Andrew Zimmern: Alternative Protein
"The local delicacy in Juchitan, Mexico, is armadillo stew. It's a special treat, and a bear to prepare. First, you have to get through the animal's tough shell. Next, you have to tenderize the very muscular meat. Cooks smother the armadillo in a marinade and cook it in the oven for a few hours. Delicious and worth the hassle."
"Here's an Oaxacan specialty: pulpo, aka octopus, stewed in its own ink. Mixed with tomatoes and onions, this is a perfect dish after a day on the water. A big thanks to my friends at El Grillo Marinero; they know how to prepare this stuff."
Cuy (Guinea Pig)
"It might seem strange to feast on Guinea pig, but Ecuadorians love to eat cuy. Personally, I think it's a phenomenal alternative to pork or chicken. High in protein, low in fat, cheap and easy to raise. Oh, and cuy tastes great, much like roast pig. You might call it a pet, but I prefer to call it dinner."
"Rick Phillips serves some of the best Cajun crawfish boils in New Orleans. These shellfish were incredibly fresh and boiled in what they call "Cajun napalm," a combination of hot and flavorful spices. It'll make your nose run, but I loved it."
"Sure, you might have an aversion to eating bugs, but they don't taste as strange as you'd think. Gene Rurka, international consultant on exotic global foods for the Explorer's Club in New York, created these bites: banana canapés topped with maggots, worm-zels (worms baked into a pretzel shape), tarantula, scorpion and herb cream cheese on cucumber and teriyaki cockroach. His rule of thumb is that people will try anything as long as they are familiar with two or three ingredients."
Uok (Giant Coconut Worms)
"Here, I'm about to try a spoonful of uok (aka giant coconut worms) at Balaw Balaw Restaurant in Angono, Philippines. They are pan fried with soy sauce, vinegar, chiles and onions. So simple and delicious."Photo courtesy of the Travel Channel.
"Sardinia has to have some of the best seafood on the planet. I'm a sea urchin freak, and Sardinia's are some of the best I've had. They're pulled from the bottom of the ocean floor using a long pole with three prongs on the end. Sea urchin can be very expensive, but in Sardinia they're widely available and cheap. You can split them in half and scoop the meat out with a spoon. C'mon, how beautiful is that? They have amazing squid here as well. I'd eat this stuff every day if I could."
"Amber Ray, my guide from the Peace Corps, and I learn how to cook traditional Saramaccan dishes in a Malobi village in Suriname, a small country in northern South America. The lizard is cleaned and rubbed with hot chilies. Here they cook a bombi lizard over a fire."
"What feels more British than eating squab at Roast Restaurant in London's Borough Market? The meat is aged for ten days to naturally tenderize it. Phenomenal. If you go to Roast, be sure to save yourself a little time either before or after to roam around the market; it's one of the best in the world. Note: Dish not currently offered on menu."
"A whole restaurant dedicated to serving snake might not be up everyone's alley, but I loved Thanh Dao restaurant in Le Mat, Vietnam. They served up a variety of snake dishes including heart, gallbladder, sautéed snake with lemon grass, fried snakeskin, snake spring rolls and fried ground snake served with crackers. Snake typically costs about $25 for a garden-variety species to $125 for a rare breed, like a cobra. Yes, you can eat cobra."