No matter how far you’ve travelled, you’ve never really experienced a culture until you’ve tasted it’s food. Here are 5 amazing local delicacies from around the world you just have to try.
Regardless of age, colour, tribe, background or ethnicity, food is common to all human beings on planet earth. With the thousands of cultures and tribes in the world come many odd delicacies and dishes. You may come across some local treats that look and smell so nice you just want to have a taste of. Others you find so weird and funny looking, you wouldn’t take a bite out of for a thousand dollars.
Seasoned travellers know that one of the easiest ways to fully experience a people’s culture and way of life is through their local cuisine. Food is also to an extent a deep reflection of a people’s culture and in some cases beliefs. What in some cultures is considered a delicacy in others might be forbidden to even touch in others.
No matter where your wanderlust takes you, you don’t need to understand the local language or know your way around town to be able to get a bowl of the local treat. At the worst, it might look funny, smell funny and even taste funny but it is food nonetheless and sustenance for some people so you might want to be a little brave and dig in… at the very least a nibble just for the experience.
Every culture has its own interesting and traditional delicacy. No matter how widely travelled you may be, you'll never really experience a culture until you’ve tasted it’s food.
Here are 5 amazing local delicacies from around the world you just have to try.
- Smalahove - Norway
This bizarre delicacy might make you flinch a little seeing an entire sheep’s head on a dish, but it is a Norwegian delicacy usually eaten on the sunday before Christmas. It originated from when Norwegian peasants due to lack of food and poverty would eat anything they could lay their hands on.
Smalahove is prepared traditionally by leaving it to soak in a pot of water for 24 hours, then create a brine and leave for a further 24 hours, and then finally boil it. There are different sides that can be enjoy with Smalahove but the most common is mashed potatoes and rutabaga, or akvavit.
Regardless of its origins, it is considered a delicacy in Norway with more and more tourists visiting Norway with just one culinary wish, to have a taste of Smalahove.
2. Virgin boy eggs - China
Looking to improve circulation, energize your body and prevent heat stroke? A meal of Tóngzǐdàn, a springtime traditional delicacy might just be all you need… at least according to claims made by Chinese locals.
Officially listed as an “intangible cultural heritage” in Dongyang in 2008, it is prepared by wait for it… first soaking the eggs in urine and bringing it to a slow boil, and not just any kind of urine, specifically the urine of less than 10 year old boys collected from elementary schools.
After some time, the eggs are taken out, the shells removed and returned to the pot of boiling urine to simmer for a little more. More urine and herbs may be added until the eggs attain a pale golden colour.
Selling for up to three times the price of regular boiled eggs, nutritionists and modern science has shown that boiling in urine has zero nutritional benefits. This has done little to shake the beliefs of the locals who have dubbed it “the taste of spring.
3. Mopane worm - Zimbabwe/Botswana
If you are a little squeamish about bugs and worms you may want to pass on to number 4 below.
Considered a delicacy in Zimbabwe, mopane worms dish is made from the caterpillar of a species of emperor moth known as Gonimbrasia belina. It is considered highly nutritious and a tasty delicacy when properly prepared. You only need to visit the many restaurants, high end supermarkets, and streets stalls where it is sold to understand its value and it doesn’t come cheap either.
The worms are usually harvested during the rainy season after which they are cleaned and sundried. Preparation involves frying with tomatoes, onions and garlic which does little to mask the colourful caterpillar and the expected squishy, earthy and salty taste that comes from chewing to swallow.
Meal for the brave. Dig in only if you got the stomach for it.
4. Masala Dosa - India
Masala dosa or masale dose is a popular light south indian food (origins: Udupi, Karnataka) that is easy to cook and can be combined with any given course of food. It is nutritious, tasty and easy to digest.
An exquisite combination of textures and flavours, Masala dosa is a culinary delight made from fermented crepe made from rice batter and black lentils stuffed with a lightly cooked filling of potatoes, fried onions and spices. Preparation varies from city to city but if you are ever in southern India, it is a dish worth trying.
5. Chilli Crab - Singapore
Fact: You can’t say you’ve experienced Singapore if you haven’t had at least one of the many versions of Chilli Crab!
The sweet, spicy and sour chilli crab dish is Singapore’s number one culinary export to the world and is popular and loved by visitors and tourists to Singapore. The dish was created by Madam Cher Yam Tian in the 1950 and involved stir frying a well cleaned and cut crab in chilli and tomato sauce.
Over time, the recipe has been improved on by many world class chefs with many versions available to enjoy. Locating a restaurant to try this on a visit to Singapore won’t be a problem as they are lots of restaurants where this dish is served in lots of variations.