We’ll pretty much try anything ONCE to see what all the fuss is about. This has led to some pretty incredible, and unusual, culinary adventures. While there’s often a reason this stuff doesn’t become regular fare, we’re usually glad we gave it a go. Here are a few of the most unusual things we’ve tasted along the way:
Rattlesnake – Phoenix, Arizona
Description: We’ve lived in Arizona a few different times over the years, but well before that we were traveling there for business. On my first trip we were staying at a fantastic resort in Scottsdale which had an onsite restaurant that served rattlesnake. Of COURSE we would try it, right? Our plate arrived, and thankfully it looked pretty much like chicken nuggets. Pop one in your mouth, and you’ll taste…rubber chicken…with a slight tinge of battery acid.
Consensus: Fun to try once, but we would not go out of our way to order this again.
(photo courtesy of yelp.com)
Alligator Chilli – Orlando, Florida
Description: Right up the road from our favorite RV Resort near Orlando is Citrus Grove, a place where you can go and pick oranges right off the tree, ride “the biggest monster truck tour in the world”, pet a baby kangaroo, and eat gator. They sell gator jerky, which wasn’t too appetizing (no jerky is appetizing to us, actually), but the gator chilli smelled too good to resist. Normally they put it on top of a hot dog for a “gator chilli dog” but we sweet-talked the server into giving it to us straight.
Consensus: Surprisingly yummy! To be fair, that was at least 90% because the fresh tomatoes and spices would have been delicious no matter what was put in there. But the gator tasted just fine. The texture was pretty much just like ground turkey. It was so good, Jen ordered it again the next time we were there. Gatorlicious!
Seaweed – Moody Beach, Maine
Description: This one’s a little different. We weren’t out at a restaurant…it was just a spur of the moment thing that occurred to Aaron. He’d been eating dried seaweed snacks since he was a toddler, so he wondered what it tasted like straight from the source.
Consensus: Watch and find out!
Scorpion- Scottsdale, AZ
Description: Arizone is home to one of the deadliest scorpions in the world – the bark scorpion. I must admit, after being vigilant about watching for (and finding) these critters all throughout our houses so that our toddler wouldn’t get stung, it gave me perverse pleasure to see them preserved in sugar for kids to munch. Turnabout is fair-play, right?!
Consensus: As pure candy, these are more of a novelty treat. Sure, the lollipop is fine, but if it didn’t have a scorpion inside it wouldn’t be anything to write home about. But…IT HAS A FREAKING SCORPION INSIDE!! That itself is so darned awesome that these little treats became my go-to theme gift for friends and family who were either visiting, or deserved a little taste of Arizona. As for the actual scorpion itself, some people eat it and some people don’t. If you take a bite, expect it to have the texture of a lobster shell. Fun to try once, just for the street cred.
Crickets – Austin, Texas
Description: One of the ways we knew we wanted to travel was by taking a ton of road trips with the kids. On one of these trips, we were headed to visit friends in Wimberly, Texas, an picturesque little town near Austin. Along the way there were a lot of novelty souvenier stores. At one we found these gems. We bought a bunch to give as gifts to friends.
Consensus: Really light and crispy, sort of like the thin inside film of the shell of a peanut. I’m not too grossed out by the idea of crickets. I’d have a hard time eating some bugs, but these seems so clean and non-icky that it wasn’t that big of a deal. Plus, if you put enough powdered flavoring on anything it becomes as palatable as anything else that has enough powdered flavoring. One caveat though – the legs get stuck in your throat. They’re slightly barbed, so even if you chew up everything real fast somehow there’s one that will get you. Let’s hope when the Earth’s population is either 300 30 Billion (and we’re all eating insects for the protein power) that they’ve figured out how resolve that one.
Maggots & Beetles – New Orleans, Louisiana
Description: Did you know some people predict bugs will be THE protein of the future? Clean, healthy, and low-fat! And, if you didn’t know, bugs have been used for years in food colorings and flavorings, so you’ve probably had them without even knowing it! While in New Orleans, we stopped into the Insectactarium. It was a fabulous learning-center where we got up-close and personal with lots of bugs and critters. A highlight though was a trip to their critter-cafe, where top chefs have developed recipes incorporating crickets, larve and even dragon-fly. We had “chocolate chirp” cookies (cricket) and also cookies with larve and beetles.
Consensus: Well…this was a test of whether we can overcome our bias (and nausea) in the face of knowing that these are clean and edible and healthy. We did it, and it is great to be able to SAY we did it, but until we run out of bacon, I know what type of protein I prefer…
Poutine – Montreal, Quebec
Description: After all the other unusual eats listed, poutine hardly ranks. But, french-fries covered in gravy and cheese curds is weird enough for most Americans that we’ll list it here.
Consensus: The first time we tried this we thought it would be our last. But it turns out it was just a not-so-good restaurant. We had them again on a trip to visit Alex in Montreal, at a place that puts all SORTS of crazy toppings on top, and they really were delicious. So, even if you don’t fancy rattlesnake, crickets, or gator, this is an unusual eat you may want to try!