Bizarre Foods: Delicacy or Weird, Daring Fad?

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Bizarre foods: Delicacy or a weird, daring fad?

SBS BIZARRE FOODS with Andrew Zimmerm

I was recently having lunch with a bunch of friends. We were discussing the bizarre and weird foods we had eaten in the past.

The conversation started because someone had come across a TV Show on SBS called "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,""

The show's website states, “Andrew Zimmern utilizes his knowledge of all things edible as he unmasks an aspect of dining out that will make you think twice before ordering off the menu.”

“Zimmern believes that the best way to explore other cultures is by sharing food, even though what’s common fare in one country may be a challenge for the western palate.

In Bizarre Foods, this adventurous eater infiltrates markets and restaurants taking viewers behind the scenes to savor the local cuisine - even if that means gulping down ant eggs in Mexico City or slurping on snails in Portugal. This curious traveler is game for anything and knows the most interesting food is found closest to the source.”

SBS - BIZARRE FOODS with Andrew Zimmern

Check out the web page SBS BIZARRE FOODS with Andrew Zimmerm

In case you have never seen the show, these are some of the treats he has eaten around the world.

Braised elk tongue

SBS BIZARRE FOODS with Andrew Zimmerm Braised elk tongue

Braised elk tongue with potato gnocchi courtesy of Lincoln Restaurant chef Jenn Louis in Portland, OR.

Snail Risotto

SBS BIZARRE FOODS with Andrew Zimmerm Snail Risotto

Snail risotto is made even better with shrimp and squid-ink fat at the Snail Festival in Loures, Portugal.

Chicken-foot Souse

SBS BIZARRE FOODS with Andrew Zimmerm Chicken-foot Souse

Chicken-foot souse at Donde Ivan in the Rio Abajo area of Panama City.

Tuna Eyes

SBS BIZARRE FOODS with Andrew Zimmerm Tuna Eyes

One of Andrew Zimmern's favourite dishes, tuna eyes, is prepared by Izakaya Payao in Okinawa.

Pickled Duck Tongues

SBS BIZARRE FOODS with Andrew Zimmerm Pickled Duck Tongues

Pickled duck tongues are a delicacy in Shanghai's First Food Hall, a treasure trove of fresh and prepackaged foods in the heart of downtown.

Roasted Dormice

SBS BIZARRE FOODS with Andrew Zimmerm Roasted Dormice

Andrew Zimmern with a plateful of dormice, skinned and gutted and ready for roasting, at Toni's Tavern in the village of Dol, Croatia.

So you can see this gave us plenty to discuss & brag about!

Bizarre foods my friends have eaten while travelling

I remember going to a function at Sheraton on The Park. They were serving crocodile skewers. It tasted a bit like chicken.

A friend was telling me that when he was in Thailand he had crunchy grasshopper seasoned with salt and chilli, fried in a big wok.

I'm sure I ate some really strange things when I was in China

When I was in China a couple of years ago, we were staying in an industrial area some 20 km out of Suzhou. That's 112km from Shanghai.

The trip took about 25 minutes on the Magna Train which travels at over 300km per hour. Just an incredible experience!

So every night we went out for dinner in Suzhou. Now I'm not talking your regular touristy restaurants.

One night we when to the Mao Tse-tung Restaurant. I mentioned they had a chain of restaurants which prided itself on serving the favourite food of Chairman Mao.

“The house speciality was The red pork (rongchaorou 红炒肉) appreciated by Mao Zedong (and quite a speciality of Hunan), delicious as it is cooked in a sauce house.” ( My translator gave me this - That's why it's in such good English, or as they call it "Chinglish,"")

The food was delicious, but apart from the pork & rice it was hard to tell what the rest of the banquet consisted of.

But after a couple of beers, you seem to become less discerning of the food you're eating.

You can see how an army marches on its stomach. 

I couldn't even read the menus, so I had no real idea of what we were eating but do remember every meal seemed to have some form of tofu.

I have to say I was not a real fan of tofu. The texture just made my skin crawl.

Let me tell you, a week of lunches was even more interesting. We were not in a tourist area so every day we would get lunch from local street vendors.

A bevvy of plates would be served up.

It took me a couple of days to get used to everybody diving with their chopsticks into the communal meals.

The only one who spoke in English was my translator.

So every time I asked what we were eating he just laughed.

He said “it's better I didn't know because he thought I'd probably throw up.“

How comforting.

He later told me we had frogs, dried eel & dog.

Now that made me feel queasy.

I just ate Lassie.

I hope my kids don't find out. I would not be popular.

So then my friends started rattling off the weird dishes they had eaten during their world travels.


My friend Dave lived South Korea for a number years & he said he also had eaten Dog it's called Boshintang


Bosintang or gaejangguk, called dangogiguk in North Korea, is a Korean soup that includes dog meat as its primary ingredient. The soup has been claimed to provide increased virility.


Joh after spending a month in Scotland kept raving about Haggis


Image source - Tess Watson - Haggis //

Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal's stomach.

Roasted Guinea Pig

Can you believe one, my friends, while travelling through South America had Roasted Guinea Pig.

Roasted Guinea Pig

Escamol ‘insect caviar’

When he got to Mexico, He had to try Escamol also known as Also known as ‘insect caviar’.

SBS BIZARRE FOODS with Andrew Zimmerm Braised elk tongue

Escamoles are the edible larvae and pupae of Liometopum apiculatum and L. occidentale ants. They are harvested from the roots of the Agave tequilana (tequila) or Agave americana (maguey—mezcal) plants in Mexico. They are most commonly consumed in Mexico City and surrounding areas. Escamoles have been consumed in Mexico since the Aztecs. They taste buttery and nutty, with a texture akin to that of cottage cheese.

Casu Marzu

A couple on their Italian honeymoon tried a dish called casu marzu. Casu marzu sounds much better than the translation, Rotten Cheese.

Casu marzu

Casu marzu is a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese, which contains live insect larvae (maggots).

Made from pecorino, casu marzu goes above and beyond typical fermentation to a stage of decomposition, brought about by the digestive action of the larvae of the cheese fly Piophila casei. These larvae are deliberately introduced to the cheese, promoting an advanced level of fermentation and breaking down of the cheese's fats. The texture of the cheese becomes very soft, with some liquid (called lagrima, Sardinian for “teardrop”) seeping out. The larvae themselves appear as translucent white worms, about 8 mm (0.3 in) long.

Crispy fried tarantulas

My brother spent 3 weeks in Cambodia. It's fair to say he's not exactly an appreciator of fancy gourmet foods. So I was really shocked when he told me he ate a dish of crispy fried tarantulas

Crispy fried tarantulas

Fried spider is a regional delicacy in Cambodia. In the Cambodian town of Skuon (Cheung Prey, Kampong Cham Province), the vending of fried spiders as a speciality snack is a popular attraction for tourists passing through this town. The spiders are bred in holes in the ground in villages north of Skuon, or foraged for in nearby forestland, and fried in oil.

So as you can imagine, my friends and I all tried to top each other.

But we all agreed on the one that took the cake & made us all laugh the most.

We have a recent visitor from a strange, exotic land. Ok, I'm pulling your leg ... he's from London.

He said the weirdest dish he has tried, which he believes was designed as some form of evil torture, is nothing more than a disgusting black goop.

Ok. What could this disgusting dish be?

He goes on to explain; “I don't understand how you could possibly eat Vegemite. It tastes like salty black tar”.

Vegemite. It tastes like salty black tar

So I guess sometimes we just have to try new things. We may be stunned & delighted by what we discover.

Now I'm sure if you travel around Sydney, you'll find more exotic dishes than Vegemite.

So if you know of any bizarre dishes served at local restaurants, then please share them with us!

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