“Tastes like chicken” – thats what people say when they try something new. In my travel I have eaten plenty of unusual stuff – much of which certainly does not taste like chicken!
One of the best and worst things about travel is eating all kinds of strange and wonderful new things. Once you get off of the plane and away from the abomination that is airplane “food”. I try to eat local.
Nothing gives your tastebuds a workout quite like local cuisine. My favourite is the roadside stall. Since I do this a lot, I have a quick internal checklist I follow to make sure I find the best place the first time. Usually a flavour-filled portion of something exotic and tasty! Read through for my hints on how to eat well!
In the meantime, here are 5 things I have eaten while travelling that definitely do not taste like chicken:
This was on the menu at Carnivores Restaurant in Kenya, a great restaurant if you are ever nearby. Crocodile comes roasted on a sword-like skewer, you fill your plate with as much as you like, as well as Zebra, Impala and a few other local animals. A lot of people say that crocodile tastes like chicken – I disagree. I think croc tastes like something half-way between a fish and chicken, with a rubbery texture like squid. Not sure if that sounds appetizing or not, but I would eat it again.
4. emu biltong
Biltong is basically South African beef jerky. An emu, like a chicken, is also a flightless bird but thats where the comparison ends. An Emu is huge like an ostrich and is a red meat. It tastes a lot wilder. Like venison. Perfect for those long hikes through the African bush when you are tracking game
3. pigs ears
I ate them in China at a special Szechuan restaurant. Fish heads, green spicy peppers that numb the mouth, heaps of dry red chilies, and pigs ears. I am not sure why this fancy restaurant was serving pigs ears but I dug in with my chopsticks, took a bite, then surprised my hosts when I went back for more. i would compare the taste of Pigs ears to the tendon in a big delicious bowl of Vietnamese Pho. If you haven’t tried Pho you are missing out on one of the best meals on the planet.
I had heard that Zambians ate caterpillars and I was curious. I was staying overnight at a Zambians home and asked what they were like. Luckily they had some in the cupboard! The next thing I know is that the frying pan was out and caterpillars were popping in the hot grease. The verdict? Delicious! Seriously you should try them if you ever have the opportunity. They tasted like a mixture of popcorn and peanuts. I can see them taking over the menu at hockey games.
I was in South Africa and the cook came out with some beautiful pieces of fried chicken. It looked great crispy, big pieces, juicy and hot. I took a bite and there was a sudden strange disconnection. I looked a little more closely, I thought this was chicken, but it sure tasted like fish. But what fish has a drumstick? It was only later that I found out that this chicken was raised on fish meal. A very strange combination and I must admit not one I wish to try again. The chicken tasted exactly like crocodile.
How to eat well when traveling to non-tourist destinations:
So if you stuck around through my 5 meals that don’t taste like chicken, here is my quick guide to getting great eats:
- Find the place that looks the busiest by locals.
- Ignore the place with the English sign in places that does not normally speak English
- Sit down elbow to elbow with a crowd on a rusty bench
- Look around you at the good looking things that other people are eating.
- Order one of those
- You will eat well, you won’t pay much money.
- Even if you don’t like it (rare) you won’t pay much money, so try something else!
- You may not want to ask for a translation of what you just ate
Share the exotic meal you ate that definitely didn’t taste like chicken?
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