Weird foods, that we have seen with our own eyes and, in some cases, eaten on our travels. Most of these foods we found in Asia, often in the less touristed local markets but one is from our second home, Romania. Some, the brave or foolhardy members of our family ate spiders, all of us like frog, and a few other unusual dishes. These are weird foods to try if you’re lucky enough to travel, but some you may find at home too. Weird foods from around the world to try, with pictures and interesting facts. Most of these strange international foods involve meat, but one is vegetarian, even vegan. This post is not for the squeamish, if that’s you.
My wife usually pulls the vegetarian or vegan card on these but if it comes down to eat it or cause offence or difficulty, she’ll eat it. Even if it makes her gag.
The kids and I tend to try just about anything that’s safe to eat. We see weird food as an opportunity to try so long as the ethics aren’t too horrendous. So here, for you, the weirdest foods from around the world from the 50+ countries we’ve visited.
Warning, there are pictures of raw meat in here that some may find pretty gross. Just because it’s snake not cow. We also give you a list of the usual ” weird foods” most of these we’ve never encountered, we found weirder ones!
Weird Foods to Try
We’ve eaten random things like buffalo and yak, munched our way through mountains of fruit and veg that most people have never seen and at times even been forced to eat at KFC, but these weird foods from around the world stand out as our weirdest. Of course, they’re only weird to us, to millions of others they’re perfectly normal.
List Of Usual Weird Foods
- Pufferfish – It’s poisonous. Why would you eat that?
- Balut. Duck embryo in the shell. This used to be common in the markets of Southeast Asia but we haven’t seen it on sale, at all, in the last 7 years.
- Century eggs/ 100 year eggs. Actually, these taste great. Very eggy eggs.
- Bogon moths. Australian bushtucker. They taste like peanut butter. Find more traditional Australian foods here.
- Chicken feet. Available everywhere in Asia. Particularly Malaysia.
- Casu Marzu. The live maggot cheese of Sardinia.
- Dog. Years ago in Vietnam we saw cooked dog meat on sale in almost every market. I was offered dog at a Vietnamese wedding but declined. Recently we haven’t seen it but the dog meat restaurants are still there.
- Spider, specifically, deep fried tarantula in Cambodia or Thailand.
- Frogs’ legs in France are common-place and delicious, but you’ll find some more unusual frog dishes in Asia.
Weird Foods To Try, Or Not
We have come across all of these weird foods on our travels. If it was safe, humane, and endangered animals weren’t involved, we tried it. As a Chef I know my food hygiene and I’m always mindful of morality in eating animals. I’m an omnivore, my wife tends towards vegan, so I try not to upset her by chowing down on inappropriate things.
Please go no further if these photos will offend you. But remember, these photos are no worse, really, than the meat section of any supermarket.
While countries like Australia may be famous for the variety and deadliness of their snake species, rarely are they eaten. In fact, they’re protected under law in Australia. The same can’t be said around the world. Snake is eaten in more places than you may realise.
The larger snakes such as pythons are most commonly eaten, with large amounts of meat and normally slower moving than their venomous counterparts. Snake can be spotted in country markets, usually whole but without their heads. Snake meat can be sold per Kg for really
Snake can be found in markets across Asia and we’ve seen snakes for sale in Cambodia, Borneo ( Malaysia) and Laos.
Snake wine is another product made from snake. Although the wine isn’t made purely from snake rather the snake is inserted into the bottle and left there with the alcoholic beverage. I’m not convinced it changes the taste, particularly for the better. Little wonder that local snake species are on the decline in large parts of Asia.
Let’s start with a weird food that I’m sure most of you will never have heard of but that is safely vegan. Coconut embryo is actually delicious and tastes like a firm crunchy coconut marshmallow.
To obtain one of these you simply have to crack open a coconut that has already started to shoot, as my son did, above, with a machete. This was part of a vegan Malaysian cooking class in Kuching.
Civet cats are small mammals that live in Southeast Asia. They’re hunted wild for food and also kept for heir ability to produce a certain type of very expensive coffee.
The civet cat ingests the coffee beans and after they have travelled through their digestive system it is collected and roasted to produce Kopi Luwak coffee.
I tried this coffee years ago in Bali, before I was aware of the cruelty of this tourist industry. The coffee was very ordinary and over-priced.
This is another product not to buy as the poor civet cats are kept in atrocious conditions.
Certain tribes in Southeast Asia also catch and eat civet cat as part of their usual diet. Today they hunt with rifles as blowpipes become a thing of the past. My wife and son saw the Iban tribe of Sarawak Borneo hunting at night for civet, monkey and mouse deer. They opted not to join the hunt.
This civet cat head was served for breakfast to the tribe member while the rest of the body was put into a stew for a latter meal. One of the hunters ate a raw brain. Most tribe members waited for fo the civet ( and mouse deer) to be cooked.
Not as strange as you might think. Rumor has it that French monks started to eat frogs back as early as the 12th century when frogs were classed as fish (the monks couldn’t eat meat).
Since then France and frogs legs have become internationally well known.
In many Asian nations, they eat the whole frogs and in a variety of ways. You can get curried frog, BBQ frog and frog stew if you look hard enough.
Depending on where in Asia you are will depend on the style of frog you’re served.
We saw frog hunted and cooked in bamboo tubes over a camp fire in Borneo. We have all eaten frog.
Frogs’ legs are pretty good and only really taste of garlic butter but in a lot of frog dishes in Asia they taste more like frog.
Not something I’d personally associate with food but apparently a lot of people do. Prevalent across large parts of Asia and sold at markets as both a cooked snack and raw to take home.
China is probably the largest consumer of bats although other countries like Laos openly sell bats on skewers at markets to eat there or take away. My wife also encountered bat hunting for food in Malaysian Borneo.
Personally with all the disease that bats carry I’d be very wary of eating one.
The Australian bats carry Hendra virus which is a nasty, often fatal, disease and I don’t think I’d want to eat that regardless of how well cooked it was.
Wasp or Bee Grubs
Unfortunately we can’t find the photo for this one just yet. We’re still looking!
Considered a delicacy in Asia you need to eat the wasp or bee when it is at the larvae stage. While mature bees are edible they’re not nearly as nice. The larvae are very nutrient-dense with fatty acids, carbohydrates but most importantly are one of the highest protein sources depending on the species.
It isn’t just in Asia that these grubs are eaten. The indigenous Australians have been collecting and eating them for centuries. For nomadic people they are a great way of getting plentiful food and energy on the move.
Spiders Particularly, Tarantula
Commonly seen on tourist streets catering to visitors looking to impress their friends Spiders aren’t just a tourist trick although not as many countries eat them compared to other weird and wonderful foods.
Cambodia is where we’ve tried deep fried tarantula and to be honest it was a let down, just tasting of the dirty deep fryer oil more than anything else. Locals do eat spiders as a snack in Cambodia though, this dish isn’t just put on for the tourists.
Not all scorpions are edible. That is worth noting as eating a deadly scorpion doesn’t fill me with excitement.
One of the edible scorpions is the Black Asian forest scorpion found in parts of Northern Thailand and surrounding areas of Southeast Asia.
While Thailand has an edible variety it is China that is the biggest consumer of scorpions. In China it won’t just be skewered scorpion for sale but a whole range of different ways to cook and eat these creatures. There scorpion is a delicacy that can be BBQd, grilled, roasted and also given the traditional skewered approach.
Palm Grubs or Weevil
These tasty critters are eaten across the world. Africa, Asia and the Americas. They might be slightly different variants on the same grub but most are classed as the palm weevil or grub.
The grubs are large and approximately 30% fat which makes cooking them relatively easy. Just be sure to pierce the skin first or you may have exploding grubs. While you can eat them raw it isn’t considered the best way to consume palm weevils.
The grubs can be boiled, fried or roasted. In fact, as an ingredient they’re extremely versatile and with their size you don’t need to collect that many to make a meal.
Often likened to popcorn, crickets tend to be deep fried and coated in spices or sauces. You could say this is just another version of fast food and one that is in plentiful supply.
Originally found across the markets of Southeast Asia, they are now available online in a variety of flavours and styles showing just how mainstream they have become.
With big-name stores like Wholefoods now selling roast crickets, I wonder whether you can really call them weird anymore? If you’d like to try some, in various flavours, shop here.
Slanina was common in Romania and I’ve tried it and seen it cooked often. Above you can see my son roasting slanina over a campfire during a dinner with the shepherds event. They’d cook it, but they wouldn’t eat it.
This Slavic pork fat treat is common in most of Eastern Europe all the way to Russia. It goes by different names depending on where you are.
Common names include Salo, Slonina, Cano and Cana but they all refer to the same dish.
Slanina is cured slabs of fatback pork. Unlike pork belly or bacon there is little to no meat. The Romanians call it bacon but every time I’ve seen it there is no meat at all. It’s a pure slice of fat.
It can be preserved in different ways depending on the country of origin although salt, black pepper and garlic tend to be common themes.
It can be served either raw or cooked. Most commonly we’ve seen it roasted on a stick over an outdoor fire.
Raw tends to be thinly sliced with a few condiments and eaten straight. While you can’t eat a lot in one go I do find it pleasant to eat despite it being basically pure fat.
More Weird Foods To Try?
There are more, but that’s it for now. Once lockdown is over we can get back out there and report on more interesting findings and take more photos. We only use our own photos and experiences, not stock images on this page.
Many weird foods involve animal cruelty. In actual fact, all animal-based foods involve animal cruelty. As time goes on my diet becomes more and more plant-based. Hopefully, many of these foods will become a thing of the past for those of us with the privilege of choice.