Eating unusual foods in Asia is as much of a tourist activity as any. You cannot leave without having sampled a local delicacy and experiencing a different food culture. Here is my guide to some tasty treats:
Jellyfish- This is not something that I had expected to eat. In fact, I didn’t even realise it was a thing. I mean I knew jellyfish were a thing, but it just didn’t cross my mind as falling into the food category. It didn’t taste of much, it just felt like jelly. It was hard to get a grip on though. As I bit down on a piece, it would whiz over to the other side of my mouth. Tricky.
Fish head curry- This may not sound appealing but actually, it just tasted like fish in a curry. It was good. Apart from the eye. Apparently it is the man of the house’s prerogative to eat the eye. That was fine by me but I’m not sure he enjoyed it.
Crickets- Admittedly, I only had a few little ones. They tasted like chicken. If chicken had stringy legs that got stuck in your teeth.
Ais Kacang– Camouflaged as crushed ice covered in syrup, hidden below this dessert were beans, sweetcorn and agar jelly. Agar jelly sound familiar? It was the stuff used in petri dish-related experiments in Biology lessons. Fond memories? Admittedly, it didn’t taste of too much and the ice/syrup combo was good.
Water Buffalo- This is possibly one of the best things I have ever tasted. Water buffalo steak, water buffalo curry. Oh. My. God.
Duck’s bill- I can’t say that I enjoyed this. It just felt like bone with some slimy stuff on.
Duck’s tongue- To be completely honest, I can’t really give feedback on this. After biting into it, I accidentally dropped it on the floor. I didn’t try again.
Pig’s intestine- Mine didn’t really have much taste, but I have since found out that normally there is a taste and it is not favourable to all.
Squid’s mouth- Basically looked like little battered pouts. It wasn’t that bad. In fact, I think I had more than one.
Chicken’s cartilage- Battered. Hard. Somehow, I’ve had it twice but I don’t think I’ll be eating it again.
Chicken’s foot- I was rather skeptical about this. I have a chicken- I was sure there was little meat on her feet, and it turned out I was right. It did taste like chicken though.
Snake wine- Whilst on a day-trip, I was offered some liquid from a tub filled with snakes. It didn’t taste great but I can’t pinpoint whether it was the snakes or the very strong alcohol. Maybe it would have tasted better with lemonade?
Pork balls- On my first night away, I ordered pork balls and noodles for dinner. At home, sweet and sour chicken balls are one of my staples, so I thought this was a safe bet until I had acclimatised and was ready to try something new. However, when they arrived, they were sliced and rather more gelatin-like than meaty. I fear I may have misinterpreted the word ‘balls’. I guess I will never know.
Durian fruit- one I almost forgot. The reputation of this fruit preceded it- we’d heard about the smell. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it reminded me of but sewage seems a reasonable comparison. In some countries, durian is actually banned from some places because of its scent, for example on the underground in Singapore. Crack open a durian fruit and you find multiple pieces to eat. Each has the texture of custard covered in a thin skin. In all honesty, it didn’t taste too bad but I couldn’t get past the smell, which seemed to linger for a while. I think its Southeast Asia’s answer to Marmite: you either love it or you hate it. I fell into the latter category.
Originally written for The Gonzo Project