6 Bizarre Eating Rituals Around the World

Posted on June 7, 2010 by

There are so many aspects of travel I love, among which food plays one of the most important roles. My lust for gastronomy of all sorts brings me around the world, sampling quirky eats and at times, bizarre wriggly bites. From roasted guinea pig to tender pigeon meat, I’ve tasted my way around the world. This week’s sponsored post takes a look at some of the most bizarre eating rituals  around the globe and shows us how gastronomy is reinvented in various corners of the earth.

Vegetarian festival in Phuket, ThailandFlickr photo by Binder.donedat

Traveling gives you a chance to see the world, explore new cultures, and gather new experiences that will challenge your preconceptions. People from all corners of the earth have their own eating habits, beliefs and rituals, some of which are pretty weird – you have been warned!

1. Blood Drinking in Kenya

blood drinking in KenyaFlickr photo by Shortshot

In the West, cows are used primarily for producing either beef or milk. In Africa, cows have always provided a different kind of sustenance. Drinking the blood of cows historically helped travelers cross vast tracts of desert when water and food was in short supply. In places like Kenya, the Masai (also named Maasai) warriors still follow the ritual of blood drinking, as a delicacy mixed with milk or directly from the veins of the beasts.

2. Phuket Vegetarian Festival in Thailand

clip_image006Flickr Photo by Binder.donedat

The Vegetarian Festival on the island of Phuket takes place each year with locals abstaining from meat and observing holy rituals to bring luck for the rest of the year. Aesthetic displays such as walking over hot coals and inserting all manner of bladed objects into the cheeks are done as part of the spiritual cleansing. Not for the faint of heart.

3. Eating Deadly Fish in Japan

clip_image008Flickr photo by rc!

The Japanese pufferfish, or fugu, is one of the most poisonous foods in the world. Japanese chefs train for years to prepare the fish properly in order to remove the deadly tetrodotoxin, for which there is no known antidote. However, chefs aspire to leave just enough toxin in the fish to leave a tingling sensation in the mouth, whilst not enough to kill a person. An acquired taste for sure.

4. Burping in Egypt

clip_image010Flickr photo by a shadow of my future self

Whilst belching in most of the Western world is considered rude and ill-mannered, burping in Egypt is the highest compliment a guest can pay to remark on the quality of the food prepared before them. When visiting Egypt, be sure to gulp down plenty of cola or other fizzy drinks to show your full appreciation for the meal.

5. Meditating with Magic Mushrooms in Siberia

clip_image012Flickr photo by Steve Weaver

The Koryak people of Siberia have an unusual custom of combining hallucinogenic mushrooms with urine as part of a religious ritual which allows them to meditate and communicate with the spirits. The mushrooms are ingested as a ceremonial “entheogen”, and tribesmen will drink their own urine to sustain the intoxicating effects of the poisonous fungi.

6. Clearing Your Plate in China

clip_image014Flickr photo by Wootang01

In Chinese culture it is considered rude to finish everything you are given to eat. Doing so is an indication that the host has not provided you with enough food to eat. To avoid such embarrassment, always leave some rice at the end of the meal to indicate that you have enjoyed your meal, but that you are indeed full.

Sources: Vagabondish and Bukisa.com.

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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is the co-founder of WildJunket. As a professional travel writer with a special interest in offgrid destinations and adventure travel, she scours through the world in search for a slice of undiscovered paradise. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Guatemala, swam with sealions in the Galapagos and built a school in Tanzania.

16 Responses to “6 Bizarre Eating Rituals Around the World”

  1. Dina June 6, 2010 8:56 pm #

    Man… I might have insulted many Chinese people! I hope Chinese outside China are less strict about it!

  2. Migration Mark June 7, 2010 7:43 am #

    Loving these rituals. I have seen the Masai in Kenya poke the neck of the cow to drink some of the fresh blood. Some Kenyans (and other East Africans) also drink camels blood.

    The Chinese ritual of clearing the plate is a fantastic excuse to keep on eating and eating and eating!

    • admin June 7, 2010 4:20 pm #

      I’ve talked to Masais in Tanzania but never seen them drinking fresh blood out of the cow, must be interesting! And yes, it’s not just the Chinese, we Singaporeans also have the practice of clearing our plates – we sure can’t stop eating after!

  3. Ryan June 7, 2010 8:26 am #

    I have been to japan twice and lucky enough to have tried 'Blowfish', and im still here! the chefs and food in general are amazing however if you dont like fish then you may want to take a packed lunch

    • Nellie June 9, 2010 10:57 am #

      Wow so you've tried blowfish. Boy, must be scary! Is it expensive to eat it in Japan? How much did it cost? I'm curious, it must come with a hefty price since the chefs who handle it have to be extremely careful and skilful.

  4. Phil June 7, 2010 5:44 pm #

    None of those sound as horrible as "andouilles" – the world's most disgusting sausage, made in France. Smells and tastes utterly disgusting, vomit-makingly, stomach retchingly bad. Also avoid its little brother "andouillette". The nearest translation is "chitterling sausage" but that doesn't describe the appaling taste and aroma.

    • Nellie June 8, 2010 3:34 pm #

      Wow seriously, Ive never heard of it. What exactly is it made of? Where does it get its smell and taste from? Ah youve got me interested…

  5. Phil June 8, 2010 5:01 pm #

    I'm not sure you really want to know … you know that natural sausage skins are made of intestines? Well, what comes out of intestines smells like an andouille. Traditional French andouille is composed primarily of the intestines and stomach of a pig.

    • Nellie June 9, 2010 4:58 pm #

      Yeh I saw a documentary once on how sausages were made – with intestines and all. Ahh stomach of a pig, hey thats pretty popular back in Singapore where Im originally from. Im sure this andouille in France wouldnt scare me off, but lets not say anything before I try it! Right, shall go check if I can get any of it here in Spain!

  6. Emily June 15, 2010 3:07 pm #

    How wild! The burping thing cracks me up–I had no idea that there was a culture that actually appreciated that! Acid reflux sufferers, rejoice! :) The puffer fish thing also amazes me. I can't imagine risking my life just to eat some fish!

    • Nellie June 16, 2010 2:32 pm #

      Me neither, the puffer fish better taste heavenly, if I have to risk my life for it!

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