They say that the easiest way to get to know another culture is to try the local cuisine specialties. No one has said that it`s the most pleasant. Culinary adventures often hide some not so pleasant surprises.
There are many local traditional dishes all over the world that seem disgusting to the foreigners. Eating baked rat on a stick (plenty of ketchup and mustard required) is not a figment of Terry Pratchett`s imagination, but a typical dish for Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. The popular scene from the Indiana Jones trilogy, in which Indy is offered a snake and monkey brain dish, could be replayed nowadays in China.
And there are also people who are willing to explore culinary specialties, in any point of the world they find themselves, rather than stick to the banal, but well tested hamburgers. They will try almost anything. A typical representative of the culinary adventurers is Natacha Du Pont de Bie. She describes her experience in Laos in her book “Ant Egg Soup”. The title is enough to give you a clue of what the author has undergone in the name of the curious book, full of impressions from the extreme culinary art.
Random fact: in 1998 Joe Staton, then a professor at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard, published his infamous article “Tastes like chicken?”. Staton spent a long time researching and proving the thesis that in the end everything tastes like chicken. According to his theory the meat that we eat today comes from a chicken-flavoured animal ancestor, excluding beef, pork and venison. Furthermore, based on evidence for dinosaurs as the ancestors of birds, Tyrannosaurus Rex would most likely also taste like chicken, Staton claims.
However interesting this theory is, let`s get back to the culinary adventures abroad. Examples from the European cuisine have their special place in the most bizarre world delicacies ranking, too. These are the traditional Norwegian dish “rakfisk” (trout, salted and fermented for up to a year and eaten without cooking) and “lutefisk ” (dried cod steeped in lye and served with pork cracklings), not to mention the garden ortolan roast banned in 1999 in France (garden ortolan are small, sweet songbirds from the sparrows family).
Traditional Bulgarian cuisine has also some very interesting examples that could shock the ordinary tourist. We`ll list just a few of them like shkembe chroba (broth made from paunch) and cooked lamb’s head, sauerkraut juice and boza (a slightly fermented drink made from wheat or millet).
Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?