Haggis, neeps and tatties

Five “Interesting” Delicacies From Around the World

A Japanese former student of my husband’s sent us some, uh, rather different candy recently. And then just a few days later one of my friends returned from a trip to China. As she was describing some of the delicacies she was served over there, the seed of an idea was planted in my head. Why not do a Tour of Fives post on disgusting unusual foods from around the world.

WARNING: Do not read this post right after a meal. However, if you are trying to lose weight, DO read this post right BEFORE a meal.

1.  So we will start our world tour in China, where my friend actually got up the nerve to eat one of these.

Scorpions on sticks to be deep-fried and enjoyedm (ick)

Beijing market (photo by Kilroy238 CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Yes, those are scorpions on those sticks and when you purchase one, the vendor plunges it into hot grease to deep fry it. I did not have the nerve to ask her what it tasted like.

2.  One of our authors, JoAnn Bassett, just returned from a trip to Scotland. She shared this treat with us. The Scottish national dish is haggis, usually served with neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes).

Haggis is made from all the parts of a butchered sheep that one would normally think of as, well, trash–the lungs, liver, heart, etc. All these little goodies are minced, then mixed with suet, oatmeal and seasonings. The whole kaboodle is stuffed into a sheep’s stomach, then boiled for several hours. (Okay, I was good with this, having grown up on Scrapple up north, until she got to the sheep’s stomach part.) Haggis, neeps and tatties

Haggis, neeps and tatties (photo by Edinburgh blog, CC 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

                                                                                                     Scrapple (photo by Steamykitchen.com, CC-BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)  And here’s Scrapple, the mid-Atlantic USA’s version of artery-clogging animal offal. It’s actually quite tasty with scrambled eggs.

(photo by Steamykitchen.com, CC-BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)



3.  The subject of sheep reminded our own Kirsten Weiss of a dish she encountered in Turkey–sheep’s heads. Turns out they are eaten all over the Middle East and also in Norway and Spain. Basically the whole sheep’s head is seared to get the hair off and then is either boiled, baked or grilled.

This is the least gross picture I could find–a baked version from Barcelona, Spain.

baked sheep's head on a plate

(photo by Diego Delso, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Kirsten said that in Turkey, the eyes are consider a particular delicacy.

Moving right along…

jar of pigs' feet

(photo by Geoff, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

4.  Shannon Esposito suggested we should include something American, so from the Southeastern USA – pickled pigs’ feet.

Here’s a link for the recipe, but it’s rather simple.

The pigs’ feet are boiled for awhile, then as many of the bones are removed as possible.

The whole thing is drowned in a vinegar brine to pickle them.

Seal them in a jar, and voila!


5.  Not to be outdone, our resident Texan, Catie Rhodes, suggested Rocky Mountain oysters. This delicacy does not come from any body of water, however.

Breaded and fried "mountain oysters," with lemon and sauce

(photo by Vincent Diamante, CC-BY-SA 2.0. Wikimedia Commons)

Looks delish, doesn’t it? Brace yourself! They’re bull testicles.

After all these wonderful dishes from around the globe, the candy that hubby’s student sent seems quite tame by comparison. From Japan, we have dessert, Green Tea KitKats!

box of Green Tea KitKats

These weren’t bad, once you got past the color.

What interesting, odd or downright disgusting foods have you encountered in your travels?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb, but this was a joint effort by several of our authors.

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  • Reply
    Catie Rhodes
    June 21, 2013 at 9:56 am

    On the scorpion, I’d wonder if you had to pinch of the stinger or if the venom affected you in any way. Also–my husband claims bull’s balls are good eatin’.

    • Reply
      Catie Rhodes
      June 21, 2013 at 9:56 am

      Off. That should be “pinch OFF the stinger.”

      • Reply
        Kassandra Lamb
        June 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm

        LOL It’s funny how the eyes see what they expect to see, Catie. I hadn’t noticed the typo until you corrected it.

        I’m thinking they had to have gotten rid of the stinger and venom, or maybe the heat neutralizes it. My friend’s a fairly careful person and they had a translator with them (she was one of the profs with a Study Abroad group) so I’m guessing she asked about that. She got big-time street cred with the students for her bravery!

        I notice you’re not giving your opinion on the mountain oysters. Haven’t tried them yet, have you? ;D

        • Reply
          Catie Rhodes
          June 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm

          Oddly, I’ve never had the opportunity to try mountain oysters, Kass. Hubby had his chance while at a training school in Oklahoma. I am surprised to have never been offered mountain oysters, though, as my mother’s side of the family are cattle ranchers.

          Would I try them? You bet. I will eat anything breaded and fried. Even squirrel, rattlesnake, and alligator.

          • Kassandra Lamb
            June 21, 2013 at 3:54 pm

            Ah, alligator. Now you’re talking my neck of the woods, Catie. Deep-fried gator tail is delish!!

  • Reply
    Jennette Marie Powell
    June 21, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Scrapple looms like Spam! I think the closest thing to any of these I’ve eaten is green tea mochi – that’s ice cream in rice pastry and it’s pretty good!

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      June 21, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      Actually Scrapple’s even less wholesome than Spam, Jennette. I know it’s hard to believe that’s possible. I love Scrapple but not Spam. Hm, what’s that say about me?

      Green tea mochi sounds rather tasty.

  • Reply
    Eden Mabee
    June 21, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    The Green Tea Kit Kats look delish. I would have those in a second.

    The scorpions, not so much…

    Haggis? Well, considering I love cheese, and a lot of cheese is made with rennet (which…sometimes comes from a cow’s stomach), I imagine I could at least bear to try it.

    No sheep’s head or pigs’ feet for me please… but I think I could bear deep-fried “prairie oysters”. Presentation matters, and that looked pretty edible that way.

    This post reminds me of one I read about eating cicadas last year. That was after seeing a post about a popular Japanese singer who had a photo shoot wearing them

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      June 21, 2013 at 8:37 pm

      My only complaint about the KitKats, Eden, was they were made with white rather than milk chocolate which is not as chocolatey (no cocoa). And I am a total chocoholic!

      But I don’t think I’d eat those scorpions even if they were dipped in chocolate. Cicadas either. Ick!

      The prairie oysters did look pretty yummy though, didn’t they?

  • Reply
    Kirsten Weiss
    June 22, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    In Kyrgyzstan, horse meat is considered a delicacy, and as an American, I utterly revolted. But I was at a wake and the Kyrgyz also believe that the food consumed at a wake goes to the departed, so I was obligated to eat some of the stuff or grossly offend my grieving hosts. Horse meat does not taste like chicken.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      June 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      Eww, as a horse lover I don’t think I could make myself eat horse meat even under those circumstances, Kirsten. And my guess is it comes closer to beef than chicken.

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