I have eaten some exceptionally good food on our travels. I have also had some pretty insipid unforgettable meals too. However, one question I keep getting asked is what is the most unusual food I have eaten? So here you go, in reverse order this is my top 5 of unusual foods I have eaten during our trip so far.

5. Kangaroo

We don’t get many kangaroos hopping around in England, so this is certainly an ‘exotic’ meat, but a very tasty one. High in protein and low in fat it is very healthy and is also very tender and tasty. Australians know how to do good (I mean really, really good!) pies, so what better way to sample kangaroo than in a pie? I wasn’t disappointed and to me it tasted even better than throwing a shrimp on the barbie in the stereotypical Australian fashion. Kangaroo meat is already exported to more than 55 countries around the globe, so it is probably easier to get hold of and try for yourself than you realise, meaning you don’t have to go all the way to the land down under to eat Skippy!

 

Skippy pie

Skippy pie

4. Khmer Barbecue

I love a good barbecue, so when I got the chance to sample barbecue in Cambodia it was a no brainer. As well as the standard barbecue fare of chicken and pork on my plate I was also treated to the somewhat unusual additions of crocodile, snake and frog. I can safely say that this is not an everyday selection of meat that you will find on many barbecues around the world, but I loved it. This was one of those times when the actual meal itself, while initially ordered for novelty factor, was actually really good and I would happily eat any of the meats again. Frog in particular seemed very popular in Cambodia and for anyone wanting to know if it tastes like chicken………no it tastes like frog!

 

My Cambodian bbq wasn't quite as impressive as this but you get the idea

My Cambodian bbq wasn’t quite as impressive as this but you get the idea

3. Vietnamese Cat/Dog

Ok so let me clear one thing up straight away, I actually ordered baby back pork ribs. We went into a reputable looking restaurant in Hanoi venturing away from the usual street food fare for one meal. The problem is the ribs I received lathered in barbecue sauce were not of the pork variety, that much I know. In fact the only conclusion I could come to judging by the size of the aforementioned ribs was that it was either cat or a small dog. It tasted like no meat I had ever had before and was ridiculously chewy. You don’t see many cats in Vietnam and this may be the reason for that, they are been sold as a pork substitute. Not an experience that I will be looking to relive anytime soon and if I ever go back to Vietnam I will be staying clear of ribs!

It's ok you're safe here, you don't live in Vietnam

It’s ok you’re safe here, you don’t live in Vietnam

2. Termites

You know how it is, you are in the middle of the Amazon Jungle on a trek in the sweltering heat and you start to get a bit peckish but don’t have any food with you. The guide then points out a termite nest and tells you they are edible and asks if anyone would like to try eating some. Well in my opinion it would be rude not to, it became apparent very quickly that I was the only one within our group who held this opinion.

 

I moved forward on my own and placed my hand on the tree to allow the termites to crawl onto my hand and proceeded to then attempt to lick them off my hand and get them into my mouth before they escaped up my arm and under my t-shirt. Once in my mouth it was a game of hide and seek as I tried to get them crunched up and swallowed as they scuttled around my mouth trying to avoid their imminent fate. Who would have known that termites taste a bit like mint? Not me, but apparently they do. Don’t believe me? Well the next time you are in the Amazon Jungle give them a go and see for yourself!

 

Remember folks, next time you find yourselves here make sure to try the termites

Remember folks, next time you find yourselves here make sure to try the termites

1. Guinea Pig

Without doubt the strangest thing I have eaten during our travels is cuy or guinea pig to you and me. Peruvians go crazy for these little critters and consume an estimated 65 million guinea pigs each year. It is such a mainstay of their diet that within the cathedral in Cusco a painting of the Last Supper shows guinea pig as the meal of choice for the main man and his disciples.

 

Rack of roasted guinea pigs

Rack of roasted guinea pigs

 

I was told that the best place to sample guinea pig was just outside Cusco in a little place called Tipon where you would get the authentic local experience rather than the overpriced tourist fare in Cusco itself. I was not disappointed and as we entered someone’s back garden that apparently doubled as a local eatery we were given our first sight of what my cuy al horno (roasted guinea pig) would look like as a tray full of the little blighters was removed from a large mud oven.

Yes, yes I really did eat this

Yes, yes I really did eat this

 

It arrived in front of me on a plate fully intact, including teeth. Thankfully it had been filleted and instead of intestines there were copious amounts of herbs acting as stuffing. I was not really sure how I was going to eat this! After the mandatory pictures the chef appeared holding a huge meat cleaver. Had we offended the locals with our stupid gringo behaviour and playing with our food? Luckily the chef smiled, gestured to me to pass her the guinea pig and proceeded with two swift blows to decapitate and then slice it in half. It was passed back to me minus head in a now manageable and easier to eat form. It had the consistency of a salty peking duck, that is the best way to describe it. It was flavoursome, but I am not sure that it would make it into the list of the best food we have sampled during our trip.

 

So there you have it, my top 5 weird and wonderful food experiences on our journey so far. If you enjoyed reading please show us some love by clicking the heart and why not leave a comment or tell us about the strangest thing you have eaten.

 

27 Responses

  1. Sam

    Guinea pig was the one thing I kinda wanted to try while in Peru but didn’t get around to it. I hear they also do it well in Ecuador, so maybe I’ll still get a chance! I never would’ve thought of termites as minty! The idea of eating insects doesn’t necessarily freak me out, but having something move around your mouth while you’re trying to crunch it to death doesn’t seem a little…squicky?!
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    • Paul

      I would definitely encourage you to give the guinea pig a go. It’s not something that crops up on many menus around the world, so if you get the chance in Ecuador go for it. As for the termites, they honestly were not too bad at all, although I did think that they would be the thing that freaked most people out when they read this post.

      Reply
  2. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    Way to go, Paul! Probably the thing that squicked me out most on this list was the meat of possible canine/feline origins. I don’t know why, but the thought of being confident you’re biting into one thing and then finding out it is something else really unsettles me, and dogs are firmly on my “won’t eat” list (I am less attached to cats, but my understanding is they don’t taste very good anyway). Kangaroo, I’d be fine with, and I’ve had frog & croc before. I’m sure when we make it to South America one day we will try cuy.
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    • Paul

      Thanks Steph. Slightly different to our meal with you and Tony I am sure you will agree! Yes the problem with the cat/dog in Vietnam is that I didn’t order that! At least I knew what I was getting myself into with everything else, so I had nobody to blame but myself if it didn’t taste good. Like you I prefer my cats and dogs to stay off the menu and certainly wouldn’t intentionally ever order one again! On the other hand I can highly recommend kangaroo!

      Reply
  3. Ron Deaton

    Who would have thought it? I don’t ever remember you being a fussy eater when you were growing up but, knowing of your intense dislike of spiders, find it hard to comprehend how you could bring yourself to eat live termites! I suppose that from here on in everything that moves in your garden will be fair game! I wouldn’t give much for the long term future of the crayfish in Oak Beck. And the grey squirrels that romp about in your garden will do well to keep out of your clutches. I know for sure I’ll be extremely selective in what I eat next time you have a BBQ.

    Reply
    • Paul

      You don’t have to worry about the next bbq, I don’t think Maddie is too keen on branching out into these other “food groups” either! The termites were so small they really were not an issue to eat. I would have had more of a problem if it was a bigger bug that took more chewing or exploded with gunk when you bit into it! Having said all of that, you can’t seriously tell me you wouldn’t like a nice fresh crayfish cooked at the next bbq?

      Reply
    • Paul

      It’s all about the self sufficiency Lau! Hope you are looking forward to your next meal at our house and no you can’t bring your own food just in case!

      Reply
    • Paul

      I must agree that on reflection I think the guinea pigs probably make for better pets than a meal of choice for me. As for the chickens, you will be glad to know that in Asia they put this food colouring on them to appeal to the kids who keep them as pets until the chicks get older and fatter and then meet their inevitable fate! The food colouring is completely harmless to the chicks, or so we were told at least!

      Reply
    • Paul

      I agree completely about cat and dog, I would not knowingly have even contemplated eating them, but termites, go on Jordan, give them a go, you will like them I promise!

      Reply
    • Paul

      The chicks will be safe for a little while yet, at least until the food colouring wears off. It’s when they get bigger with a bit more meat on their bones that I fear for them. They do look ridiculously cute though and I can totally understand why the kids go crazy to have them as pets.

      Reply
  4. Rob

    Well it’s great to see somebody has found a use for guinea pigs, I’ve always said the are completely pointless but it seems not…

    I am really looking forward to sampling some of the more unusual food on our travels, already sample a bit of kangaroo and ostrich, not sure about the cat though…
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    • Paul

      Ha ha, not a fan of guinea pigs then I take it Rob. I haven’t tried ostrich, I will have to put that on the list. Then again I am sure you have tried all manner of culinary offerings available in Scotland which will probably make this post seem rather tame in comparison! Battered Mars bar and can of Iron Bru anyone?

      Reply
    • Paul

      Hi Marissa. Yes I am pretty open trying most food, although there are still things that I would prefer to stay clear of given a choice. Apart from the cat/dog the rest of this list was fine and I think the images your mind conjures up are worse than the actual eating of the food itself.

      Reply
  5. Hannah

    The guinea pig you were served looks so unappetizing it’s actually a stroke of genius! The skippy pie actually looked pretty and pretty tasty too. Did you ever get to Cambodia and eat the big deep fried spiders? I wanted to try but when I saw them up close I just couldn’t!
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    • Paul

      Yes the guinea pig didn’t look that appetizing with all the teeth and claws still attached that is for sure. When we were in Cambodia I didn’t actually see any of the deep fried spiders, although I had heard about them from other people. To be honest I think that if I had eaten one of those that would have shot to number 1 on the list and it is making me squirm a bit just thinking about it!!!

      Reply
    • Paul

      Yes I agree there are definitely certain things you shouldn’t over think when eating in some of the more “interesting” locations as if you did you would drive yourself mad. I once watched a woman in Bangkok preparing a plucked chicken to eat by literally washing the meat on a very busy sidewalk with a hosepipe whilst people were walking by and practically standing on it. There was probably a lower chance of getting ill from eating it before she started her preparation!

      Reply
  6. Zara @ Backpack ME

    I didn’t have the guts to try guinea pig in Peru or Ecuador.. they look TOO cute to be eaten. And the fact that they serve them full, as in with their full body and head there, doesn’t really help… But now seeing your pic with the TEETH well, that’s even worse!.. Maybe I missed out, but I don’t care! 😛
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    Reply
    • Paul

      I think whatever the food is, it does put a lot of people off when it comes in its “natural” form. I tend to be ok with most things, but I must admit I wasn’t expecting the teeth to still be attached!!! Once the head was removed it was more like a standard piece of meat as opposed to a cute little critter. That did make it easier to eat, there is no doubt about it.

      Reply
    • Paul

      Yeah I know they can do some pretty weird and wonderful things with food in Iceland and whale does sound interesting. I love haggis, but I know it is not to everyone’s taste!

      Reply
  7. Rosie

    Thanks for opening my eyes to this! Never would have thought of these, maybe I will try some soon. I’ve also written a similar post about foods you didn’t know you could eat.

    Reply

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