Pat and I love food. Prior to moving to Korea we were both vegetarians for different reasons. Once we moved to Korea we gave up our vegetarian ways and quickly found ourselves eating Korean BBQ weekly and some sort of meat daily. We eat fried chicken, live octopus, snail soup, samgyeopsal, samgyetang and meat on a stick. As vacation time quickly approached this past winter, we could almost taste the pad thai and spring rolls we would soon devour. After winter camps, deskwarming, and great night out in Seoul we were finally in the beautiful SE Asia. During our time in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam we ate a lot of great local food. To keep life interesting we tried the strange food too; food that would make a normal person cringe. Snake blood? Why not! Snake whiskey? Ok! Here are some of the weirdest things we ate during out 24 day trip through SE Asia.
I heard about this the summer before I left for Asia and it went directly on my bucket list. Hanoi Backpackers does a tour (almost nightly) to the snake village. Upon arrival you pick the snakes that you will be eating/drinking for the evening. If you’re a brave soul you can kill the snake. How? By ripping out its heart with your teeth. Dead serious. Its blood and bile is then drained into separate cups of rice wine. A feast is then prepared; we devoured the 7 course meal of snake while washing it down with blood and bile. We ate everything from the skin to snake spring rolls. I’ll write more on this soon.
#2 Grasshoppers in Bangkok Thailand
Eating bugs in Thailand like the true tourist I am. I wasn’t convinced that Thai people actually ate bugs, but as I was buying my bag of grasshoppers a Thai women was purchasing her own and telling me they were delicious. Well they definitely weren’t delicious. The taste wasn’t that bad due to the fact that they were seasoned, but the sound of chewing the bug was what I could not handle. I finished it, but quickly gave the rest away to a group of Swedes.
#3 Chick on a Stick in Sapa, Vietnam
Every day spent in Sapa was a foggy day filled with hilltribe women demanding me to to buy their crafts. While the town may have disappointed me, the food did not. Each foggy day Pat and I would wander the streets and walk slowly through the market. During one of our food ventures we found the most interesting meat on a stick yet, A grilled baby chick. You literally can eat the whole chicken, bones and all.
#4 Frog in Hanoi, Vietnam
During one of our first days in Hanoi we decided to do our own walking tour. As we were wandering through the old quarter we spotted an old Vietnamese woman cutting off the heads of frogs. Just as chickens keep running when their heads are chopped off, frogs keep moving. We watched as the frogs bounced headless on the dirty streets of Hanoi. This should have disgusted me, but it just intensified my search for those delicious, grilled frogs I had heard so much about. Pat and I searched high and low for it. When we finally found it (on our last day) we were sadly not impressed. It was overpriced, fried, and was nothing special taste wise. It was not what I was looking for. Somewhere in that city you can eat a whole grilled frog (sans head); next time I travel to Hanoi I will find it.
One of the perks of staying at Spicy Laos in Luang Prabang is free whiskey! This isn’t your ordinary shot of Jack Daniels, though. It’s snake whiskey. Even a whiskey drinker will have problems choking this down. It’s strong, to say the least. At first I had no intention of trying it. Somehow it turned into a little game at the hostel. A game of take a shot of whiskey as everyone else takes a picture and/or video. My picture turned out like this:
While snake blood, bugs, frogs, baby chicks and snake whiskey were fun to try, the real local food in SE Asia was absolutely mind blowing. I love Korean food, but it was difficult to come home to food smothered in red pepper paste. What I would give for a bowl of Lao noodle soup or a plate of fresh spring rolls…