Taste: Talking myself into was the fucking hard part. The only reason I wanted to do it was because of the fat bald guy [Andrew Zimmern]. It was crispy, and tad bit rubbery. They put some kind of pepper sauce on it, so it wasn’t so bad. It tasted like that fried brown thing in you find in your fries McDonald’s that you’re not sure is a fry or not.
Place: Beijing China, in the main plaza
Verdict: I would try it again if I were with someone who was afraid to do it alone.
Side Effects: I swallowed it and I’m still alive
Taste: The taste of san nakchi (live octopus) is comparable to extremely fresh and rare pork. The texture is surprisingly chewy but you can definitely feel the tentacles sticking to your throat. Be sure to slather your writhing piece in sesame oil so that it glides don’t your throat and doesn’t strangle you on its way down. That would be no bueno.
Place: I tried san nakchi in the coastal town of Pohang, South Korea. It’s relatively easy to find a seafood restaurant that serves live octopus in South Korea. Just be ready to fight your food into submission.
Verdict: I would eat it again in a heart beat. I wish I could find it somewhere in Seattle. It’s a little addicting.
Side Effects: If anything, conquering san nakchi made me feel invigorated. I had to struggle with my food. I was wrestling it to death with my jaw. I suffered no real side effects but there have been cases of others choking from not properly preparing their bite. Just remember that sesame oil is key!
Lemon Flavored Ants
Taste: Well, our guide sold them to us as “lemon-flavored ants”, and while I wouldn’t say they tasted exactly like lemons, there was definitely a sour, citrusy burst when you mashed them on your tongue. I guess they tasted like lemon in the same way that lemongrass tastes like lemon; close enough that you wouldn’t compare it to anything else. (For what its worth, there was no other flavor. No ant-y aftertaste!)
Place: We found these ants on a day-hike through the middle of the jungle inthe Amazon basin. We booked our tour from an operator in Baños, Ecuador.
Verdict: Would I try them again? Well, I can’t say that I’d ever plop myself down in front of a nest and go all anteater on them, but you know what? I might be convinced to eat a plate of grilled chicken with these little guys crawling all over it. If you dared me…
Side Effects: No side effects from eating the ants only had 4 or 5 in my mouth, really. Besides the initial burst of lemon, I wouldn’t have even known they were there. However, my wife, Oksana, was a little slower in crushing her ants and had one bite her tongue!
Taste: It was delicious. Although it was fried on the spot, the fish was still tasted very fresh
Place: Fukoka, Japan
Verdict: I would definitely try fugu again. Maybe next time I will be more bold and try it as sushimi.
Side Effects: None
Taste: It was uncooked meat, but it didn’t really taste any different from other meat. I expected it to taste gamey but it didn’t.
Place: Beppu, Japan, don’t know the name of the restaurant, recommended by the hostel I stayed at
Verdict: I would probably not try it again. I’ve tried a lot of weird foods, dog soup, balut which is cooked duck embryo in the shell. Most of these I would probably not need to try again.
Side Effects: There was no side effects. None of these strange foods have had any side effects. Supposedly they are ‘good for man’ but unfortunately can’t even say that happened!
The Taste: Dancing shrimp are salty and crunchy, flavored with fresh herbs and lemongrass, and finally bathed in a nice limey dressing. When the dish is served, the little shrimp are still alive, so it’s quite entertaining to eat them as they jump around in your mouth.
The Place: I ate this dish on a street known as “Thanon Rangnam” in Bangkok, Thailand. Dancing shrimp are available in select markets throughout Bangkok. They are almost exclusively sold by mobile street vendors, so it can be hard to pinpoint where to get it, unless you just stumble upon it.
The Verdict: Yes, I would try it again. Actually despite its strangeness, the flavor is great, I enjoy eating it.
The Side Effects: Nope, no side effects this time!