7 Culinary Experiences That Will Make You Travel… Or Not

World Food

I’m Portuguese and, for those who don’t know our most typical food, my country has a variety of culinary experiences that scare the most open-minded.

Of the pork, we eat it all! From the ears to the snout, to the sparks and even the testicles… yes, the testicles. Of the chicken, the paws are a delicacy in the soup. The cow’s or goat’s brain is much appreciated. Fish heads (eyes and everything) serve as the main course. Anyway, I could be here writing endless lines of countless precious things in Portuguese cuisine, but I won’t bore you with details. I can only assure you that they are all really delicious.

Accustomed to a national menu as vibrant as different, it was to be expected that as soon as I got outside, I would taste everything that came to the table. But the truth is that out in the world I’m a bit conservative, and I don’t remember any really exotic dish I’ve experienced abroad. Yet.

Curious about what this planet has to offer regarding unique food, I challenged a group of travelers to tell their most incredible stories. Prepare to be amazed (or sick) by it all.


Cassie, Mexico Cassie

Mexico Cassie - All Rights Reserved
Mexico Cassie – All Rights Reserved

“My husband made me do it. We were traveling around Asia for six months and while in China, he decided he had had enough of enormous, sprawling cities and needed to see a village.

So we headed to Jinan, a Chinese city from which he had decided we’d be able to find a village. We did. When we stopped for a snack at a cafe, he found that scorpions were on the menu. So he ordered them. Of course.

To be honest, they didn’t taste much except the salt and oil they’d been cooked in. That’s what I tend to find with insects, no flavour except what the human chef has added.

We live in Mexico now, and my three-year-old daughter loves to eat grasshoppers (chapulines), so maybe some people enjoy insect-eating more than others.”

Follow Cassie’s travels also in Instagram and Twitter.


Nathan Aguilera, Foodie Flashpacker

Foodie Flashpacker
Foodie Flashpacker – All Rights Reserved

“During my nearly four years on the road I’ve tried many crazy things. A horse bacon cheeseburger in Slovenia (the bacon and the patty were both made of horse meat!), grilled chicken buttholes in Taiwan (but what was the crunchy bit??) and all manner of bugs throughout Asia.

One of the craziest things I’ve tried is a roasted sheep face on a walking food tour of Marrakech, Morocco.

When they served the dish they served the entire head. It wasn’t a pile of generic looking meat where you can convince yourself maybe it’s beef. It was the entire head.

“Who wants to go first?”, our guide asked. I volunteered, of course.

When I was gently trying to poke at it to find a serving she said, “no, you have to do it like this”, and peeled back the entire face revealing meat underneath.

Once I tried it, it’s actually really good! I had more than my share as others were a bit more skeptical.

If you’re ever offered a roasted sheep face don’t be shy — it’s delicious!”

Follow Nathan’s food adventures also in Instagram and Facebook.


Sarah McAlister, The Whole World or Nothing

The Whole World or Nothing
The Whole World or Nothing – All Rights Reserved

“We weren’t expecting to understand much or be able to read anything while we were travelling in China. But we’re pretty adventurous when it comes to food and will generally try anything once, so we weren’t too worried. However, one day we definitely got more of an experience than we bargained for.

In Chengdu they have these hotpots or firepots whereby you choose raw ingredients, meat and/or vegetables, and cook them yourself at your table in a huge pan of boiling spicy broth. At this particular restaurant they had a huge list of ingredients and we had no idea what to choose. So when the waiter motioned that he could choose for us, we gladly accepted.

Queue a particularly interesting meal including, goose intestines, congealed pigs blood, accompanied by chrysanthemums, that’s right the flower. To be fair I don’t know what we expected and actually it wasn’t disgusting, just not something we’d have again by choice. Also congealed blood is really difficult to pick up with chopsticks.”

Sarah’s and Jame’s world is also in Facebook and Instagram. Go check them out.


Gary Low, 2-Week Trips

2Week Trips
2Week Trips – All Rights Reserved

“I had spent a day trekking in the hilly jungle of Northern Thailand, and had finally reached a remote village belong to the Lisu tribe. As I rested in the kitchen, my guide started warming up the wok and casually asked if I had tried bamboo worms before.

‘Nope, but I sure wouldn’t mind having one to try.’

5 minutes later, the miscommunication was apparent as I looked down on a plateful of freshly fried maggots.

As you can imagine, the first bite was the hardest, especially after seeing the segmented body and the featureless face. Despite the frying, it still looked very… maggoty. After a moment of apprehension, I took a sip of rice wine and swallowed the first one down whole.

No aftertaste, I thought. That was promising, so I took the next one. Inspecting it for any signs of life (there were none), I took a tentative bite into it. To my amazement, it actually had the texture of fries. The kind that’s crispy, but kinda soft after leaving it out for too long. Taste-wise, it was pretty bland with an oily aftertaste, so that went down ok.

Long story short, I took a liking after a few more and eventually polished off the whole plate.”

Gary’s trips are also on Instagram and Twitter.


James, Worldwide Shopping Guide

Worldwide Shopping Guide
Worldwide Shopping Guide – All Rights Reserved

“I’ve eaten a few crazy things on my travels and always assumed that the craziest (read: worst) thing of all of them would be in Asia or somewhere else similarly exotic. Thinking about it, though, I think the craziest thing that I ate was actually in Spain. The dish was called “Morro,” which translates as snout, and that’s exactly what this was: chopped up pig’s snout.

I didn’t bother to look it up on Google Translate before ordering. I’m generally not a fussy eater and usually eat what’s put in front of me. Had I known, I probably still would have ordered it. I’ve eaten pig’s ears (Oreja a la Plancha) in Madrid before, along with a few other unsavoury parts of the pig, and am usually happy to try anything at least once.

Morro was a bit of a surprise, though, mainly because the meat still had hair on it. It had been deep-fried, like many Spanish dishes, which meant all of the bristles were now even crunchier. In the end, I did manage to eat one or two pieces telling myself that if they serve it on a menu it must be okay. I couldn’t convince myself, though, and quickly paid the bill and left before any questions were asked.”

Follow Jame’s travels also in Twitter and Facebook


Inma Gregorio, A World to Travel

A World to Travel
A World to Travel – All Rights Reserved

“Right next to Teotihuacan – the famous archaeological remains near Mexico City, there’s one of these restaurants that don’t go unnoticed: La Gruta.

This restaurant has been there since 1928 when the grandfather of today’s owner, started serving meals to the pouring visitors, is located inside a wide semi-open cave that was anciently used as a refrigerator for the corn supplies. Nowadays, Carlos Cedillo, its executive chef, will make sure you leave it happy and willing to come back.

If you want to play tourist, try their Xoconostle margaritas, their homemade mole, chapulines (crickets and grasshoppers), escamoles (ant eggs), white worms, huitlacoche and quelites quesadillas, ram barbecue and elote cake for dessert.

Here are a few other things to do, see and eat in Mexico City.”

Inma’s travel world is also on Facebook and Instagram.


Jason Mullin, Edible Adventure Travel

Edible Adventure Travel
Edible Adventure Travel – All Rights Reserved

“Known throughout the Philippines as a favoured snack and a challenge to tourists adventurous enough, it is a boiled developing duck embryo. A fetus if you will. This is also common throughout some other areas of Asia and Vietnam is where I first indulged in this tasty morsel. It varies from local preference generally ranging from 15-21 days of development. At its oldest, bones have developed adding a bit of crunch and a feather may get stuck between the teeth.

In the Philippines it is served in the shell, somewhat hiding what you’re consuming. In Hanoi, it was different for me. Fully peeled and into a small dish sitting in its natural juice, it resembled what I thought an alien egg might look like or a cancerous testicle. I fancied it up a notch with the condiments provided. A fine julienne of ginger, Vietnamese coriander and salt. I was surprised how good it was. It tasted like a rich duck egg, but it was the textures that get you. The yolk was denser and a touch dry and if you’re lucky enough to get a crunch, you may cringe. Grab one off the street and have your own experience!”

Get a taste of Jason’s adventurous travels on Facebook and Instagram.

This last story is pretty strong, huh?! Would you be able to try it or one of the other dishes on this list? What were your most exotic culinary experiences? Tell all about it in the comments box below.


Incredible Culinary Experiences

Culinary Experiences

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  1. I am glad that the world has so many culinary experiences but I am not sure I would get past Chapulines. Grasshoppers aren’t bad, once you get past the crunchy legs but I’m not feeling fried bamboo worms.

  2. I can’t imagine how’s the goat brain taste like. Neither the grasshoppers, but was thinking I could get a taste of it when I visit Cambodia.
    This were all great discoveries, but thinking if I could be able to do it all as well? I have to think about it haha!! Thanks for sharing and collating from different perspectives. This were all quite new to me.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Nathalie. I think that only when I’m in the country with the dish in front of me, just then I’ll be able to decide if I’m brave enough 🙂 Until then, insects are kinda of on my not-to-do list.

  3. What an adventurous lot! I’ve been to the cave restaurant near Teotihuacan and eaten grasshoppers in Tijuana but most of the rest I’ll just watch others eat. However, trying wood worms in the Philippines took some gumption and I’m glad I tried them. Not the best texture and the woody aftertaste takes some getting used to!

  4. Yuck! I can tell you right here that if this was all the food I could get to a destination, I would definitely choose to stay home. I am not a very brave traveler when it comes to trying extreme foods like these.

  5. OMG there is no way I would eat anything on this list haha. I’m such a wimp when it comes to food to begin with (to give you an idea, I just returned from India where I only ate rice and roti for a full week because I hate spicy food) so I don’t think I’m brave enough to eat scorpions!

  6. I consider myself quite experimental when it comes to food but looking at the list of things here, NO WAY! I mean, I am okay with trying the scorpion (I have heard the same – they are mostly just salty and taste of the oil) although I am sure I’ll need someone to cheer me on while I do it else I might back off Haha. But when I heard of weird things like horses, I mean, I know they don’t SOUND as eekie as insects but I am not eating a horse!

  7. It’s always interesting to see what is a delicacy in one place in another is considered gross such as the bugs in Mexico. I always say, I’m up to trying anything once. What an original post!

  8. There are some courageous travelers out there. I chickened out when it came to trying balut, cannot imagine how I’d go with most of this. Can’t say I have ever seen pigs nuts offered and I’ll continue to have my meat without hair thank you. The scorpions surprisingly looked alright though.

  9. I love the Portuguese nose to tail philosophy on food. That’s the way it should be, testicles to toes :p

    I have never really seen the point in insects. You are right they usually only taste like the oil they are fried in and the chef’s added flavours.

    What amazing food adventures you have had!

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