One of the true joys of travel is the opportunity to try many strange and exotic foods that you’ve never seen or maybe even heard of before. If you’re not at least a little bit careful, though, joy can quickly turn to despair, as many foods can contain ingredients that your body isn’t prepared to handle. If you’re planning a trip to Asia and want to try something new, the following are some strange foods to tuck into:
The obvious list-topper here is a food that could kill you almost instantly if it’s not prepared exactly right. Mainly found in Japan, and possibly a few international Japanese restaurants where the food isn’t banned, fugu is made from pufferfish. The poison, if it gets you, leads to a particularly excruciating death. You can find out more about this exotic food choice from this magazine article published by the BBC.
While we’re on the subject of venomous creatures, cobra is another very adventurous food that locals may try to tempt you with. As long as it’s served headless, you’re not likely to die from consuming cobra meat (the head must be avoided as you can still be bitten or at least scratched by a dead cobra, which can be fatal, as one Chinese chef tragically proved last year). Still, it’s not completely harmless, as the meat can cause a heating effect in the body. Thus, if you’re already hot or partially dehydrated, you could really regret chowing down on a cobra.
Most species of edible jellyfish are also non-toxic, but many people are allergic to jellyfish, and you may be one of them. If you do suffer a reaction to consuming jellyfish, expect to be subjected to the most intense itching you’ve ever experienced, possible severe pain, and temporary paralysis. If you do fall victim to the said side effects, be sure to get some more information from the locals on what to do and where to get help.
There are as many different ways of preparing and serving this Thai, Lao, and Khmer dish as there are of Romanizing its name. If you’re in the west or south of Thailand, you’ve little to be concerned about, but you may still want to inquire about the ingredients anyway. In the eastern Thailand region of Issan, Laos and Cambodia, however, you could find it’s a very different dish. This is because Issan-style larb is often made with Khi Pia, which is cow manure squeezed from the intestines. It may also, depending on the chef, be made with raw meat and blood, which can pose numerous health risks.
This is one of the most famous unusual Asian foods, mainly found in Indonesia and the Philippines. It is a whole un-hatched duckling or chick served in its own egg. There’s not much more to be said about this, as it’s completely self-explanatory.
The foods on this list are exotic and adventurous, but they can sometimes be more of an adventure than you counted on. As long as you’re properly insured, you may be keen to dig in and take your chances anyway. Without insurance, your gourmet experience could be very expensive indeed, and even with insurance, it’s worth thinking twice about what you’re eating.