When most people think of weird dishes, they look to Asia. But Latin America has its fair share of odd food stuffs from turtle eggs to fried insects.
One should always remember that we are not born with any particularly aversion to any food. Our likes and dislikes all come from nurture. While you might find the thought of eating something like a juicy grub rather disgusting, you may find that after trying you actually find them rather delicious.
Here we’re going to dive right in to show you the continent’s strangest foods.
Cuy, Andes region
Let’s start with one famously weird dish that most will have heard of. Cuy, or guinea pig in English. This little rodent is an Andean staple, slowly roasted whole over a barbeque and served with head and feet still attached. Once you get over the thought of eating your childhood pet and that it’s being served whole, it’s actually pretty tasty.
While most people think of Thailand when they think of fried insects, the people of Oaxaca state in Mexico also love a fried grasshopper. Even though Chapulines are fried, their low fat content mean they are extremely good for you.
Chicha, Amazon region
There are plenty of varieties of this rough fermented beer drink, but the Amazonian variety sees women chew and spit out corn which is then left out to ferment, the saliva helping the process. Although this sour drink will not be to everyone’s taste, if offered, it’s rude to turn it town. So drink up!
Escamoles are the edible larvae and pupae of ants. Known as Mexican caviar, the creamy texture and buttery taste are pretty tasty. Typically, they are cooked in with scrambled eggs and served with tortillas. It’s been eaten in Mexico for hundreds of years since Aztec times.
Caldo de Cardon, Bolivia
Bull penis. Do we need to say more?
Morcilla is a sausage commonly found on the Argentine barbeque. Like British black pudding, morcilla is made from cooked pigs blood, sometimes mixed up with ground offal and a variety of extra ingredients including paprika, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs and nuts. Like Marmite, most find they either love it or hate it.
Hormigas culonas, Colombia
Hormigas culonas have been a delicacy in the Colombian town of Barichara for hundreds of years. Literally translating to ‘big-bottomed ants’, these high protein, low fat insects roasted with salt are as good for you as they are delicious. Visit the region between April and May when the ants are in season.
Sopa de mondongo, Colombia
This might look like a simple stew, but lurking in its depths is plenty of tripe, the stomach lining of a cow mixed in with potatoes and vegetables and meat stock. Depending on the where you are, other varieties include pork and even chicken tripe.
Palm grubs, Ecuador
These juicy fat grubs are packed full of nutrients. They are eaten in many countries around the world, but are commonly found in the Amazonia region of Ecuador. The recently hatched larvae are picked from palm trees and grilled.
Huevos de tortugas, Nicaragua
Before I begin, please be aware that eating turtle eggs can be illegal, as well as unethical. Just don’t eat them. They are somewhat of a delicacy in Nicaragua where the soft-shelled ping pong size eggs are blanched briefly in boiling water, and eaten with a little lemon juice.
Llama brain, Bolivia
Llama brain and tongue. Yum.
Curanto en hoyo, Chile
Probably the least brave to eat on this list, it is not so much the ingredients, but the way of cooking which is odd. A one and a half metre hole is dug in the ground, on which hot stones are laid. A mixture of shellfish, meat, vegetables and potatoes and layered, separated by Chilean rhubarb leaves. This is then topped with wet sacks and earth and left to cook for over an hour before being dug up and eaten.
Chuño has fed the people of the Andes for thousands of years. The process is a little more complex than this, but potatoes, of which Peru is not short, are left to kind of freeze dry in the high altiplanos of Bolivia, after which they can be kept almost indefinitely.
Coração de Frango, Brazil
Widely eaten through Brazil and loved by the rich and poor alike, Coração de Frango are simply chicken hearts which are grilled or barbecued and seasoned with a little salt. Delicious although somewhat chewy, they make an excellent snack to an accompanying beer.