What do sheep liver, squid ink, and snails have in common? While seemingly strange they’re all uniquely delicious! Sampling the local food can often be the highlight of your trip, but some dishes look and sound more off-putting than others. While these next meals may seem strange, they are all popular within their respective cultures, and are absolutely worth stepping outside of your comfort zone for!
Haggis – Definitely the most off-putting of the bunch, but also one of the best tasting. Haggis is the national dish of Scotland and is made from boiling the liver, heart, and lungs of a sheep. Traditionally boiled and served in the stomach of the sheep, it is more commonly found today in a synthetic casing or served alone. Once mixed with oats and spices, it has a texture similar to any other ground beef–but it’s much more flavorful! Served plain, breaded and fried, or even with breakfast–it is a must try in Scotland!
Escargot/Caracois – No matter where they are served–in this case, France and Portugal–snails should not be missed. Their texture is similar to the neck of a clam, without the fishy taste. Often found drowning in butter and parsley, they can be a bit slippery and difficult to pull out of the shell–but it is definitely worth the effort!
Pasta al Nero di Seppia – Pasta made with squid ink may look intimidating, but it tastes great! It is made with both the squid (think calamari) and its ink, which gives it the black color. This pasta dish is popular all throughout Italy, but is the specialty of Venice! However delicious, this meal is not for the vain as the ink can temporarily stain your teeth.
Conch – A popular ingredient all over the world, including the Bahamas, Panama, and East Asia, the mollusk is prepared in a variety of different ways. It is most commonly compared to a clam–although tougher–and is prepared in similar ways. Dip your toes in the water and try conch fritters or chowder, or take a risk and eat it raw.
Polvo à Lagareiro – Octopus is popular throughout the world but is especially good in Portugal. Lagareiro refers to seasoning the octopus with olive oil after it has been grilled or roasted, and is usually accompanied by garlic and parsley or coriander. Octopus lacks the fishy taste of other seafood and tastes a bit like a sweet version of chicken. It has a bad reputation for being rubbery, and while it is chewier than squid, octopus tastes great when cooked right.
Mohnnudeln – As the second black pasta on this list, you may be surprised to know that this is often served as a dessert. Originating in Waldviertler, Austria, this dessert is made from a potato-based pasta–similar to Italian gnocchi–and then covered in melted butter, ground poppy seeds, and powdered sugar. It’s so popular that it is sometimes served as a main course!
Black Pudding – Extremely similar to Blood Sausage, but slightly less threatening in name, Black Pudding is made of pork meat, fat, and blood, mixed with barley and oatmeal. It comes grilled, fried, or boiled, and is mostly served with breakfast. If the dark color puts you off, you can try White Pudding, which is also served at breakfast time in Ireland, Scotland, and England.
Would you dare to try these? What other odd foods have you tried around the world? Let us know!