2013: Culinary Achievements (And Photos) From Around The World

Food? I like food! Especially strange, unique and obscure foods. There is not a single type of cuisine I don’t like — just some that I like less than others. And I believe that when people say they don’t like a certain region’s food its only because they haven’t had the right dish or a decent chef.

  Just always remember when trying new foods do not ask what you are eating until you have finished your plate.


“Old Village Chief To Amuse”

Singapore   That was the translation of this dish at a Chinese restaurant in Singapore.   View On FourSquare

“old village chief to amuse”
Still not sure exactly what this was. Definitely tasted like seafood but not anything I could specifically name.


Yogyakarta, Indonesia   I wouldn’t have even know it was pigeon unless my buddies had told me. The brain, although small, was fried and crunchy and very good.

Pigeon: It's What's For Dinner
Pigeon: It’s What’s For Dinner

Raw Cobra Organs

Jogja, Indonesia   Seconds after killing a cobra I was handed a couple raw organs and a glass full of blood and torn up muscle tendons. It actually did not taste bad at all. However I didn’t feel any of the often-reputed aphrodisiac effects.

Eating Raw Cobra Organs
This was either the heart, gallbladder, or liver, depending on who I asked. Really gives you confidence as you are about to ingest something that was alive and beating only seconds before, no?


Solo, Indonesia   I’ve only had this once — it was very tough and hard to chewy. Maybe it was just the way it was cooked…or because it was an old dog 😛

Sate Anjing
From a roadside vendor in Solo, Indonesia

Bone Marrow

Siak, Sumatra, Indonesia   You suck the mushy (think consistency like apple sauce) fresh bone marrow out through the straw while eating the soup.

Sup Tinjang
You suck the mushy (think consistency like apple sauce) fresh bone marrow out through the straw while eating the soup.


Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates   There is nothing special about this traditional Middle Eastern dish but it was sure great to try an authentic version in the UAE.

Shawarma in Abu Dhabi

Turtle Soup

Jakarta, Indonesia   I found this tasty little dish in Chinatown, Jakarta. It was really good — hope it wasn’t any endangered species of turtle…

[ My apologies but unfortunately I took this photo on a friend’s phone and cannot find it now. ]


Siak, Sumatra, Indonesia   Known as keong here in Indonesia, these lil buggers were really good at first just lots of work to suck out of their shells.

The snails are on the bottom left.

Chicken Intestines

Many cities, Indonesia   Very soft and chewy. Often can be found accompany ayam dishes in Indonesia.

Usus Ayam
The chicken intestines are on the skewer in the center.

While these are certainly not all the new dishes I tried during the course of 2013, they were certainly some of the tastiest!

What exciting new foods did you eat during 2013?

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

22 thoughts on “2013: Culinary Achievements (And Photos) From Around The World”

    • I believe that if one can’t laugh at themselves (and the questionable things they’ve done, or in this case eaten) then they have no right laughing at others…

      Besides, in Muslim countries like Indonesia dogs are basically the devil. It’s not like I ate a bald eagle or panda or monkey brains anything that crazy.

      • Actually you laughed at the unfortunate old dog that was in your plate and this is the main reason I didn’t like this post. I don’t have absolutely nothing against trying different even weird food, it’s your body and your life. what I do not like and I will never like it is the lack of empathy. Your background is the Western world where dogs are part of the family. No matter how many years you live in a different country, there must be good things in your original culture, for instance kindness, compassion and protection toward little animals such as pets: dogs, cats. I don’t like “coolness and jokes” at the expense of some innocent beings.
        you mentioned that in Muslim countries the dog is the devil. well, some Muslim people consider woman a less valuable property than a goat. Moreover, some Christians believe woman is evil. Therefore, your point is invalid in my view. There are many researches that show the dogs have the brain similar to human being, they feel pain, they have emotions. I’m afraid that your empathy is not one of your strength…and this saddens me. There are many things I can put up with my friends and acquaintances but lack of empathy especially when it comes to those more fragile than us. I grew up with dogs and I prefer them to many people I know. Dogs are more like a family and more loyal and kind than many human beings.

        • Well what can I say, guess all good jokes (but especially the bad ones) make some laugh and offend others. Sorry you don’t like this post. And to unfortunately bring up the family comment, I’m not a family man, that word is alien to me and even beyond that I’ve never had a kinship with dogs or really any animals at all. I’m like a farmer. Can’t get attached to the livestock. Not everyone is this way and good for you to be able to connect with four-legged friends. Many studies have found that having pets in your life lowers stress and increases life expectancy.

          Also that’s why I never play the religion card, because there is no such thing as a winning hand when the conversation is about religion. Just one of the many reasons why I am agnostic.

          • You can’t get attached to the livestock? Wow, no offense, this comment sound so arrogant. I’m afraid you might have hard time getting attached to anyone, not only “the livestock”…Excuse me for being so lame and pathetic in your superior eyes, I still love “the livestock” more than certain people and unlike other human beings, I’m not trying to be “popular” and “superior” at all cost.

            P.S. You brought up religion card, not me.

            I wish you all the best in your future adventures and more than anything, I wish you kindness, empathy, and compassion in your life.

  1. oh, I almost forgot. don’t forget to try the neighbor’s kitten to show how cool you are. I hope my sarcasm is noticeable.

    • Sarcastic maybe but cats are eaten here in Southeast Asia as well (among other places). If I should come across catballs (meatballs made from cat thighs, not testicles) while in China this year, I will be trying them. Just a forewarning.

      Don’t be scared by what I eat, be scared of what I won’t eat.

      • thanks for the forewarning. on the same note, be sure I won’t be kind at all to your blog if I read cruel and stupid jokes about animals.
        also, I don’t believe that eating certain food is an achievement. your entire blog is an achievement, the number of countries traveled is an achievement, your travel video is an achievement, and so on, but eating is far from an achievement. Achievement involves work and time and evolution to reach a certain level. Putting something in the mouth is not exactly an achievement. Your meals are only your personal experiences, regardless how unusual they might be.

    • Ahhh but two of those you wouldn’t know what they really were unless you asked for the translation 😉 Don’t ask, just eat! Makes for an unbiased review of the dish.

      Of the three I have to say pigeon was the tastiest, especially with a little hot sauce — but then again what doesn’t taste good after being deep fried? The bone marrow was definitely the weirdest. Very strange consistency and the fact that it was warm was a little off-putting. Of course had it been cold I’m sure it would have been much less enjoyable. Still, just had a weird feeling to me, like slurping warm ice cream. Or brains. Not bad just unfamiliar.

  2. what a compilation Derek! I like eating bone marrow – used in dishes like Nilaga and Bulalo … however, I have a soft spot for dogs … this is why I cant be a great food writer, I’m not an adventurous eater like you … keep munching in 2014! Happy New Year! 🙂

  3. I thought Shawarma is Turkish? I had that one when I visited Phnom Penh last year.

    As for the snails, I ate them too occasionally! They are tasty! My mum always cooked that as ‘masak lemak’ [cooked in yellow creamy coconut milk]. In Malaysia, we call the dish as siput sedut [sucking snails]. But we don’t eat the big one. It looks disgusting. Haha. And for other food, errr.. thanks, but no thanks!

    • I don’t know, it could very well be. In fact it almost definitely did not originate in the UAE. But the shawarma there was definitely more authentic and delicious than any of my prior shawarma experiences, all in places such as NYC, Singapore and Bangkok. I still lick my lips just thinking about it…

    • The way I see it, if you don’t try then you’ll never know. I’ll eat anything once there are just some things I won’t eat again, like octopus. Luckily I’m in Asia where strange and obscure foods abound. Have mouth, will eat. 😀

  4. It all looks delightfully tasty until I read the name. And then I’d say, “well fuck it!” Now that I’m a tad but less picky. I want to try the pigeon though…looks pretty damn good!

    • That’s the spirit Ryan! You’ll never know if you don’t try it, so why not live a little? Why not be experiment with new and exotic recipes and concoctions? Why not see what the other half (or other millionth) consider normal? What have you honestly got to lose? NOTHING. Cheers your 2014 in Asia far surpassing all your expectations bro 😀

  5. P.S. Regardless how crazy it might sounds, I will personally beat you if I read a stupid joke about how fun was when you ate pets, mainly dogs and cats, I will beat you first time I see you. I have a very strong emotional memory, I never forget. Trust me on it. Literally beat you. It’s a promise! Best regards.

  6. We don’t eat dog here, only certain provinces in Indonesia. Java, North Sumatra… although dog considered as haram (forbidden) in Muslim, but we don’t eat them. Only its saliva is the problem, we can actually take care of them. I like dog, but they dont like me LOL, they always barking at me. But honestly, I won’t eat them as I don’t want to eat cat. Pets are not meant to be eaten for me. Only pets. Chicken, cow, pig…. well, I don’t really care. They are not pet, I cant sleep with cow/pig anyway.. hahaha

    To be honest, I dont mind living with cats entire my life than living with human, even family. They are more sincere than human beings than your boyfriend or girlfriend, so, people who eat cats, It’s the epitome of evil for me.

    * I landed here through your newsletter* 😉


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