One of the things I’m most excited for during my upcoming travels to South America is the array of food that I’ll get to experience, many of it for the first time. I’m already looking forward to making my foodiest (it’s a word alright!) friend Rachel seethe with jealousy over juicy Argentinean steaks swimming down my gullet in a sea of Malbec.
I’ve heard that in Peru, guinea pig can be found on the menu; it’s literal bubble and squeak (sorry). I am a big animal lover, and after this trip I am planning on going back to being a vegetarian – although I’ll live on more than crisp sandwiches unlike between years 2001-2004 when my appalling diet resulted in a hospital stay for a few days – but I figured I may as well go out with a bang. I’m already dreading the message from my friend who runs a guinea pig holiday home (I kid you not).
I’ve always been open-minded when it comes to food consumption, although I kinda wish I hadn’t been so gung-ho in Iceland when wolfing down some ‘kæster hákarl’. That’s rotten shark to you and me. The meat contains high levels of urea, which are pressed out of the body once the shark has been buried in sand and left for 12 weeks. Unsurprisingly, the end product tastes foul, unless you like the taste of pee. And apparently some folk do, but I quickly learned I’m not one of them.
This brings me on to the last sentence in my ‘About’ bio. I was on a tour of China with some fellow randoms when an Irishman in Beijing bet me €10 I wouldn’t eat a tarantula. Unfortunately I’m a sucker for a dare and I thought it might help cure me of my arachnophobia. Many years later, I’m disappointed to tell you that it did not. The street vendor started frying the eight-legged monster while telling us it would make me strong and warned me against eating the poisonous part.
Oddly enough, throughout my time in China I had really struggled to open the bottle of orange juice that was provided at breakfast each day. The morning after spidergeddon, however, the top popped off like a charm so perhaps that vendor knew what he was talking about after all. I didn’t take him up on his follow up offer of dog and cat though, instead I just watched while my friend plucked up the courage to eat a scorpion and tried not to think of the arachnid that was working it’s way through my digestive system.