Sometimes, when you go to another country and you want to really get up close with the local culture, you find yourself in a situation where you are offered something you wouldn’t usually think of eating. Especially when you already know what it is, it can be hard to even look at it. My advice: try it anyway! As long as it’s not still alive or smells so bad I can’t go near it, I try to give it the benefit of the doubt. And that’s a lot from me, because I can be a picky eater. Particularly when invited somewhere else, you should not offend your hosts by refusing their food. Depending on the culture, that can really hit them hard!
Let me tell you about some of the craziest things I have eaten so far:
Mondongo – Costa Rica
When I was on my exchange year in Costa Rica, my host mom put a plate of something unknown in front of me one day. She said she would not tell me what it was until I tried it. I couldn’t really identify it from how it looked or tasted, all that I knew was that it was very chewy and I didn’t like it. Later it was revealed to me that I had eaten Mondongo– the inner lining of a cow’s stomach. Hmmm…
Guinea pig – Ecuador
I did an internship in Ecuador with my friend, for which we stayed high up in the Andes with an indigenous Quichua family. It was an incredible yet challenging time in many ways (ever showered with glacier water?), but I look back at it fondly. Our host family was very welcoming and sweet, and one evening when we came back from a long day of buses, trucks, hikes and school visits, our host mom excitedly told us she had prepared a special meal for us. It was ‘cuy’ – guinea pig – soup. We could not hide our skepticism, but said we would of course try it. And so we had a bowl of soup with a guinea pig claw sticking out in front of us. I don’t know if it was the visual, but I did not like it very much. The family was happy we tried it and to have more guinea pig to eat since we gladly gave up our piece.
Termites – Uganda
In Uganda on our university trip we toured some farms and were promptly invited to try all the produce at one family’s house. This included Jack Fruit, honey (yum!)…and fried white ants, or termites. Again, there was basically no way we could say no. I am not a big fan of insects either way, so I really had to get over myself. To be really honest with you, apart from them being very crunchy, I did not taste much, so I can’t say they were bad! I know kids often catch them out of the air for fun and just eat them, so they must really like it. I took a big gulp of honey afterwards and watched my professor try her bite.
Bull testicle and pig uterus – Guatemala
I was invited to a BBQ with friends and one of them was preparing some strange-looking food that I could absolutely not identify. He refused to tell us what it was until we tried. Let me tell you, bull testicles is one of the most disgustingly tasting things I have ever tried. But it’s a delicacy here. Pig uterus was kind of similar to Mondongo.
So, those are the craziest things I have eaten so far. And I am still alive!
Sorry for the lack of pictures of most of those meals, I don’t always take photos before I eat something and most of these were rather spontaneous situations. Then again, you might be glad no bull testicles popped up on your screen
What is the craziest thing you have ever eaten and where?