Whenever I travel I try to sample some of the local cuisine, and boy have I had some strange stuff! During my Euro trip back in 2012, I had a few tasty (and not-so-tasty) treats during my adventures. If you’re heading to any of these places and feel like being adventurous – try some! It’s fun, and you may just discover something delicious. If you’re not a fan of it, well, knowing what you don’t like is just as important as knowing what you do! Here’s my list of crazy European food you gotta try:
So this one isn’t so weird as it is just a little on the gross side. For me, the thought of eating a snail was a little nasty. France has made it a delicacy however, so what better place to try it than in the beautiful city of Paris? My friend I was staying with took me to a local French restaurant where we shared the dish. Even though she was born in France she had never tried it herself! Naturally I forced her into it, and I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t know if it was the fact that it was smothered in pesto and garlic butter… actually yes that was probably the reason now that I re-read that statement… but it was delicious! The escargot itself was a little chewy, but not unlike that of squid. I definitely devoured my fair share, and I would try it again! Although my opinion may change if prepared differently, but for now I’m a fan.
Welcome to one of the street meats of Germany! The dish itself is pretty simple: sausage, ketchup and a sprinkle of curry powder. In all honesty, I wasn’t the biggest fan. For me the curry powder mixed with the sausage almost made it taste somewhat sweet… an odd taste for a sausage in my opinion. I don’t know if I was over-thinking it or if my tastebuds actually didn’t enjoy it, but I think I’ll stay away from this one. Although I do enjoy curry much more now than when I tried it back in 2015, so maybe it’s time for another chance… either way, I’d say this is the tamest dish on this list. If you’re not the most adventurous when it comes to food, try this one – the crazy European food only gets crazier the further you read!
Hungary’s Véres Hurka (Blood Sausage)
For anyone who is a meat and potatoes kind of kid, Hungary is most definitely the place for you. Vegetarians? …good luck. I’m not joking. I had a tour guide laugh at someone who asked for vegetarian places in Budapest because it’s just not a part of their culture. I digress, back to meat talk. My love for paprika was sparked by the amazing chefs of Budapest, although the blood sausage (the dark one on the top left) of Hungary is a strange little creature. It is exactly as it sounds… blood boiled into more of a paste and made into a sausage. With a smokey yet burnt taste, it’s a fairly heavy dish. I personally wasn’t a fan and only got through half the portion, and even that came back to bite me later. Apparently my stomach is not cast iron! So I plan to stay away from that evil blood sausage next time I’m in town. Luckily there are plenty of other delicious Hungarian meals like goulash that call my name.
Now this is one I had a bit of trouble choking down and for me is probably the worst on my crazy European food list. Not so much for the taste however, but for its texture. Haggis is a mixture of sheep innards (primarily heart, liver & lungs) that are seasoned with onions, spices & and boiled into a paste-like consistency. Traditionally served in a sheep’s stomach, I had it as a chicken stuffing. I’m not usually a fan of anything in paté form (especially meat unless it’s duck), but Haggis was just plain weird! It was almost slimy as well as mushy. In all honesty, I can’t even describe how it tastes as I was so distracted by the texture. It is said to have a savoury nutty taste, but I didn’t get that at all… maybe I didn’t have it prepared properly? Though I don’t think I’d ever try it again.
Spain’s Angulas (Elver Eels)
Probably one of the more creepy-looking foods I’ve eaten, but surprisingly delicious! It was love at first bite and I had angulas every chance I could while in Spain. These little baby eels have a very mild taste, not fishy at all, often lightly sautéed in garlic before being served. When I first had it, they were served on some fresh bread with a tempura zucchini, but when served alone, a special wooden fork is given to you as the metal of a traditional fork can take away from the taste! As long as you can get past how they look, you’ll enjoy these tasty little morsels. While they can be bought in a grocery store, I advise against it. Fresh is better!
Iceland’s Hákarl (Fermented Shark)
Now while Iceland isn’t exactly mainland Europe, it’s a part of the Schengen area so I’m including it. Plus those Vikings ate some weird things!! Iceland’s traditional dish, fermented shark, consists of a sleeper shark that’s been prepared with a traditional fermenting process and then hung to dry for 4-5 months. It has a very recognizable ammonia scent, and boy can you smell this thing coming! The actual shark itself doesn’t have much taste, but it’s hard to choke down with the smell attacking your nostrils. I’d say this is definitely not for the faint of heart. Also, don’t let the picture fool you – the dish is about the size of the one you’d get for dipping sauce. When you have it, you’ll understand why!
Iceland’s Sviðasulta (Sheep Head Jelly)
Another odd dish to come out of the little island is Sviðasulta, or Sheep Head Jelly. About as appetizing as it sounds, it’s another traditional Icelandic dish that’s served during their traditional mid-winter celebration. Sviðasulta is made by taking the boiled meat from a sheep’s head and pressing it into moulds. This paté is another acquired taste I’d say, and one that I don’t really wish to. You can also have this delicacy in another form – the actual sheep’s head. Even though it’s served as is (eyeballs and all), the texture of the sheep head jelly is mainly what got to me. It’s easier to eat when eaten with turnip and the other fixings it was served with at Café Loki in Reykjavik.
Some good and some bad, but I think I’d have to try them all again one more time. Although the Haggis may be exempt from that list. They say your tastes change every seven years, and my tastes have definitely changed since I tried them. Maybe I’ll surprise myself and actually find a place in my heart for them!
What weird worldly foods have you tried? What other crazy European food do you think I should sample next time I’m there? I’d love to hear in a comment below!
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