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10 more of the weirdest things eaten by travel bloggers

Our 10 of the weirdest things eaten by travel bloggers blog post from a few months ago proved to be quite a hit, so we here we are back with more weird and wonderful offerings. So, if you think your taste buds might be tempted by a spot of barbecued donkey or perhaps a scorpion or two, then read on… Penis in Beijing, China Submitted by Michael Turtle of Time Travel Turtle “Apparently this is a very prestigious and exclusive thing to do in Beijing. For me, it sounded revolting. But I still went along to an upmarket restaurant in the Chinese capital to eat penis. Yes, you read that right, penis. There’s a whole menu with the male sex organ of dozens of animals to choose from. My friends and I went for a platter with bull, sheep and dog. Each tasted slightly different – the sheep being very chewy, the dog a bit dirty and the bull the most like actual meat. It wasn’t just the taste, but the texture which I really noticed. I’m glad I gave it a go – it was certainly a unique experience. I won’t be rushing back, though.” Penis in Beijing Eskimo ice cream in Quinhagak, Alaska Submitted by Jessica Pepe of Ice Cream and Permafrost “I spend my summers in the more remote parts of Alaska, which has meant getting used to some interesting meals. My favorite local food is ‘akutaq’, also known as Eskimo ice cream. There’s a lot of variation in recipes, but the main ingredient is whipped fat. Seal blubber or reindeer fat is traditional, but now it’s usually made with a few large scoopfuls of crisco instead. Just mush up the crisco with your hands, add a lot of sugar and berries – preferably the tart arctic salmonberries that grow on the tundra – then eat. It’s actually really good, if you can just forget you’re eating almost pure shorting. ” Eskimo ice cream Barbecued donkey in Windhoek, Namibia Submitted by Larissa and Michael Milne of Changes in Longitude “After finishing a three-week road trip in Namibia we returned to the capital of Windhoek. After weeks of eating wild game meat like springbok, oryx and kudu we were in the mood for some good old-fashioned beef. We headed to Katutura, a former apartheid-era village, known for the Soweto market. There open-air barbecues, or braiis, serve grilled meat in a unique manner. Diners tell the grill master how much they want to spend and he takes his large knife to shove that amount of sizzling meat to one side of the grill. Then they pick the meat up with their hands and dip it in a box filled with salt, pepper and spices. Everyone uses the same box for this. The smell of the cooking meat was driving us wild so we quickly dove into the communal feast. We assumed the meat was beef but it looked and tasted different. Someone pointed us in the direction of the butcher’s booths. There we saw slabs of meat with a gray, furry skin; donkey meat they said. We had just eaten the traditional Namibian barbecue called kapana, which may or may not have been donkey. It’s probably better than we didn’t know that ahead of time but damn, it tasted good.” Barbecued donkey Scorpions in Beijing, China Submitted by Kuan Ju Lai of Always Travelicious “The snack street at Wangfujing in Beijing is a paradise for foodies because it offers a sampler of all sorts of local snacks. Some snacks definitely make a much more powerful impression like starfish, sea horses and insects still wiggling their feet on skewers, awaiting to be deep fried in a wok of hot oil. I decided to give the scorpions a try as I thought they looked a little less scary compared to bats and centipedes. The scorpions were lightly salted, mostly crunchy and certain parts were mushy as I crushed them in my mouth. I thought the mushy part must be the guts! The scorpions were well-seasoned and they didn’t taste as scary as they looked, but I don’t think I am going to eat them again!” Scorpion Live squid in Karatsu, Japan Submitted by Daniel McBane of DanielMcBane.com “I’d eaten raw squid many times in Japan, but it had always left me a bit underwhelmed. It turns out, it was simply never fresh enough. I learned this in the small, seaside town of Karatsu, which is famous for ikizukuri squid. Ikizukuri means ‘prepared while living’ and describes exactly what you get. The squid arrive on a pile of ice in a large wooden bowl, their tentacles groping the edge, while black pupils dart around in clear eyes and the translucent flesh changes colors in a rapidly pulsating rhythm. This all combines to give them a somewhat panicked impression, which would be justified, considering strips of their bodies have been surgically removed in such a way to keep them alive and then draped over their backs, in a presentation meant to leave no doubt as to the freshness of the meal. From the first bite, I knew I wouldn’t enjoy raw squid again; not because it was bad, but because it was so incredibly good — crunchy and clean, instead of the chewy texture that characterizes non-living squid — that anything but the freshest squid will simply no longer do. If it’s not moving while I’m eating it, you might as well just fry it up and call it calamari.” Live squid Grasscutter in Ghana Submitted by Katka Lapelosová of Katka Travels “Grasscutter is a source of meat found in the Volta region of Ghana. While volunteering there in 2007, I was told the animal was ‘like a big mouse that lives in the fields. It is called ‘grasscutter’ because it is so large, it cuts the grass. Like a lawn mower.’ It turns out that grasscutter is more like a giant rat than a mouse, about the size of a house cat. My Ghanaian friends brought it to me in a small cooler. It was cooked in a delicious, peppery broth, and the meat was tender, falling off the bone, with a taste similar to pulled pork. To this day I dream about eating grasscutter, and I have no shame in saying I’ve eaten something related to the rats of the New York City subway system!” Grasscutter Sea fingers and barnacles on Sal, Cape Verde Submitted by Kathryn Burrington of Travel with Kat “I was having a meal at a lovely hotel on Sal, one of the islands of the Cape Verde archipelago, when I noticed what at first glance looked like some kind of rock on display at the buffet. On closer inspection the rock came with a garnish of slices of lemon and some strange purple-looking, finger-shaped things. These turned out to be perceves (sea fingers) and to eat them you break off the end, peel off the skin to find a squid like meat inside. More surprisingly the rock itself turned out to be covered in edible barnacles. Having been given a lump of this on my plate I was also handed an implement resembling a knitting needle with which I was supposed to hook out the insides of the barnacle. This turned out to be a bit of a non event with little barnacle in return for my efforts and the sea fingers, well perhaps they are an acquired taste but I love trying new things, in this case, just the once!” Seafingers and barnacles Balut in the Philippines Submitted by Michael Begonja of Chasing the Donkey “Balut is a boiled duck embryo that is commonly sold as a street food in the Philippines. I just had to try this when I was with my Philippino friends; thankfully the head, feet and feathers are quite soft and gelatinous so you’re not having to crunch through fully-formed bones. To fully embrace the balut experience, I’ve done it a few times, always follow it up with a local beer. Eating Balut is not for the faint-hearted as you can see the duck forming but, if you try it, be sure to drink the juice before you eat it.” balut Bosintang (dog meat soup) in Seoul, South Korea Submitted by Jonny Blair of Don’t Stop Living “Despite having travelled through China, North Korea and Taiwan, it was in Seoul in South Korea when I first tried dog. Rather than eat the barking animal alone, I went for dog meat soup. Known as “bosintang”, this lethal spicy soup will provide you with a tale to tell as well as a culinary speciality for a night. It’s best to share a big bowl of the stuff, as it gets a bit much for one person and it’s almost guaranteed that not everyone will enjoy it. I had tried turtle, octopus, kangaroo, wallaby and guinea pig so thought nothing about trying this one. It arrives on a custom built stove, bubbling away. It’s red in colour and the bits of brown stringy meat floating in it are pieces of dead dog. It comes with side dishes of kimchi, nuts and rice. We had ordered a cold Korean beer to cushion the blow and water down the dog. On first bite it tastes OK. We make our way through the soup and as it gets lower in the bowl, we realise it’s not the meal we craved. It’s stringy and chewy. It’s worse than brisket or shin (cow’s legs) and the taste is bland and uninspiring. The tofu and the spice in the soup is the only saving grace for us. As we strive to finish it, this deadly bosintang has less bark, less bite and is a little less enjoyable than we predicted. That said, I went to Korea, I tried dog, but I won’t eat it again. Each to their own, it’s worth a try at least!” Dog meat soup Raw sheep’s testicles in Hokitika, New Zealand Submitted by Katherine Kay of Kapcha the World “The Hokitika Wildfoods Festival is held every March in the small town of Hokitika on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Each year stall holders try their best to out do each other for the title of wildest food you could ever think of eating. The choice ranges from the rather tame kangaroo, crocodile, wild strawberries, and whitebait, to the middle of the range huhu grubs, chocolate covered crickets, and scorpions, to the extreme of stallion sperm shots and mountain oysters, also known as sheep’s testicles. It can definitely be a walk on the wild and weird side. I was asked to judge the best overall stall one year, which meant I had to try everything at the festival including the mountain oysters. I had to build up the dutch courage with several ciders before attempting this, and still it was possibly the worst thing I had every tried in my life. They were raw, incredibly chewy and I couldn’t get the image of what I was eating out of my head so it made it very hard to eat. I only managed half before having to spit out the rest and rush off for a shot of moonshine to wash the taste away!” Sheep's testicles

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. Great list here as usual Paul. I’m totally intrigued by the penis in China and the eskimo soup!! Not sure I would want to eat penis though, thanks for letting me be a part of it too – someone out there must like the dog!! Safe travels and happy eating. Jonny

  2. i guess it is the most disgusting thing i’ve read in a while….
    couldn’t eat any of it, i think… just too gross…

  3. I have tried Balut when I was in the Philippines. It tastes good especially mixed with salt and a bit of their locally made vinegar.

  4. Balut is not as bad as it looks. If you don’t think about the fact that you’re eating a duck embryo…it’s really good as late night drunken snack. :) extremely cool list!

  5. Wow, crazy stuff. That live squid would freak me out.

    I remember my first trip to China and I was taken out for a meal as a guest. A lot of the dishes were presented and I was never told what they were. When I asked they said that if they told me what it was then I wouldn’t eat it. Even to this day I don’t know what I ate that night.

  6. Very interesting post. I travel a lot, including some of the destinations mentioned above but must admit, am a bit of a coward when it comes to eating. The only unusual things I tried were duck blood soup in Poland (czarnina), deep fried cuy (guinea pig), and chapulines (insects) in Oaxaca, Mex. In Sardinia I was also tricked by my friends into eating a cheese made from the stomach content (fermentated milk) of a baby goat.

    Shame that in the search of culinary excitements some actually reached for dog meat :-(

  7. I used to pride myself on the fact that I would eat ANYTHING. But, normally, now I will eat anything that is put in front of me, but I do not seek out, and spend money, on most of these kinds of food.

  8. Great list! These are some of the ingrediënts that should be commonly used in fusion cooking… I prepare testicles like sweetbread and it’s taste is quite simular. The Inuit ice Seems to be very unhealthy as it is laden with cholesterol. And don’t be so squemish about horse and donkey, these farm animals have à beter lief than pur poor pigs and chickens and everyone eats them anyway as nothing is ever thrown away in the meat-industry. You find it in snacks and saucages. By
    the way, do you know that the Flemish serve very tasty rats as “waterrabbits”?

    Robert Prummel
    The netherlands

  9. Ok, some of these things are really not for me and would not eat even on a dare. Balut, I’ve tried. Couldn’t bring myself to eat the embryo itself but the yolk is tasty with a bit of salt. The “soup” inside the egg as well. Filipinos know which end to break the egg so you’d be able to sip all the soup. I’ve also tried fried crickets in Thailand and stinky tofu in Taiwan (oh my goodness, if you can get past the smell of this, is just fine). I don’t count myself adventurous enough to eat something more exotic. The crickets are fried and seasoned and they mostly eat plants and seeds, while stinky tofu is tofu, just fermented. I would venture a guess that people would be more wary of eating anything weirder after this pandemic.

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