Festive Treats from Around the World
Ah, Christmas. The time of year we loosen our belts, get the indigestion tablets handy and prepare ourselves for the feasting overload that we set one month aside for every year.
And in honour of this gluttonous tradition we thought we’d dust the mince pie crumbs from our fingers and whiskers, and take a look at some of the more ‘delicious’ festive offerings from round the world.
Raw Puffin Heart – Iceland
Nothing says celebration in Iceland like a puffin’s heart freshly pulled from its body and eaten while it is still warm.
Considered a local delicacy, it is hard to get more traditional than raw puffin heart and while it is possible to get it lightly marinated or smoked if you want to try it the customary way there will be no cooking or sauce for you.
However, why we may find the thought of eating an adorable puffin hard to stomach, their huge population in Iceland means they have been a traditional food source for centuries.
Yak Penis – China
Also known as ‘Dragon in the Flame of Desire’ this Chinese delicacy is thought to help women’s skin and men’s virility.
It is regarded so highly in the North-East of China that there is actually a dedicated penis restaurant in Beijing, where the delicacy sells for hundreds of dollars.
Escamoles – Mexico
They call them escamoles, we call them massive ant eggs, regardless, this dish is a popular celebration dish in central Mexico.
Made by cooking giant black ant in butter and then serving with tacos or eggs, the larvae is said to have a texture similar to cottage cheese.
The dish can be traced back as far as the Aztecs and despite the quease-factor this is actually a pretty tasty dish with most people enjoying the slightly nutty taste.
Mice Wine – Korea
Brought out when it’s time to celebrate, mice wine is made by removing newly born mice from their mothers and pickling them in rice wine whilst they are still alive.
After they’ve had time to drown and ferment the drink is shared to aid good health.
Given that mice wine reportedly tastes like petrol and you could well end up with a mouthful of preserved mouse body, we decided you’d have to really feel like celebrating to give this one a go.
Whole Lamb’s Head – Greece
There’s no bigger festival in the Greek Orthodox calendar than Easter, and the lavish feasts that precede and follow it pay testament to this.
As well as regular Greek food such as olives and moussaka, traditional delicacies are also prepared including whole lamb’s head which is marinated in herbs and garlic.
Served as a cooked skull, everything that can be savoured is, including the eyes, tongue and brain.
Haggis – Scotland
Burn’s Night wouldn’t be Burn’s Night without any haggis, as the old adage (maybe) goes.
This festive Scottish dish is made by mixing up a sheep’s innards, including the heart, lungs and liver, with spices and herbs before stuffing it back into its own stomach and boiling– where do we queue?!
So loved is Haggis by the Scots that it even has its own poem; Address to a Haggis by Robert Burns.
Live Drunk Shrimp – China
Here, the spirit of your choice is poured over a plate of live shrimps.
Desperate to get away the shrimp leap about the plate until the kindly consumer puts them out of their misery by gobbling them up.
Depending on how hard you chew, the shrimp will continue moving about for a short period after swallowing allowing the eater to experience a nice wiggling feeling in their stomach.
Fish sperm – Japan
Given the popularity of fish eggs (hello taramasalata and caviar) it’s strange not more people have cottoned on to the delights of fish sperm.
Ever ahead of the crowd, the Japanese have long considered shirako a delicacy and whole fish sperm sacs are served as an appetizer on special occasions.
Typically served with a little garnish, it is said to melt in the mouth like butter.