Waste not want not. In South America nothing gets wasted, especially if we’re talking about meat, as there are tons of soups, stews and other dishes that use EVERY part of the animal (eyes and brains included). If you’re an adventurous eater then South America is the place for you because there are many regional delicacies that go beyond nose-to-tail. Check out these 5 bizarre foods you can try while traveling through South America:
5. Guinea Pig (Cuy) –Peru
Served throughout the Andes Mountains but particularly popular in Peru, Cuy are guinea pigs specifically raised for eating (in case you were worried about it being someone’s pet before making it to your plate). You’ll have to get past the fact that they’re served whole with the head and feet still intact because this is almost always how they come. The most common preparation method is fried and the taste is kind of like greasier chicken.
4. Ants (Hormiga culona) –Colombia
Hormiga Culona also known as Big Butt ants are quite popular in Colombia and you can find them served up as a snack just like cocktail peanuts. Usually the head, wings and pincers are removed and then the body is soaked in salt water overnight for flavor before they’re fried and served but they’re also sometimes cooked whole. Since these tiny delicacies are only collected once a year they are rather expensive. In fact a pound of ants is about 3 times the price of a pound of quality coffee.
3. Cow Udder (Ubre) –Chile
When we said no part of the animal goes to waste, we meant it….including the udder! In Chile, Ubre Asada is a specialty where the cows udder is cleaned and soaked to remove any remaining milk before being grilled on an open fire. The texture is spongy but grilling over an open fire gives it a charred smoky flavor.
2. Goat Stomach (Buchada) –Brazil
If you make it to the state of Ceará in Brazil’s north east, you may be offered some of the states traditional dish Buchada. The internal organs of a goat (usually a kid…aka baby goat) are chopped and mixed with seasonings and the blood of the animal before being stuffed into the goat stomach and cooked. While maybe this doesn’t sound appetizing to you, the locals love it.
1. Corn Beer (Chicha de jora) –South America
Chicha de jora is a fermented corn beer popular throughout South America including Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. While the thought of a fermented corn beer seems harmless enough, it’s the preparation method that warrants this beverage taking the #1 spot on our list. Traditionally, the corn used to make the beer is chewed by the Chicha maker, spit out and formed into discs which are laid out to dry and ferment. Apparently the enzymes in the saliva help to break down the starch into sugar to aid the fermentation process.