Bizarre foods: Mongolia, China & Vietnam

Before we travel to a country, Lucas and I always watch ‘Bizarre foods’. It is a show hosted by Andrew Zimmern who travels the globe exploring food, from world-class restaurants to street carts and jungle markets. I would highly recommend watching it. It puts you in the mood and prepares you for the best, and the worst (!) food you will encounter during travels.

Let me introduce you to the most bizarre foods we ran into:

Boiled sheep head (Mongolia)

The head is simmered for hours, making the meat soft and tender. It is considered a delicacy in Mongolia, but I didn’t feel hungry staring at that head (+ I’m a vegetarian). Lucas joined the feast, but skipped the best part: the eyeballs and palate.

Airag (Mongolia)

Airag is the Mongolian word for fermented horse milk. The milk is mixed with old ferment and kept in a bag made of animal skin. Due to the fermentation it contains a small percentage of alcohol. Mongolians drink it in great quantities, while I had difficulties taking a second sip – think lukewarm milk that has been sour for a couple of years, njum!

Hemp milk (Vietnam)

In Sapa in the middle of nowhere in the ricefields, a lovely lady served us a cup of hemp milk. She was proud to show how it’s made: water is mixed with grinded hemp seeds and then filtered; that’s it! It had a bit the taste of soil, but not too bad at all.

Century eggs (China)

Millennium eggs are duck, chicken or quail eggs that are preserved in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls for several weeks to several months (!). I was terrified looking at it: the yolk has a dark green to grey color and has a creamy consistency, while the white becomes a dark brown, translucent jelly. My heart skipped a beat putting it in my mouth, but I have to be honest: it was okay, as it tasted as the peppers and garlic it was prepared with.

Fried seahorse (China)

Street food markets in China offer a variety of bizarre foods; it’s food if it’s on a skewer! Seahorses are said to possess medicinal qualities and are considered a delicacy as they are rare to find. As I think of seahorses as 99% skeleton, I can only imagine how horrible it would be chewing on it.

Chicken legs (China)

No, not the drumstick type of chicken leg; the part with toes and even nails. People took it with them as a snack, to nibble on during long train rides for example.

Which bizarre foods did you see, or even try when traveling?

03/03/2016 | BY JANIS

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