Food and Drink

Barbecued Bat (Indonesia)
Indonesia has some interesting dishes; the award for “most unusual” goes to the barbecued bat, served at local restaurants and street carts. Batman would be appalled, yet others find the dish quite delish. Cooks normally singe off the fur, then remove the wings and head. Depending on the size of the bat, the body is chopped up for stew or stir-fry (bones and all). Can't take the gamey smell (or taste) of the cave-dwelling mammal? Ask for extra garlic, pepper and chili.

Try it at: Many street carts in Jakarta wheel up a good bat, but if you want a truly unforgettable experience, head to Tomohon Market in North Sulawesi, an otherwise macabre market that’s home to the motherload of bats (as well as pigs, monkeys, pythons and other animals).
Durian Fruit (Singapore)
This fruit looks like a beautiful pinecone but once it's cracked open, you're guaranteed to gag. It's the smelliest fruit in the world -- what some people describe as “rotting flesh” -- which may explain why it's banned in most public places in Singapore. (Bringing one on the subway will cost you $500 Singapore dollars in fines!) As for the taste, you'll either love it or hate it, though most first-timers say the latter. The fruit is often described as sweet, somewhat almondy in taste, and dry, though "disgusting" is also a common description. Which is a shame, considering durian is high in vitamin C, B-complex and essential minerals.

Try it at: Durian are usually best when bought at markets or fruit stalls but if you want to indulge post-stink, head to Durian Mpire, a chain of shops that makes desserts and pastries like their signature durian puffs and crepes.
Fried Rattlesnake (Texas)

Rattlesnakes may trigger goosebumps, but the Lone Star State has no qualms about this slithering reptile. In fact, don't be surprised to find rattlesnake on the dinner menu at various restaurants throughout the state. The snake is decapitated (the head contains the venom), drained of blood, marinated in sweet milk, coated in cornmeal, then deep-fried. It's such a pastime that the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup has celebrated this fangless specialty since 1958. One bite and you may just agree: It takes like chicken!


Try it at: While rattlesnake is more common at regional festivals, head to Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Fort Worth, TX, which serves rattlesnake sausage, or Hudson’s on the Bend in Austin for their popular diamond-back rattlesnake cake.
Haggis (Scotland)

Haggis goes as far back as Homer's Odyssey, but the Scots have officially claimed it as their own since 1787. Made of sheep heart, lungs and liver, haggis is a traditional dish that's encased in the animal’s stomach and boiled for about 3 hours, then served with "neeps and tatties" (turnip and mashed potatoes). The resulting sausage is a little spicy and goes great with a traditional shot of whisky.

 

Try it at: Haggis can be found at most traditional restaurants and B&Bs, and it’s a popular pub food, so check out bar menus. Haggis Café, next to Edinburgh Castle, is known to dish out a mean serving of haggis.

Puffer Fish (Japan)

Japan may be known for preparing the world's best sushi, but here's one fish they might want to leave in the ocean. The puffer fish (or "fugu") is so poisonous (100 times more potent than cyanide!) it can kill someone -- literally -- as the diner who gets a lethal dose of the toxins can quickly submit to asphyxiation. Toxins must be removed so carefully that chefs need to be specially trained, licensed and certified by the government. The transparent fish tastes mild and clean but considering it's one of the most dangerous foods in the world, we say stick with tuna.


Try it at: Although puffer fish is found throughout Japan, the restaurant chain Zuboraya (in Osaka) is recognized that serves it best.
Black Pudding (Ireland)

If Dracula were alive, he'd help himself to unlimited servings of black pudding -- for the uninitiated, that’s pig or cow’s blood cooked with a filler until the blood congeals. While it can be found in Britain, France and Germany, it's a staple of Irish cuisine. Don’t let the name fool you: Black pudding is pretty much blood served in a sausage casing, basically an intestine, and tastes like sausage. While "pudding" may throw you off, this sausage dish is still generally served at breakfast. Top o' the mornin' to ya!


Try it at: Black pudding is quite ubiquitous on Irish restaurant menus, but well-heeled locals will point you to F.X. Buckley restaurant in Dublin.

Ant Larvae (Mexico City)

Kudos to the person who wondered one day whether ant larvae were appetizing. After the ant egg hatches, it transforms into a pearly white larvae, destined to become a 6-legged ant hill-maker -- unless it's snatched up by innovative chefs at places like Restaurante Arroyo (the world’s largest restaurant seating 2,200 diners). Most would say the texture is like risotto and the taste depends on the chef’s creation. While ant larvae have been a huge hit in Southeast Asia, they’ve also become a delicacy in Mexico City, where they’re often referred to as "Mexico caviar."


Try it at: If you want the best of the best (and most caviar seekers do), head straight to Pujol, ranked as one of the top restaurants in the world.

About the Author

Jimmy Im is NYC-based travel writer, TV host and instructor, as well as the cofounder of OutEscapes.com. As an avid traveler, Jimmy has trekked the globe for exciting adventures, from taking a cargo vessel to the Marquesa Islands to bullfighting in Spain (seriously!). If he's not discovering new territory, Jimmy can be found in the comfort of his Lower East Side neighborhood.

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