The world is filled with incredible culinary delights; you’ve probably seen about 10,000 of them thanks to Instagram. While Roman pasta and Japanese sushi may get the most airplay, there are plenty of other international dishes worth trying — even if they look strange on paper (or don’t pop up on your feed).
I’m constantly scrolling through the good, the bad, and the ugly posts on social media hunting for local eats whenever I’m on the road. If a country has a weird delicacy, I’m always down to try it, not only for the story, but also because it often turns out to taste amazing! You learn quickly that sometimes it’s better to go against your gut and with the unconventional order.
Forget eating for the ‘gram — here are five delicacies that are more delicious than they sound.
1. Flying Ants, Mexico
Take a brief stroll through the markets of Oaxaca, Mexico, and you’ll quickly learn that insects are run-of-the-mill ingredients here. They lend saltiness and texture to an array of dishes, from tacos to guisados.
Where to eat it: My favorite way to eat bugs in Mexico is the chapulín and chicatana tostada (translation: grasshopper and flying ant tostada). Served at one of the town’s dreamiest restaurants, Casa Oaxaca, the crispy tostada is topped not only with grasshoppers and ants, but also soft, umami-packed maguey worms as well.
2. Spam, Hawaii
No one loves Spam quite like Hawaiians. A whopping seven million cans of the stuff are consumed each year by the tropical state’s residents. It’s a quirky staple that shows up at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, most popularly in Spam masubi, a seaweed-wrapped slab of rice topped with a thick Spam slice.
Where to eat it: To try Spam in all its glory, join more than 30,000 people — locals and tourists alike — and flock to the island of Oahu for the annual Waikiki Spam Jam, the world’s largest Spam festival. Of the hundreds of ways the canned meat is prepared for the occasion, the tastiest may be the Spam pho, a slurpable take on Vietnam’s most beloved soup incorporated with beef and Spam meatballs.
3. Vorschmack, Finland
Beef is good. Lamb is good. Herring is good. The three of them together? Very shockingly tasty. One of the most bizarre-sounding food mashups of all time, Vorschmack, served with a side of sour cream, beets, potatoes, and pickles, is a hearty Eastern European dish not to be missed on a trip to Finland.
Where to eat it: Its most elegant iteration can be found at Savoy, a stunning eight-year-old restaurant in Helsinki.
4. Crickets, Vietnam
Warning: Crunchy crickets are a lot like Pringles; once you pop, you just can’t stop. Maybe it’s because the brittle exoskeletons are so fun to eat, or maybe it’s the fact that they’re cooked in pork fat and served with juicy squares of pork fat, too.
Where to eat it: This Vietnamese snack is an excellent way to start a meal at Highway 4 restaurant in Hanoi. Keep one hand free for crickets, and the other on an ice-cold local beer.
5. Haggis, Scotland
Haggis doesn’t have the best reputation abroad, not because of its flavors but because of its offal-heavy ingredients. The joke’s on those who snub this quintessentially Scottish dish. Although haggis is made up with all sorts of sheep innards and cooked inside of an animal stomach, you’d never know it. It’s masterfully ground and spiced in a way that blurs its ingredients together.
Where to eat it: Head to Speyside for a deep dive into Scotland’s world of whisky, and soak up the scotch with haggis at the iconic Highlander Inn.
The Foods You Definitely Don’t Need to Try
- Hakarl, or fermented shark, is a pungent delicacy to skip if you’re in Iceland.
- Sannakji, Korean live squid, tastes great on your palate, but weighs heavy on your conscience.
- Fugu, Japanese blowfish, has reportedly become more deadly in recent years; in the hands of the wrong chef, this dish will become your last meal.
What weird foods have you tried and loved? Or hated?