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From Piranha Soup to Curry Grasshoppers: A Short Guide to Unusual Foods Around The World

February 18, 2013

Now my purpose of this article is not to put you off going to any of these destinations. We all know that volunteering broadens your horizons. But how about broadening your tastes and tickling your taste buds with some unique and, dare I say it, “unusual” local dishes?

Here’s my appetising selection that might get your mouth watering or, at the very least, your mind boggling!

Head over to Belize for roasted mashed cockroaches. Wash down with a seaweed shake shaken up with a shot of rum to make those ‘roaches trickle down all the better!

It might smell just like a rotting corpse, but did you know that a durian fruit does you a lot of good? It contains many antioxidants, protein, vitamins and minerals and it has antibacterial properties. Keep it in mind for next Valentine’s Day too as the fruit has major aphrodisiac qualities. Although I am not so sure about the horrendous durian-breath that comes with it.You can find these in South-east Asia and even in my local Vancouver grocery store!

Fancy a durian ice cream or durian milkshake?

How would you fancy eating maggots in Italy? The pungent Sardinian speciality of casu marzu contains live larvae which are there to help break down the fat in the cheese but have been known to jump six inches when disturbed. Casu Marzu is derived from the famous Pecorino sheep milk cheese but with the added ingredients - maggots.

It tastes better than it looks!

A little closer to home, for myself at least, is haggis. The national dish of bonnie Scotland is a delicious (trust me!) delicacy of minced sheep’s heart, liver and lung with onion and spices, boiled in a sheep’s stomach and served with ‘tatties’ (potato). Yum! (It tastes better than it looks.)

Would you like that fried, roasted or boiled, sir? Guinea pig continues to be a diet staple for many Peruvian and Bolivian people. Since the 1960s, guinea pig has become more socially acceptable to be eaten by everyone. Before then the rodents were kept for ceremonial meals carried out by the Andes’ indigenous people.    

If you like fried potato snacks, rumour is mealworms, a staple of Asian and ethnic cuisine, taste pretty similar. If you’re feeling peckish, here is a link to a how-to for cooking up a batch:

As a youngster, I grew up fearing piranhas after listening to stories of their ferociousness during trips to the local aquarium. I still haven’t gained enough courage to watch the movie, Piranha 3-D. So it seems unlikely that I will be trying piranha soup anytime soon, popular in Brazil’s Pantanal region.

Grasshopper skewers in Beijing









If you’re still feeling a little unsure, consider this: my then eight-year-old and usually exceptionally squeamish sister has happily tried mealworms, Thai green curry-flavoured grasshoppers and dried ants that tasted bacon-y.’ Although the ants turned out to be not so popular after she confessed later to stuffing some ants’ heads in to her father’s camera bag…

Try something new! What has been the most unusual food that you have ever tried?


Photo credits: Durian fruit-worradmu. Piranha-alextorrenegra.Cockroaches-avlxyz. Haggis-tessawatson. Grasshoppers-istolethetv. All via Flickr.