Why exploring tastes should be part of any road trip adventure.
On the road we get to see and do lots of interesting and unique things we would never get to experience at home. It’s those things and our reactions to them that create lasting memories that we share and the stories that we tell. One of our favorite ways to explore is through taste, sampling unusual regional specialties to dial in to the culture of wherever we’re visiting. The important thing is to be open-minded. There are some lines I won’t cross, but everyone’s threshold is different. For example, I’m not game to try a grilled gator kebab (yes, it was on the menu at the small restaurant in the Florida Everglades where we took our fan boat tour) but you might be. Our family's rule of thumb is this-we’ll probably try it if it’s not an animal part. As I tell my kids, if it sounds interesting, let’s give it a whirl. Worst comes to worst you can spit it out and we can laugh about it later. In the best case scenario you’ll discover something truly delicious and uniquely memorable.
Here’s our list of our top 5 weirdest taste adventures….
Cactus Candy Walking into a little souvenir shop just before leaving Santa Fe, I spotted a package of this unique southwestern treat. Opening the little box, the candy looked like squares of solid red jelly. Made from the prickly pear fruit of the cactus, it was smooth and sweet-no prickles at all-have to admit though we were all a little nervous about putting into our mouth. All said and done, it tasted a little blah and gummy, but it was fun to try. Now what was really great was the hot and spicy peanut brittle (that no one else except me was brave enough to try) that knocked my socks off…whoooeeeeee!
Poi The Hawaiian starchy staple is made from the Taro root. Sort of like a hummus with a goopy texture, it comes in 3 thickness measured by how many fingers you need to scoop it with. One finger poi is thick, three finger is pretty thin. We sampled it at the Lahaina Luau and I had to really push everyone to try it as it’s not a very appetizing grey color-kind of looks like cement. My kids would probably tell you that’s what it tasted like too. It didn’t go over well with our group but props to everyone for giving it a try.
Chocolate Cheese Walking into Shultz’s Cheese Haus in Wisconsin, we noticed it right away in the case. I guess I’ve got some kind of chocolate radar. We just had to take a taste and the lovely folks at Schultz’s gave us each a piece to try. It’s a little hard to describe, it had the texture of cheese, but with a subtle chocolaty taste-nice and smooth and not too sweet. Apparently it’s fudge made with a cheese base. I don’t exactly know what that means, but it was really good.
Vinegar Milk Shake I am sure you are just cringing at the sound of that. I’ll agree with you it did sound pretty gross but as we’d just toured the Vinegar Museum in Roslyn South Dakota, I just couldn’t leave without trying it. I ordered up at The Ice Cream Shack and took a sip hoping I’d be pleasantly surprised. It was worse than I imagined- indescribably awful. The kids each took a sip and it was a unanimous “Yuck!”
Salmon Candy Sounds really weird, but this was by far one of the tastiest things I’ve ever tried and positively addicting. Small chunks of salmon are smoked or baked in sugar and spices turning it into a type of “candy”-and I use that term loosely here. We bought some at the Pike Place Market in Seattle and honestly it was hard to keep our hands out of the bag. A treat with roots in the Eskimo culture and a definite must try for anyone who remotely likes salmon.
What have you tried that was truly weird and adventurous on your road trip travels? We’d love to know and include it in another post. Post your comments below.