Destinations for the strangest dishes

by Kobina Monney

Ever been on holiday and wondered what strange things you could eat on your travels? Of course you have, but did you know where you can go to find these strange and unique dishes? Bon Appetite!

Boiled Duck Head

For anyone who has ever had a Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet, duck is usually the meat everyone scrambles for but have you ever considered eating its head? On the streets of Shanghai you can find heads aplenty, boiled or roasted for your special gourmet break in China. There is no exact approach to eating them (start with the skin or crack their heads open) but if you’re feeling brave, wade through the brains and cartilage.

Deep fried locust

They have appeared in both the Bible and the Koran, ravaging the land and eating huge swathes of food crops. Now it is possible to have them as a healthy snack on a boutique cultural holiday in Thailand. We think that constitutes as a bit of payback.

Whether you want to eat a locust that has been deep fried is another matter altogether. Despite that off-putting feeling locust (and a variety of another insects) are available to nibble on throughout south-east Asia where they form an important part of the indigenous people’s daily diet. Said to be a bit like eating a prawn (with that same crunchy taste), you can either start with the legs or the head. Try not to think too much about the taste.


A dish made popular in Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy, if you have seen that film you will have an idea of what this peculiar dish is. If not allow us to reveal it. It’s an octopus. A living one.

The octopus in question is yanked out of a tank, cut to pieces (which are still “moving”) and served to customers on a plate. A good chew is necessary for any would-be eaters as the squirming pieces of the octopus can cling to the inside of a person’s throat through their suction cups. If this sounds quite frightening and wholly unappealing then there’s always Nakji Bokkeum, a dish that uses octopus as stir fry. Yum.

Fried-brain sandwiches

Mad cow disease made people wary of eating parts of a cow. Nevertheless there are still places and people on this earth that dare to eat parts of a cow many of us wouldn’t even consider. In North America people eat fried-brain sandwiches which are exactly as they sound; sandwiches made from a brain that has been fried.

A dish that can be found in restaurants in and around St. Louis, Missouri and Evansville, Indiana, since the outbreak of BSE it has become less popular and harder to find. Still, if restaurants won’t offer you the brains of calves they may offer you the brains of pigs as an alternative! Try this particular dish on your special cultural holiday in America.


Lutefisk is made from cod which, considering the through line of this article is far from being an alternative dish. However there’s more to lutefisk than meets the eye and through a strange preparation process we have a dish that is well and truly unusual. Lutefisk is prepared by taking that cod, soaking it in water for five to six days before soaking it in a solution of lye. For those who do not what lye is, it’s used in the production of soap.

Another one to two days of soaking is required before the fish can be cooked. At this stage it’s swollen to a jelly-like substance and produces a funky odour. Prevalent in Norway but also popular in regions of North America, if you’d like an option that doesn’t emit an appalling whiff then have a go at Lutefisk made from either pollock or haddock. Have a go at this “culinary delight” on your special gastronomy holiday in Norway.

Balut Egg

Balut Egg sounds harmless enough but on this particular list appearances can be deceptive. In this case this delicacy is not a normal egg with yolk in the middle but a fertilized duck embryo that’s boiled alive and eaten whilst it’s still in the shell.

Excuse us for a moment.

A delicacy said to be an aphrodisiac; the contents of this snack are full of muscle-building protein. If you need a little kick, season the egg with some garlic, pepper, chilli or vinegar.  For those who really want to try something they’ve never done before, this dish is perfect for anyone on a leading gastronomy break in South-east Asia.


Our final dish and for those who live in England or Scotland it might seem strange to have this dish on the list or it might not. Regardless, this dish deserves its place here be for the ludicrous amount of foodstuffs it manages to put together in one humongous package.

The main ingredients of haggis are the following: sheep’s heart, liver and lungs. Then it’s minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt, mixed with stock and left to simmer in the animal’s stomach for three hours. It’s amazing how anyone could eat something so filling. Blowing many of the contenders on this list with its quantity, try some on your luxury gourmet getaway in Scotland the next time you’re there.

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