Eating the traditional cuisine of the local area is part of the experience of travelling, however some are considerably different to the cheese on toast we are used to back home.

I have been guilty of hunting the stores for tins of spaghetti hoops while abroad, but in general I try to make an effort to try something new every day and with every meal.

Below are the most bizarre or interesting foods you can try while travelling the world.

Haggis, Scotland

Not one for the vegetarians, Haggis is made with liver, lung and the heart of a sheep, as well as a number of other ingredients including oatmeal.

I’m fine with that, however the fact that it is boiled in the sheep’s stomach for a few hours does make me feel a bit wrong.

Haggis is a traditional dish eaten in Scotland, however like most items on this list, it isn’t widely eaten anymore and is often offered to tourists visiting the country.

Image by Bernt Rostad

Fried Brain Sandwich, USA

The brain of the cow was often placed between two pieces of bread and with some lettuce and sauce applied, a common meal in Central United States, however the meal disappeared from the menu following the outbreak of mad cow disease.

You might have to ask a few locals where you can be served this extraordinary dish.

Fried Brain Sandwich
Image by @joefoodie

Birds Nest Soup, China

A dish served in China, the nest isn’t actually made out of twigs and branches like a traditional nest is.

The swiftlet creates its nests out of saliva, as the texture of the nest becomes rather rubbery.

Swiftlets only have a short breeding season so the nests are produced in short supply, therefore the demand is very high for these rare treats.

If you do decide to have a bowl while over there, you should be looking at forking up between £20 and £65.

I’m not sure this would make my list of things to do in China, but it’s worth looking out for.

Birds Nest Soup
Image by cl_03

Puffer Fish, Japan

Anyone thinking of the Simpsons episode where Homer is served puffer fish and is then informed he only has 24 hours to live.

They weren’t joking around, as the skin and the insides of a puffer fish are deadly to humans, as they contain the poisonous toxin todrotoxin.

Only licensed chefs are legally allowed to prepare puffer fish as they are trained the exact way you should cut the deadly fish.

If you have a taste for danger, I would recommend giving this a try, but no buying a puffer fish down a back alley or from a stall, I don’t want to be responsible for anything that happens!

Eating your bodyweight in seafood should definitely be on in your plans as a key thing to do in Japan.

Puffer Fish
Image by melanie_ko

Casu Marzu, Sardinia

This is one that I have actually ticked off, despite now being illegal, and is probably the most disturbing item on the list. Casu Marzu is a type of cheese filled with insect larvae, meaning basically it’s filled with live maggots.

We were approached by a German TV company while walking around in Sardinia and they asked us to try the cheese with some wine. We tried the cheese as they zoomed in on our faces with extreme scrutiny.

We proclaimed the cheese tasted pretty good, when they showed us the crawly tenants of the cheeses insides. While I was a bit put off psychologically, I couldn’t hide the fact that the cheese was actually pretty tasty.

Unfortunately, you have to eat the cheese while the maggots are still alive, as once they are dead the cheese becomes highly toxic, which is why it has been ‘banned for health reasons’.

Make sure to read my story on eating Casu Marzu for a full description of this bizarre dish.

Rocky Mountain Oysters, USA

If you enjoy oysters, you will be disappointed when you find out the actual ingredients of Rocky Mountain Oysters, especially if you weren’t aware when ordering.

There aren’t actually any oysters in this dish, it is actually a buffalo’s testicals.

If you hope to find this dish and happen to be close to the Rocky Mountains, look for a cattle ranch and they might be willing to serve you these scrumptious oysters.

Rocky Mountain Oysters
Image by jankgo

Balut, South East Asia

This one does feel cruel to me, however if you aren’t bothered with that then here is a dish for you.

Balut is a fertilised egg, boiled just before it is ready to hatch, so that you are eating a boiled egg with a chick (or duck) in the middle.

Balut is normally cooked when the foetus is 17 to 21 days old, however you will want to go for the earliest point as later you leave it, more the beak, claws and feathers have grown on.

Image by Puck777

Live Octopus, South Korea

The live octopus is cut into small pieces and is then served with sesame oil. The tentacles will continue to move around your plate for quite a while (I’ve no idea how much they move around in your stomach).

Remember to chew thoroughly as the suction cups will stick to your mouth and throat, therefore if swallowed too quickly it can be a choking hazard.

This means you can’t swallow it whole and move on, you actually have to sit there with a wiggling tentacle in your mouth for a good few minutes.

Personally I can’t help but feel it is a bit too cruel to eat anything while alive, but fair enough if this tickles your fancy.

Image by LWY

Kopi Luwak, Indonesia

It was only a matter of time before an animal’s excrement came up on this list. The Luwak is a cat like creature often found in Indonesia, which eats a large amount of the coffee cherries.

Luwak’s can’t digest the coffee beans, meaning they come out whole, which some bright fellow thought would be a good idea to brew and turn into the most rarest and expensive gourmet coffee in the world.

I can’t see this being sold in Starbuck’s any time soon, however if cat poo coffee does the trick, Indonesia is the place to be.

Kopi Luwak
Image by tribalicious

Snake Wine, Vietnam

Snake wine is actually rice wine with a poisonous snake in the bottle. The snake is left in the bottle for a considerable period of time so that the poison dissolves into the wine.

Fortunately, the ethanol makes the venom inactive, meaning it is no longer dangerous to humans. Many have been arguing the health benefits of snake venom, while if you have a look on YouTube, there is a man who injects himself with snake venom everyday and he hasn’t been sick in 10 years.

Before I go any further, I would just like to say I am not advocating running up to snakes and flicking them, as this may cause death.

Image by designsbykari

I hope you have enjoyed the list, I could have easily written a good few more, such as kangaroo or crocodile, however these didn’t feel extreme enough. Look up the delicacies for the country you are visiting and try to tick off everything. I hope your braver than me, let me know in the comments below how many weird or different foods you have tried.


  1. fred mucai August 14, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Good advice about the Live Octopus. I would hate to imagine what would happen if those suction cups stuck in the throat….my oh my.


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