Exotic gastronomy is one of the great attractions of traveling. Trying new dishes and flavors helps us delve into the local culture and learn more about the places we visit.

Eating what they eat makes us understand why the exotic destinations we visit are the way they are. Of course, also in our countries of origin there are elements considered exotic for foreigners.

In this article we have compiled the rarest and most surprising dishes that you will be able to find throughout your travels around the world. Some can be found even in hotels with a Michelin Star restaurant , while others will be more common in street stalls .

Balut (Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia)


We couldn’t start with another dish other than the balut. It is a typical Philippine delicacy, although we can also find it in Vietnam and Cambodia . Hopefully, we’ll see it in China too , though it’s rather less common.

It is a fertilized duck egg . That is, an egg that has the fetus of the small duck already formed, but before it begins to develop feathers and bones. When they have incubated for a while, they are removed and boiled.

It is normal to accompany it with beer and they are seasoned with salt and a vinegary mixture similar to ceviche, especially in the Philippines. The flavor is reminiscent of lamb gizzards and liver, mixed with the flavor of the egg itself. In addition, the liquid from the egg is drunk, which tastes like a very mild meat broth. This dish stands out for its high protein content.

It is in the Philippines where it is most popular, having jumped from street stalls to haute cuisine. In this case, instead of in a traditional way, in a more modern way like inside puff pastries, in French omelettes, in tacos, etc… There are more and more versions and these contemporary options may be easier for foreigners than eating directly from the egg .

Grasshoppers (Mexico)


We move to the world of insects traveling to Mexico , where we can find various types of edible insects. One of the most interesting if we talk about exotic gastronomy are grasshoppers .

In this case, we are talking about a very common type of grasshopper in the state of Oaxaca and Puebla . It is a very crunchy bite, which is marinated with spices such as chili to give it a spicy touch. It is also possible to eat them stewed with garlic, lemon and onion if we want something less strong.

The most common way to find grasshoppers is inside a taco or a quesadilla . Not seeing them directly, just noticing their crunchy texture, is a very good way to start eating insects.

With a high protein content, zero fat and several vitamins, it is a very complete food, which follows the latest recommendations from the UN that supports the consumption of this type of insect to curb climate change.

In addition to tacos and quesadillas, if we dare we can also have them as snacks. 

Hakarl (Iceland and Greenland)


Hakarl is another exotic dish not suitable for all palates. In this case, we do have to warn that the taste is usually very unpleasant. Only local people, who have been used to its taste and smell since childhood, consider it a tasty snack.

It is about squares of shark meat that is left to ferment for several months. The problem is that fermentation leaves a strong smell of ammonia. It makes sense historically because it allowed them to have meat during the winter, when weather conditions made it impossible to go out to fish or there was nothing to catch.

Today it is still eaten as a tradition but it is no longer necessary, since they have fresh fish all year round.

It is one of those snacks that can be interesting to try to find out what they are, but that you probably don’t want to repeat later. Even so, trying it is an experience that takes you back to that time when living in Iceland or Greenland meant being completely isolated and having to survive whatever it was, even eating fermented shark meat.

Sannakji (South Korea)


Surely you have ever heard of the raw octopus that they eat in South Korea . Actually, the name of this food is sannakji and, eaten properly, it is less dangerous than it appears.

These baby octopuses are not eaten whole, but are cut while still alive and seasoned. A little oil is also added so that it is more lubricated and does not stick to the palate. Then, one of its legs, which are still moving, is grabbed and eaten.

Legend has it that you can choke if you swallow it directly, due to the movement of the legs when it reaches your throat. However, the biggest danger that it usually has is that you choke because it is not well lubricated. In practice, before swallowing the animal must be chewed carefully.

Once it is well chewed and without any movement, it is when it can be safely swallowed. In the end it is not so different from the raw squid or octopus that we can eat in sushi, but with the typical slightly spicy seasoning of Korean food.

Unlike the previous dish, this one is usually liked by everyone who tries it.

Haggis (Scotland)


If we are lovers of offal, Scottish haggis will seem delicious. On the contrary, if we don’t like many of these intense flavors, we better not try it.

Haggis is the national dish of Scotland and it is traditional to eat it on the night of January 25, at the so-called Burns dinner, where the Scottish poet Robert Burns is commemorated, who wrote a poem about this traditionally poor dish but which in the Today it has spread throughout the country.

It is a mixture of oatmeal, onions, spices, lung, stomach, liver and heart of a sheep or lamb, which is cooked in its stomach for several hours. It is accompanied by mashed potatoes and celeriac, and its flavor is very intense.

As with chorizo ​​or salchichon in Spain, although the original recipe uses sheep’s or lamb’s stomach to cook it, there are currently more options with synthetic casing. In fact, we can find haggis in the sausage section of any Scottish supermarket.

Akuta (Alaska)

Let’s go

If we go to Alaska , a dish that will surprise you is Akutaq , also known as Eskimo ice cream . Here we are talking about exotic gastronomy , so don’t expect a traditional ice cream.

On the contrary, we are dealing with a mixture that can combine fish, meat and wild berries, at least in its most traditional version. For a few years, there has been a more modern version that uses palm oil, imported by the Crisco company .

However, the original version uses the fat of moose, seal, reindeer, or caribou. This fat is mixed with forest fruits such as red and blue cranberries, blackberries, camarinas or raspberries. The meaty versions include caribou meat, while the fish versions often use salmon.

Although the traditional recipe does not include it, currently it also usually contains sugar. For the traditional inhabitants of Alaska , it was a way of preserving food, similar to what we have in Spain with our preserves or loin in butter.

However, the mixture was eaten cold, which is surprising considering Alaskan temperatures . It is a surprising dish, suitable for any palate, so you cannot stop trying it if you go to Alaska .

Perhaps the options with meat or fish are more exotic, but if we try one with only berries, we will surely love it. Traditionally, it was taken at parties and ceremonies and rejecting it was a sign of bad luck and education. So you know, if they offer you, accept it and even take a teaspoon.

Fried tarantulas (Cambodia)

fried tarantulas

Do you dare to try a tarantula ? Probably after eating the famous Cambodian fried tarantulas , these arachnids will stop being so scary.

In this case, we are not talking about a traditional meal, but, on the contrary, it is a very recent food, it is believed that it dates back to the 90s due to the famine that the country suffered. Interestingly, it is now considered a delicacy and is much more expensive than other insects such as worms or grasshoppers.

Common in Cambodian markets , they are eaten fried in the form of skewers . Before they are seasoned with garlic and spices to make them even tastier. The fried tarantulas are divided into three parts, the legs, which should be very crunchy, the body, with whitish meat and a flavor between chicken and cod, and the abdomen, more bitter and not suitable for all tastes, since It is the area where the organs of the animal are located.

Although tarantulas are poisonous alive, they are not when cooked. For this reason, it has become a way to take advantage of them and turn them into something positive, a delight to try if you go through Cambodia.

Big ass ants (Colombia)

big ass ants

Although ants are eaten in many Asian countries, big- assed ants are considered a real delicacy. Actually, only the females are eaten, with a very bulging abdomen where the eggs are, which is what makes it receive this name.

They are said to taste similar to nuts and are eaten like peanuts, with a texture similar to popcorn. It is also very common to make sauces with them, especially meat.

To cook them they must be alive or frozen, since over time their flavor sours. They are salted and passed through the pan. This is another dish suitable for any palate, as long as we get past the first impression of bringing an ant to our mouths.

Durian (Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore)

Durian split open in half

In this list of exotic gastronomy we must also add a fruit. In this case, one of the most famous for its rich flavor and unpleasant smell: the durian .

The smell of this fruit is so stinky that it is even prohibited to take it on public transport in several countries. In Southeast Asian markets, durian stalls are placed outside, so that the smell does not cloud the other products.

Although the smell is very unpleasant, the flavor is considered delicious and is used in both sweet and savory dishes. This thorny fruit on the outside smells even closed and once opened we discover the consistency of a ripe avocado, although the taste has nothing to do with it.

Experts define the taste of durian as something halfway between cheese, almonds, garlic and caramel. It is eaten raw but also in all kinds of preparations, especially ice cream. Hold your nose and then savor it, you’ll be surprised that something so bad-smelling can taste so good.

Snails (Spain, France and Italy)


We put an end to the snails to understand that this exotic gastronomy thing is something cultural. Snails are very common in western Mediterranean cuisine, especially in Spain , France and Italy , but in other regions of the globe it is seen as something very exotic and even unpleasant.

In Spain , the most common way to eat them is cooked in a sauce with different spices or in tomato, although they must be washed well beforehand. It is also part of the national dish, paella, and in areas like Catalonia they are also eaten grilled.

In any case, they are a delight that if you have not tried yet, you have to try.

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