What Strange Food Is This?

““Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.” ― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly   

We’re with Bourdain on this one, and like to try almost every kind of food we encounter at least once.  Here are some of the strange foods we’ve chowed down on while traveling. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

1. Sheep’s Head in Marrakech, Morocco

Sheeps Head in Jma El Fnna

Head to the main square, Jemaa El Fna, for dinner to sample sheep’s head. Served with bread, you can order a half or whole sheep’s head which are surprisingly tender since they’ve been steamed or boiled for most of the day. The vendor will usually chop up the cheeks, but don’t surprised if you do end up with the tongue and eyeballs on your plate as well. The brains are sold separately!

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2. Grasshoppers in Oaxaca, Mexico

Grasshoppers in Oaxaca, Mexico

Crunchy grasshoppers known as chapulines in Spanish are served fried or roasted with lime and chili powder and are a Oaxacan speciality. Head on over to Mercado de 20 de Noveimbre to sample this snack. We liked them wrapped in tortillas!

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3. Horse Sausage in Bukhara, Uzbekistan

A Plate of Plov topped with horse sausage

This was a hard one for us. We never have and will never sample dog meat and horse meat definitely incites somewhat similar feelings. Horses, however, roamed wild on Central Asian plains and were hunted for their meat for centuries.  Given how many times we were offered horse sausage with our plov, a tasty rice dish cooked slowly with carrots, onions and meat, we finally decided to give it a try. It’s worth a try, but we’ll admit we ate all the quail eggs after we took this photograph at a street-side plov stand on the outskirts of Bukhara, and just a bit of the sausage.

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4. Cow’s Tongue in La Paz, Bolivia

A Meat Market in La Paz, Bolivia

Tripe and tongue! In Bolivia, nothing goes to waste, and every part of an animal is stewed or fried. On Calle Rodriquez, which is home to one of La Paz’ biggest vegetable markets is a covered meat market. Head on to the back of it to a little busy lunch that sells Bolivian soups (Chairo) and stews (Guiso de Carne) made with all parts of cow including tripe. A traditional Bolivian dish using the just the tongue is Ají de Lengua which is spicy stewed tongue served over rice. Despite our initial trepidation after having seen the raw tongues close up, we ate every bite.

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5. Eel innards in Kanazawa, Japan

Eel innards in Kanazawa, JapanOne of our favorite snacks in Kanazawa, Japan available at the famous covered Omi Cho fish market was skewered barbecued eel innards. While a bit chewier than unagi, these skewers were delicious and easy to eat on the go.

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