Sure, you’ve had arepas, falafel, maybe even turtle soup. But if you’d really like to be adventurous with your eating, there’s only one man to ask: Andrew Zimmern. The James Beard Award-winning host of Bizarre Foods and Bizarre Foods America has circled the globe in search of truly original cuisine. He took a few moments to recommend five far-flung, carnivore-friendly dishes your taste buds will never forget. Pack a bag—and a fork—and check ’em out today.
Matanza, Los Lunas, New Mexico
When it comes to ceremonial whole hog feasting, a traditional matanza is at the top of my list. I experienced mine in the village of Los Lunas, New Mexico, where families gather together every year to take part in this centuries-old community ritual of butchering and cooking a whole pig. For anyone who loves food, this is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to taste every part of the pig, each prepared in a different style. The blood is used to make fresh blood pudding with the loin, onions, chiles and raisins—old world flavors of Spain. Ribs are braised in a red chile sauce. The prime muscles are turned into carne adovada. Carnitas are made from the tender meat of the pigs’ head and wrapped in homemade tortillas. They save the best for last, with the chicharones as the crowning of achievement of the entire feast. Adults who prepare the meal do so in front of their elders who have retired from service and their children who will prepare the feast in the years to come. Get on this.
Roasted Whole Cow, Bamba Chica Ranch outside Buenos Aires
In Argentina, the cow is king. Out on the open range, the gaucho culture is all about making use of what the land can give you. And these expert horsemen know how to grill up one of the world’s most distinctive whole cow barbecues. At the Bamba Chica ranch just outside of Buenos Aires, they’re making it a point to carry out the gaucho way of life. It’s a fresh meat experience: no aging, just a butchered nine-month-old calf that’s been butterflied and grilled over hardwood coals (the whole animal, hide and all) for about 12 hours. They’ve perfected this method of grilling an entire cow, the end result being deliciously slow-cooked beef that doesn’t taste at all like any beef you’ve ever eaten. Grassy and sublimely tender, the hide on the top side keeps moisture in. I’d suggest finding the brain, spreading it on toasted bread and topping it with brisket. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime food experience that shouldn’t be missed.
Whole Roasted Goat, Mongolia
Many Mongolians still live off the land the way their ancestors did centuries ago. The nomadic peoples here are so tethered to their food history, there’s really been very little trampling or glossing over of it. Not many foreigners make it too far beyond Ulaanbaatar, so when I arrived at my friends’ tent, they fed me like a repatriated family member, treating me to some of the most unique foods I’ve ever had. The best was a whole roasted goat. The animal was quickly killed, the head severed off and all the bones removed through the neck. Then the carcass was filled with the cleaned innards, organs, muscle meat and red-hot stones, to literally cook the meat from the inside out. The neck was sewn shut and the whole boneless animal was roasted for hours over open fire fueled by dried animal dung. The real treat is the mixture of meat, blood and the incredibly thick layer of flavor-packed fat, all stewing with the bones. Experience this meal and you could be in the Mongolia of a thousand years ago.
Whole Tuna Head, Misaki, Japan
Just an hour south of Tokyo in the small harbor town of Misaki, you’ll find chef Yoshio “Oyaji” Yamada’s renowned restaurant Kurobatei. Oyaji is known for his artful preparations utilizing every part of the tuna—a practice he encourages all chefs to do in order to sustain the species. Even the skin is used to make a strawberry mousse for dessert! The whole maguro head is the prized dish on the menu. The rare delicacy seldom found anywhere else in Japan will run you about 200 dollars. The 20- to 30-pound head is slow-roasted in the oven for about four hours, allowing the fat and cartilage to melt through the tuna’s skull, leaving the meat incredibly tender and aromatic. Every muscle of the tuna head tastes different, so getting to sample the cheeks, eyes, collar, throat and different muscles of this massive fish head is a life changer.
Lawar Temple Feast, Ubud, Bali
The small Indonesian island of Bali has adopted influences from native cultures, India and China to form a belief system and cuisine unique unto itself. Spirituality trumps practicality here—everyday events are ruled by sacred rites and gestures to the gods. I visited the town of Ubud at a very auspicious time: a coming-of-age ritual at the Nyuh Kuning Temple grounds, where I helped an army of cooks prepare a feast for hundreds of honored guests. The meal, the namesake dish and the ceremony share the same moniker… Lawar. For this ceremony, like a communion but with the added benefit of a public tooth filing, a 300-pound pig is killed, cleaned and butchered, with every part used in a myriad of Indonesian dishes. The stand-out dish of the day was the traditional lawar, made with chopped pork skin, blood, papaya, minced coconut, banana flowers, fried shallots, fermented shrimp paste and a spicy blend of lime and chiles. Grab a piece of butcher paper or a banana leaf, a scoop of rice and some lawar and join the celebrants enjoying the spicy, porky specialty.
Photos courtesy of Travel Channel
Spring has sprung, and we are issuing a call to explore new frontiers here on Made Man. Check out Our Guide to Modern Adventure, soak up the inspiration, then get out and blaze your own epic trail.