A non-destination specific post for today’s A-Z Challenge letter. Mostly because I used up my only “U” location for last years post when I wrote about Uluru. So instead I’m discussing the one thing all of us can relate to, whether we travel internationally or domestically or no further than our own multicultural home towns, …. unusual foods. Every country has them. Some little oddity, a dietary quirk if you will, that is a signature of our culture or geographic region. Some are more unusual than others, some are just a unique combination of globally available food products. So, here’s some of the different foods I’ve tried to date:
The first that comes to mind is sauteed tarantula in Cambodia. My first taste was in 2005 at a roadside stall somewhere on a road mid-way between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. There really weren’t any options around for a lunch stop but there was a lady with a basket full of fried up spiders. There’s no way to “pretty up” a spider … it’s a big black spider, I’m sure it still had little hairs on it’s legs but that could’ve been my imagination. But when in Cambodia … you must try these. I had them again on my second visit, in a restaurant in Phnom Penh. I will confess with shame or embarrassment, I’ve only ever snapped the legs off and eaten those. I can’t bring myself to eat the head or the abdomen. But the legs are delicious. Seriously – tasty, crunchy, flavoured with spices and sauces, they are really good eating. Not very filling though.
If you would prefer something more meaty, then Africa has some great options. On my first visit to Swakopmund in Namibia, I had dinner one night in a pizzeria called Napolitana. They have a game platter on offer which consists of the meat of four different animals … springbok, kudu, oryx and zebra. I need to be honest here, I couldn’t tell you which was which as they all taste pretty much the same. I did get an opportunity to try kudu again a couple of years ago at a lodge in Kruger (well, in the Klaserie private reserve to be specific) … but this time it was kudu carpaccio (thin slices of raw meat). It had a flavour that was a little too strong for my palate. Actually, when I reflect on it, my favourite dish at the lodge (ignoring the delicious malva pudding they serve for dessert) was a lettuce soup. Yep. Hot lettuce soup with a dollop of cream.
That kudu carpaccio wasn’t my first run in with raw meat either. I had been visiting a friend in Windhoek, Namibia and they served up a dish called Rohak for lunch. It’s basically a piece of hard bread with raw spiced mince topped with onion and pepper. The dish is German in origin and while I recognise it’s something available in many countries, under many names, it’s not a common food where I come from. That makes it unusual to me. And here in lies the beauty of what’s considered “unusual” and how it changes from one culture to another. Let me give you an example. Something which is completely normal and common for me but I’m willing to bet would be unusual for many of my foreign readers. Kangaroo. Whether as steaks or minced, kangaroo meat is very high in protein and low in fat, and is considered a healthier option than some other meats. However, it has a really strong taste (particularly the after taste) and it’s a meat which is best eaten rare. The more you cook it, the tougher it ends up. Now this post could go on and on, seriously, about all the weird and wonderful foods out there. I’ve barely even scratched the surface on the subject nor ticked off all the bizarre stuff I’ve eaten at home and abroad. So lets throw the floor open instead … why don’t you tell me about some of the unusual foods you’ve tried?
This post is part of my contribution to the April 2017 A-Z Challenge
For a list and links to all my challenge posts, click here
For those interesting in revisiting my 2016 challenge post for U, here’s the link: Snapshot – Uluru