When it comes to adventurous eating, it doesn't get much more adventurous than trying an international food delicacy. Cuisine is a product of its culture, and what we find unappetizing here is often considered savory elsewhere (and vice versa). An important part of these delicacies is the experience of eating them; with pufferfish in Japan, for instance, you could die from the poison, while sannakji (which some have called unethical) is octopus that's literally eaten alive. Even here in the United States, it's possible to find an unusual specialty called Rocky Mountain Oysters...which actually aren't oysters at all. Read on to discover more about this and other delicacies from around the world.
In Japan, the poisonous pufferfish comes with a warning
Daredevils only need try the poisonous pufferfish, or "fugu," the second-most dangerous vertebrate in the world (after the golden poison frog). That said, it's generally safe to consume at licensed restaurants where the chefs are trained to prepare it right (though deaths do still occur). The decadent dish is a staple at Zuboraya in Osaka, where the menu also includes fresh sushi and sashimi. Tsukiji Yamamoto, which boasts two Michelin stars, serves the delicacy as well. Family run for three generations, it also features menu illustrations of fugu drawn by its owner-chef.
In South Korea, Sannakji is a dish that fights for its life as you eat it
Many have tried octopus. But live octopus is another matter entirely. Sannakji is eaten while the tentacles are still squirming – a once-in-a-lifetime experience that many would probably prefer was a never-in-a-lifetime experience. Those who do try sannakji should be warned that, as with pufferfish, there's a danger: in this case, of choking on the octopus if it latches on to your throat. This highly unusual delicacy is found throughout South Korea, including Noryangjin Fish Market, the largest fish market in Seoul.
In the Philippines, Balut is both chicken and an egg
Balut, a Filipino specialty, answers the question of "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" with "why not have both?" This delicacy is a fertilized egg with the fetus of a chicken inside, sometimes bearing a beak, claws and some feathers. While offered at some fine Filipino restaurants, including the elegant Crisostomo chain throughout Manilla, balut is typically peddled by food vendors such as the popular (and cleverly named) Balut Eggspress. The protein-rich dish goes down best with a cold beer.
In Iceland, the hearts of puffins have long been a specialty
Gordon Ramsay once famously came under fire for eating this dish on TV. Yet in Iceland, where puffins are plentiful, it has long been a popular food. In the capital of Reykjavík, you can find it at restaurants including Þrir Frakkar and Tapas Barinn. Since puffins are endangered (and beloved), make sure to check that they were sustainably harvested, as they often are off the coast of Iceland's Westman Islands.
In the United States, Rocky Mountain Oysters definitely aren't what they sound like
If it sounds impossible for the Rocky Mountains to produce oysters, that's because it is. This dish is actually the testicles of bull calves (or, occasionally, pig or sheep). While this sounds inedible, when deep fried and served alongside cocktail sauce, it actually becomes surprisingly palatable. In Denver, where the dish is particularly popular, the rustic Buckhorn Exchange serves its version of Rocky Mountain Oysters with a spicy horseradish sauce, while The Fort favors a tangier sauce for adornment.