Yesterday I watched a show called "Street Foods International" on the Travel Channel and it made me think about the most interesting food I have ever eaten. The show visited different cities and talked about different street foods and how they were just as good as meals prepared in restaurants but were much less expensive.
Bangkok boasted grasshoppers, locusts, bamboo worms, scorpions, and giant water beetles. All were cooked or fried and were ready to be snacked on.
Curry wurst was an interesting bite in Berlin while Amsterdam was known for its eels and herring. Not to be outdone in the eel department, Tokyo offered freshwater eels and marinated seaweed. Hong Kong was one of many places were people dined on pig intestines. Finally rounding out the show was Israel which seemed the most tame with juice stands, dates, and sesame paste.
What's the most interesting thing I've ever eaten? In Spain, pig seems to reign supreme. We got very used to seeing a pig's leg on a holder and watching people take slices off the leg, as they pleased. Spain was also where I tried my first taste of pig's ear. One bar in Seville had snails boiled in garlic water out on their counter similar to the way our U.S. bars have pretzels sitting out for patrons. We enjoyed a nice beer with some garlicky snails that night. I have also eaten curry wurst in Berlin. I found it different but fairly enjoyable. My taste buds did not particularly care for the froie gras I ate in France. I found it to have a texture similar to a stick of butter. I hope I did not offend my friend and her parents too much!
Below is an "eclectic" lunch that we tried in Seville. It was at a cafe and we didn't exactly know what we were ordering.
One food that I would never try again that I actually had here in Illinois is shark fin soup. This is popular in Asian countries and I actually tried it at an Asian restaurant. I didn't really understand the appeal. To me, the texture of the pieces of shark fin was similar to human snot. That was about 10 years ago and at the time I didn't know very much about sharks and about how many people want to ban the consumption of shark fins. In the shark fin industry, sometimes when a shark is caught, only the fin is removed and the rest of the shark is thrown back into the ocean still alive. Since it is not able to move about normally, it dies of suffocation or is eaten by other predators. There are many advocate groups protesting this practice and hopefully this will have some kind of impact on the shark fin business.
While I'm on the topic of food, I had to share a fun treat I had in Panama City this past January. We had "snow cones" that were made from scratch. It's hard to see in this photo but there is a block of ice on this snow cone cart. One person shaved off ice and put it into a cone while the other added the toppings and served the customers. One of the "toppings" was condensed milk which I was a little hesitant to try at first but actually really enjoyed.