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5 weird foods from around the world

Published February 8th, 2013

One of the best and most terrifying parts of travel is eating the local cuisine. You think Australians gnawing on their national emblems is strange? Yeah, okay, it kind of is. But there are places around the world boasting faint-worthy fare far worse than the likes of a roo burger. We are talking obscure animal parts, slightly poisonous, deep in the tepid heart of the jungle stuff here. I hope you brought your appetite for the unusual because your tastebuds are in for some strange savouring.

 

South America’s Ant’s Ass (Hormigas Culonas)

If you find yourself feeling a little peckish while exploring the beautiful Santander region of Colombia and you just happen to be travelling at the right time of year, grab a bottle of Hormigas Culonas and snack away! Sir Mix-a-lot would swoon over these big-bottomed ants that have been enjoyed as a traditional nibble for centuries. When the rains arrive, the ants appear and the queens meet their fate as crunchy, roasted peanut-like treats. The insects are actually high in protein and low in saturated fats, perfect for anyone on a clean-eating diet or who just thinks it would be cool to eat ants.

 

Alaska’s Jellied Moose Nose

The cold weather must do something to your gag reflex because even the name of the dish makes me a little queasy. Maybe it’s the word jelly. Jellied Moose Nose is actually one of Alaska’s most traditional meals - it is what haggis is to Scotland, if you will. You start by boiling the moose head (without the brains, of course, because that would be disgusting) and allowing it to cool overnight which creates a kind of gelatine. Jellied Moose Nose is more of a home-style meal so you won’t likely find it on Alaskan menus, but you can always start with an entree of popular Reindeer Sausage.

 

Italy’s Financier of Piedmont (La Finanziera Piemontese)

Perhaps it’s my Italian heritage coming through but this dish actually looks pretty tasty at first glance. If I didn’t know what was in it I might happily chow down on a big bowl and shout out bellissimo! Northern Italy’s winter favourite, finanziera, was the dish of the poor a few hundred years ago. It’s made from the less ‘noble’ parts of an animal (i.e. veal spines, bull testicles and rooster combs) and flavoured with porcini mushrooms and white wine. Waste not, want not! Apparently the name finanziera came about from the financial officers who loved a big feed of offal.

 

Iceland’s Puffin Heart

Part of the national diet, the Atlantic Puffin is adorable and apparently very appetising. The funny little birds with their bright orange beaks are a common feature on Icelandic menus, smoked, grilled and pan-fried. The seabirds (which I will now refer to them as to make them sound less cute) are caught by method of sky fishing, sounding more like extreme sport, using a kind of oversized lacrosse stick. The eating of raw, fresh Puffin heart is considered a delicacy. Gordon Ramsay says they are delicious, with a few choice profanities in there too I assume.

 

Japan’s Frog Sashimi

You can always count on Japan to out-weird everybody else.  Locusts? Meh. Pufferfish? Yawn. Cubed watermelons? That’s just awesome. While the French may have made eating frogs tres chic, the Japanese put their own spin on it with made-to-order bullfrog sashimi. The frogs are bred specifically for their meat and are said to taste light, fresh and chewy. The bits not suitable for sashimi are then made into a spicy soup. Japan pretty much has the bizarre food market covered, whether you’re craving vending machine bread in a can or a refreshing peach-flavoured beverage made from pig placenta.

 

Anyone for lunch today?

 

Ashton Rigg

When I'm not at home in Brisbane, you’ll find me wanderlusting around hipster bars, eclectic boutiques and arty nooks. From bagels in Brooklyn to strudel in Salzburg, I believe the best way to experience a destination is by taking a bite! Tweets & 'grams at @AshtonRigg