Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Travel Bloggers Unite: I Can't Believe I Ate/Drank That! (Part 2)

Do you go outside of your culinary comfort level when traveling? If you're anything like the travel bloggers featured here, you certainly do.

Whether it's sampling the local delicacy or trying something truly strange... consuming traditional and local food/drink can can certainly make a trip memorable.

In Part two of a two-part series, 10 more Travel Bloggers write about their experiences with local fare, for better or for worse. You can find the first list here.

I can't believe I ate/drank...

1) Snake Whiskey (aka Mekong Moonshine) in Luang Prabang, Laos (Alli, The Vintage Postcard)

Details: I consumed this shot on Valentine's Day during my trip through Laos last February '14. What a special Valentine's treat! I decided to consume this . . . beverage we'll call it, because even though I detest hard liquor, the snake whisky man sure is convincing!

The concoction of snake whiskey has cobra, other snakes, scorpions, weird centipedes, and all sorts of other creepy crawlies in it. Basically anything that is poisonous, the snake whiskey man finds and crams them into jugs to begin fermenting. He makes some MEAN Mekong Moonshine. Very mean, very intense and very strong like the sign suggests. He had his stand set up right along the riverbank, impossible to miss when I was cycling peacefully along.

At 60% alcohol, I definitely almost barfed after downing my shot.  It burned my mouth, my throat, and my stomach. The burning sensation set up camp in my stomach for a while, until I let out a huge burp, breathing out fire like a dragon. 

Comparison: I felt like I was swallowing poison as I fought back nausea. Don't feel too bad for me, I hopped back onto my bike and pedaled through the chaotic local traffic like a madwoman. It sure does pump you up with courage!

Would you drink it again? If I ever find myself back in Luang Prabang, and I come across the snake whiskey man, I'd happily fork over the meager 50 cents to do another!

2) Yak Meat in Lake Khövsgöl, Mongolia (Susie, Dabble in Travel)

Details: My husband, Jan and I started our yearlong career break in Mongolia. In order to get immersed in the culture, we organized a homestay with a nomadic family in Northern Mongolia. We helped out with their day-to-day activities such as cooking, herding and milking their livestock.

Unfortunately, I developed a bad cold while I was there and on my worst day, instead of being offered the typical noodle soup for lunch, I was presented with a bucket filled with yak meat. As I ate, our host pointed to the various parts of the body each piece came from, which made me want to yak! It was the only meal I couldn’t finish during our stay.

Meanwhile, Jan worked up an appetite while unsuccessfully herding goats on the side of a mountain, so he didn’t mind the meal upon his return.

For more on what we ate in Mongolia, click here.

Comparison: Extremely tough, chewy, and bland beef.

Would you eat it again? Yes, if it was prepared differently and ideally, not served in a bucket!

3) Puffin in Reykjavik, Iceland (Paul Gamble, Travelling Book Junkie)

Details: When you think of tapas you envisage delights like patatas bravas, gambas con alioli and perhaps a sharing platter of paella all sizzling on small black plates in front of you; it's hard to imagine that tapas deviates too much from this.

Heading into Tapas Barinn in Reykjavik, however, we were unsure what we would find. I opted for the somewhat more adventurous 'Icelandic Gourmet Feast' which included well-known dishes like lamb and lobster but also the more abstract dishes of minke whale and puffin. Whilst the minke whale was extremely tasty the smoked puffin is possibly the worst thing I have ever eaten.

As soon as the dish arrived I was questioning my choice.  When people say you eat with your eyes, this was definitely something I should have turned away. It was both rubbery and a bit slimy, leading me to choke and reach for my beer.

Comparison: Close to raw chicken... only darker and to taste it was no better.

Would you eat it again? It is something that I will never be trying again!

Read more after the jump!!!

4) Mondongo in David, Panama (Melody, Wherever I May Roam)

Details: My husband, daughter, and I were shopping in David one day and stopped in a Panamanian cafe for lunch. The lines were long, temperatures around 100 degrees, and most of the food was not labeled. We ordered what we thought to be chicken teriyaki (as we do not speak Spanish and they do not speak English).   

After paying for our food and sitting down, my daughter and I were staring at this rubbery type “chicken” that did not look one bit appealing. I took one bite and chewed, and chewed, and chewed, until I finally had to just spit it into a napkin. My daughter was very smart and did not even taste it. My husband, on the other hand, was starving and just over there shoveling it down. I kept asking him if he was enjoying it or if he thought it tasted weird and finally, halfway finished, he realized the meal was not in fact chicken.                         

We later learned that this was mondongo, a typical Panamanian dish, that is made from the stomach lining (or tripe) of a cow.

Currenly my husband and I are developing some property in Boquete and building houses. It is customary that when the roofs are complete, a traditional mondongo “raise the roof party" is thrown for the workers and their families. Mondongo, rice with guandu (pigeon peas), pasta salad (pink from beet juice), and beer are the typical party foods.   

Comparison: It is rubbery and chewy and just gross; however, in Panamanian culture, it is often used as a delicacy.

Would you eat it again? 
I will be thrilled and honored to host the party but going to politely excuse myself when it is time to eat the food.  One bite was enough for my lifetime.

5) Deep Fried Insects in Chiang Mai, Thailand (Karolina & Patryk, KarolinaPatryk)

Details: Thailand is famous from weird food. It is our second time in this country, so we wanted to get more familiar with the local cuisine. Few weeks ago we did something crazy and tried... deep fried insects!

It turned out that there were a lot to choose from: larvae, grasshoppers, beetles and many more. We were too disgusted to try everything, so we picked 3 random types of bugs.

Comparison: They tasted like...chips or potatoes. They were crispy, greasy and salty. They definitely tasted better than they looked.

Would you eat it again? Never say never! Who knows, maybe we'll try fried insects again in the future?

6) Rice Wine Mouse Fetus Shots in Hong Kong, China (Jack (and Jenn), Who needs Maps)

Details: I was in Hong Kong with a few of my buddies and they wanted to do something crazy. I’ve done the snake bile shots, but this was something insane. 

It is rice wine (a popular Asian drink) stuffed with baby mice fetuses until it ferments. It sounded horrible and tasted horrible. The positive is that you shoot it (since the mice are small enough to swallow) so you’re not munching on the mouse. 

It is horribly unappealing and disgusting to look at, but when in Asia right? 

Comparison: It tasted like dirty water with a huge tadpole in it.

Would you eat and drink it again? I would never do it again, once I have done something gross, I have already ticked it off the bucket list. You just have to pass the psychology of it!

7) Mama Juana in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (Dawn, Excellence Punta Cana)

Details: OK, so I like to drink on vacation, and I am open minded and adventurous. Back in 2008, our first trip to the Excellence Resort in Punta Cana I gave it a try. It is a mixture of rum, red wine, honey and Dominican roots and herbs.

The barkeep at the swim up bar produced a bottle filled with a dark brown liquid filled with twigs, bark, root and GOD knew what else. I was getting concerned. Everyone said it was a Dominican aphrodisiac, so I had to test it out. Upon taking my first shot...

WOW! From throat to belly it burned like hell! I could not taste anything! The barkeep said "gasonlina, si?" I could only nod my head because I could not speak. I guess this was interpreted as "give the gal another shot". Which lead to a few more. I woke up in our room the next day and asked my Fiance what happened. He only smiled and said I was cute. I decided I did not want to know. 

Comparison: It looked like something from a swamp, smelled like turpentine and tasted like liquid fire!

Would you drink it again? Yeah, Probably! :D

8) Chicken Feet in Taipei Raohe Night Market, China (Jessica, The Dining Traveler)

Details: Although there are items that seem crazy in the United States (where I live), there are other items that are common in the rest of the world. I recall my mom using chicken feet in soup when I was kid in Puerto Rico and never thought much of it. The reality is that it's a popular snack in China and Taiwan. 

My first time in Beijing, it just stood there (no pun intended) in my soup. Fast forward to last month, I encountered it again in the night market in Taipei but this time is was grilled and served as a snack. Not the worst thing I've had in terms of taste but not a memorable one either.  

Comparison: Like a chicken wing in that you have to struggle to get meat out of it! 

Would you eat it again? I think I gave up on trying to like it. As it is said, everything must be tried twice. I did just that. 

9) Duck Embryo in Nha Trang, Vietnam (Ron and Michele, Legging It)

Details: Sometimes being a male isn't all it's cracked up to be!

Sitting back enjoying the meals we'd just cooked at a Cooking Class in Nha Trang, when the chef asked if anyone would like to try a local specialty "fertilised egg". Being the only male at the cooking class there was the whole "what you're not going to try it?"  

To make this specialty they get a fertilised duck egg and leave it in the sun for 17 days. It's a little fluffy duckling in an egg. That's right, beak, feathers and feet. Seriously! 

Two duck eggs soon appeared on two plates and were placed in front of us.
I cracked the top of the egg and sure enough the little yellow fluffy head of a duck embryo fully formed lay there, dead of course. With all the ladies jostling to get a better look I shook a bit of salt lime and pepper onto the egg. Saying a silent prayer I dove my spoon into the contents of the egg emerging with beak, spine, feathers and head. 

Quick as a flash I spooned the contents into my mouth, swallowed and showed them all an empty mouth. Proof that I had indeed taken the challenge and beaten it. Male honour restored they all drifted back to their tables silently. 

Comparison: Hmmm let's just say it's a taste that will stay with you a long time! A very, very long time! Ergh!

Would you eat it again? I would, but only to defend the male stereotype.

10Bäska Droppar in Stockholm, Sweden (Ben, HugeParty Travel)

Details: On a crazy Friday night in Stockholm I ran into Bäska Droppar. This stuff is disgusting, but also a "must-drink" traditional Swedish snaps (schnapps or strong shot). Bäska Droppar is an aquavit, which is a group of flavored spirits produced in Scandinavia. Most taste-testers would cite Bäska Droppar, which is flavored with the atrociously bitter wormwood, as the worst tasting of the aquavits.

I strongly advocate trying anything once, and once is about all you will need with Bäska Droppar. Although it is taste bud torture and high in alcohol content, it’s certainly worth drinking on a celebratory night out, just don’t forget to say Skål!

Comparison: Gasoline mixed with yellow Dial soap, lingering for minutes after.

Would you drink it again? Unfortunately, I have many times. Jeppson's Malört is a close cousin to Bäska Droppar, and one of the signature shots in Chicago. Watch people taste testing it here

No comments:

Post a Comment

HugeParty Travel is all about the Fun, Culture and Craziness found throughout the world. Cheers!