Culture

Adventurous Foods to Try from Around the World

A photograph of the author, Annie Bergman.

By Annie Bergman

December 14, 2018

Adventurous Foods to Try from Around the World

You’ve probably heard about Canada’s weird gravy-topped French fries (poutine) and the politely-named Rocky Mountain Oysters from the good ole USofA, but what about fried tarantulas or fertilized duck eggs?

Around the world, food delicacies are as varied as the people who eat them. If you think gravy on fries is strange, just wait until you see a few of these examples we gathered from our project countries.

Jaiprakashsingh at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Fried Tarantulas in Cambodia

Arachnophobes, beware. If you’ve never seen a plate full of fried tarantulas, well, it’s as terrifying as you might imagine. Fried tarantuals are a seasonal delicacy only offered during the rainy season and mostly found in street markets. I saw them stacked tall on plates while waiting on the ferry in Southeast Cambodia along with platters of crickets and fried sparrow. According to Business Insider, locals prepare them with sugar and salt and then fry them crispy. Think of it as Cambodia’s kettle corn.

Insects Unlocked [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Red Ant Chutney in India

Anyone planning for a football party, add this to your “dips” list. It’s not really fair to call this Red Ant Chutney an Indian delicacy because of the varied cuisines of the country’s different regions. This dip comes from Chattisgarh state in central India. Made with red ants and their eggs and thought to possibly have medicinal qualities, be sure to have plenty of milk around to put out the tongue fires this will start.

Foodienut [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Balut in the Philippines

This one is hard to stomach for many. Balut is fertilized duck or chicken eggs that are boiled just before they hatch. Duck is the far more common option —at least where I was in Mindanao, one of the southern-most islands in the archipelago. I was told you couldn’t really feel the beak or feet as you ate it, but I couldn’t get that thought out of my head. I’m told they’re best when served with a little salt and vinegar.

Guinea Pig in Peru

Fellow Heifer writer, Jason, says that if you’ve never tried it, guinea pig tastes kind of like rabbit. Around Cuzco, the highest demand for guinea pig, known locally as cuy, coincides with the Corpus Christi celebration in June. Chiriuchu, the traditional dish of the event, is abundant during this time and combines elements from all parts of the country—roasted guinea pig, chicken, fish, beef sausage, cheese, toasted corn kernels and peppers. 

A plate of chapulines in Oaxaca.

Fried Grasshoppers in Mexico

I first learned that eating grasshoppers was a thing when I read Lonesome Dove. “Maybe I’ll fry up some grasshoppers tonight,” Po Campo said. “Grasshoppers make good eating if you fry them crisp and dip them in a little molasses.” Chapulines as they’re known in Mexico aren’t served everywhere, but are common in Oaxaca. And if Po’s logic holds up, they’re best when they’re older grasshoppers.

A grass cutter from a Heifer project in Ghana.

Grasscutters in Ghana

If only Wesley and Princess Buttercup knew how delicious the ROUSes were, they could have not only survived the fire swamp, but thrived there. In Ghana, grasscutters are the real-life rodents of unusual size and are commonly served up in a tomato-based soup. They taste rather, well, earthy. It truly has a flavor of its own. Gritty. And, if someone says it tastes like chicken? They're lying.