Although Fish and Chips and Yorkshire Puddings are firm favourites on British menus, the nation’s tastes are influenced by a fantastic variety of different cuisines. From Italian and Chinese to Indian and Thai, food preferences have never been more diverse in the UK, priming our taste buds to be a little more adventurous with our food choices whilst abroad.
One of the most exciting things about visiting a different country is sampling new and exotic foods. Trying local delicacies is a great way to experience a different culture, so here at Asda Money we’ve picked out some of the most interesting choices and where you can find them.
Fried Spiders, Cambodia
Located in Southeast Asia, Cambodia is renowned for its fantastic culture and array of famous temples. It’s also the place to go if you’ve ever fancied eating a fried spider, which is a popular regional delicacy in the market town of Skuon. They can be found in many markets for just a few pence, which is ideal if you’re on a tight budget.
The people of Cambodia have been known to hunt spiders for food and traditional medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. However, it’s thought that they became a popular delicacy in the mid-1970s, after the oppressive policies of the communist Khmer Rouge regime caused a terrible famine. With little options left, people started to eat spiders to survive.
These days, the spiders are fried in oil and often served with herbs or garlic on a bed of noodles or rice. They’re said to taste like a cross between chicken and cod, though it’s recommended to avoid eating the abdomen, as it’s full of organs, possibly eggs, and excrement. The spiders are a species of tarantula, typically the size of the palm of a hand, so eating them is definitely an experience to remember.
Most people visit Iceland to experience the country’s incredible natural landscapes, complete with hot springs, waterfalls, volcanoes, glaciers, as well as the chance to see the Northern Lights. Whilst you’re there, it’s also a good opportunity to try out one of Iceland’s most unique national dishes, Hákarl, a delicacy which consists of fermented shark.
Hákarl is made from either Greenland or other types of sleeper shark, which is put through a special fermenting process. The sharks are gutted, placed in a hole and covered with stones, and then left to dry out for around four to five months. Once the shark has been cut into chunks, it’s then hung to ferment for several more months.
This dish has an incredibly strong ammonia-rich smell, but the smell is much stronger than the taste. Often served as small cubes on toothpicks, Hákarl is widely available in Iceland all year round, and can be bought in most supermarkets. In winter, it’s often served as part of “porramatur”, which is a selection of traditional Icelandic food.
Bird’s Nest Soup, China
China is full of foods to whet your appetite, but one of the most eye-opening delicacies that can be found in this country is bird’s nest soup. The nest in question is made from the hardened saliva of cave swiftlets, which dissolve in water into a jelly-like consistency, producing a highly nutritious and uniquely flavoured dish.
This dish is extremely expensive due to both the rarity of the nests, and the fact that harvesting the nests can be extremely dangerous. As the swiftlet nests in caves high up on sheer rocks, they can only be accessed by climbing up huge ladders, before knocking them down with a long pole.
It’s been estimated that the trade in these nests account for around 0.5% of Indonesia’s entire GDP, and you can expect to pay up to £65.00 for just one bowl of the soup.
Witchetty Grub, Australia
Witchetty Grubs are the small, white larvae of the ghost moth, which are native to Australia, and traditionally eaten live and raw. The grubs live underground and in the trunks and roots of trees, and have been an essential part of the Aboriginal diet for centuries.
When eaten raw the Grubs taste similar to almonds, though barbequing gives them a texture and taste closer to chicken or prawns and peanut sauce. Witchetty Grubs are extremely nutritious and a great source of protein, which is perfect when exploring the Australian jungle.
If you’re in Australia and would like to try out a Witchetty Grub for yourself, your best bet is to go on a guided tour which includes a native food element to it. Some restaurants now include a “Bush Tucker” menu, and it’s also possible to find cheap cans of Witchetty Grub soup in some Australian supermarkets.
Frog’s Legs, France
If you’re at a restaurant in France and spot “cuisses de grenouille” on the menu, this is your chance to try Frog’s Legs. An extremely popular French delicacy, the legs are commonly deep fried, and sometimes breaded beforehand.
Frog’s Legs are incredibly good for you, and provide plenty of nutrients including protein, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, and vitamin A. They have a similar taste to chicken, but with a milder flavour. When cooking frog’s legs, many people are alarmed to see them twitch, but this is simply because the muscles don’t stiffen up as quickly as warm blooded animals.
This delicacy can be found all over France, particularly in the region of Dombes. They’re best enjoyed as a starter or snack, and it’s traditional to eat them without cutlery, due to there not being a lot of meat on the bone. Although they are renowned for being a French favourite, Frog’s Legs are also popular in other parts of Europe, Southeast Asia, and the US.
Wherever you end up trying out exciting delicacies, don't forget to collect your Travel Money before you go. Here at Asda Money we offer great rates, and we can often order your currency for you if we don't stock it already. Remember to buy your travel insurance too, so you're protected in case anything goes wrong whilst you're abroad.