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10 Things to Avoid Eating While on Vacation

Close Up Of Fried Scorpions Served On A Skewer In Beijing China, Avoid These Foods When Traveling

Ron Watts/Corbis

Scorpions on skewers at a Beijing food stand in Beijing, China

1. Deep-fried scorpion

In China and Laos, scorpion fried whole and with the stinger intact is considered a terrific snack. The less bold should try the Chinese snack zongzi, a rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves.

2. Deep-fried tarantula

The Cambodian tarantula is the size of your hand, and it's eaten whole. This includes the abdomen, which contains a brown paste consisting of organs, maybe eggs, and excrement. Instead, you might want to focus (quickly) on the fresh mango, which is served here peeled, sliced and on a stick.

3. Deer penis

In several countries, deer penis is ingested for its therapeutic properties. In China, it's served dried and whole or in a variety of fully prepared and sometimes elaborate dishes. Vegetarians might prefer roasted corn on the cob.

4. Escamoles

Mexican cuisine is known for its grasshoppers, but there are other insect dishes on offer, too. For instance, the eggs of the giant, black Liometopum ant (escamoles) are harvested from the agave plant (yup, the same plant used to make mezcal or tequila) and often eaten in a taco with guacamole. They lend a surprising buttery, nutty flavor. An alternative is the straightforward quesadilla (cheese, vegetables and chicken or beef wrapped in a corn or flour tortilla).

5. Fertilized duck eggs

The Filipino appetizer or snack known as balut is basically a boiled egg — albeit one that has nearly developed into a fetus (complete with bones and beak). You first crack open the egg and sip the fluid inside it; you then eat the rest with a little salt and vinegar or chili and garlic sauce. Another finger-food option is nilagang mani(boiled, salted peanuts).

6. Fruit bat soup

The fruit bat is harvested from forests on the Pacific island of Palau and immersed alive into boiling water. It's then served in a broth with its hairy wings stretched out across the bowl, and its tiny face staring up at you. If that doesn't appeal to you, order tinola, a ginger-based soup that originated in the Philippines and contains pieces of chicken and green papaya.

7. Jellyfish

Jellyfish in China is generally served cold and can be chewy and tasteless. Instead try the dish called Buddha's Delight (lo han jai), which originated with Buddhist monks and consists of a variety of vegetables cooked in a soy-based liquid.

8. Maggot cheese

A traditional dish on the Italian island of Sardinia is casu marzu. It's made using sheep's milk cheese that has been injected with live insect larvae. The cheese is generally cut into thin strips and spread on flatbread. You have to hold your hand over the bread while eating it, as the white, inch-long larvae can leap up about six inches. The less daring can try malloreddus, a pasta (made from semolina and saffron) with ribbed edges served with a sausage sauce and grated pecorino cheese.

8. Maggot cheese

A traditional dish on the Italian island of Sardinia is casu marzu. It's made using sheep's milk cheese that has been injected with live insect larvae. The cheese is generally cut into thin strips and spread on flatbread. You have to hold your hand over the bread while eating it, as the white, inch-long larvae can leap up about six inches. The less daring can try malloreddus, a pasta (made from semolina and saffron) with ribbed edges served with a sausage sauce and grated pecorino cheese.

9. Mice wine

This Chinese and Korean "health tonic" is basically rice wine with a mice infusion. Baby mice are placed (alive) into bottles of rice wine and allowed to ferment. You can still see their tiny pink bodies in the bottle, giving a whole new meaning to "bottoms up." What's more, the flavor of the wine has been compared to that of gasoline. Instead, consider a local beer: Hite, Cass or OB in Korea and Cheerday, Snow or Tsingtao in China.

10. Pacha

This boiled sheep's head dish is popular in the Middle East. Also popular and much less daunting is hummus, the appetizer made from mashed chickpeas, tahini sauce, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice and eaten with pita bread.

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