I have never been a fussy eater. In fact, I would eat anything you put in front of me, and chances are, would enjoy it tremendously. Here are the dishes, that challenged my taste buds the most:
In Asia no part of an animal goes to waste. The only two things not making it to a plate being feathers and hair (to the best of my knowledge). Surely, bad economy and overpopulation contribute to this more, than peoples gastronomic preferences. In Thailand I had tried duck gizzards and intestines in a spicy sauce. Very questionable dish, considering the main ingredient was very chewy, rubbery and tasteless. In a small town in Laos I had a chance to sample pig stomach and intestines in a broth. They have been slow-cooked for hours until tender and juicy. Great taste, if do not mind the characteristic smell.
2. Balut eggs
Balut eggs, considered a delicacy, are fertilized eggs that contain partially developed embryos. Philipinos believe them to be aphrodisiacs and often eat them as a snack to accompany their beer.I have tried this dish purely by accident, as it is out of my food comfort zone.
One night I had my normal dinner in Cambodia at a street vendor’s, when I saw people eating boiled eggs with such an appetite. They cracked the egg at the top, put some salt and pepper, squeezed some lime juice in and scooped the contents out with a tiny spoon. What a lovely way to eat an egg, I thought. A minute later I was doing exactly the same thing. After a couple of spoonfuls it occurred to me, that the egg looked very dark inside, it had a strange firm texture and I had tiny fathers in my mouth. I cracked the shell and found an egg white mixed with a partially formed chick, blood, fathers and all. Needless to say, I lost my appetite.
3. Fried Insects
Asian people have been through some tough times in their history, therefore had to eat, what they could find. Insects used to be a big part of their ration. Not any more from what I have seen. It might be hard to source fried insects and worms for those, who are on a vacation for a short time and stay mostly in touristy areas. Still, if you are at a large market there is a chance to spot a little stall, where you can sample some of the finest asian insects for a reasonable 1$ per bag. Personally, it is not something I would eat habitually – I found some insects, for e.g. water beetles and grass hoppers to be very hard to chew.
4. Bee Larvae
Similar to the previous category, only this one can be eaten alive, uncooked, fried, soaked in honey, you name it. In Thailand I have spotted quite a few countryside vendors selling strange looking roundish things by the road. Days later I saw another one at the market, that time it was cut in half, and I could see fat, white worms inside.
I had tried frogs in France previously, so nothing new here. The difference is they eat different kind of frogs in Asia it seems, as the ones in France had really meaty legs, as opposed to their skinny asian counterparts, I found in my curry. Also I have seen quite a few of them being sold alive at markets, sitting quietly in a basin.
6. Dog’s meat
Ok, this is something I have never tried and, hopefully, will never had to try. I find eating dog’s meat wrong for so many reasons. Still I witnessed crates of dogs being delivered for eating in Laos. In Hanoi I saw grilled dog’s meat on the menu in one of the restaurants.
7. Crocodile kebabs
Kebabs are very popular in Asia. Chicken, pork, beef, meatballs, sausage, seafood sticks…crocodile meat pieces – there is something for everyone.
If you have a chance to visit an authentic local market – go for it. The abundance of exotic produce will leave you speechless.