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    August 2017 Culinary Depot Blog Posts

    2017 America's Best Fall Food Festivals

    Written by: J. Vigotsky

     

    With the official start of fall less than a month away, it’s about time to start planning trips to fall food festivals. Perfect for enjoying delicious food with your friends and family, America’s fall food festivals celebrate harvests and tradition while also featuring scenic autumn backdrops. Whether you look forward to attending several festivals or only have time for one, every food enthusiast deserves to experience the amazing atmosphere that accompanies these amazing celebrations. The following list contains just a few of America’s best 2017 fall food festivals.

     

    New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival – Laconia, NH – October 13th & 14th

     

    Best Fall Food Festivals in America for 2017 - New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival

     

    Formerly known as the Keene Pumpkin Festival, this yearly gathering was founded in 1991 and routinely attracts over 40,000 attendees. With more than 80 food and craft vendors, festival-goers have plenty of fall food offerings to choose from. The festival also includes live bands, races, haunted attractions, games, and rides. But the event’s main attraction is the lighting of jack-o-lanterns.

    After setting the Guinness World Record for number of lit jack-o-lanterns an astounding eight separate times, the Pumpkin Festival was finally dethroned in 2006 when a public jack-o-lantern lighting ceremony in Boston Common resulted in 29,952 jack-o-lanterns being lit. It wasn’t until 2013 that the Keene Pumpkin Festival recaptured its title by lighting an unfathomable 30,128 jack-o-lanterns.

    While the festival took place in the college town of Keene, New Hampshire from 1991-2014, the Keene City Council voted not to welcome back the festival following riots caused by college students. As a result, the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival now calls Laconia home.

     

    National Apple Harvest Festival – Adams County, PA – October 7-8 & 14-15, 8AM-6PM

     

    best fall food festivals in america - national apple harvest festival

     

    There’s simply not enough time in a day—or even a weekend—for all the fun at the National Apple Harvest Festival. Held rain or shine in scenic South Central Pennsylvania, this celebration of all things apples features apple jellies, apple syrup, applesauce, candied apples, apple cider, apple pies, and more. If you’re looking to eat something a little more substantial than an apple-based dish, barbecue like chicken, pork, and ribeye steak sandwiches are also available.

    Hay rides, petting zoos, and puppet shows provide fun for the whole family. With over 300 arts and crafts vendors, there’s something for everyone at the National Apple Harvest Festival. Car buffs will be glad to know a variety of antique automobiles will be on display.

    Kids under 12 gain free admittance to the National Apple Harvest Festival, and adults are charged a very reasonable $10 fee. 89% of proceeds go to charitable funds, while the remaining 11% are kept in reserve for emergencies and to fund next year’s event.

     

    Harvest on the Harbor – Portland, ME – October 19-22

     

    best fall food festivals in america for 2017 - harvest on the harbor

     

    The Harvest on the Harbor is a multi-day festival that features several unique eating experiences. With tickets to each event sold separately, the festival gives attendees the freedom to choose exactly what they want to attend. The ‘Flavors of Maine’ tasting event lets diners sample a variety of offerings from distinguished local chefs in a more formal environment, while the ‘Market on the Harbor’ experience lets participants casually taste food and sip drinks from an assortment of tables.

    New for this year, the ‘Harvest Crawl’ is ideal for those who want to taste delicious food while also experiencing local bars and restaurants. Other events include the ‘Maine Lobster Chef of the Year,’ a professionally judged competition that allows you to taste some of the best lobster in Maine. And of course—the ‘Harvest Happy Hour,’ combines local food with spirits from members of the Maine Craft Distiller’s Guild.

     

    Warrens Cranberry Festival – Warrens, Wisconsin – September 22-24

     

    best fall food festivals in america for 2017 - warrens cranberry festival

     

    Kicking off festival season on the day of the fall equinox, the Warrens Cranberry Festival features food, shopping, contests, tours, parades, and more! The festivities go from 7AM-6PM each day, with the weekend culminating in a Sunday parade that features marching bands and drill teams. Food offerings include unique treats from about 100 different booths. Cranberry-related dishes include pancakes with cranberry syrup, cranberry cream puffs, deep-fried cranberries on sticks, and—of course—classic cranberries. And for those who aren’t crazy for cranberries, chicken, steak, burgers, pizza, and other classics are also available.  

    With a flea market, farm market, and arts & crafts section, the Warrens Cranberry Festival venders offer a wide variety of items. Marsh tours are another popular aspect of the festival. Lasting about one hour, each tour gives attendees an up-close look at how cranberries are grown. Since the tours are so popular, it’s advised that festival-goers purchase tickets when they go on sale at 7:30 AM Friday and Saturday. The Warrens Cranberry Festival is run by a non-profit organization that strives to improve the welfare of Warrens citizens by donating proceeds to a variety of local causes.

     

    Sonoma County Harvest Fair – Santa Rosa, CA – October 6-8

     

    best fall food festivals in america for 2017 - sonoma county harvest fair

     

    Celebrating its 43rd year, the Sonoma County Harvest Fair celebrates is the largest regional wine competition in the U.S. Treating attendees to the local area’s best wine, beer, and cider, the fair features over 300 distinct wines—which compete against each other in a taste-off. Each wine is judged blind by some of the most renowned tasters in the country. Award winning wines are available for tasting by attendees at the Grand Harvest Tasting, while gold medal winning wines will be available for purchase at a discount.

    For those who’d rather eat than drink, a food competition showcases some of Sonoma County’s best artisan chefs. Judged by a panel of blind tasters, award winning dishes are paired with drinks and served in the Tasting Pavilion throughout the 3-day festival. The schedule of events at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair also includes seminars, workshops, chef demonstrations, wine tasting seminars, and the Harvest Awards Dinner.

    If you’re looking for a little more physical activity during your festival celebration, team up with a partner and vie for grape stomping supremacy. It’s $40 per team to enter the World Championship Grape Stomp, but the winning team receives a cool $1500. If you’re not feeling so confident about your team’s grape-stomping skills, focus your effort on creating uniforms. The best-dressed team always receives a special prize.  

     

    These are just a few of the larger, more popular national food festivals taking place this fall. If none of these events are within traveling distance, be sure to look out for local county fairs. While they might be smaller in scope, they still have the same celebratory atmosphere that makes the festivals on this list so popular.  

     

    fall foliage road

    Maintaining a Commercial Refrigeration Unit During the Summer

    Written by: J. Vigotsky

     

    maintaining a commercial refrigeration unit during summer heat

     

    While the summer heat is ideal for pool parties and beach vacations, it can also wreak havoc on commercial refrigeration equipment. If a refrigerator or freezer has an issue and stops working properly, the results can be catastrophic for any restaurant or foodservice. Luckily, there are several steps restaurant operators can take to ensure their refrigeration units remain working optimally throughout the hot summer months:

     

    Proper Maintenance

     

    maintaining a commercial refrigeration unit - proper refrigeration maintenance

     

    Performing proper preventative maintenance throughout the year will help prepare your commercial refrigerator or freezer to handle the hot summer weather. Checking the unit’s interior temperature to make sure it’s within proper range is essential. If your refrigerator or freezer has a higher temperature than normal, it could be indicative of a faulty unit.

    Maintenance also entails checking the discharge, liquid, and suction lines of your refrigerator’s condensing unit. Thermostats and pressure controls should always be working properly, and refrigerant levels should be routinely checked. Constantly needing to add more refrigerant to your unit is a sign that there’s likely a leak. If not repaired, the compressor can become overheated and potentially incur damage.

    Be sure to thoroughly clean and lubricate motors. Consistently cleaning coils and drain pans ensures your equipment can remove unwanted heat, which will help keep the unit’s pressure and temperature low.

    This video shows how to properly clean the condenser of a True TRCB Chef Base Table: 

     

    Alarm Monitoring

     

    alarm monitoring - refrigerator temperature alarm

     

    If a refrigeration system fails, there’s usually only about four hours before its food perishes. Outfitting your commercial refrigeration equipment with an alarm ensures you’ll be alerted if your units malfunction. Monitoring suction pressures, compressor run status, coil temperatures, and energy usage, these alarms protect restaurant owners’ investments while also providing peace of mind.

     

    Location

     

    maintaining a commercial refrigeration unit during summer - location

     

    Freezers and refrigerators should be positioned in cooler spots that are away from exterior walls and windows. If units are placed too close to the exterior, they can be negatively affected by heat that comes in via poorly insulated windows or walls.

     

    Power Interruptions

     

    maintaining a commercial refrigeration unit during the summer - power interruptions

     

    During especially hot summer days, some power companies cut back on the power provided to your restaurant or food service. Since compressors require high current to start a compressor, this power reduction can be problematic. The compressor’s motor winding can falter, which can lead to a complete electrical failure of the unit. If brown outs are common or lights tend to dim in your building, contact your power service and raise your concerns.

     

    Keeping The Doors Closed

     

    maintaining a commercial refrigeration unit during the summer - keeping the doors closed

     

    While leaving your cooler doors open for deliveries might be convenient, it also puts extra stress on your refrigeration unit. If humidity and temperatures are high enough, your system will be at risk for leaks and damaged oil. Make sure to minimize the time doors are left open during summer months.

     

    Caring for your commercial refrigeration unit takes time and energy. But if you follow this list of steps, your freezer or refrigerator should be ready for even the hottest heat wave.

     

    maintaining a commercial refrigeration unit during the summer - iceberg

     

    How to Cater a Football Tailgate Party

     Written by: J. Vigotsky

     

    how to cater a football tailgate party

     

    With the start of football season only a few weeks away, a palpable excitement can be felt growing throughout the country. Whether we’re talking about high school, college, or pro football, fans everywhere are anxiously awaiting that first game. Thousands of spectators will flock to stadiums, all in the name of supporting their local team.

    While there’s no denying these fans love the sport of football, they’re almost certainly looking forward more than just the 60-minute game. Many people will gather in fields and parking to tailgate with friends and family for the hours leading up to each game. Eating, drinking, and playing games to their heart’s desire, these large groups often take great pride in preparing their own food. But not all of them do. If you your foodservice is in a college town, NFL city, or anywhere in Texas, the football season presents an opportunity to expand the scope of your businesses and bring in new customers.

     

    Food Offerings

     

    how to cater a football tailgate party - tailgate food

     

    Tailgaters often take their food choices almost as seriously as they take their football fandom. As a result, it’s your responsibility to offer everything they could possibly want. As long as your specialty is barbecue, you should be alright. Offering a menu that includes steak, burgers, chicken, pork, ribs, sausage, hot dogs, and chili is will help ensure all parties have food they can salivate over. For side dishes, consider offering corn, fries, onion rings, nachos, and maybe even a small salad—as blasphemous as that may sound.

     

    The Right Equipment

     

    how to cater a football tailgate party - the right equipment

     

    If you want to feed dozens or even hundreds of people at a time, you’re going to need the proper restaurant equipment. Your equipment choices should depend on whether you plan to cook on site or prepare food in a commercial kitchen beforehand and transport it. For cooking onsite, one or several portable outdoor grills can help you maintain a rapid pace of food output. Propane-powered units are ideal, as they don’t require hookup to external gas or electrical sources. Storage and transport items like ice transport buckets and insulated food carriers  are also necessary to ensure food remains preserved at an ideal temperature. Other essential tailgating tools include turners, gas steam tables, cold food tables, and soup wells. If you’re planning to prepare and serve alcoholic beverages, bar blenders will also be necessary. A large truck or van will help safely and efficiently transport equipment.

    Foodservice operators that prefer to prepare meals in the comfort of their own commercial kitchens would benefit from insulated food holding and warming equipment. These units help keep prepared food hot while its transported and waiting to be consumed by hungry football fans.

     

    Catering to Every Need

     

    how to cater a football tailgate party - cornhole

     

    Football fans expect more than just delicious food and refreshing drinks from a tailgate experience. People are there have fun, so part of your job will be helping ensure everyone has a good time. By going the extra mile and supplying fans with popular tailgating games like Cornhole, KanJam, and Ladder Toss, you’ll give customers every reason to have you cater future home games. Make sure to bring footballs too, as fans will likely want to toss a pigskin while they work up their appetites. Each tailgating game you bring can be branded with the name of your foodservice, enabling you to achieve further notoriety among eaters.

    For owners that really want to spoil fans, make an unforgettable impression by bringing a booming sound system for music or an enormous TV so fans can watch other football games. It’s even feasible to bring both, and put the TV on mute while the speaker plays music.

     

    Thousands of Hungry Fans

     

    how to cater a football tailgate party - michigan stadium

     

    Universities like Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Tennessee LSU, Alabama, and Texas have football stadiums that can hold 100,000+ spectators. Consequently, football games being held at these and other similarly sized stadiums attract no shortage of hungry fans—a large of portion which will be tailgating before the games. NFL stadiums are a generally bit smaller than the behemoths found in college football. Regardless, NFL games remain great candidates for catering tailgates. High school football games are also excellent options—especially in Texas, where many stadiums have seating capacities that exceed 15,000.

     

    Marketing

     

    how to cater a football tailgate party - flyer marketing

     

    Spreading word of a new business offering is never easy. Luckily, the customers you’re trying to reach are all fans of the local team. If you want to reach tailgaters at college games, marketing on college campuses is a fantastic way to contact your desired market. You can also hand out fliers at the entrance to games, where you’ll rapidly come into contact with thousands of potential in customers. Online forums and social media accounts associated with teams also provide a medium by which you can reach a multitude of fans. Another option is to hire an ex-player to help promote your business. Once fans hear that one of their heroes made an appearance at a tailgate of yours, they’ll be lining up to book your catering service.

     

    Labor

     

    how to cater a football tailgate party - tailgate chef

     

    Especially if you’re going to be preparing meals on-site, it’s of paramount importance to employ experienced workers who won’t be distracted by the game day excitement. Your chefs should be capable of consistently cooking large quantities of food to perfection while also wearing a smile when interacting with tailgaters. Knowledge of the local football team certainly wouldn’t hurt either, as it would only further endear your chefs to passionate tailgaters.

     

    Local Regulations

     

    how to cater a college football tailgate party - police tailgate

     

    Before committing to any business plan, check your local bylaws to see what’s allowed and what’s not. Each state and county have their own rules as to what’s acceptable, and some locations might not be as conducive for operating a successful tailgate catering business.

     

    Only a Few Days per Year

     

    how to cater a football tailgate party - georgia tailgate

     

    Since football seasons are so short, foodservice owners have minimal time to capitalize on the opportunity to earn new business. But by showing customers that you can consistently deliver delicious food and outstanding customer service, you’ll be more likely to be hired for other catering jobs throughout the year. This also means that your business’s performance on a few select Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the football season can potentially have a significant impact on your business. Much like the players on the field, how you respond to that pressure will determine your success. Just make sure to prepare thoroughly, work hard, and always wear a smile.

    5 of The World’s Most Expensive Restaurants

    5 of The World’s Most Expensive Restaurants

     

    Dining out at a fancy restaurant is always a treat. Between the food, ambiance, and service, it’s easy to understand why people pay such a premium for these fleeting experiences. But while most diners try to keep their meals on the more affordable side, other patrons have no such concern. With an unlimited budget, any and all restaurants are options. This post details 5 of the most expensive restaurants in the world and sheds some light on why they’re all held in such high regard.

     

    SubliMotion – Ibiza, Spain

     

    world's most expensive restaurants - sublimotion

     

    Located within the Hard Rock Hotel in Ibiza, SubliMotion is the undisputed priciest restaurant in the world. Featuring an assortment of lights, props, and projections that put on a virtual reality show throughout each meal, this revolutionary restaurant seats a maximum of 12 diners at a little over $2,000 per person. For the insane price tag, diners receive a whopping 20-course meal compliments of double-Michelin starred chef and owner Paco Roncero. Each meal is prepared using molecular gastronomy, which has been dubbed by Business Insider as the future of cooking. Combining science with cooking, molecular gastronomy enables chefs to create dishes that were previously thought to be nothing but pipe dreams. For example: hamburger buns made entirely from egg whites.

    The entire SubliMotion experience lasts about three hours, and diners are routinely awed by the light shows on display via the walls and tabletop. The restaurant primarily serves Haute cuisine—food that was born out of France’s high society meal preferences in 17th century. A winner of the Hospitality Awards Best Innovation Award in 2014, Sublimotion continues to change its menu offerings each season to keep the experience fresh for repeat diners. Unfortunately, the restaurant is only open for the summer months. So if you want to experience the life-changing meal experience provided by SubliMotion, you better go soon.

     

    Masa – New York, New York

     

    5 of the world's most expensive restaurant - Masa new york

     

    This Japanese restaurant specializes in sushi and can be found on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. Although its prices pale in comparison to SubliMotion, Masa meals still average an outrageous $595 per person. Fortunately, tips are not expected or accepted as a result of traditional Japanese customs.

    Owner and Chef Masa Takayama operates Omakes style—which means there’s no menu, and he makes all the choices. Utilizing seasonal ingredients in addition to exotic items like Kobe Beef, Takayama flies the majority of his fish in Japan. He also documents customers’ individual reactions to his meals, enabling him to further cater to their personal tastes in the future.

    An in-house $260,000 sushi bar is made of rare hinoki wood that’s been imported from Japan. Diners who wish to reserve a spot at the sushi bar are recommended to do so at least three weeks in advance. Frequented by the rich and famous, Masa was named the Most Expensive Restaurant in the U.S. by Forbes from 2005-2009. The restaurant also received an impressive three Michelin stars, making it the first Japanese restaurant in the U.S. to accomplish that feat.

     

    Ithaa Undersea Restaurant – Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

     

    5 of the World's Most Expensive Restaurants - Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

     

    This undersea oasis of a restaurant is nestled 16 feet beneath the Indian Ocean’s surface. Located on an island southwest of India and Sri Loaka, the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant provides diners with a unique 270° panoramic view of the underwater world and the creatures that inhabit it. The restaurant was voted “Most Beautiful Restaurant in the World” in 2014 by the New York Daily News. But with a six-course meal that costs a minimum of $320 before drinks or tips, beauty comes at a steep price. Restaurant offerings include luxurious food like Black Angus beef tenderloin and reef fish caviar. Although the restaurant’s food has evolved over the years, its most recent dishes can be described as European with Asian influences.

    If dining at the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is a bucket list meal that simply can’t be ignored, you’ll want to budget $500 per person to be safe. Dress code is “smart,” and children are welcome at lunch but not during dinner. The restaurant only holds 14 people, so be sure to make a reservation in advance. The Ithaa is also commonly used for weddings and private parties, so both of those are also options. As a result of its unique location, the restaurant is not expected to last more than 20 years. Since it was built in 2005, enthusiastic eaters still have eight years or so before Ithaa ‘goes under.’

     

    Aragawa – Tokyo, Japan

     

    5 of the World's Most Expensive Restaurants - Aragawa Tokyo, Japan

     

    This Japanese steakhouse is best known for its mouth-watering Wagyu beef—or Kobe Beef, as it’s known in the United States. Beloved by just about everyone who has the opportunity to try it, Wagyu beef is taken from a local farm that goes through a long and detailed process of raising cattle. This process includes massaging the cows, feeding them well, and just generally treating them like royalty. Since this ridiculously good-tasting beef is in relatively short supply, it can fetch up to $800 per pound. While one might expect this high price tag to deter diners, nothing can be further from the truth. It’s not uncommon for it to take weeks or even months to get a reservation at Aragawa. All for a steak and glass of red wine that’ll run you close to $700. They must be doing something right.

     

    Restaurant Le Meurice – Paris, France

     

    5 of the World's Most Expensive Restaurants - restaurant le meurice

     

    The pride and joy of award-winning chef Alain Ducasse, the Restaurant Le Meurice oozes opulence by way of antique mirrors, crystal chandeliers, bronzes, frescoes, and marbles. The restaurant overlooks the beautiful Tuileries gardens through its mammoth windows. But of course, diners come for more than just the ambiance. Offering classic Haute cuisine, Restaurant Le Meurice has a collection menu—which includes three dishes, cheeses, and dessert—for 380 Euro (or $447.34 American). But since the 2 Michelin star restaurant also has such an extensive wine selection, you’ll want to budget for drinks as well.

     

     

    While a night out at any of these restaurants requires significant spending, the experience will certainly be something you’ll never forget. Whether you’re traveling in the area of a restaurant or want to make a special trip, dining at one of the world’s most expensive restaurants is an opportunity most people aren’t fortunate enough to have. If you can even make it to just one of these restaurants, you’ll have a story worth telling for the rest of your life.

    Weird Meals From Around the World

    Written by: J. Vigotsky

     

    While those living in the U.S. enjoy classic American cuisine like hot dogs, hamburgers, and apple pie, citizens of other countries are indulging in unique local dishes of their own. The following list includes an assortment of weird meals from around the world that might not exactly spark your appetite.

     

    Chicken Feet – East Asia, Caribbean, South America, and South Africa

     

    weird meals from around the world - chicken feet

     

    Popular in Chinese food, chicken feet are versatile enough to be served as a beer snack, cold dish, soup add-in, or entrée. They are usually deep fried or steamed before being simmered in mouth-watering sauce. Mostly made of skin and tendons, chicken feet have a gelatinous texture that’s very different from traditional chicken meat. The dish is a delicacy in Indonesia, where it is commonly served in a spicy traditional soup known as Soto. South African chicken feet, also known as “runaways” and “walkie talkies,” are prepared by removing the outer layer of skin, seasoning appropriately, and then grilling. Caribbean and South American cuisine commonly use chicken feet in soups and stews.

     

    Khash – Middle East, Europe, and Turkey

     

    weird meals from around the world - khash

     

    While Americans have no issue eating steak, they might be apprehensive about indulging in this cow-based stew. Khash contains boiled cow feet and head along with an assortment of other items. Salt, garlic, lemon juice, or vinegar can be sprinkled in, while lavash (an unleavened bread) is sometimes crumpled and added to the stew. Peppers, pickles, cheese, radishes, and fresh greens are also common additions to the dish. Traditionally a nutritious meal during winter time, Khash is now a delicacy that appears at festive winter meals. Many eaters prefer to forego the use of utensils and consume the dish entirely by hand. The stew is usually accompanied by vodka and mineral water to help wash it all down.

     

    Haggis – Scotland

     

    weird meals from around the world - haggis

     

    Haggis is a Scottish pudding that features a sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs. Onion, oatmeal, suet (raw, hard fat around the sheep’s heart and kidneys), spices, and salt are also commonly used to add an extra kick. Ingredients are traditionally mixed with stock inside a sheep’s stomach and boiled for a few hours. Although the origin of Haggis is unknown, the meal has cookbook recipes dating all the way back to 1430. Folklore has it that wives of Scottish cattle drovers used to cook up haggis and store in the sheep’s stomach so that their husbands would have well-preserved, readily available food during long journeys to the marketplace. The United States outlawed imported haggis in 1971 because the dish includes sheep lung.

     

    Hakarl – Iceland

     

    weird meals from around the world - hakarl

     

    This Icelandic national dish elicits a strong response from seemingly anyone daring enough to try it. Icelandic for fermented shark, Hakarl features a Greenland shark (or other sleeper shark), which is cured via a unique fermentation process and hung to dry for 4-5 months. The long process is necessary because these sharks are poisonous when fresh. Butchers ferment the meat by gutting and beheading the shark then burying it in a shallow hole beneath sand. Placing stones atop the sand ensures the poisonous fluids of the shark are forced out of its body. After fermenting like this for 6-12 weeks, the shark is hung up for drying.

    Hakarl is widely available in Iceland throughout the year and is always served at Icelandic midwinter festivals. With a strong smell of ammonia, Hakarl has alienated its fair share of eaters. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain called the meat, “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing” he’s ever had. Some people say the meat smells a lot worse than it tastes. As a result, first-time Hakarl eaters are advised to pinch their noses while consuming the shark.

     

    Wasp Crackers – Japan

     

    wasp cracker

     

    These Japanese rice crackers, also known as senbei crackers, are packed with exactly what their name suggests: wasps. With a higher percentage of protein than any other edible insect, wasps are caught in traps laid by wasp hunters. They are then boiled in water, dried, and finally added to the cracker mix. Tasting better than one might expect, these Japanese crackers are available in select stores and can be also bought online. The wasps are said to taste similar to raisins, but their flavor is a little bitterer.

     

    Fried Spider – Cambodia

     

    weird meals around the world - fried spider

     

    Certainly not for arachnophobic diners, fried spiders are popular in Cambodia where they are a regional delicacy. Attracting tourists to the town of Skuon, this unorthodox snack didn’t become popular until the late 1990s. Spiders are fried in oil that’s flavored with crushed garlic and then seasoned with MSG, sugar, and salt. About the size of a human palm, a fried tarantula consists of crispy legs and a meaty center. Its taste has been described as a cross between chicken and cod.

     

    Fugu – Japan

     

    weird meals from around the world - fugu

     

    Also known as the putterfish, the Fugu is a potentially lethal sea creature that is well known for making an appearance on The Simpsons. The fugu harbors poisonous tetrodotoxin that must be carefully removed before the fish is cooked. Japanese law requires restaurant chefs to complete at least three years of training before they’re allowed to prepare this fish for consumption. While the fugu’s liver is considered by many to be the most delicious part of the fish, it is also the most poisonous part and consequently has been banned from being served in Japanese restaurants since 1984.

     

    Starfish – China

     

    weird meals from around the world - starfish

     

    It’s hard to imagine someone taking a bite out of a prickly starfish. But once a starfish’s hard outer shell is broken off, the green meat inside waits to be devoured. In China, starfishes are usually deep fried and commonly come on sticks. The taste of starfish is commonly compared to that of a sea urchin or river grab. Mostly a tourist attraction, starfish in China can be found at several street food vendors—especially those in the Qindao area.

     

    While these meals may appear weird to Americans, there are surely citizens of other countries that would raise an eyebrow or two at the idea of a hot dog. If you see food on this list that you’d like to try but traveling is out of the question, try researching to see if there are any local establishments that offer the dish.