50 States, 50 Plates

The must-have eats in every state (plus, DC) according to James Beard Award-winning chef Andrew Zimmern.

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Coconut Tree Grubs in Iquitos

Coconut Tree Grubs in Iquitos

In the heart of the Amazon jungle in Peru, locals harvest coconut tree grubs and sell them in the market skewered and charred over an open flame. These protein-rich grubs taste like crisp rolls of charred chicken skin if they are cooked properly. If not. they taste like pus bags filled with rotted digested wood. 960 1280

  

Hákarl in Iceland

Hákarl in Iceland

Really, the worst tasting foods are the fermented, spoiled ones like Hákarl. Made from the Greenland shark, the meat is poisonous when fresh, so in order to eat it, Icelanders let it spoil in the ground for months and then out in the elements for a few more to dry. It’s a revolting dish to many first timers; eating it without gagging is what separates the men from the boys. While the smell of the putrefied shark itself could make the faint-hearted ill, the taste is ultimately sweet, nutty and faintly fishy … if you like ammoniated wax. 960 1280

Andrew Zimmern  

Coral Worms in Samoa

Coral Worms in Samoa

Palolo are tiny, little worms that live in the coral reefs deep off the coast of Samoa in the trenches of the Pacific. They come out of the coral every few years when the atmospheric conditions are right and the locals scoop them off the surface and eat them plain, sautéed or as a spread on bread. It tastes like liver fermented in salt water, but that doesn’t do the bright blue color very much justice. 960 1280

Andrew Zimmern  

Fermented Skate in Korea

Fermented Skate in Korea

Both adored and despised in South Korea, fermented skate, or hongeo, has the distinct odor of hospital-floor cleaner mixed with glue solvent.  Mostly served “raw,” the pungent fish is seeing a resurgence in popularity. Be prepared to smell like an outhouse after leaving a restaurant that serves the delicacy -- it’s the price you pay, but it’s worth it. 960 1280

Andrew Zimmern  

Giant Sea Squirt in Santiago Chile

Giant Sea Squirt in Santiago Chile

Found off the coast of Chile, these giant sea squirts called pyura are the size of basketballs. They're sliced open with a serrated sword to reveal the little throbbing corpuscles that live inside the spongy, rock-like carapace. They taste of pure iodine dipped in fish oil, but with a squirt of lemon they are transformed into deliciousness. Culinary alchemy at its finest. 960 1280

Andrew Zimmern  

Horse-Rib-and-Rectum Sausage in Kazakhstan

Horse-Rib-and-Rectum Sausage in Kazakhstan

People in Kazakhstan eat every conceivable part of the horse, from the fat cap under the mane to the rectum. They don’t waste any part of the animal. One of the best things I tried at Almaty’s Green Bazaar was kazy, a horse sausage made from whole pieces of rib meat seasoned with garlic and salt, torn from the bone and stuffed into natural casings from the horse’s lowermost end, dried to cure and then smoked, resulting in a beautiful mix of meat and melt-in-your-mouth fat. Strange for some I guess, but delicious and very normal in Central Asia. 960 1280

Tito_Herrera  

Sea Cucumber in Alaska

Sea Cucumber in Alaska

The waters off of Sitka, AK, are ripe with exotic sea creatures such as octopus, sea cucumbers and abalone. Sea cucumber, when cooked correctly, is extraordinary. All it needs is a few minutes in a wok with a little soy sauce seasoning. The squishy creatures taste like lettuce-y sea vegetables with a bit of crunch, but mostly yielding a buttery texture. The trick is splitting them open, scraping the innards out, and then using a spatula to peel the “meat” off the rock-hard exoskeleton. 960 1280

Andrew Zimmern  

Tarantulas in Cambodia

Tarantulas in Cambodia

We are pre-conditioned in this country to think of tarantulas as scary and poisonous, belonging on Halloween decorations not dinner plates. But they taste great, reminding me of sweet and delicate crabs when they’re fresh. After digging them out of the ground, the tarantulas need to be defanged, washed and then scorched to remove the hair. In Cambodia, they’re deep fried, then wok sautéed with sugar, salt, chilies and garlic. They are superb when they're treated like lobster or crab, taken from their lair to the dinner table as quickly as possible. 960 1280

Andrew Zimmern  

Giraffe Weevils in Madagascar

Giraffe Weevils in Madagascar

Try these bugs blindfolded and you’d never know you were eating a beetle that looks like a Dr. Seuss creature. Sautéed in a bit of salty water and butter, they are tender morsels that taste like shrimp. This is the kind of bizarre food that would stop you in your tracks if placed in your hand. And they only live in this one place in the world. 960 1280

Andrew Zimmern  

Ensete in Ethiopia

Ensete in Ethiopia

Ensete is 1 of 2 species of vinifera in a special part of the “false banana” family. It’s also the name of the bread made with the pounded root ball of the same plant although it’s properly called kocho. The bread is made with a fermented paste of the root ball that’s buried underground for months to get its groove on. It’s treasured in Ethiopia as a super food, but it’s an acquired taste to say the least. 960 1280

  

Photos

Ning Xia Market in Taipei

Ning Xia Market in Taipei

This goose is cooked and ready for sale at the Ning Xia Market in Taipei. 960 1280

  

Ning Xia Market of Taipei

Ning Xia Market of Taipei

Food guide Theresa Lin shows off the plump oysters in the popular oyster omelet at the Ning Xia Market of Taipei. 960 1280

  

The Chiang Kai Shek memorial

The Chiang Kai Shek memorial

The Chiang Kai Shek memorial sits in the heart of modern Taipei, Taiwan. 960 1280

  

Sweet tofu with cold beans

Sweet tofu with cold beans

Sweet tofu with cold beans and pumpkin make for a popular and healthy dish in Taipei. 960 1280

  

Ning Xia Market in Taipei

Ning Xia Market in Taipei

Chinese pancakes filled with cream or bean paste are a popular street eat at the Ning Xia Market in Taipei. 960 1280

  

Seoul food guide James Yoo

Seoul food guide James Yoo

Seoul food guide James Yoo shows off the snails he's about to eat on the streets of Myeongdong. 960 1280

  

Balinese chilies

Balinese chilies

Balinese chilies are a key ingredient in sambal, a popular sauce served with most street eats. 960 1280

  

A street eat stand in Ubud, Bali

A street eat stand in Ubud, Bali

This street eat stand in Ubud, Bali, sells as many as 6 roasted pigs each day. 960 1280

  

Jimbaron Beach in Bali

Jimbaron Beach in Bali

At Jimbaron Beach in Bali, buy your fish from the fishermen and locals will grill it for you, each adding their own special spicy sauce. 960 1280

  

The terraced rice fields of central Bali

The terraced rice fields of central Bali

The terraced rice fields of central Bali are one of the island's most alluring sights. 960 1280

  

A street vendor in Delhi

A street vendor in Delhi

A street vendor in Delhi makes jalebi, a sweet dough fried in oil. 960 1280

  

A Tibetan immigrant in Delhi, India

A Tibetan immigrant in Delhi, India

A Tibetan immigrant has her daily bowl of fresh noodles on the streets of Delhi, India. 960 1280

  

Chandni Chwok in Delhi

Chandni Chwok in Delhi

Amazing street eats can be found in the narrow alleys of Chandni Chwok in Delhi. 960 1280

  

Singapore street eats

Singapore street eats

Singapore street eats are more than simple snacks; they’re delicious whole meals that can be bought for under $5. 960 1280

  

Shaved ice topped with green tea

Shaved ice topped with green tea

Shaved ice topped with green tea and red beans is a cool and refreshing treat during the hot summer days in Kyoto, Japan. 960 1280

  

Kiyomizudera Temple

Kiyomizudera Temple

One of Kyoto's most iconic locations, the Kiyomizudera Temple, sits in the lush hills above this ancient city. 960 1280

  

Surf ‘n California burrito

Surf ‘n California burrito

Did You Know? While popular for years in the north-Atlantic states, legend has it that the term "surf and turf" was first used at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

Dish 1: Surf n’ Turf Burrito
Where: Lucha Libre, 1810 W Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103
960 1280

  

BBQ Shrimp from Deanie's

BBQ Shrimp from Deanie's

Did You Know? In Louisiana they’ve been harvesting shrimp for 400 years. In the 17th century local fishermen cast their nets into the Gulf to catch the first batch of prized prawns.

Dish 2: BBQ Shrimp
Where: Deanie’s, 1713 Lake Ave, Metairie, LA 70005
960 1280

  

Killer Hogfish Sandwich

Killer Hogfish Sandwich

Did You Know? In 2009, 283,015 lbs. of hogfish were caught in Florida.

Dish 3: Killer Hogfish Sandwich
Where: Hogfish Bar and Grill, 6810 Front St, Stock Island, FL
960 1280

  

Fresh Fish

Fresh Fish

Did You Know? In 2009, the average American ate 15.8 lbs. of fish and shellfish.

Dish 4: Super Fresh Fish
Where: Reel Inn, 18661 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
960 1280

  

Alligator Ribs

Alligator Ribs

Did You Know? Alligator meat is similar to pork in texture, lower in fat than chicken, and tastes amazing!

Dish 5: Alligator Ribs
Where: Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Rd, Tampa, FL 33613
960 1280

  

Invest in Foreign Markets

Invest in Foreign Markets

Research ahead of time if there’s going to be a farmers’ market near you. Use the website Local Harvest to find farmers' markets throughout the U.S. When traveling abroad, markets are the perfect way to really get to know an area, be it your own city or one in another country. It’s a great way to practice language skills and learn about local culture, meet people, find out about good restaurants and learn about what else is going on during your stay. There’s plenty available to snack on even if you’re not planning to cook during your visit. If you’d like to bring any produce home from other countries, check the federal customs regulations first.  960 1280

pixdeluxe  

Cart Smart

Cart Smart

Farmers markets can get crowded, and cumbersome wagons can become more of a burden than a help. Markets are often set up on dirt or gravel lots, which can be difficult with smaller wheels, too. Consider collapsible rolling carts or caddies with larger wheels that have a more manageable profile. Backpacks are also handy when traveling. 960 1280

Kelly Sillaste  

Cash is King

Cash is King

More and more vendors can accept credit cards via smart phone apps, but these frequently still have connection issues, and many vendors choose not to mess with credit cards at all. Small bills will always be greatly appreciated.     960 1280

wherelifeishidden  

Talk to People

Talk to People

This simple outing can teach you so much about different cultures. Ask questions at every booth. Get to know fellow shoppers and learn what their favorite recipes are, what foods they eat the most, and what booths or vendors you can't miss at the market.  960 1280

M_a_y_a  

Made in the Shade

Made in the Shade

There’s often precious little shade at farmers markets, especially as the day wears on, so make sure to prepare with hats, sunscreen and water for everyone in your party. Comfortable shoes will be appreciated, too.     960 1280

vm  

Paws Before Taking Fido

Paws Before Taking Fido

Farmer’s markets can be a great time to spend walking together with your best furry friend. But many markets have asked that dogs stay home, if not out-right banned canines. Check if the market is dog-friendly before going. Some markets may even have a dog park or area set up that has water and shade. If not, make sure to bring water for your dog, and consider the temperature before leaving your dog in a vehicle while you shop.     960 1280

Hero Images  

Keep It Cool

Keep It Cool

Bring reusable ice packs to keep your purchases cool as you peruse under the summer sun. You can also keep a cooler in your vehicle for storing purchases, if it’s convenient, so you don’t have to carry them around. Insulated lunch boxes can be carried in backpacks, bicycle panniers and other bags for ease. Often, you may want to go out to breakfast or lunch after the market, and a cooler with ice packs will keep your purchases fresh while you enjoy the rest of your day. 960 1280

  

Shop Talk

Shop Talk

When vendors aren’t busy ask about their farms and if they supply local restaurants, if they are online and if they invite the public to visit their farms and buy direct. Establishing a relationship with local food producers helps you get the best produce and creates closer ties with the local growers’ community.  960 1280

Hero Images  

Good Things to Come

Good Things to Come

If you're staying in a country for a semester or longer period of time, ask vendors what produce they’ll have later in the season, and start researching recipes. They may also recommend other vendors' produce and share recipes. Ask what they do during the winter months for fresh, local food. 960 1280

Slavina  

Get Involved

Get Involved

Consider volunteering at the local farmers’ market on your next trip. It's a great way to meet people. From setting up booths to engaging with social media, there are plenty of areas in which to help out. Booking live music, answering SNAP and EBT questions, setting up chairs, greeting visitors and answering general questions are all areas where volunteers are needed. Find the market’s information booth (staffed by volunteers) and ask about how to help.

 

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Steve Debenport  

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