TASTES OF A NA­TION

Food the lo­cals love can be hard for a vis­i­tor to stom­ach ... Veg­emite, any­one?

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - TRAVEL WISDOM DINING - CHRISTINE RETSCHLAG

You’re over­seas and you’re feel­ing ad­ven­tur­ous. But there are some things you sim­ply just can’t stom­ach. Take your taste­buds on this jour­ney around the globe, and ask your­self, what would you eat and drink, and what would you po­litely refuse?

JA­PAN

There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween dy­ing for a meal, and dy­ing from your meal. In Ja­pan, this can come down to luck. The Ja­panese love the thrill of eat­ing fugu, puffer­fish, which has a deadly poi­son. There’s more than 3800 restau­rants here serv­ing this del­i­cacy. Some din­ers like it with a bit of tox­i­c­ity to make their tongues tin­gle.

AUS­TRALIA

Noth­ing screams Aus­tralia more than Veg­emite but the rest of the world doesn’t share our view, fail­ing to see how this salty black spread can put a rose in ev­ery cheek. And while we’re Down Un­der, nor do they un­der­stand how we can eat kan­ga­roo, an an­i­mal that’s on our of­fi­cial Coat of Arms.

FIJI

Visit any Fi­jian vil­lage and you will not only be ex­pected to par­tic­i­pate in a tra­di­tional kava cer­e­mony, but drink it too. To the Fi­jians, this is the elixir of life; to the rest of us, it’s a lit­tle like drink­ing muddy wa­ter that makes your tongue numb. Nor do we quite get taro root, a seem­ingly taste­less veg­etable boiled in wa­ter.

CHINA

The Chi­nese adore eat­ing cen­tury eggs found on nu­mer­ous street cor­ners in Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Hong Kong. The rest of us feel the look and name is enough to say pass. Also known as thou­sand-year-old eggs, this lo­cal del­i­cacy is a pre­served duck, chicken or quail egg which has been mixed with clay, ash, salt, quick­lime and rice hulls and left to set­tle, some­times for months.

SIN­GA­PORE

For a na­tion revered for its din­ing of­fer­ings, to many of us, ice-cream sand­wiches sim­ply don’t make sense. Wan­der around Or­chard Rd and you’ll find a num­ber of ven­dors and stores sell­ing this quirky dessert, which, as the name sug­gests, is ice-cream, in bread. Not quite the same as Sin­ga­pore’s famed chilli crab.

TAI­WAN

Snake Al­ley in Taipei is not for the faint-hearted. Here, you will find some un­usual lo­cal snacks such as snake and tur­tle blood and meat, and even deer pe­nis wine. The snakes are of­ten killed right in front of you, and their blood drained, which makes this din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence all the more con­fronting. Bub­ble tea, a milk drink with tapi­oca bub­bles, and in­vented in Tai­wan, is prob­a­bly a safer bet.

CAM­BO­DIA

It’s fair to say that Cam­bo­di­ans eat pretty much any­thing, and there’s even the Bugs Café in Siem Reap which serves in­sect tapas.

A fu­sion of French and Kh­mer cook­ing serves up a menu of crick­ets, scor­pi­ons, grasshop­pers, ants, bees, silk­worms and spi­ders. Check out the Bug Mac here.

CANADA

The Cana­di­ans go a lit­tle crazy for the tra­di­tional indige­nous dish of ban­nock, which is a lit­tle baf­fling, as it’s ef­fec­tively a loaf of bread. To the out­sider, there’s not a lot that’s in­ter­est­ing about this heavy, flat, round bread made from flour, bak­ing pow­der, sugar, lard and wa­ter or milk. You’ll find plenty of restau­rants in Van­cou­ver serv­ing sal­mon and ban­nock.

SCOT­LAND

The Scots love their na­tional dish of hag­gis, but for the rest of us, it’s a wee bit con­fronting. Com­prised of sheep lung, hearts and liver, it is then mixed with suet, oat­meal and sea­son­ing, stuffed into an empty sheep stom­ach, and boiled for three hours. It is served with “neeps” or turnips. And whisky, thank good­ness for whisky.

UNITED STATES

Who says the US has no culi­nary cul­ture? This is the na­tion that in­tro­duced the peanut but­ter and jelly sand­wich to the world. Col­lo­qui­ally known as the PB&J, this de­light dates back to the early 1900s. It is even said that av­er­age Amer­i­cans will have con­sumed 1500 PB&Js be­fore they grad­u­ate high school.

ENG­LAND

Some think the English should have stopped at scones and tea, or Pimms and gin, but they went a step fur­ther – black pud­ding. This ac­quired taste is made from onions, pork fat, oat­meal and flavour­ings, with a spe­cial dol­lop of blood, usu­ally from a pig. This dish is said to date back as far as the ex­is­tence of an­i­mals them­selves.

GER­MANY

This is more an ex­pe­ri­ence than an ac­tual dish which baf­fles even the most well trav­elled. Ger­mans call it aben­dessen, which lit­er­ally trans­lated means evening meal, ex­cept it’s not re­ally a meal. First­timers to Ger­many of­ten find them­selves con­fused when they sit down to din­ner, to find a plate of an­tipasto. The main meal is eaten dur­ing the mid­dle of the day.

NEW ZEALAND

The Ki­wis love the taste of Paua so much, it is con­sid­ered a na­tional dish. But be warned, it is an ac­quired taste. This sea snail has a dis­tinc­tive savoury, leath­ery, mush­room-like flavour which needs to be cooked briefly or it be­comes tough and chewy. New Zealand wine, on the other hand, has global ad­mi­ra­tion.

GREECE

Greece, and neigh­bour­ing Cyprus, are lit­er­ally ooz­ing with ouzo, and it’s not un­com­mon to find lo­cals wash­ing back a shot or three of this anise­flavoured liquor for break­fast. Dat­ing back to 14th-cen­tury monks, many trav­ellers find the strong licorice taste a lit­tle too much to han­dle. To try it, head to a side­walk cafe in Athens.

FRANCE

To the French, frogs’ legs are a del­i­cacy. Said to taste like chicken (what doesn’t?) and with the tex­ture of chicken wings, the legs of frogs are al­legedly rich in pro­tein, omega acids, vi­ta­min A, and potas­sium. In Paris, restau­rant Rainettes is ded­i­cated solely to frog tapas and dishes.

Are you game enough to try cen­tury eggs (main) in China or black pud­ding (right) in Eng­land ? CEN­TURY EGG

BLACK PUD­DING

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.