Foreign foods that make you say (h)mmm
by Lauren Padia
Though one of the most exciting aspects of traveling is immersing yourself in foreign culture, an unfamiliar cuisine can sometimes make you cringe. Although Americanized food is easily accessible in many areas all over the world, many students venture out of their comfort zones to try dishes you’d probably never come across in the States.
Korea: In parts of Asia and even Europe, dogs are considered a delicacy. While teaching in Korea, Aaron Crossen was presented with an opportunity to try “gaegogi”, or dog meat. “It’s something I thought I’d try,” Crossen says. “It’s got a pretty savory taste.”
Australia: Jacqueline Klimas was not visiting the zoo when she encountered kangaroos—she was at a restaurant in Sydney, Australia. “I felt a little bad about eating the kangaroo because they are so adorable, but it tastes like the best red meat you've ever had. I had [kangaroo] steaks, hamburgers and a pizza while over there,” Klimas says. In fact, kangaroo meat is so common in Australia it is even sold in grocery stores.
But she had an even stranger culinary run-in with a camel. “Eating the camel was an interesting experience because I was in the Outback and less than 12 hours after eating camel, I was riding one,” Klimas says, adding that camel meat tasted very grisly.
Honduras: While in Honduras, Mike Lopez discovered a local favorite. “One night we went to a friend’s house and they had a goat’s head on the table,” Lopez says. “People were eating meat off the head.” Despite the unique presentation, he says the goat meat was tender and delicious. “It is customary for the head of the household to eat the eyes and for family members to eat the tongue,” he says.
China: Some popular foods abroad will make you squirm, even when they’re not common house pets. Ashley Halseth taught English in China for eight months, and says one of the worst things she ate while there was durian, a popular Chinese fruit with a horrible odor.
“People in China love it,” Halseth says. “You can buy durian-flavored candies, ice cream, etc.” But despite its noxious odor, Halseth had to try it, and says the taste was less than desirable.
But her malodorous food adventures didn’t end there. A Chinese friend tricked her into eating fermented tofu by claiming it only smelled foul. “She convinced me to take a bite and as soon as it reached my mouth I couldn't get it out fast enough,” Halseth says.