When you think about your travels around the world, what sticks in your mind the most? Usually, it’s the food. And there’s a good reason for that: food sits at the heart of practically every culture in the world.
Because culture is so diverse, there are hundreds of different dishes to sample. It seems that practically every culture in the world has created its own menu, experimenting with local ingredients in ways that are both good, bad and sometimes even downright ugly.
The Nahm restaurant in Bangkok is one of the most exclusive restaurants in the world and is ranked in the top twenty globally. As such, you’d expect it to have some fabulous unique dishes on its menu - and, of course, it does. One of the most exciting dishes is the so-called coral catfish curry. This curry uses local ingredients like sand ginger and vegetables, offering unrivalled flavour and is a favourite among high-flyers visiting the city.
Thai food not your bag? Fear not: there are plenty of other unique, delicious and exciting dishes you've never heard of. Take Khinkali, for example, from the Republic of Georgia in Central Asia. Though it may be a small country, Georgia punches above its weight in the food stakes.
One of its national dishes is Khinkali, a type of dumpling made of minced meat and a combination of local herbs and spices. It may sound simple but actually making Khinkali is anything but. Twisting the dumplings to get them just right is a skilled task requiring a trained professional. The juice inside the khinkali is hot, so make sure you suck this out first before downing the whole thing.
Creativity and science meet at Mugaritz, which is a true restaurant of culinary excellence and natural innovation. Here, the chefs experiment with art and gastronomy to produce dishes which surpass the borders of imagination and boundaries of tradition. The team is headed by Andoni Luis Aduriz at this double Michelin star venue, which is synonymous for research and developmental techniques in cuisine. Andoni has lectured at many educational institutes, whilst Mugaritz shares knowledge of food as a tool for health and prevention of illness.
As we know, not all food from around the world is good. Take Hakarl for example, an Icelandic delicacy. Hakarl is the rotting carcass of the basking shark which is buried in a shallow pit to ferment, then to dry out and leach out its poisonous internal fluids. Though the meat is safe to eat once properly prepared, you would hardly call it delicious. It is served in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik at the Cafe Loki as well as other establishments but as part of a “tasting platter,” which is a polite way of preparing people for the fact that some of their meal is going to taste awful.
The next dish on the menu is the Congolese newest protein source in the form of insects and bugs. This cuisine of crickets, mealworms, caterpillars and termites has largely been borne out of the hunger of its 65 million inhabitants. However, often these bugs and insects are only seasonally available and retail at more than traditional meat. Scientists even wonder whether insect farming could be the answer to global hunger in the future. Only time will tell whether the consumption of our creepy friends will become a regular delicacy as the global population continues to rise.
Can food be “ugly?” Of course it can, especially in Japan. If you browse market stalls in Tokyo, you’ll come across the usual fish eyeballs, shirako (fish sperm) and strange fermented seaweed, but perhaps the most curious dish of all is “Shiokara.” What Shiokara actually remains a mystery, even to those who sell it.
It’s supposed to be a collection of different type of fish from the sea, cut into unidentifiable strips, which doesn’t sound too bad. But being from Japan, all the fish is served raw and in it’s own salted and fermented viscera. This gives it a particularly sour taste which is like nothing most Westerners have tried before.
Still fancy trying this one out? Not likely.
Well, you have now had a taste of these unique recipes which mimic that Clint Eastwood movie of 'The Good, The Bad and the Ugly', and you will all know that that this Western ends in a good way. Equally, we want to leave you feeling in love with food, so please take a look at our creativity in the kitchen section, where you will find some unique recipes which definitely qualify within the good food category!
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