It’s one of our favourite things about travel, experiencing new local cuisines. And while some of the dishes to discover out there are exotically delicious, there’s some pretty unusual delicacies too. So here’s our pick of the delicious, and the more extraordinary food to sample on your travels…
Delicious: Arrox con Mariscos brings together two great Peruvian ingredients; seafood and rice. Filled with whatever seafood comes to hand, mussels, clams, scallops and crab, this dish is given a fiery kick from red chilli and rounded off nicely with a squirt of lime juice. This intensely flavourful seafood dish is Peruvian cuisine perfection.
Delicacy: Guinea Pigs, also known as Cuy, are an important part of the rural Peruvian diet. Roasted whole with all the limbs and heads still attached, if you can stomach the startling resemblance to one of our favourite childhood pets you will be able to enjoy a small amount of meat and rubbery skin.
Delicious: Providing everything on a spoon, the steamed rice, meat and vegetable dish Dolsot Bibimap is brought out in a blistering hot stone pot. Cracked on top is the crowning glory of a raw egg, which cooks as it is stirred through with the gochujang chili paste turning everything a warming welcoming orange. South Koreans turn to this comforting dish to heal the body, release energy and keep away illness.
Delicacy: When on the lookout for a quick and tasty snack in the streets of South Korea, grab some Beondegi. As you walk through the markets you will be able to smell the pungent, distinguishable scent of the silk worm larva being boiled in cauldrons ready to season with sugar and soy sauce. An authentic, and crunchy, South Korean snack.
Delicious: Dining on antojitos, meaning ‘a whim, a sudden craving’, is a fantastically festive way to experience Mexican street market cuisine. The versatile option of corn tacos can be filled with a huge range of delicious authentic fillings including lamb barbacoa, blackened tilapia fish and chorizo and refined beans.
Delicacy: The eggs of the giant black venomous Liometopum ant are accompanied with a high price tag and also known as insect caviar. Escamoles have been compared to eating cottage cheese with a nutty flavour, soggy popcorn and maggots. We recommend extra guacamole and salsa when eating these wrapped up in a taco.
Delicious: A country known for its incredible cakes and deserts, pavlova has become something of a kiwi icon. Layers of meringue decorated with fresh local fruit, such as delicious boysenberries, feijoa and kiwi fruit (of course) and lashings of cream, a trip to New Zealand is incomplete without tasting a pavlova.
Delicacy: Normally enjoyed on a Friday evening with fish and chips, paua fritters are made up of an edible and expensive sea mollusc with a kilo of paua roughly costing £90. Even chopped up and mixed with onions, flour and stale bread to make the fritters, you cannot escape the rubbery taste of the paua.
Delicious: Kam Heong means ‘golden fragrance’ referring to the enticing aromas released with this style of stir fry. The richly flavoured cooking sauce combines bird’s eye chili, curry leaves, crispy dried shrimp, curry powder and soy bean paste and is a favourite Malaysian dish especially when cooked with clams. Served with hot steaming rice, this is one uniquely aromatic and flavoursome dish.
Delicacy: Musang Durian maybe the world’s smelliest fruit with the stench compared to dirty socks, road kill and rotten bananas. While this fruit has been banned in some hotels, trains and planes due to the pungent odour it is a Malaysian delicacy with the spikey green fruit having an ambrosial custardy taste for those who can stomach the smell.
Delicious: Both the taste and presentation of Fish Amok, Cambodia’s national dish, are beautiful. The curry is made with lemongrass, fresh turmeric, shallots, garlic and chili with a splash of coconut milk and the mild white fish added before being steamed and served in a banana-leaf cup.
Delicacy: Invented as a resourceful protein snack during the brutal times of the Khmer Rogue, fried tarantulas are still eaten today. A tip for you, the locals skip the abdomen with its digested insect’s taste instead just sticking with the crunchy legs accompanied with a lime and pepper sauce.
Delicious: Fyrestekake is a classic Norwegian tart also known as Royal Cake or Prince’s Cake. Made with just a handful of ingredients with the rich flavour coming from the almonds, this Christmas dish is both regal and comforting.
Delicacy: Lutefisk, another dish traditionally served at a Norwegian Christmas, has a notorious reputation with people who have not grown up with this fish dish. Brined in lye till it has the feel of leather and the firmness of cardboard, Lutefisk has a glutinous texture despite being steamed. Reviews range from ‘unimaginable horror’ to ‘the most repulsive fish dish ever’.
Delicious: Coquilles Saint-Jacques is a delicate and delicious French dish. The scallops are poached in white wine, laid on a bed of mushrooms and shallots, topped with Gruyere sauce and served in a scallop shell. A wonderfully luxurious taste of France.
Delicacy: Tripe is a French favourite cooked in both restaurants and homes. The stomach lining of an animal, normally cow, is bleached and partially cooked before being sold but still requires a further two hours cooking before eating. A slow cook is recommended otherwise you will end up with a plate of bland chewy cow’s stomach.
Delicious: The Icelandic hot dog ‘pulsa’ is an Icelandic fast food favourite. Containing lamb with pork and beef to give it a richer taste, for a true Icelandic hot dog experience ask for ‘eina meö öllu’. Meaning ‘one with everything on it’ your hot dog will come crammed with ketchup, a sweet brown mustard, raw and fried onion and remoulade.
Delicacy: A traditional food which has been hunted for centuries, Puffin hearts are part of Iceland’s national diet. Smoked, grilled or pan fried, the hearts of these little birds are also eaten raw as soon as the bird is killed for optimal freshness.
Delicious: Tom Yam Goong is the national aroma of Thailand, a fragrant prawn soup with lemongrass, lime leaves, chili and fish sauce. This unforgettable combination of spicy hot and sour defines Thai flavour with it served as a starter or with a bowl of rice for a main, the rice soaking up all the wonderful flavours.
Delicacy: The fried bug carts of Thailand are legendary, filled with crunchy and salty grasshoppers, crickets, water beetles and silk worms for locals and tourists to enjoy. Travelling down the bustling streets of Bangkok, these carts offer the bite sized snack-ables seasoned with a few shots of pepper and a couple shakes of soy sauce.