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The Weirdest Food We’ve Eaten, from Bat Tacos to Salted Termites

You never know what might be lurking in your taco. Photo by powerplantop/Flickr

One of the best ways to really get to know a culture? Eat the way the locals eat. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done. Our staff of travelers is an adventurous bunch, and they’ll never say no to a new experience—even when it means eating things like brains, bats, and, um, nether parts. Here’s the weirdest food we’ve tried, from the delicious to the disgusting. And if you think you can stomach it, check out our slideshow.

“When I was 20, I ate Cuy (guinea pig) in Peru in someone’s home. I’d seen them in the markets there before, all lined up and bald, and wasn’t in a hurry to try one. But when my host served it for dinner one evening, I didn’t find it to be all that much different from rabbit.” —Lily Soysal, marketing and special projects director

I ate reindeer in all forms on a hike in the Laplands—steaks, kebabs, and even jerky. I probably wouldn’t eat the jerky again, but the rest was totally delicious.” —Andrew Richdale, senior editor

“When I was in Mexico City with Afar Experiences, I got the chance to eat ants, crickets, and beetles at Mercado de la Merced, Mexico City. And I would eat them again in a second! They were good: salty and crunchy. kind of like sunflower seeds. I had always wanted to try food like that, especially now that bugs are being talked about as an increasingly important food source, but I guess I’d never had the opportunity. It was definitely easier to go to the market with a guide, Lesley Tellez, who knew where to find this stuff (the market was gargantuan, I never would’ve made it through there on my own) and who could hold our hands a little, explaining what the stuff was, and taking us to a vendor who didn’t mind a bunch of gringos making funny faces as we tried everything.” —Jeremy Saum, executive editor

Living grubs on an island off the coast of Sumatra. Siberut island. It was given to me like, ‘This is one thing the native folks eat. Here, try some!’ It was pulled right from a log. It was big, fat, and mushy. And it was GROSS!” —Tara Guertin, director of photography

“I lived with a family in Kenya in a rural village just north of Lake Victoria. I was teaching English and Biology at the local school and my family took care of preparing most of my meals. EVERY DAY for at least two meals we ate the same corn porridge (ugali) and greens (sakuma wiki), so when the opportunity to try roasted and salted termites was offered, I jumped. They were crunchy, nutty, and—most importantly—different!” —Jordan Robbins, corporate & donor relations development officer, Learning AFAR

Donkey carpaccio in Sicily.“ —John Galante, international travel director

“In Bali, I toured a (supposedly) sustainable coffee farm that also sold the controversial kopi luwak or, as my guide gleefully repeated over and over, poop coffee. Basically, these mammals called civets eat coffee cherries then, um, pass the beans. My guide assured me that there was no actual poop in the coffee, though it was still a challenge to take that first sip. The coffee was pretty good—fruity and smooth, with rich chocolatey base notes—but all I could think about was who the hell first looked at pooped-out coffee beans and said, yes, please make me a drink from that?” —Aislyn Greene, associate editor

Bat tacos called ‘Vampiros’ down in Baja. I got them at a little local taqueria outside of Cabo San Lucas. The meat tasted like carne asada, but was a bit overcooked and chewy with an earthy taste. Not sure if they just overcooked the meat to kill parasites/rabies or because almost nobody was ordering it.  It came decked out with the authentic fixings: onions, cilantro, and some spicy salsa.” —Matt Fenster, director of finance

“While visiting my family in the Philippines, I had the opportunity to try balut (a developing duck embryo) and I loved it, surprisingly. The flavor is unexpectedly similar to a well-seasoned steak and tastes great with an ice-cold beer.” —Jason Seldon, art director

Ant eggs, a delicacy in Mexico City. They have a nutty taste and a creamy texture. They’re usually sautéed in butter, which really could make anything taste good.” —Davina Baum, director of digital content

“I’ve never really eaten anything that out there. I freaked out a bit over cow brains in Egypt—it was the velvety texture that did it—but I loved camel milk, which is kind of salty and sharp and almost burned-tasting all at the same time. I also became really partial to mish, a homemade cheese that is fermented for months or even years in a clay pot. Mish tastes salty and extremely sharp (there’s a theme developing here), as if the cows had been fed on pastures of kimchi, and locals would delight in explaining how tiny worms often live inside the cheese while it’s fermenting. Yum!” —Nick Rowlands, guides editor