that line to eat it. You will not regret it!
6. Casu Marzu from Sardinia
This might look like nothing different than a big and empty piece of parmesan cheese at first. But, look again. It really really isn’t. In fact, this isn’t even legal. So, we’re not saying go try it, because we would never break the law. This specialty occurs when cheese matures and ripens until it starts decaying and insect larvae form. Wow. By the time the casu marzu is ready to be eaten, thousands of these creatures have formed in the cheese. You know, these can also be referred to as maggots. Yes, you heard me right. Maggots form in the cheese. Wondering how long that would take? Us too! Well it takes long enough for more than 100 maggots to form… more than two hundred… it takes long enough for about a thousand maggots to form! Then, and only then, is this specialty eaten. Many eat it when the maggots are still alive, but if you are not feeling that risky you can put the meal in a plastic bag and seal it. The maggots will be starved from oxygen and eventually die and then you can enjoy your cheese and maggots in peace. Without them moving around. Those who eat this swear it is an aphrodisiac. Maybe that is because eating this is totally illegal. Illegal as in it is banned in the EU for obvious health reasons. Who wouldn’t find this kind of hot and arousing? So, all in all, this out of the ordinary food could and should scare most American tourists… but if you are willing to do something off the grid and daring this would be it. It could also be exactly what you need to get an evening going, if you know what I mean… But, you know. We don’t condone anything illegal. Even for food adventure purposes or as an aphrodisiac. We don’t. Okay? We don’t.
5. Roasted Crocodile
Now, this next one is particularly different because when you see this being sold on the street you typically see the whole animal roasting. Tip of head to tip of tail. Can you guess what I am talking about here? No, it is not a pig. That’s too easy and too basic a food for this top ten list. I’m talking about crocodile! In the Philippines crocodiles are put on a spit and cooked over an open fire. These crocodiles are often seasoned heavily and then marinated for hours. It is a tougher meat than most, so marinating is important to allow flavor to seep into the crocodile. Sometimes the croc’s are marinated in beer and then smeared with flour so they crisp on the outside and stay moist on the inside. You might want a beer for yourself when you taste this street food. Depending on the size of the thing this can also be a very good sharing snack! So, find a friend or bring some home for mama!
4. Tuna Eyeballs
Next up on our list of 10 foods that would scare American Tourists is the eyeball. Not just any eyeball, but the tuna eyeball. Some rather picky Americans may already not like tuna, so this would really push those people out of their comfort zone. Others may be comfortable with tuna from the can. Then, there may be some people who like sushi grade tuna gently and lightly seared on a high heat. You know, whatever tuna person you are it doesn’t matter tuna eyeballs are probably different for everyone. This street food will watch you as you pass by it in the markets in Japan, a country that also has a fetish for eyeball licking by the way. So who knows what up with Japan and eyeballs? But, whatever, that isn’t the point. What is the point is that tuna eyeballs are jam packed with omega three! They are chewy, but they are so good for you! Risk it and eat it to help your body and your brain!
3. Hakarl from Iceland
We’ve all wanted to go there… Iceland, with its northern lights and instagramable views… but, no one told you about the Hakari, did the? What could this Icelandic word mean? What could they be serving that is so different and unlike anything served off the carts in Times Square? Well, it is nothing other than rotten shark. This food is unlike any other in the world. It goes way back to the Viking times, making it not only different but actually very exciting historically! If you eat this it is like you are living the Viking life! But… when the Vikings did it they were eating Greenland shark which ended up being toxic to humans. Nowadays this isn’t going down. Now, different kinds of sharks are being eaten that are totally okay for consumption. The shark is fermented and then sold by vendors around the country and even in grocery stores. Watch out for this one. It will be a food trip for your taste buds!
2. Puffer Fish
And now we get to number two. Puff, puff, Puffer fish. This is a food that may scare American tourists because, wait for it… it might actually kill you. The operative word here being might. It could not. But, it might. So make sure your will is in order, you have returned all the books you borrowed from the library, and you told your folks you loved them because this delicacy might just be the end of you. That being said, many high end restaurants around the world also serve puffer fish. So if they can do it, then why not you? It is safe to eat. If you are weary, and any traveler is weary, right?! Picking this up off the street in Japan is risky because you may just not know when enough is enough, you know? Apparently, you can find the best puffer fish in Yamaguchi. So go, go, go! Just keep in mind that what you need to know is that it is called fugu in Japanese and that if you eat too much it could paralyze or kill you, but if you eat just the right amount it will be out of this world incredible.
1. Snake Wine
The number one food that can and will scare American tourists is snake wine! This is so scary because, well, look at it. Really look at it. It looks like something you concoct if you are plotting revenge against someone. It looks like a potion from a kid’s movie. It doesn’t look real. Right? But, this snake wine is not kidding around. It has been consumed in China since about 700BC!!! This alcoholic beverage can also give everyone the spooks because it is made with venomous snakes. The kind that would kill you if they bit you. But this is no snake bite in the desert. This is a sip of liquid in a market. This is snake wine in China or maybe even Vietnam and it shouldn’t pose any threat to its drinker. In fact, this brew is supposed to invigorate a person and improve life! So do not be caught off guard by the large snakes twisted up into the glass jars. That is what it is supposed to look like! This is a major winner in the risk factor because it is frightening to drink (so you’re brave), it is possibly dangerous because it could harm your heath (super unlikely though, but once again you look brave), and it is just down right different from any cabernet sovereign you’d have at home. Next time you’re at a street vendor serving snake wine buy it and bring it home so you can surprise your family with it at the next big occasion! It will be a talking point to remember!