One of the true pleasures of traveling around the world is tasting unique and rare ingredients prepared in traditional ways. But after you have savored and delighted in Spanish tapas, Chinese dumplings, and Mexican tacos in their places of origin, you might be tempted to seek out more rare ingredients.
While some people choose to travel to the most remote restaurants in the world, others prefer the idea of eating the world’s rarest ingredients. From civet cat coffee to bird’s nest soup, here are some of the most unusual and hard to obtain foods.
Bird’s Nest Soup
When you hear the name bird’s nest soup you might envision a bowl full of twigs and feathers, but the reality is actually even more strange. This clear, gelatinous soup is comprised of the dried saliva of a Southeast Asian swift that is gathered from their nests. It is often served with goji berries and is said to taste like mild chicken soup.
Raw Puffin Heart
You might balk at the idea of eating the adorable puffin, a bird found in Iceland, but let’s take that one step further – how about its raw heart? Yes, you heard correctly – Icelanders consider the raw heart of a puffin (along with the rest of the bird) to be a delicacy.
Caviar is an elite ingredient that is rare and luxurious, and the Iranian Almas Caviar is considered the most luxurious of all. In fact, the Guinness Book of World Records has named it the most expensive ingredient on the planet! This black caviar is harvested from a rare species of 100-year-old albino sturgeon that is only found in the Caspian Sea, and it can cost upwards of $20,000 a pound!
White truffles lend an exquisite and umami character to any dish, but that flavor comes at quite a cost – they sell for more than $2,000 per pound! Both white and black truffles are only available under very specific conditions and are hunted by pigs and dogs, who sniff them out. USA Today has even written about a 3-pound truffle that commanded an unbelievable $330,000 at auction!
Owing to strict regulations on the meat that Japan is allowed to ship to the US, there are only 10 restaurants in the country that can serve the valuable and rare Kobe Beef. This highly marbled cut of meat comes from a Wagyu cow, which is only found in the Hyogo prefecture. When it is cooked to just above body temperature, Kobe Beef literally melts in your mouth.
Saffron adds a delicate flavor and delightful golden color to any dish, but it is rare and hard to find in the wild. Originally from Greece, saffron is the hair-like strands from the stamen of a particular crocus. It is popular in dishes throughout the Middle East and India. It is the most expensive spice in the world, with just one ounce costing more than $500.
The Densuke Watermelon
If you want to taste one of the rarest fruits on the planet, you will have to travel to Japan. Here, you can find the Densuke black watermelon, grown only on the Northern Island of Hokkaido, where the yield is fewer than 70 fruits per year! A typical Densuke watermelon will cost you about $200, but The Los Angeles Times reported that in 2008, one of these rare delicacies was auctioned for more than $6,000!
Coffee Raro is comprised of a mix of Kopi Luwak coffee and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans. Kopi Luwak is one of the most unique coffees in the world, as it can only be harvested from the feces of a civet, an animal that is a cross between a cat, possum, and raccoon. Civets eat coffee cherries and cannot process them completely, and the enzymes in their stomachs remove some of the coffee’s acidity, resulting in a smoother cup of coffee.
Are you willing to travel for these rare ingredients?
Only a true foodie can claim to have eaten all of the ingredients on this list – how many have you had on your plate? While some of these strange and wonderful foods might be available in your local town, for others? You will simply have to get out there and taste the world!