One of the best aspects of visiting another country is trying their national foods and regional specialties. Most of the time they feature the usual meats, carbs, and vegetables with maybe some different herbs and spices or methods of preparation or cooking. Sometimes you do encounter cuisine that might seem to you as being different or even strange. Here are a few foods that you can try if you are truly adventurous:

Tanzania – Sea Snails

The best things in life are free, especially food. On the island of Mafia, off the coast of Tanzania, there isn’t a great variety of culinary options besides fish, unless you go harvesting snails. The trick is to head out to the beach at low tide, look for little entrails and then squish your foot into the muddy sand. Use your toes to unearth the mollusc and repeat until you have a little feast. Boiled up with rice and vegetables they are more like mini meatballs, and definitely a welcome addition to the island’s natural food offerings. Try some, they won’t leave you feeling sluggish.

Austria – Tafelspitz

Boiled ox tongue sounds pretty weird but actually tastes really nice! Tafelspitz is one of Austria’s signature dishes after it was given the royal seal of approval by Emperor Franz Josef I. You can choose other cuts if you don’t fancy tongue. The meat is super soft after being cooked in a broth with root vegetables and a chunk of bone. Don’t forget to spread the marrow on your accompanying dark rye bread.

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Namibia – Selection of Safari Animals

Many tourists come to Africa to experience the call of the wild, heading out on safari to spot game and taking many many photos of majestic beasts. Not many consider also eating them. In the capital of Windhoek, Namibia head to Joe’s Beerhouse http://www.joesbeerhouse.com/ to sample some of the locally farmed species, including the wild menu of springbok, oryx, kudu, and zebra. The meats are full of untamed flavours and quite rich. They also have crocodile depending on availability. Remember to ask the server to make it snappy.

Australia – Camel Burger

Are you aware that there are 1.2 million wild camels in Australia? Did you also know that camel burgers are delicious and are better for your health than beef? Although camels can go a long time without water, the meat is not dry but actually slightly sweet. If you are visiting Uluru drop into the King’s Creek Station in Australia’s outback to sample a dromedary patty, you won’t get the hump. Well, maybe.

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Estonia – Verivorstid

When someone says do you fancy some blood, pork, barley, and spices stuffed into a casing and then boiled and fried I’m not sure you would immediately say ‘Yes please!”. However the traditional Estonian festive fare of verivorstid – blood sausage – is not straight out of a horror movie; it’s really tasty. Served up with potatoes and cabbage you really can’t get a more typical Northern European meal.

Finland – Poronkäristys

Don’t tell Santa Claus but poronkäristys, a.ka. reindeer is a foodie gift from the gods. Tender, lean and likened to venison it has become one of Finland’s biggest exports. Traditionally sauteed and paired with mashed potato and lingonberries it’s a warming winter meal. Just not on Christmas day….

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Norway – Brunost

A caramel cheese? Sounds so wrong, but tastes so right! Brunost (brown cheese) is a legendairy Norwegian foodstuff that helped a region out of a depression era and earned its inventor a medal. It is obligatory for every Norwegian to own a cheese slicer for the sole purpose of cutting this divine national treasure. If you want a less sweet and more savoury fudge then head over to Norway now for a slither of Brunost.

Hungary – Turo Rudi

What is the most obvious thing to do with curd cheese? Cover it in chocolate and make it a sweet snack? Why yes, and thus the controversial combination came into existence. Not only does the product put together two foods you wouldn’t normally pair up, but the name Turo Rudi, meaning curd cheese rod, was considered vulgar and even pornographic. It actually tastes more like a plain cheesecake bar but some will disagree and declare that you are crackers and that there are grater desserts.

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Australia – Kangaroo Sausages

This food has got the best nickname ever – kanga bangers!! Aussies love a good barbecue and there is nothing better than chucking on a few sausages made from their national animal. Harvested as part of a population control scheme, ‘roos are very environmentally friendly sources of protein. Make sure you hold on tightly to your snag, as the local slang calls them, it might hop, skip and jump out of your hand.

Hungary – Langos

Had a heavy night and need something capable of inducing a heart attack to soak up the alcohol? Langos affectionately termed “communist pizza” by the Hungarians is the answer. It is a popular street food of deep fried bread topped with even more fats – sour cream and cheese. It is greasy, ever so naughty, and makes you crave salads. So it does have a purpose.

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Scotland – Haggis

I’d like to order a boiled sheep’s stomach stuffed with its heart, liver, and lungs as well as oats and spices, please? Alternatively known as haggis, the Scottish food is pretty legendary, it even has a poem dedicated to it and is part of a fancy ceremony to celebrate the ballad’s author, Robert Burns. During the event, the haggis’ entrance into the dining room is serenaded by bagpipes before being sliced open as the poem is recited. Serious respect! It is traditionally accompanied by neeps and tatties (swede turnip and potatoes) as well as a wee dram of whiskey, of course.

Japan – Awabi Sushi

Raw abalone foot on rice is one of the most highly prized gourmet delights in Japan. It is seemingly quite an acquired taste, and quite tough in comparison to other sushi meats. The ancient samurai used to take dried awabi on long journeys as a portable protein rich snack and is used in religious ceremonies today by Shinto priests. Unfortunately, uncooked sea snail was quite gross tasting, soy sorry about that.

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Malaysia – Durian Ice Cream

Durian is one of the most controversial fruits on the planet. Its unpleasant odour means that it is often banned from hotels and public transport. Some people think has an aroma of vomit, others say it reminds them of sewage. The large prickly fruit is quite sweet and when it is used to flavour ice cream it creates a culinary quandary. The taste is surprisingly nice and even moorish, however, the smell puts you off. Needless to say it’s a snack hard to like and easy to dislike, at the same time.

Netherlands – Gerookte Paling

Slimy. That’s what comes to most people minds when they think about eels. But eels are not slimy, they’re slinky, sleek and sophisticated. The Dutch aren’t known for their cuisine but freshly smoked eel is a national delicacy that is experiencing a cultural revival. After a few decades of falling out of fashion, paling is back on the menu, both on local plates and fancy restaurants. Like a subtle version of mackerel, it is best on crusty bread with a squeeze of lemon. The sensation is so electric you will be dancing the conger and asking for moray.

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New Zealand – Possum Pie

New Zealand has a problem and its furry serious. There are four million people, forty million sheep, and seventy million possums. Being a non-native species they have become a severe threat to the local wildlife, as many of New Zealand’s birds are ground breeders and dwellers, having evolved with no natural predators. The Bushman’s Centre, in Pukekura on the South Island, offers passers-by a solution to the pest problem, the possum pie. Roadkill at it’s finest.

Slovenia – Horse Burger

Slovenia loves to eat horse meat and the infamous Hot Horse burger bar is an odds-on favourite amongst locals and a mane attraction for adventurous foodies. Slightly more sinuous than regular beef and served up in a giant thoroughbred bun, it is enough to feed, well, a horse. Go for all the sauces, add a side of fries and maybe a hair of the dog beer and you will certainly not experience a night-mare!

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Have you tried any of these foods? Or anything more exotic and strange? Let me know in the comments!

Like this post? Subscribe to the Soulful Travel newsletter for Annie’s packing checklist plus travel related advice, news, competitions and more. Sign up here.

If you need travel advice, request a free 30 minute coaching session. In the chat Annie will help you choose a destination, create your itinerary and review safety precautions. Or she can discuss how you can incorporate more travel into your life by saving, making money, travelling for free or being paid to travel.

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