When Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom hit theaters in 1984, it featured a dish that was beyond exotic: monkey brain ice cream. Many thought it was an invention of the plot, not knowing that the main ingredient was already enjoyed by African tribes centuries before.
Since then strange foods have become the main topic when it comes to exotic cuisine. That's because, in this category, there are fewer and more unusual dishes. That's why we decided to bring you the six dishes that are, in themselves, so eccentric that they deserve to bear the title of true gastronomy curiosities.
First of all, a reminder: before leaving for another country, it is always useful to inform yourself in advance about the local eating habits to avoid embarrassing yourself in public. Remember that it is common to find different habits, but no one wants to get sick just because they ate some insect or part of an animal that is not normally consumed in their homeland. It is important, in an era of valuing diversity in all segments of daily life, to also observe and respect the different forms of food. Even if it makes you want to throw up.
And don't think that it's only abroad that we find strange foods. In Brazil, there are cases considered common, such as turu broth, also called teredo or termite of the sea, part of Paraná and Amazonian cuisine, in addition to being consumed in the states of Maranhão and Amapá. It is a mollusk that looks like a worm with teeth that dig galleries in submerged wood. It is consumed alive and raw, in addition to being used in broths with flour or moquecas. It is also a common bait used by hunters to capture the mangrove monkey, a delicacy that, with added pepper, attracts the animal and, once consumed, disorients it, making it an easy target.
It's no use feeling disgust or disgust: the following dishes are considered delicatessen of exotic cuisine and some are quite expensive. Prepare your pocket, stomach and fruit salt for a show of eccentric and other-worldly flavors!
Sour Toe Cocktail
Let's start with an aperitif, one of the most bizarre in the world: Dawson City is a small town in northern Canada, known for its gold rush history or the radiant red leaves of autumn.
That's where this sour cocktail comes from, an invention that takes an unusual recipe: 29 ml of alcohol and a mummified, wrinkled and blackened human thumb.
The challenge, maintained by Sourdough Saloon, presents the consumer with a certificate, witness of the mission accomplished: with the other customers around you, the motto is chanted “drink fast or drink slowly, but your lips must touch this gnarled toe”.
Since Louie Linken's big toe succumbed to frostbite on a 1920s expedition, more than ten toes have been donated to keep the tradition alive.
And apparently the challenge has already been faced by representatives of the mainstream media around the world. A report published in the USA Today newspaper assures that all customers interviewed recommend the drink. One of them, a woman accompanied by what she calls “captain toe” described the challenge as follows:
“'She (the captain) made me kiss (the drink thumb) first,” she said. “That part was traumatizing, it was so gross… The texture was really gross, but I don't remember the taste. The feeling was really quite disgusting… It was like a greasy raisin'”.
- where to drink
1026 Second Avenue, Dawson City, YT Y0B, Canada.
In Cambodia this is a very popular snack. In Skuon (Cheung Prey, Kampong Cham Province), the center of the dish's popularity, tourists come across arachnids standing at street food stalls, breaded.
The spiders that will be consumed are raised in holes in the ground in villages north of Skuon, or foraged in nearby forests and fried in oil. It is not known for sure how this practice began, but some suggest that the habit is due to desperation during the years of Khmer Rouge rule, when food was scarce. Popularization, however, is considered a recent phenomenon, which began in the 1990s.
About the size of a human palm, spiders are a species of tarantula called “a-ping”. Each one costs eight cents of the dollar (45 cents of real). Some tour guides identify them as Haplopelma albostriatum, also known as the Thai Zebra Tarantula.
The preparation is described as follows: the spiders are thrown into a mixture of spices, sugar and salt. With the addition of garlic, they are fried until the legs are almost completely rigid, when the contents of the abdomen are no longer so liquid.
Consumers describe the flavor as being mild, “kind of like a cross between chicken and cod”, with a contrast in texture from a crispy exterior to a soft center. The legs contain little meat, while the head and body have “a delicate white flesh inside”.
The abdomen is usually not eaten as it contains a brown paste consisting of organs, possibly eggs and droppings. Some people call it a delicacy, while others recommend not eating it at all.
- Where to eat?
Romdeng – 74 street 174, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
For those who love to try a new type of meat and do not have a Peter Pan or Captain Hook complex, the tip is to eat dishes of this animal, common in the United States, where even the reptile eggs have become a culinary delicacy.
The meat itself is considered high in protein and low in fat, with a mild flavor and firm texture. Americans promote a short legal hunting season in some states, where game can only be obtained legally from crocodile farms and the product is available for consumer purchase at specialty food stores, some supermarkets, and can also be ordered by the crocodile. post office.
Some local businesses process and market crocodile meat derived only from the tail. In addition, it can also be made into pet food.
There are several methods of preparation and cooking, including tenderizing, marinating, frying, stewing, roasting, smoking, and sautéing. The meat is used in dishes like gumbo, and is common in traditional Louisiana Creole cuisine. The cuts of the animal used include meat from the animal's tail and backbone, which have been described as "the best parts to eat."
There are those who are concerned about the fate of these animals, but the vast majority of the product consumed comes from breeding farms for this purpose. Another detail: crocodile hunting is legal in states like Arkansas, South Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and Texas.
- Where to eat?
Dixie Grill and Bar. 5101 S Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach, Florida, United States.
Leaving the western world, we head towards the Sahara desert, where we find another interesting and, luckily, less bizarre product: the so-called sand bread. Well, according to reports, the bread is not well made with this ingredient, but it is prepared in a way that attracts attention.
Taguella is a flatbread, a staple dish of the Tuareg people who live in the Sahara. It has a disk shape and is made with wheat flour and cooked, to be buried under the hot sand and coal of a small fire. When ready, it is then broken into small pieces and eaten with a meat sauce.
It is made from semolina, wheat or corn, sometimes mixed with flour. After being kneaded (for twenty minutes) it is roasted in the embers of a fire with ashes and sand. With the right hand, the Tuareg eat it with tomato sauce and vegetables or various meats, or even pepper or soup and sometimes it is seasoned with wild fennel.
A variation is called volcanic bread and it comes from Iceland, a country where geothermal energy from the ground supplies 30% of local electricity and geothermal fields of drinking water up to 148 degrees Celsius dot the country. This led smart (and hungry) Icelanders to discover that the soil can also serve as an oven.
“Cooking bread on warm earth is quite old,” explains Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir, author of several cookbooks on the cuisine of her home country. "It's been done this way for at least 100 years."
Volcanic bread is simply called rye bread (or hverabrauð) and is also known as lava bread, or hot spring bread. The process starts with a dark rye dough and whole wheat flour, buttermilk, golden syrup, baking powder, baking soda and a little salt. The dough is placed in a metal container – even an old tin with a lid will do – before being sealed and buried in the ground to bake for 24 hours.
- Where to buy?
Sand bread – Taguella Meditetranean Flavors. Route de Monastir, Sidi Abdelhamid, Sousse, Tunisia.
Volcanic bread – Laugarvatn Fontana. Hverabraut 1, 840 Laugarvatn, Iceland.
Fried Brain Sandwiches
Back to eccentric dishes. This one comes from Egypt and uses the brains of calves and cows as a filling for extremely popular sandwiches.
A very famous dish there, the fried cow brain is considered tasty, but a definitely daring appetizer. Served alone or as a sandwich, beef and lamb brains are popular and some would say delicious.
But don't think that this is something typical of Egyptian cuisine. In fact, bovine or calf brains are used in the cuisine of countries such as France, Italy, Spain, El Salvador, Mexico, among others. They are called sesos in Spanish and eaten in tacos and quesadillas. In Pakistan and Bangladesh they are known in Urdu and Bengali as Maghaz. They are also widely consumed in the United States, especially in cities like St. Louis, Missouri and the Ohio River Valley.
Beef brain, as it is commonly called, is usually served with tongue, sautéed with beurre noir and capers, or mixed with scrambled eggs. In Italy, cervella fritte is a popular dish made from pieces of beef brains fried in batter. Beef brains have a doughy texture and very little inherent flavor, and are typically flavored with sauces such as pepper and ravigote.
This ingredient deserves some care, as outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (commonly known as mad cow disease) led to legislation to reduce the risks of contracting the human variant of the disease by consuming bovine brains and spines.
Where to eat? Abou Haidar Shawerma. El korba Ibrahim Al Lakani, El-Montaza, Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Liking heads and everything else this body organ can produce seems to be the golden rule of exotic cuisine. Proof of this is this last tip from our selection of weird dishes.
Smalahove or smalehovude is a traditional western Norwegian dish made with a sheep's head that is originally eaten before Christmas. The look couldn't be more bizarre: imagine a tray with a golden head of the animal right in the center of the table...
The name of the dish comes from the combination of the Norwegian words hove and smale. The first term is a dialectal form of hovud, which means "head" and smale is a word for "sheep", so the title literally means "sheep's head". Preparation details are sickening to think about: the skin and fleece of the head are burned, the brains removed and the head salted, sometimes smoked and dried. This is boiled or steamed for about three hours and served with mashed rutabaga and potatoes.
In some preparations, the brain is boiled inside the skull and then eaten with a spoon or fried. It was originally eaten by the poor. Even if the head is not whole, the image is unattractive, as a portion usually consists of half a head. The ear and eye are usually eaten first, as they are the fattest areas and are “best” to eat hot. The head is usually eaten from front to back, working around the bones of the skull.
Since 1998 and the mad cow epidemics, a European Union directive has banned the production of smalahove made from adult sheep due to fears of the possibility of transmitting scrapie, a deadly prion degenerative disease of sheep and goats. Today it is allowed to be produced only from lambs' heads.
- Where to eat?
Smalahovetunet. Strandavegen 789, Skulestadmo, Norway.
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