At a recent (rain-filled) barbeque, my family had an amusing conversation about weird and wonderful foods that we had all sampled throughout the world. In a nutshell, I was the outright winner.
From jellyfish in Japan to Guinea Pig in Peru, I have enjoyed, and in some cases not so much, unique delicacies prepared lovingly in different countries.
But by far my most memorable ‘food experience’ was when I travelled to Vietnam with a group of Canadian travel agents. Our tour leader Jon had arranged for us to eat at a very special restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City. It was not a fancy restaurant, but it was extremely busy with locals and a few tourists. Jon ordered a huge selection of food and then he said that he had arranged for us to try some of the restaurant’s ‘specialties’. We were enjoying some wonderful noodle soups when a plate of deep fried scorpion was set down in front of me. The whole group stopped eating and a chorus of ‘yuks’ and ‘errrs’ resonated around the table. Being a representative of Imaginative Traveller, I was given the opportunity to eat the very first scorpion. The stinger had been removed and I bit down tentatively in to the claw. The entire group and a couple of nearby tables were watching me. It was very crunchy and the easiest way to describe the taste is that I thought it not to be too dissimilar to exceptionally crispy bacon! I ate the entire scorpion. There was a tiny cheer from everyone!
Three gentlemen were sitting on one of the nearby tables and one of them asked me where I was from. I said I was from the UK. He handed me some US dollars. I was a little confused by this and he explained that they had all bet on whether I would eat the scorpion. He had won but he thought that I deserved the money!! I have never been given money to eat food before!
The group continued with the feast and a big boiling pot of soup arrived at the table. We were all intrigued by this and had a look inside. The waiter smiled and spooned the main ingredient out of the pot for all of us to see. It was goat penis! Our tour leader had ordered us goat penis. This of course led to much hilarity and photo taking. But who was going to try this wonderful dish? I do not need to give you all three guesses because you already know who the nominated person was.
Everyone gasped and laughed as I put the beautifully prepared penis of a goat in my mouth. I am unable to describe the taste as I honestly can’t remember it. All I remember about the incident is that I sat and chewed it for a couple of minutes before deciding I could not swallow it because it was the penis of a goat, so I had to spit it out in to a napkin!!! The jokes still haunt me nearly two years later.
My dad’s overcooked prawns at our family barbeque really do not seem so bad now…
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