Horse Ice Cream and Other Weird Food From Across the Globe

7 years ago

I'm not a brave eater; I won't eat "just anything." Man vs. Food gives me the creeps, and I have mostly vegetarian tendencies by nature. I'm still talking about that crazy weird meal we had in Ho Chi Mihn City (Saigon), the gummy noodles, the salty mystery meat, the fishy crunchy ... uh, what was that? We went to a bakery afterward and got cake. Not ideal nutritionally, but I was still hungry.

Cross section of exotic fruit on tray

With a texture that’s described as sweet, smooth and creamy, it doesn’t seem to be too much of a stretch to turn the delicacy of Basashi [horse] into ... ice cream! Multiple Japanese companies have their own version of basashi ice cream that are sold with chunks of meat frozen in the carton. -- Nile Guide

Food is such a critical part of travel, such a defining element of place. It leaves such strong associations. I learned how to make mochi on my last trip to Hawaii and now, when I get an overwhelming craving for chocolate haupia (coconut pudding) mochi, I wonder if it's not Hawaii I'm pining for. In Austria, we ate bread dumplings with a creamy chantarelle mushroom sauce, and here in Seattle, it's grilled salmon that tastes like the Pacific Northwest.

“Dog meat, lamb testicle, sheep dick –- it’s all good. What do you want?” Then came the bugs: scorpions, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets –- I think they deep fry them first, but didn’t stick around to find out. Even more out of place was the price. Why pays 40 RMB for a basket of fried bugs when you could get delicious pieces of lamb or chicken for 5 RMB? Maybe it really is that good, but I wasn’t brave enough to find out.  Perhaps you will be more adventurous.--The Horrors of Chinese Street Food

The bar is low for me. I won't eat rabbit (can't do bunnies, sorry), don't like duck or goose (too fatty), avoid red meat (bleh) and think raw seafood is just risky. Weird food is relative, though -- you needn't brave the markets of Beijing to be confronted with what's weird to you.

Breakfast tacos were the tastiest food I encountered in Austin, but the weirdest definitely goes to the Frito Pie at The Shady Grove. The Frito Pie is a questionable thing. It isn't really a pie, although it is layered. The Shady Grove has taken the popular combination of Fritos on top of Texas style chili and reversed the placement. So the crunchy, corny Fritos are on the bottom of a pile of The Shady Grove's spicy sirloin chili, cheese, onions, and jalapeno peppers, dutifully soaking up the mess.--Dinnerella

My son has a fairly specific travel diet. It consists of French fries, French fries and even more French fries. He has always somehow innately understood that, while on the road, at least, he will be permitted to get by on a pure starch diet so the rest of the family can have a decent meal. For the most part, this isn’t a problem. Even your most remote spot usually has a deep fryer and some potatoes. But every once in a while, we eat in a restaurant that does. not. serve. French. fries. And usually, this culminated in a lot of whining no matter what other potato variety might be available.-- Travel Savvy Mom

Sometimes what passes for weird food is just a shift from the normal. I remember how strange it was to see frozen peas and carrots on my veggie pizza -- hello, where are the artichoke hearts and olives? Or there are regional things -- cheese curds, for example, in Minnesota or what passes as some kind of ethnic chow but is really homogenized for your, um, protection?

The most unusual food I've ever eaten ... I've eaten rat in Vietnam, llama in Bolivia, fish sperm ducts in the Czech Republic, but the weirdest thing I've eaten is "Italian" food -- or, rather, what someone decided to define as Italian food -- at American chain restaurants like the Olive Garden. -- David Farley on Gadling

Everyone has her own idea of what’s good on French fries: ketchup, mayonnaise, ranch dressing, chili and cheese even mustard. But in Quebec, they add cheese curds and top it off with brown gravy. What’s more annoying than all that is the fact that they refer to it with the added possessive “My.” And honestly, I want no part of curds and gravy, thanks. Don’t try to drag me into that mess. -- Like Me

"Well, that was weird," is, I think, an okay reaction to tasting something new while far from your usual grazing grounds. It means you've tried something new and that's a good thing.

What's the weirdest thing you've eaten while away from home? In the comments, please.

Nerd's Eye View

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