Exploring a new cuisine can be as much of an adventure as any trip across the globe – and, oftentimes, our most memorable culinary experiences come from eating the foods that are most foreign to us.
While not all of our culinary adventures will yield delicious results, most at least offer a learning experience – for both our taste buds and our minds.
What follows are a few of the more unusual foods you can find in Odysseys destinations around the world. Some of these dishes are based in centuries-old cultural traditions; others are intricately tied to the places from which they originated; others, still, are downright surprising.
Please note: The provided meals on Odysseys tours tend to be a bit less adventuresome so as to accommodate our guests’ tastes; however, the dishes listed below should be widely available in their respective destinations. We encourage those who are curious, and whose diets allow, to explore these unique foods in their free time while on tour.
1. Black pudding (aka, blood sausage)
While blood sausages can be found in many parts of the world, black pudding is a specific type of blood sausage specific to the United Kingdom and Ireland.
With stretches of coastline across both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, it’s no surprise that Spain offers more than a few unique seafood dishes, and calamares en su tinta – or, squid in ink – certainly counts as one of those.
Living up to the dish’s descriptive name, the squid is first soaked in its own ink in order to tenderize it. Then, tomato and onion are added to the “black sauce” for flavor before cooking.
Those who prefer their cephalopods served without ink would do well to consider pulpo gallego, or Galician-style octopus, where boiled octopus meat is served atop sliced potatoes, sprinkled with sweet paprika, and drizzled with olive oil.
Chances are you’ve enjoyed the likes of an olive stuffed with meat or cheese before. But less likely? … that you’ve tried the deep-fried variation originating in Ascoli-Piceno, a small town in the Le Marche region of Italy.
Even among Icelanders, hákarl, or fermented shark, is an acquired taste, with many likening its aftertaste to bleu cheese – only much, much stronger. Add to that the fact that it reeks of ammonia (due to its method of preparation) and you’ve got yourself a food challenge.
And yet, despite hákarl’s “challenging” taste, this national dish of Iceland has been a part of Icelandic cuisine for centuries.
Traditional methods of preparing hákarl involve burying the dead shark in the earth for up to three months while ammonia and uric acid drain from its body and ferment the meat (this process helps to rid the shark of the chemicals in its body that are poisonous to humans). After the fermentation period, the meat is cut into strips and hung out to dry for another several months. Only after this extensive period of preparation is hákarl considered safe and ready to eat.
So, if you ever find yourself feeling culinarily adventurous on our Exploring Iceland tour, ask your tour director for a tip about where you might find hákarl — but don’t say we didn’t warn you when the smell of ammonia comes wafting through the air…
5. Colombian hot chocolate
Rounding out this list of unusual foods is one for both chocolate lovers and cheese enthusiasts alike – and the fork required to consume it serves as a key indicator that Colombian hot chocolate, or chocolate santafereño, is not your typical hot chocolate.
Chocolate santafereño is a snack enjoyed by Colombians and Ecuadorians, and it’s essentially queso (i.e. melted cheese) dipped in a cup of hot chocolate, then eaten with a fork. It’s especially common during the colder-weather months.
Interested in this cheesy spin on hot chocolate? See if you can find it in a free moment on our Colombia Rediscovered tour.
Of course, a list of foods from around the world could go on forever – so, for now, we’ll cap our list of unusual foods at five. But if you haven’t yet had your fill, and would like to explore a tamer collection of recipes and culinary traditions from around the world, we encourage you to visit Taste the Place: Culinary Traditions and Recipes from around the World on our website.
And if you’re just hungry to check out a larger selection of our upcoming tours, be sure to check out the latest selection on our website.