Quirky travel food: Dishes that surprised me on my travels

As I enjoyed some grilled cow hearts last week, I realized that I haven’t written a post about quirky travel food. Not just any kind of strange food, but a list of dishes that actually surprised me on my travels. Those memorable little ones that were odd travel food at first, but tasty in the end! So, without further ado, I introduce you to some quirky travel food I ended up liking.

Quirky travel food in the Caribbean: Eating iguana in Curaçao

During a beach hopping tour in Curaçao, our lunch stop at Jaanchie’s Restaurant included a free dish of iguana. All the girls on our table looked at each other in disbelief. I took a look (and sniff) at the iguana stew…didn’t seem any different than chicken. The cooked reptile reminded me of bony wings, actually. Once I took a bite, I was hooked! As expected, tasted just like chicken wings 😀 Can’t tell you this is what I expected iguanas to taste like when I saw them crawling on the best beaches of Curaçao

quirky travel food, eating iguana in Curacao

Chicken wings, I mean iguana, anyone?

Quirky travel food in Africa: Eating snail soup in Morocco

I’m not going to lie — this sounds more badass than it really was. You see, my friends actually ate the snail, using a toothpick to take it out of the shell and all. I couldn’t stomach this much, so instead, I sipped the snail broth. I call it snail soup. Yes, I drank the water in which the snails are pretty much cooked alive and seasoned in. It was salty and not too bad. I wouldn’t say it was my favorite Moroccan food, but still…I was surprised I was brave enough to try it (against my taste buds’ judgment). This delicacy can be found in several of the many stalls in Jemaa el Fna, Marrakesh. Definitely one of the quirkiest things to do in Morocco!

quirky travel food, snails in Marrakesh

Yup, I drank the broth of THAT (Christine Chun, Flickr)

Quirky travel food in Europe: Eating whale and puffin in Iceland

Please don’t judge me. Yes, I did eat whale (twice, actually) and a cute little penguin-like animal called puffin. My first bite of whale was offered by my Couchsurfing host Asgeir as soon as we arrived to his home late at night. And I’m not going to lie: Smoked whale tasted delicious, tender even. The second time around, I was at a popular restaurant in Reykjavík and ordered an Icelandic food sampler. The waitress suggested the following platter and I said why not:

quirky travel food, whale and puffin

Icelandic food sampler: Whale (top left corner), puffin (center) and smoked lamb (bottom right) with raisin reduction for dipping (bottom left)

Not that I’m going to seek whale or eat it every time I can… But I believe Icelanders have a certain way of getting it, not as unethically as other countries. Yes, I admit it: I ate some whale and I liked it.

Quirky travel food in South America: Eating Peruvian heart kebabs

This quirky travel food has a different story. I actually tried them in Florida! My roommates, one who lived in Peru for over 2 years and another one who visited, decided to cook something “different” last week. I asked them what kind of beef they were grilling, but they said that they wanted me to try it first. And so I tried it, and naturally, was unable to point my finger on it.

Only after I finished an entire heart kebab, did my friend Joshua break the news: “Anticuchos de corazón.” I’m a native Spanish speaker, so my first reaction was “wait, did you say HEARTS in Spanish?!” My roommates Josh and Alan broke out into tears… of laughter. Oh well, I guess I ate cow HEARTS and I liked them, too! Recipe will actually be tomorrow’s feature for our new Hostel Cooking series. I hope you guys give them a try! 😉 They are great surprises.

Peruvian heart kebabs, quirky travel food

Peruvian cow heart kebabs with potatoes

Quirky travel food in the USA: Corndogs and fair fried food

Don’t laugh at me now! I actually do feel like an expat in the USA, even though Puerto Rico is a US territory. And one of the things that surprised me from American food was corndogs. They seemed odd and weird to me at first. But after I tried them, I absolutely loved them! Along with other popular fair foods such as funnel cakes and -gulp- fried Oreos and cookie dough!

deep-fried Oreos, quirky travel food

Deep-fried Oreos! Yum (Rachel Knickmeyer, Flickr)

quirky travel food, deep-fried cookie dough

Deep-fried cookie dough! Can you say LOVE? (David Berkowitz, Flickr)

What quirky travel food have you tried? Share in a comment below!

19 thoughts on “Quirky travel food: Dishes that surprised me on my travels

  1. Can’t say I totally approve of all your choices Maria, I simply refuse to eat some of these. I won’t eat veal or fois gras either, but it is a matter of conscience for us all. Interesting post anyway.

    • a matter of conscience…

      Well, to me, it’s more about the circle of life, the food chain. But it’s not like I would eat whale every day, for instance. It was a one-time feat or so speak.

      But I get where you’re coming from. To each their own, that’s the beauty of our world 🙂

  2. I really cannot imagine fried oreos and cookie dough. Then again, my mom and dad always made homemade bread, and quite often would fry a piece of the dough. We called them “geese”, and slathered with butter were to die for!

    I really dislike organ meat of any kind. I just find it too strong, so I would never try cow heart. I love the look of the Icelandic sampler.

    • Geese? MM! I think you would love fried oreos 😉

      I never thought I could eat organs either. My roommates just made me “guess what type of meat” it was…to later find — HEARTS! Seasoned very well, they were tasty… (still can’t believe I actually mean that!)

  3. Shudder….

    As you know, I’m probably the least adventurous eater in the world, but there was one night in Thailand where I got incredibly drunk and ate crickets and cockroaches…

    Bleurgh!

  4. These are good do not know the ingredient of these dishes other wise it will be very difficult to try these but looks interesting an unique dishes i ever found in any blog.

  5. Wow you’re very brave – I don’t think I could eat Iguana even though the finished plate looks yummy.

    The most outrageous thing I’ve tried is probably brain masala, which is not that ourageous at all really!!!

  6. Umm you’re a lot more culinary adventurous than I am. Cooked iguana is called bush meat on most islands and I won’t go near it. They are actually protected on some islands. I just don’t do creepy food, not even sushi or caviar. The quirkiest travel food I tried was fried pickles in South Carolina and green sangria in Quebec.

    • bush meat? That’s a funny name 😛 it’s actually really good, just like chicken! You should try it.

      But then again, you don’t even eat sushi or caviar, just sticking to Western dishes. You should live with my roommate — he is such an amazing cook, he won’t tell me what I’m eating until I’m done. That’s how he made me eat frog legs, by the way (whoa!)

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