FOREIGN FOOD: WHAT KILLS YOU

by missfootloose on October 9, 2010 · 38 comments

in And So It Goes, exotica, Expat life, Food

As an expat or a traveler do you worry about the food in foreign countries?  About what to eat or not to eat?  What is healthy, what is not?

Insalate di polpo, Italian octopus salad, is delicious

Photo by someone who calls herself supercalifunkysexy

Well, research studies are out and the final result is below.  Miss Footloose apologizes if you have already heard about this on the evening news, but it is important, so she feels it is worth passing along.

WHAT TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT, IS THAT THE QUESTION?

The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

On the other hand, the French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

The French and Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

Conclusion:

Eat & drink what you like. It’s speaking English that kills you.

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So just learn Japanese, or French or Italian, and then go ahead and  drink plenty of wine,  eat paté de foie gras to your heart’s content, and possibly try out some of the these delicacies:

Photo by Z Andrei

The above is a fruit, as you may have guessed, classified as a citrus fruit.  It’s called Buddha’s Hand, so you should be safe.

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Photo by Jacqueline w

These, dear readers, are barnacles, and apparently they are on the menu in the Azores, Portugal.  You’re given a little fork with which to pry out the meat from the shells.

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Photo by Arria Belli

Does this look scary?  Well, it’s actually very delicious.  It’s a fruit found in South East Asia and the round hairy balls grow in clusters like grapes.  We had them in Indonesia and our daughters loved eating them.

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And if you are really brave, you can give these a try:

Photo by Dax Mairead

I’m sorry to do this to you but I could not resist offering this picture to you for your viewing pleasure.  No, I have not tried these. The closest I’ve come to a scorpion was a big live one, coming right at me on a narrow path as I was walking toward the beach at night in West Africa.  I saw him in the light of my flashlight and decided to turn back and get out of his way.  I didn’t know I could have roasted him and eat him.  One lives and one learns.

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What have been your challenges in the food and diet department while living in foreign countries?  Did it bother you not to have familiar foods?  Was it difficult to use the locally available foods in your cooking routines?  Any funny stories?

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

maya October 9, 2010 at 1:47 am

I enjoyed your post, and agree eat, drink and learn another language!
I love to cook, so when ever I get a craving for something from home I can usually whip up a meal that will keep the homesickness away. Fortunately, there is a store in Adelaide (our current home town) that sells all kinds of chile which is important to me since I am a Native New Mexican that grew up in chile.

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:05 am

Once you’re hooked on chillies it is hard to do without. I learned about spicy food eating Indian curries in Kenya, and that was the beginning of the love affair. Australia’s cuisine is not of the hot variety, but I’m glad you can get your fix in Adelaide!

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Rambles with Reese October 9, 2010 at 5:48 am

Awesome conclusion! You might have something there!

Speaking of Octopus….I went to an Osteria last night and ate an amazing dish of cooked octopus – yummmm!

Cheers! Love reading your posts!

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:13 am

Thanks for the compliment, Reese. We’ve been to Italy a number of times and love everything octopus!

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MartyrMom October 9, 2010 at 9:06 am

Those barnacles look like too much trouble to me. the Buddha’s Hand….well that looked like some fried stuff but I see it needs to be peeled?? i think I’ll definitely stick to the foods I Know. Not much of an adventurer in that department (although when I ever tried smoked eel I loved it!)

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:14 am

You never know what you might learn to like when you get into trying new and strange foods! That said, I understand the barnacles are more trouble than they’re worth.

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Mireille October 9, 2010 at 11:32 am

Well, the hairy fruit I had lots of times in Thailand and it is really yummy… called rambutan. And I also got some deep fried grass hoppers, very crunchy, not to great looking but not to bad tasting…

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:23 am

I’ve not come across grasshoppers, but I’d be willing to try!

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Nancy Atkinson October 9, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Speaking English is what kills you… I’m still ‘digesting” that fact.

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:50 am

You learn something new every day. If you have an open mind, you never know what might come wandering in.

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guyana gyal October 9, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Wow, just this afternoon I was thinking about this very thing, what people are afraid to eat or will eat happily.

I know people who’d experiment with meat yet are scared to eat strange fruits and vegetables.

I feel safe with fruits and veggies.

Rambutan tastes like lychee, almost; it’s sweeeet slurp.

Buddha’s hand [the fruit shown here], looks like chicken foot, haha. But if it’s a fruit, I’ll try it.

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:26 am

I always feel people miss something when they don’t try new foods. There are some wonderful foods out there in the world, and I figure that if other people eat them and don’t die, I probably won’t either. That said, it is hard sometimes to overcome some feelings and reactions to certain really weird stuff.

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Judy October 10, 2010 at 5:45 am

Having seriously neglected my blog for over a year, I passed by to find your comment and new blog address!
Great to be in touch again. Think that I might move too as there are better sites than Blogger these days.
Will let you know if I do. 🙂

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:51 am

Glad you are back. My move to WordPress caused me to lose lots of subscribers.

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Madame DeFarge October 10, 2010 at 1:57 pm

I ate duck gizzards in France and they were delicious. Probably the extend of my adventures though. I am strictly domestic in my eating habits.

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

Oh, do try something new once in a while! It’s an adventure and you might discover something truly delicious! When my mother was a child in Holland, she got an orange for Christmas (from the church, I believe). They never got oranges because they were poor. Imagine she would not have tried it!

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Candice October 10, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Hahahaha, love the conclusion.

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:47 am

So now stop talking English! And eat your heart out.

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Sherrie Petersen October 11, 2010 at 1:28 am

I’m mostly vegetarian so most of this stuff would never pass my lips! But just to be safe, I’ll revert back to Spanish since apparently it’s English that kills 🙂

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:48 am

And when you speak Spanish, you’ll magically get adventurous and try new foods 😉

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Barbara October 11, 2010 at 3:36 am

As a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines (a looong time ago), I was frequently invited to big parties, where they customarily served whole roast pig, which was delicious and I never hesitated to eat it (except once when it wasn’t cooked enough and once when they hadn’t really shaved off all the bristles). One of the side dishes was a problem for me, though: blood soup. It’s made by grinding up the intestines and cooking them in the blood. The consistency is about like chile, and honestly it doesn’t taste bad, but I just didn’t like it because I knew what was in it. But I ate quite a lot of it over 2 years, because Filipinos are very hospitable and always offer food, and it’s incredibly rude to refuse food.

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:33 am

Thank you for that great story! In many places it is rude to refuse food, which can be a problem sometimes when you know it is not safe. Blood soup would not appeal to me either. When I spent some time in Finland, I learned to eat blood pancakes. You bought the (cow) blood in the supermarket, in cartons, just like milk . . . Very nutritious, supposedly.

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Mara October 11, 2010 at 3:47 am

I’m of the opinion to eat what the locals eat: they aren’t dropping dead by the wayside, so no reason for me to drop dead!

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:35 am

That’s my take on it. However, once in a while you come across something that just is so unappealing (read disgusting) that it’s a problem. Of course we all have our own disgusting-levels.

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Welshcakes Limoncello October 11, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Absolutelky right. I’d try most things but I think I’d give the roast scorpions a miss!

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:37 am

Roast scorpions are in the “hope not to have to eat” category for me.

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MaryWitzl October 11, 2010 at 6:36 pm

I love squid and octopus, but I’m not crazy about most meats, especially if they’re organ meat of any kind. The only really strange thing I’ve ever eaten was grasshoppers, and that was entirely by mistake.

My husband can make us all lose our appetites regaling us with stories of fried blood in China and soup with offal, including something very soft and puffy, like lungs, served in an old tire in Sudan.

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:40 am

Oh, yikes, Mary: “something very soft and puffy, like lungs, served in an old tire in Sudan.”

I so love your comments! You always have something fun to make my day 😉

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GutsyWriter October 12, 2010 at 10:26 pm

I’m reading a memoir, “Almost French” by Sarah Turnbull. She is Australian and married a French man. She interviewed Alain Ducasse a 3 star Michelin chef and said every dish had truffles. She had never tasted them and described them as tasting like tree bark.

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:41 am

Truffles taste like tree bark? Was she in the habit of eating tree bark? I’m going to read that book; I have it on a list somewhere.

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Haze-Dweller October 17, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Truffles taste to me like truffles, I’m not sure there’s anything else remotely like them.
Though like most people I’ve never eaten tree bark, must be rather chewy.

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maria altobelli October 14, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Haggis was something that did not appeal to me, but I was a guest and ate it. As it was cooking, I figured it wasn’t something that would go on my favorites list so I just fried up LOTS of onion and garlic in olive oil. Enough to almost cover the taste. I love your conclusion since I know Italian and like red wine.

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:46 am

I’ve eaten haggis a number of times in various places when celebrating Robert Burns Day. I even cooked it once, in Indonesia, because there were was only one Scotsman and the women in our expat group all helped out with the festivities. I assume our recipe was not totally authentic. It only basically contained groud beef and oats, and we cooked it in casserole dishes, not pig bladders, or whatever it is that they traditionally used.

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missfootloose October 16, 2010 at 9:53 am

Thanks everybody for you comments! I have replied to each one individually and you can see them all on my blog.

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edj October 24, 2010 at 2:18 am

(Sorry I’m so late with this. I’m still working through my blogroll after a couple of weeks’ absence)
In Mauritania, we watched them slaughter the goat, slide the intestines between two fingers to clean them, pop them into a pot of boiling water, sans salt, and then serve them to us an hour or so later. Ick. Intestines are chewy and rubbery and hard to digest! Which makes sense.

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