Curious Delicacies from Around the World

Originally posted on May 04, 2022 3:00 pm
Updated on April 28, 2022 4:26 pm

The unique thing about New York City is that it’s the melting pot of America. A term coined in 1908, it still remains true to this day. What’s so special about having so many nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures in one spot is the opportunity to try different foods without going out of the city. When we travel, especially out of the country, one of the perks is getting to eat food that is different from ours, but that’s all localized with NYC.

Having all these foods from different cultures can also have one experiencing delicacies that they would normally have to go out of the country to try. A delicacy is dictionary defined as a rare or expensive food that is considered nice to eat. While the foods on this list are considered delicacies in these countries and cultures, they might be considered a little bit curious or difficult to eat for outsiders. However, if you’re a resident of NYC or are visiting, why not just go for it? The worst thing you can do is not like it. Plus, the convenience of these being in the city is something to be grateful for.

Balut

Photo Courtesy of Taste Atlas

This popular egg dish is extremely popular in Southeast Asia and especially the Philippines. It’s essentially an unhatched baby duck egg. Balut is “made” when a fertilized duck egg is incubated and the fetus starts to form. Experts say the best egg is incubated for 17-18 days. Once this time period is over, the egg is hard-boiled like a normal egg. Unlike the boiling situation of a normal egg, when balut is boiled, the liquids inside the egg turn into a sort of broth that gives it its flavor. Most people will eat this cooked, right after boiling for a warm broth, but it can also be eaten raw, which some prefer as well. Locals in the Philippines will eat balut as a street food or pair it with a drink. If you’re wanting to try some, Phil-Am Food Mart in Woodside, Queens has some to buy!

Raw Octopus

Photo Courtesy of Tastemade

Ethical reasons aside from eating an extremely intelligent animal, raw octopus is a fan-favorite delicacy in Korea. In Korea you can order raw octopus in certain restaurants, but the most common way is going to a fish market, selecting your octopus, and having it brought up to one of the many restaurants above or close to the market to be prepared and served. At least, that was my personal experience. The tentacles are the parts that are cut up and served, usually with different sauces for flavor. When you get the dish, the neurons in each tentacle are still alive which result in watching your food move. This is a dish that is not recommended if you’re squeamish about your food still being able to move, but it is definitely an experience to at least try it once. You can try it out at Sik Gaek, a Korean restaurant in Queens that is famous for its raw octopus.

Menudo

Photo Courtesy of Tablespoon

In Mexican cuisine, Menudo is a traditional soup made with the lining of a cow’s stomach (tripe). This dish takes a while to make, as the tripe needs to be boiled for several hours in order to get rid of its strong smell. Some say that the room can smell like a barnyard when the tripe is cooking, so the longer it boils, the less it smells. When it is prepared traditionally, the tripe is rinsed, boiled for three to four hours along with an onion to eliminate the odor, and then removed and cut into strips. The boiled tripe is then added to a broth made of oregano, red chili powder, lime juice, and hominy. With all the ingredients combined, it makes for a delicious soup that is hearty and filling. Tulcingo Del Valle in Manhattan has some to try.

Century Egg

Photo Courtesy of Master Class

This Chinese delicacy can be found in most Chinatown markets across the city. It’s a duck egg identified by its gray spotted shell, clearish black “whites”, and a dark green yolk. For people who are smelling it for the first time may say it has a strong sulfur smell. The outside is squishy and the yolk itself is mushier as it gets to the center. Chinese people usually prepare the egg like a side dish by slicing it up and mixing it with vinegar and soy sauce. It can be paired with congee, rice, or even eaten by itself. 

Gopchang

Photo Courtesy of 10Mag

As Korean BBQ makes its waves around the country, it takes an already well-deserved spot in NYC. But as an outsider wanting to try Kbbq for the first time, what do you order? Aside from the briskets, pork belly, and wraps emerges a hidden hero: gopchang.  Gopchang is beef intestines and is a popular go-to for bbq in Korea. When people think of intestines, the main worry they have is if it is clean. Don’t worry, it is definitely a safety protocol for Kbbq restaurants to see if the meat is clean. Like tripe, gopchang is a little chewy, but usually packed full of flavor. It helps that most Kbbq restaurants will provide sauces to dip your meat in, just in case you’re not willing to eat it straight off the grill. Gopchang Barbeque has Manhattan and Flushing locations.

Surströmming

Photo Courtesy of Routes North

This traditional Swedish fish consists of small Baltic herring that are caught, salted, and fermented before serving. When it’s served, it’s stored in a tin can, where it continues to ferment. It’s a Swedish delicacy that can be served during the Surströmming festival or just sharing a tin with your friends along with some beer. The best season to eat the fish is August through September. Since it’s fermented for so long, once the tin is opened, it can have a strong, pungent smell especially for those who are not used to it. However, the Swedes say it doesn’t taste as bad as it smells. In fact, people have described it to taste like a fishy blue cheese. And like blue cheese, it is definitely a delicacy that has acquired taste. These can be pretty pricey in the U.S. because they are imported. Bon Bon NYC has them for pickup and delivery (certain neighborhoods). 

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