Armed only with his vast knowledge of all things edible, Andrew Zimmern is on a quest to find the world’s most bizarre foods. As a food writer, dining critic, radio talk-show host, TV personality, chef, and teacher, Zimmern is one of the most versatile and knowledgeable personalities in the food world. He is game for anything and knows the most interesting food is found closest to the source. So whether he’s chasing down large water rodents in the Louisiana bayou, fishing for piranha in the Amazon or flushing out cave bats in Malaysia, you can be sure the guy with the iron stomach will dish up the unimaginable.
We asked Zimmern to compile a list of the top 10 most bizarre (but palatable) foods he has ever eaten, listed in order from least palatable to most surprisingly tasty.
Location - Pinang, Malaysia
An extremely odoriferous (some would say noxious) fruit with custard-like flesh. Native to Malaysia, the oblong, thorny fruit can be deep fried, formed into cake and candy, or made into flavorings for ice cream, beverages, and other food items. Durian is considered a delicacy in some parts of Malaysia, and has been known to sell for $50 (U.S.) for one fruit. Many people love the taste of durian, but its powerful aroma is so offensive to some that airplanes, trains, and buses often prohibit the fruit in passenger areas.
Location - Marrakech, Morocco
Also spelled khlea, this meat (usually lamb) is salted, dried, and preserved in its own fat. A traditional specialty of Morocco, k'lia is often served with lentils and spices at the outdoor market, Djemma al Fna in Marrakech, Morocco.
3. Mangrove Worms
Location - Palawan, Philippines
Worms that live off dead wood pulp. Eaten raw. Popular in Sabang Beach in the Philippines, these long, slimy worms are said to be high in iron and taste similar to oysters.
Location - Taberna de Antonio Sanchez in Madrid, Spain
A casserole made with blood sausage and tripe, which comes from the intestines of various domestic animals. This dish is popular in Taberna de Antonio Sanchez in Madrid, Spain, where it is often served as tapas, small dishes designed for sharing.
5. Coconut Grubs
Location - Coca, Ecuador
Larvae that live in dead palm trees. Zimmern tried the dish in the home of a member of the Pilche community in the Amazon rain forest.
Location - Motes de la Magdalena in Quito, Ecuador
Soup made with tripe and beef hearts. This soup is also popular in Mexico, where it began as a peasant dish. Menudo in Mexico can refer to "raw stomach meat" as well as the stew. The recipe for menudo varies in different regions of Latin America.
7. Goose Intestines on Bean Sprouts - Goose guts.
Location - New York's Chinatown
Served at Congee, a restaurant in New York City's Chinatown. Goose intestines are not uncommon fare in China, but then again, neither are duck feet or frogs.
8. Nutria in Sauce Piquant - a large semiaquatic rodent.
Location - Morgan City, Louisiana
Eaten in the home of a trapper in the bayou in Morgan City, Louisiana. Dining on nutria is not for the faint of heart. The rodents resemble large rats with bright orange incisors. Still, the nutria is probably safer on your plate than alive in your yard—the animals are a host for a nematode parasite that can infect human skin. Yummy!
9. Soup No. 5 (Yes, that's the real name)
Location - Balaw Balaw in Luzon, Philippines
Soup made from the back and testicles of a bull is eaten at Balaw Balaw in Luzon, Philippines. In the United States, bull testicles are also sometimes referred to as "Rocky Mountain oysters" and can be prepared in a batter and then fried in oil and eaten with hot sauce.
10. Haggis - Assorted sheep parts mixed with oatmeal and stuffed into a sheep stomach.
Location - Edinburgh, Scotland
This traditional Scottish dish was originally a common peasant meal, but can now be found in grocery stores year round all over Scotland and other areas of the United Kingdom.