Of weird food and a hidden message…
From honey bees and frogs to blood cubes and eyes, I’ve had them all. Well, not yet. The best is yet to come. Here’s a run-down of some of the most bizarre foods in Southeast Asia. Would you dare to try?…
Although it may not sound bizarre to the people residing in SE Asia, it could make the others woozy.
- Honey bees:
I had them at Wakaf Bharu, Malaysia. They were fried and served as starters, with their wings and head retained. It took me about thirty seconds to turn my head away from their staring gaze.
Taste: Take a spoon of crunchy peanuts and add chicken strips to it. You know the taste.
- Bird’s nest:
Made out of the condensed saliva and throat contents of the swiftlet bird, the bird’s nest can be had plain, with sugar syrup or as a broth. I have tried 2-3 versions of it across Malaysia and Thailand.
Taste: Nearly insipid, jelly-like
This was a video I’d made for my girl-friends back home.. Sharing it with you all now 😉
- Century eggs:
These brown to black coloured eggs of quail, duck or hen are preserved over months. The preservative is made out of salt, ash, clay, rice hulls and quick lime. The process makes the yolk darker in colour and pungent in taste, thanks to ammonia and hydrogen sulphide.
Taste: Sharp, salty
- Frog legs:
Though it may sound fine to some, it will gross out the others. Frog legs, especially in broth, are believed to be a delicacy in many parts of the world and are quite close to chicken in taste and preparation style.
Taste: It tasted like a slimier (and froggier) form of chicken
- Cow lungs:
This dish of cow lungs is fried after being treated with spices, eaten with rice or in broth. As an alternate, it can be charcoal roasted or grilled as well.
Taste: Gamy, charred
- Organ soup:
Organ soups, especially pig organ soups are best had with rice. These clear soups contain parts of the intestine, stomach, liver, heart, blood cubes, tongue etc. – one or more of these, depending on the order.
Taste: Depends on the constituents
- Chicken feet:
Less fleshy and more bony, chicken feet contain tendons and cartilage more than actual flesh. However, they are good in soups and as side dishes.
–> So far, I couldn’t convince myself to have just two things: A huge jar of whiskey with a big scorpion, turtle, snake and crab at Laos – it was just too much to handle… and of course, scorpions on sticks at Cambodia. Hope to do these someday. Will keep you posted. 🙂
I come from a family where ‘I don’t want to eat this’ could never be uttered at the dining table. If I would say I don’t like a particular item on my plate, my Mom would serve double the quantity and ask me to finish it at one go. I would end up licking my plate clean, in the bargain.
Thanks Mom (at the risk of being disowned), because of you, I eat anything and everything that can be eaten. I never say ‘no’ or use the word ‘hate’ for any kind of food, coz someone somewhere eats it. What’s there to hate about food? That being said, I got into this habit of trying weird combinations (which I thought was normal) and everything bizarre quite a while back. It’s OK to experiment right?
Where do you find them?
That’s the golden question! When I travel, I assign one day to wake up early and explore the wet market. That is the best time to go as vendors have just set shop and have time to run you through their fresh lot. Besides that, I try eating at the hawker’s street of every night market. I reserve a day aside to try a bizarre delicacy at a specialized restaurant known for making that item the best, after running a search and exploring the city for a day or two.
How do I do it?
Don’t think too much – just do it. It feels bizarre till the time it touches your palette. After that, hand it over to your molars to complete their assigned duty.
Just a thought – It’s cool not to eat something, but not so cool to make a face when someone else eats it. We respect the cuisine of Southeast Asia and try to stomach it all. This post is an ode to the bizarre foods and a mere means of having fun with food, and does in no way condemn the eating habits of people out here.
What is the most bizarre food you’ve had?..
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