Backpacking is all about new experiences. Some of those can be amazing and others a little weird but you’re usually glad you tried them. It’s the same when it comes to food.
Sure, you’ll find some tasty ‘normal’ foods to try in South America, but the fun comes when you start trying an appetiser or two a few degrees outside of your comfort zone.
Here are the unique and bizarre dishes you have to try on a South American trip, whether you actually want to or not. Consider it a story to tell the grandkids when they won’t eat their fish fingers.
It’s important to start the day with a good breakfast. Back home that might mean a hearty helping of porridge or a slice of toast, but in Bogota it’s changua.
This brekkie fave is a big bowl of all the usual breakfast items you’re used to… but mixed together. That’s the milk, eggs and, a stale piece of bread. Why feed it to the birds when you can have the hard slice yourself?
Goat stomach (Buchada)
This Brazilian dish is a staple in the northern state of Ceara. Like a creepier cousin of haggis, the goat stomach is stuffed with a few more baby goat organs then mixed with blood before it’s cooked. Kind of like that bird in a bird in a bird thing everyone was talking about for Christmas a few years ago, but a little billy goat instead.
If you had one as a pet you may want to skip ahead. In Peru, they rear the cuy guinea pig purely to be eaten. Once they’re big enough, guinea pigs are served whole, head and all, on a plate accompanied with a side of veg.
Tacos with a twist. In Oaxaca you mix up your meats with guacamole and add a dash of salsa, except that instead of chicken or pork, Oaxacans stuff the shells with grasshoppers.
Sticking with the twisted taco theme, some Mexicans like to add a little fungus to their shells. You could be excused for thinking that fungus was only something found on feet, but in Mexico you’ll see it on corn. The black and rotting cobs are then served up as Mexican delicacies and used as a taco filler.
Nothing beats a good platter of brie, camembert and stilton, and in Nicaragua they feel the same way. The only difference is, if you’re served up this particular platter in the Central American country expect to see a maggot or two making their way through the middle. Cheese worms are a delicacy here.
Coracao de Frango
You won’t find this one on the menu at Nando’s: chicken hearts. Don’t be surprised if you’re offered up a fistful of seasoned chicken hearts for a casual snack in Brazil – could be time to learn the Portuguese for ‘no thanks’.
Anticuchos de Corazon
Why only stick to chicken hearts when there are cow hearts too? In Peru they serve these skewered along with a boiled potato and hot sauce. Saturday night kebab – Peruvian style
Sopa de Mondongo
Tomato soup, chicken soup, boring – how about tripe soup? This Colombian dish is popular in Bogota where beef tripe is mixed with sausage and veg and served as the ultimate belly warmer.
This Uruguayan treat sounds much like a cake grandma would make. It’s got sugar, raisins and a bit of nutmeg, but instead of making a fruit loaf, in Uruguay they then add blood to the mix. This makes a sweet sausage that’s apparently the ideal barbecue dessert.
Cazuela de llama
Just a regular wholesome stew, this Argentinian dish swaps out more traditional meats for llama. If you’re watching the waistline as you travel this is actually a good option – llama is a whole lot leaner than other meats.
Not just ants, big booty ants. Minus the heads, wings and pincers, hormigas culona ants are frequently served as a crunchy, salty snack in Colombia.
When it comes to snails the French aren’t the only ones who enjoy cooking the slimy creatures. In Chile, snails are in season during the summer and are usually found caked in mayo and served in a salad.
Ubre asada is a classic Chilean dish, literally meaning ‘chargrilled udder’. Minus the milk the cow’s udder has a spongy texture and a subtle flavour said to really hit the spot.
Wash all these scrummy dishes down with a South American beer, aka corn and saliva. This particular beer is made by men who chew up a load of corn and then spit it out. The soggy kernels are then left to ferment before they’re used to brew up a glass of the good stuff.