Feeling adventurous? At first glance you may not be too enticed into eating the foods on this list, however, most are actually quite popular in the regions where they originated. And nothing beats trying a new dish abroad and discovering a favorite food you never knew existed. Still, we are well aware sometimes trying new foods requires an iron stomach and a courageous heart, especially if you’re eating stomach or heart.
But before you run for the hills give us a change to explain. These weird foods are considered delicacies in many countries and are full of heart-healthy and disease-fighting antioxidants. For several of these you may have to pinch your nose while taking the first bite, but your taste buds could be taken to bliss.
Have a favorite “weird food” that you discovered while traveling? Share your pick in the comments below!
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Durian is known as the "King of Fruits" and most popular in Southeast Asia. It is known to taste very sweet and delicious. The downside though is its "aroma" that can be detected from thousands of miles away (seriously, we aren't making this up). It is so odorous that it is illegal to carry a raw one on public transportation or through airports in much of Southeast Asia, making it literally a forbidden fruit in many places. As long as you hold your nose while chowing down you should have a pleasant experience. Just don't try to sneak one onto the subway!
The horseshoe crab does not really look like a crab at all, and it is much more closely related to spiders and scorpions than it is to crabs. Mostly popular in China, Hong Kong and Vietnam, you can also find it in certain shops in Alaska and Cape Cod. The female horseshoe crab is considered a delicacy because of its high-protein meat, and a common way to prepare one is by grilling it whole and then peeling back the underside of the shell to remove the eggs. The eggs can then be eaten right out of the shell or added to a salad or omelet for an extra, fishy tasting, bite.
Haggis is probably the most famous traditional Scottish food, and is made with liver, heart, and lungs of a sheep and mixed with onions, spices and oatmeal. Then it is all packed into a sheep's stomach and boiled. You can head to a Scottish grocery store, where cheaper brands of haggis made with artificial casings are sold. But if you're going for the genuine stuff, you'll probably need to head to Scotland where t's available countrywide in hotels, B&B's and pubs. The taste and consistancy of haggis has been compared to scrapple, a patty made from meat scraps (hence the name) served in the U.S.
Gordon Ramsey found himself in a bit of trouble in 2008 when he was filmed eating a puffin heart on his show "The F Word." Though puffin heart is a delicacy in Icelandic cuisine, many viewers of Gordon Ramsey's show complained about the incident. The seabirds have been a source of sustenance for Icelanders on the islands for centuries and traditionally the heart of a puffin is eaten raw while it is still warm. Today it can often be found smoked, grilled, or pan-fried and it supposedly tastes like a fisher version of chicken or duck.
Grasshoppers are a delicacy in many parts of the world because they are plentiful and full of protein. In some places, like rural Africa, they are an integral part of a meal to add fats, minerals, and vitamins to people's diets. In Asia, you can find them fried and sold in street markets, while in Mexico, a type called chapulines are often served with lime and garlic. It isn't too hard to find them in the U.S. either, especially in New York City. It is said that the flavor resembles shrimp, crab, or lobster.
It is well known that tequila is a product of the tequila plant, or blue agave. But did you know that people also enjoy ant larvae, or escamoles, which is harvested from the plant's roots? It is particularly popular in Central Mexico and was once considered a delicacy by the Aztecs. Mexicans supposedly call the unusual snack "insect caviar" and its price today continues to refelct this high-minded status. Escamoles have a poppy texture and a slightly nutty taste and are often pan-fried with butter and spices.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
These might appear to be delicious calamari, but not quite. Also known as prairie oysters, rocky mountain oysters are made of buffalo or bull testicles. They are actually quite common in the U.S., particularly in the west and legend has it that they were once favored by cowboys. Today they are often served at festivals in areas of the U.S. where farming and ranching are prevalent.
A smear of thick, black Vegemite on crisp toast is a favorite among Australians. Made from brewer's yeast, the spread was developed in Australia in the 1920s and has since been an Australian kitchen staple. This stuff is as popular in Australia as hot dogs and apple pie are in the U.S.
So what does Vegemite taste like? It's salty and tangy, with an indescribably unique flavor. Many agree that Vegemite is an acquired taste, so travelers who didn't come of age in the Land of Oz may need some time to get used to it.
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In Europe, Asia, and other regions, dishes made with animal blood are common cuisine. Blood pudding, also known as black pudding, is a sausage comprised of cooked blood and fillers, like grains, potatoes or fat. The dark congealed patty is a popular treat especially in Ireland and the U.K. Traditional Irish breakfasts typically feature fried eggs, bacon, tomatoes, sausage, toast, potatoes and a delectable slice of blood pudding. In Taiwan, locals love sought-after pig's blood cake which is made from sticky rice cooked in pork blood and covered with peanuts and cilantro.
Eskimo Ice Cream
As if they're not freezing enough already, Eskimos have been mixing up their own special version of ice cream for generations. Eskimo ice cream, known by locals as akutaq, is a frosty Arctic dish made with Reindeer fat, fish, and dried salmon eggs or berries. Like regular ice cream, akutaq is creamy and cold but the Alaskan treat contains lots of animal fat, so it won't taste anything like the pint of Rocky Road you have stocked in your freezer. Traditional akutaq isn't made with sugar, however, travel to Alaska today and you're likely to find Eskimo ice cream made with sweetener, which may be a bit more palatable to the unaccustomed tongue.
Balut is one of the most popular dishes in the Philippines. The dish is made using either duck or chicken eggs, always half-fertilized, and then boiled in the shell. As unappealing as half-developed ducklings are, balut is high in protein and also, many say, an aphrodisiac. It's up to you to decide if that's all worth it, but if it's any consolation, the people who've tried balut say it tastes much better than it looks.
You may have heard of kimchi, but do you know what it is? It's fermented vegetables, usually cabbage, and it is often served on its own or with chicken. It's extremely popular in Korea and is now gaining traction in America. In addition to being tasty, it's also good for you! It has a full serving of vitamin C, is high in fiber, and very low in calories.
Surströmming is raw Baltic herring, a staple of traditional northern Swedish cuisine. Since you can't really eat the fish right out of the ocean, it's often salted and left to sit for a few days to really "ripen." The Swedes prefer it as sour and fermented as possible and the smell is so strong when you open the container that it's generally eaten outdoors. That smell may be worth overcoming given that surströmming is considered a hangover cure, so keep a few salted herrings in the fridge for those headache-filled mornings.
Their beautiful shells are often used for decoration, but inside lurks a delicious mollusk that many island dwellers regularly enjoy. The meat is eaten raw in salads, or cooked into fritters, chowders, gumbos, and burgers. The conch is considered to be the signature dish of the Bahamas, however, it is also served in East Asia, Puerto Rica, Panama, and other Caribbean islands. In the West Indies, for example, the local people of the Turks and Caicos pluck them out of the ocean, crack them open, and have that as lunch.
As the name suggests, cod liver is an essential oil extracted from livers of Atlantic cod. If you can handle it (the smell may have you in tears), it's full of antioxidants, vitamins A and D, and minerals. It has a number of different health benefits from lowering high blood pressure to treating depression, plus, like many fish oil supplements, it's great for your hair and skin. If you can't handle the oil, just take the pill, it's easier to swallow (pun intended).
Hakral is a traditional Icelandic recipe made of Greenland shark, which is actually poisonous when fresh. It is cured with a particular fermentation process and then hung in the air to dry for several months, making it edible. Hakarl is certainly an acquired taste as it has a very particular ammonia-rich smell and fishy taste. It is readily available in Icelandic stores and is eaten there all year round.
These outlandish ova are a Chinese delicacy dating back centuries to the Ming Dynasty. Not to worry though, these rather misleadingly-named eggs have not been stored for a 100 years. Duck, chicken, or quail eggs are traditionally covered in a mixture of clay, ash, salt and rice husks to preserve the eggs for just a few months. That's all it takes to turn the yolk dark green and the white brown.
Black Ivory Coffee
Fancy yourself a coffee enthusiast? Then you'll want to pay attention to this: In 2012, a coffee called Black Ivory became one of the worlds most expensive brews at $1,100 per kilogram. For such a price you can expect a smooth, rich taste…and perhaps a slight earthy hint of elephant dung. Yes, this coffee "naturally refined" and plucked from the droppings of Thai elephants.
Fried scorpion is a traditional dish from Shandong, China. You can find them fried on sticks in China's markets. Frying them neutralizes their poison. The tail, ironically, is the most nutritious part. They look intimidating, but they are said to taste similar to crunchy potato chips.
Salmon roe is a delicacy eaten in Eastern Europe and Russia. It is the fully ripe internal ovaries or egg masses of Salmon, a similar dish to the more widely known Caviar. In some parts of Eastern Europe, the more expensive Salmon Roe is seen as a delicacy but there are also cheaper versions available in the chilled food sections of most supermarkets. It is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acid as well.