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Eight Foods to Avoid on Your Next Vacation

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Many eager backpackers globe trot in search of adventure, spiritually calling their inner Anthony Bourdains as they go on the hunt for foreign delicacies to consume. Once back home, they boast to friends about the snake soup they tried in Shanghai, which tasted exactly like … chicken. These eight frightening culinary treats from around the world are guaranteed to taste nothing like chicken, and as adventurous an eater or traveler you may be, these are some foods you’ll probably want to avoid on your next vacation.


1) Baby Mice Wine (Korea)
The only semi redeeming factor about a wine made from dead mice is the fact that if you drink enough, you might not notice the fact that you’re drinking juice made from baby rodents … until one of those pink, baby fetuses gets poured in your glass and ever so slightly brushes your mouth, and god forbid enters it. In Korea and China, baby mice wine is a popular potion said to have a variety of health benefits. And it’s not just one baby mouse for the record, it’s A LOT of pink, dead, tiny, baby mice at the bottom of the bottle.


                                                                                       
Photo source: cracked.com


2) Balut, Fertilized Duck Egg (Philippines)
It’s hard for me to really put into words how I feel about Balut—but disgusted, nauseated, disheartened, confused, and terrified are a few words that come to mind. Balut is a dish native to the Philippines that’s a fertilized duck egg, the partially-formed fetus intact—the feathers, bones, and the beak already formed. The egg is cracked open, the fetus fluid sipped, and then eaten. Their bones, feathers, and their little ducky faces are all consumed.



Photo source: purpleslinky.com


3) Smalahove, Sheep’s Head (Norway)
When you eat a sheep’s head in Norway, the eyes and the ears are eaten first, then the face from front to back, working around the skull. Eventually, once you eat the face, you’re left with a boney sheep skull staring you in the face. The sheep’s head in this traditional Norwegian dish has been burned (to get the fur and skin off, of course), the brain removed, and then boiled. And if you were curious, the tongue and eye muscles are the most coveted part.



Photo source:  wikipedia.com  




4) Deer Penis (China)
In China, as legend has it, once a man eats his first deer penis, he becomes an automatic Don Juan in bed and, just like magic, knows how to fulfill his woman’s every desire. Perhaps that’s an overstatement, but it’s more fact than fiction—in China, people eat deer dongs as a sexual performance enhancer. Yes, huge, deer shlongs, stir fried in soups, sometimes braised, and sometimes even with a little hot sauce to make it … sexy.



Photo source: Sandy on flickr.com (cc)
        
5) Casu Marzu, Maggot Cheese (Sardinia, Italy)
Sardinia is known for its alluring old-world Italian charm, beautiful fishing ports sprinkled with colorful boats, and Casu Marzu—a special maggot-infested cheese, Pecorino cheese, in fact, that is purposefully contaminated with live maggot larvae that help aid in the fermentation of the cheese. Eye protection might be necessary since the maggots are able to jump a good six inches.



Photo source: wikipedia.com


6) Deep Fried Tarantulas (Cambodia)
I believe there’s a little bit of arachnophobia in all of us. Most people are scared of tarantulas; they cower in fear at the thought of waking up in the middle of the night and finding one lying nonchalantly on their pillow ready to crawl over and sink one of their venomous death fangs in their neck. Not in Cambodia, though. In Cambodia, they deep fry them and pop them in their mouths like one would with a bag of Chili-Cheese Fritos on a lazy Sunday afternoon, watching reruns of Rock of Love 2.



Photo source: purpleslinky.com


7) Deep Fried Scorpion (Laos)
Let’s face it, most things taste better deep fried. Perhaps the reality that these poisonous, sometimes life threatening, critters are deep fried and seasoned takes away from the fact that you are eating a lethal scorpion.



Photo source: asylum.com


8) Swiflet Nests (China)
Swiflet’s nests are like the truffles of China. A bowl of bird’s nest soup can easily cost thirty to one hundred dollars. It’s a Chinese delicacy, but what most people don’t know is that it’s actually “spit soup.” Swiflet’s nests are made from the saliva of the male swiflet bird, who builds his nest slowly but surely on the walls of dark caves, where many an eager swiflet seeker will come to harvest them. When eaten in soup, it is said to have a gelatinous texture … kind of like spit I’m assuming.



Photo source: www.scottmcpherson.net


Most people travel for adventure, some to experience new cultures, others to try new food. I travel for all three, but there are some delicacies too frightening for me to try. To many Americans, baby mice wine and duck fetus might be terrifying and the thought of eating them shakes us to our very core. But who knows, maybe to another culture what Americans eat is terrifying—deep fried Twinkies anyone?

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