Testing out a region’s traditional fare is the ideal way to take a walk in a native citizen’s shoes! From tiny food stalls on the side of the road to family-run holes in the wall, snacking on the same things your hosts do is a great way to really experience a new place.
Balut in the Philippines
These are considered a delicious treat in this part of the world. Balut is a developing bird embryo boiled and eaten directly from the shell. Usually a duck, it’s served on street corners everywhere and in high-end restaurants too and could be compared to online pokies games in that it seems they appeal to almost everyone.
As controversial as this dish may be, the flavours of fresh duck and creamy yolk are popular with many people.
Beetles in Bangkok
Fried up in chilli, garlic, and oil, water beetles are a well-liked street food in Thailand, along with other bugs like grasshoppers and silkworms. Apart from being protein-rich, maeng da, as they’re known, have a liquorice flavour.
Biltong in Cape Town
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that biltong is jerky! It’s a South African snack with a totally unique flavour and is found almost everywhere, from market stalls through to supermarkets and even gas stations.
It’s meat that’s been dried and cured and can be anything from beef to ostrich, warthog, and springbok. Salt, spices, and vinegar are used for flavouring.
Escamoles in Mexico City
Escamoles are the larvae of a poisonous ant that lays eggs in the roots of agave or mescal plants. It’s a luxury food item in this part of the world, pan-fried with butter and spices, and it lends a nutty flavour to omelettes and tacos but can also be enjoyed as a standalone dish with guacamole on the side.
Guinea Pigs in Lima
The Guinea pig, or cuy, has been a part of Peruvian diets for thousands of years now, and you’ll find it served everywhere in this country. It may be deep-fried at market stalls or roasted after being raised on alfalfa when it’s served in high-end restaurants, but it’s all Guinea pig.
Imagine a cross between chicken and rabbit meat and order one for everyone at the table. There isn’t enough meat for two people to share.
Shark Burgers in Trinidad
Also known as Bake-and-Shark or Shark-and-Bake, in reference to the Shake-and-Bake bread crumb product from the USA no doubt, this sandwich is a staple along Maracas Beach and has become synonymous with Trinidad and Tobago.
Slices of flatbread are fried and then topped with deep-fried chunks of shark meat, coleslaw, tomato slices, and mango chutney or tamarind sauce.
Tarantulas in Skuon
Cambodians consider fried spiders to be a delicacy, and although cooked tarantula is widely available in Phnom Penh, in Skuon you’ll find plates piled high with this unusual snack on every street corner. Known as a-ping, the flavour is akin to soft-shell crab, and the arachnids are tossed in garlic, salt, and sugar before they’re deep-fried.