Foods From Around the World








(back to Anthropology of Food page)



We have had some lively discussions in class regarding food—traditional, “weird,” or just plain “gross.” From pizza crusts dipped in soda to pork cooked in blood, everyone has shared an eating experience that may be new to others. In putting together this project, I hope that people see the many sides of nutrition—we use food for sustenance, celebration, ritual, and, often, to define who we are. We divided up into groups focusing on “Blood and Guts,” "Insects," “Fermented Foods,” and the euphemistically titled “Variety Meats.” Interspersed throughout are the students’ thoughts on food and lore that has been passed on to them. We hope you will enjoy this with an open mind—Bon Appetit! Below are a few traditional dishes that, to some, are strange or even gruesome. For your safety we do recommend that those with a weak stomach consider what they are about to read…..

Morcillas Rellenas**Mixed Organ Stew**Chicken in Blood Sauce**Barbequed Intestines**Chitterlings

**Full-Blooded Haggis**Roast Placenta**Papaya Salad**Stink Bug Pate**Grasshopper Tacos**Scorpion Soup**Caakiri**Pickled Ginger**Kimchi

...Blood and Guts...

Blood and guts are components of many dishes in many cultures. It is also a part of my culture as well. But those sorts of dishes aren’t really accepted in American culture. America prides itself on clean processed food. I couldn’t really find information on why blood and guts is not accepted in American culture and the only thing I could think about was the media. Today the media is booming with organic and natural food. It’s pure and not tainted with anything. One reason people don’t accept dishes made from blood or guts is that most people think they are unsanitary. Intestines process food and take out essential nutrients and carry out the waste products. Who wants to eat something that once carried stool? This again brings on the notion of “Pure Food”, something the media has dished out to us. Also, blood and guts do not fall into the category of the usual dishes cooked in American kitchens. The reason why people are grossed out by it is because it is something different. You can’t find these ingredients at your normal supermarket. If it was available and advertised then maybe it wouldn’t be such an odd dish. I think that if people got over what the media has taught them and were willing to try new things, then maybe blood and guts wouldn’t be so taboo.

--Jasmine Griffith

Morcillas Rellenas

Morcillas Rellenas have been used as an entrée since 1000 BC. Homero, in the book XVIII de La Odisea, speaks about a stomach filled with pork blood and fat being roasted over a fire. Apicio, the Roman gastronomist also mentions intestines filled with pork blood, fat, onions and eggs. This was a typical food during medieval times and in all of Europe. Even poor families would raise a pig and fatten it up, and when butchering time came, everything was used. This product represents a very important part of the economical remains of the pig, and it must be eaten very quickly. It is very practical, ancient, and its justification is clear- at the time of butchering there is a lot of blood. Morcillas Rellenas is typical in other countries, but not often seen in America.



“As a young girl I remember eating Morcillas Rellenas, but as soon as I learned what the contents were, I quickly stopped. My mother would tell me it was “chorizo,” which is ground up pork pieces in tripe. That still does not sound good to many people but it is delicious. Because I thought it was chorizo I would eat it, and my mother would tell me it would help me grow healthy with strong bones. Now I will pass that offering anytime.”

--Guadalupe Salazar

Tacos de Morcillas Rellenas

1 lb. Morcillas Rellanas

1 onion

1 piece of garlic

1/3 cup of oil or lard

1 dozen tortillas

1 spoon of salt

Pour oil or lard into frying pan, let it heat and put in the diced piece of garlic. After frying, put in Morcillas Rellenas and add salt. Now add diced onion and place it in the mixture. Stir and fry until ground up and darker brown. Heat up tortillas on the side or in the microwave. Your Morcillas are now cooked and you can serve yourself some tacos.
Morcillas Rellanas can be found in ethnic stores such as El Mexicano or La Esperanza.


If you eat brains, you’ll become smarter...

If you eat hog jowls and black eyed peas during New Years, you get good luck...

Eating blood can turn one into a cannibal...

My mom and grandmother used to always tell me if I ate Brussels sprouts I would see better. However, after believing them and eating the nasty vegetable….I wear glasses!

Mixed Organ Stew (Austria)

Cut a beef spleen, an inexpensive piece of beef, some beef heart and calf’s sweetbread or beef pancreas into small pieces. Cut a piece of aorta into rings. Fry finely chopped onions in lard until golden. Add finely chopped carrots, celery root and garlic and cook a little. Pour in a little vinegar and add all meats except the spleen and sweetbreads or pancreas. Salt and pepper and add a generous amount of bouquet garni consisting of thyme, bay leaf, and marjoram. Simmer, covered for an hour, add other meats, and continue to simmer until all are tender. Thicken the stew with blood and serve it with dumplings.

Chicken in Blood Sauce (France)

Kill a chicken and collect its blood. Mix 2 to 3 T red wine with the blood. Cut up the plucked and drawn bird and fry the pieces in butter. Remove the chicken and cook lightly in the same pan a dozen small whit onions and a number of similarly sized squares of bacon. Add a dozen button mushrooms and remove all from pan when they are done. Add a little flour to the pan, mix well and cook slightly. Stir in 2 C red wine and a little beef broth. Cook the sauce, correct seasoning and strain. Return chicken and garnishes to pan, add bouquet garni and sauce and simmer, covered for about 45 minutes. Before you are ready to serve, stir in the chicken blood and wine to thicken the stock. Add some warm brandy and ignite. Serve in a bowl and garnish with heart-shaped croutons.


The intestines of animals are used most commonly for sausage casings, and less often “as is”. Butchers and sausage makers classify intestines by their diameter and use the following terms: rounds are the small intestines of cattle, calves, sheep and hogs; they are used for making fresh pork sausages, frankfurters, chorizo and the like. Middles are the large intestines of cattle and hogs and are used for larger sausages. Bungs are the even larger cecum of cattle and the rectum of hogs.

Barbequed Intestines (Peru)

Marinate overnight pieces of a cow’s or sheep’s intestines in a mixture of vinegar, much crushed garlic, ground chili pepper, cumin, salt and pepper. Cut dried chili peppers in half, remove the seeds and soak them in water for 24 hours.

Mash these drained chilies into a paste. Melt a generous amount of lard and mix in some ground annatto. Mix this chili paste, the lard and a little of the marinade together to make a basting sauce. Brush the pieces of intestine with this sauce and grill over charcoal until well browned. The sauce is brushed on several times during the process.

Chitterlings (AKA Chit’lins)

10 pounds frozen cleaned chitterlings, thawed
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Soak the chitterlings in cold water throughout the cleaning stage. Each chitterling should be examined and run under cold water; all foreign materials should be removed and discarded. Chitterlings should retain some fat, so leave some on. After each chitterling has been cleaned, soak until water is clear. Place the chitterlings in a six quart pot and fill with cold water. Bring to a boil, then add onions and season with salt, garlic and chili flakes. Make sure the water is at full boil before adding seasonings, or the chitterlings could become tough. Continue to simmer for 3 to 4 hours, depending on how tender you want the texture.


Chitterlings were introduced during the time of African-American slavery. The slaves were given parts of a pig that were deemed inedible by their slave masters. Because of the West African tradition of using every part of an animal, slaves quickly added unaccustomed parts of pigs to their palates. Old folktales state that if you eat chitterlings, they will help your stomach grow stronger. I personally don’t believe it will happen, but I also don’t eat chitterlings.

Full-Blooded Haggis

1 sheep’s paunch
Heart, liver and lungs of sheep
White pepper
Hot red pepper
1 pound beef suet
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 onions, chopped
6 oz oatmeal, toasted
¾ pint beef stock
Clean the paunch thoroughly and then turn it inside out. Boil the lungs, liver and heart until tender. While you are doing this, put the windpipe over the edge of the pot, draining into another receptacle. Chop the meat extremely fine; grate the liver. Mix the meats with the spices, onions, suet and oatmeal. Mix in the stock and then stuff into the paunch. Note: The oatmeal will enlarge as it absorbs the liquid, so leave extra room. Sew the paunch up and then prick it with a needle. Boil in water for three hours. To reheat, wrap in foil and bake in the oven for around 2 hours- since the paunch could break, this saves the filling!



I chose the full-blooded haggis recipe because I found it interesting and pretty disgusting. I myself would never eat it, but I know that it is valued among the people who do eat it. It’s a Scottish dish made from the leftovers of a dead animal, such as a goat or sheep. The people who eat it claim that it is a noble dish symbolic of Scottish virtues.  It originated when the English won a war against the Scottish and took all their food, leaving only the insides of animals and other undesirable food behind. The Scottish made what they could from the leftovers and thus created Haggis.  A common food lore quote is “Once you’ve had Haggis, you’re ready to fight anyone!” Many of the people who eat Haggis say they enjoy it because “you just feel so good!” after eating it.

-- Antonio Navarro


Roast Placenta

1 3lb fresh placenta (must be no more than 3 days old)
1 onion
1 green or red pepper
1 cup tomato sauce
1 sleeve saltine crackers
1 t bay leaves
1 t black pepper
1 t white pepper
1 clove roasted and minced garlic

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the onion and pepper, and crush saltines into crumbs. Combine the placenta, onion, pepper, saltines, bay leaves, garlic and tomato sauce. Place in loaf pan, cove, then bake for 1 ½ hours, occasionally pouring off excess liquid.

Alternate method-
Cut off the cord and membranes. Steam the placenta, adding lemon grass, pepper and ginger to the water. The placenta is “done” when no blood comes out when you pierce it with a fork. Cut the placenta into thin slices (like making jerky) and bake in a low-heat oven (200-250 degrees) until it is dry and crumbly. Crush the placenta into a powder- using a food processor, blender, mortar and pestle or by putting it in a bag and grinding it with rocks. Put the powder into empty gel caps or just add a spoonful to your cereal, blender drink, etc.


The placenta provides the baby with nutrients and things it needs to grow and develop. It also gives the baby a way to dispose of any waste it may produce.

The original idea of eating the placenta came when people noticed that animals eat it. It was really popular in American culture during the 1970s. The placenta is often used to make stew as well. Some people have even eaten placenta raw. It is often dried and has even been made into jerky. WHY ? The placenta is often consumed because it is nutrient rich. It has to be to keep the baby healthy and growing. It is often used as a part of Chinese medicine as well. The people who are associated with eating placenta are often hippie-like naturalists.

Food is a very important part of culture. What people eat is often based on what is available and what they believe in. In the case of roasted placenta, I think the food is nutritional and symbolic to the consumers. It connects a mother and a child and gives a baby life. “Weird Foods” often have a special meaning or idea behind them.

I think food is a very important part of our culture. People eat together to socialize and take care of business. Food unites people because everyone needs to eat to survive.
 -- Anthony Black


Stink Bug Pate

1/3 lb. roasted stink bugs

10 chicken livers

4 cloves garlic

1 small onion

1/8 tsp salt

black pepper

ground marjoram

ground oregano

powdered bouillon

Olive oil

Boil chicken livers, garlic, onion and salt in enough water to cover. Reduce and simmer 10 minutes once it reaches a boil. Run livers through food processor, setting broth aside. Add roasted bugs to livers; blend. Add the broth to the liver and bug mixture till it reaches the consistency of a thick sauce.  Add spices and oil to taste. Shape into pate loaf, and serve with baguette of french or sour dough bread.

--Jasmin Miller and Diana Naranjo

In Mexico, insects are not considered to be a starvation food for the poor; rather they are served to honored guests.  Stink Bugs are eaten to celebrate Jumil Day. The Jumil Day Festival is usually held atop a mountain southwest of the capital of Mexico City.

In Mexico, it is said that if we soak our hair in puree of avocado that our hair will grow faster and look shinier...

Grasshopper Tacos

1/2 1b. grasshopppers

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 lemon


2 ripe avocados, mashed

6 tortillas (corn or flour)

Roast hopppers for 10 minutes in 350 degree oven. Toss with garlic, juice from 1 lemon, and salt to taste. Spread mashed avocado on tortilla. Sprinkle on the grasshoppers. MMMMmmmm, good.




Grasshoppers are abundant in Mexico. Most people regard insects as a food source of the last resort--but in Mexico grasshoppers and other bugs are delicacies reserved for special guests. Vendors rise early at day break to catch them, either by hand or by dragging a bag along the ground to trap them as they jump. They then toss the insects into lemon, salt, and garlic to help flavor and preserve them.  They are sold for ten pesos (approx. $1.25 a pound).

Scorpion Soup (China)

30-40 live scorpions

1/4 lb fresh pork, cut into small pieces

l large Chinese garlic bulb, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup vegetable oil

fresh ginger root, sliced

salt & pepper

l quart water

handful of dried Chinese dates

handful of dried red box berries

l large carrot, chopped into small pieces


Wash scorpions in fresh water and set aside. Mix pork w/garlic and set aside. Heat oil in large wok, stir-fry scorpions for 20 seconds.  Add pork and garlic mixture, salt and pepper to taste. Stir-fry briefly. Slowly add water.  Add dates, berries, and carrots. Simmer for 40 minutes over low heat.  Serve HOT.


In Kunming, Yunnan, people are used to living with these dangerous creatures on a daily basis. Scorpions come in large amounts in this Chinese city and there is really nothing that can be done to get such a large population under control, therefore people decide to live with them and make them part of their meals.  There are restaurants that serve scorpion raw, as an appetizer.  When eaten raw, the cook must remove the stingers and venom sacs because the stingers are extremely sharp and toxins could be absorbed through the mucosal membranes.  The restaurants in this city are know for their "delicious" scorpion plates, served nightly.

One of the most common scorpions is mesobuthus mertensii. Americans have a reputation for thinking of scorpions as hazardous to human life.  There are really only a few out of six scorpion families worldwide that can be considered dangerous.  In some cases of scorpion sting, there can be damage to the lungs and heart.  The biggest worry in our society is for children and infants, who are very vulnerable.  American aren't used to seeing these small animals just laying around anyplace they want.  Usually, when we see one, we jump in fear that it will get closer to us.  It's just something we Americans aren't used to.  

Food can have different meanings, when comparing its importance cross-culturally.  Many societies view food as the essential factor in their everyday living.  Food can really tell a lot about a type of people.  Through food you can learn about their personal beliefs or taboos.  For example, how the food was cooked can tell you about the technology that is available to them.  If the food is fried, they have access to metal pans, which means their society might be more advanced than others.  Food can also tell about a society's origin.  Like the type of ingredients used to make the food might only grow or be available to certain places at certain times of the year.  Food can also tell about the society's values.  For example, the society might have old folklore about a certain type of ingredient, like a taboo. This shows how humans try to manifest their ideas about culture and social life through the food they make.


To me, food represents beliefs about a culture or society.  I've heard plenty of food lore, being raised in a Filipino family.  Most of this lore was told to me by my grandmother.  She used to tell me that chocolate meat or diniguan would make my skin lighter...or that if I ate too much fish my eyes would get bigger.  From my grandfather I would hear that whiskey could put hair on your chest.  Of course, they weren't all credible.  I believed each of these stories until I grew older.  What I came to realize is that each of these sayings was a way to keep me from eating the wrong thing or too much of some particular food.  The only reason my grandparents say such things is because it is a part of the culture that I grew up learning.  They are trying to make sure that I do the same things they did. For the sake of them, I will try.

--Justin Espanol

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are not typical “American” dishes. Most Americans wouldn’t exactly welcome the act of cracking an egg with a chick still inside and eating the creature, baby feathers and all (Philippines). Potato salad isn’t exactly the same as a sauce made from the liquids of rotting fish (Southeast Asia) or extremely spicy canned cabbage leaves left on the shelf for months to years before actually enjoying it. Most Americans would be disgusted. But the people who eat these foods do not see them as unusual. They often see the food as convenient and tasteful and would prefer the unusual dishes to American dishes such as pork chops.
A dish I particularly enjoy is the papaya salad which originated in Southeast Asia in countries like Laos and Thailand. This dish contains a number of fermented foods such as raw anchovy sauce, fish sauce as mentioned above, and crab or shrimp paste which is made from the raw creatures. The smell ranges from stinking feet to decaying animals, but the taste is addictive. And without these fermented ingredients, the dish would not taste like papaya salad!
--Mai Kou Vang

Papaya Salad
Shredded green papaya (no seeds or peel, please)
(all ingredients depend on taste preference)
Fish sauce
Crab paste
Anchovy sauce
Lemon juice and/or tamarind mixed in water
Diced tomatoes
Salt Garlic clove
Chili pepper

Smash garlic and chili peppers with salt. Add all other ingredients making sure to include lemon juice for sour flavor. Smash everything for about a minute or until all fermented sauce has dissolved into one brownish liquid. Taste and add more seasoning if needed and enjoy!

2 cups of couscous
Stick of butter
Dash of salt
1 cup of fermented milk
2 cups vanilla yogurt
1 cup sour cream
½ cup sugar
Dash of nutmeg
Raisin or crushed pineapple
Prepare the couscous with butter and salt in saucepan and bring to a boil, then let it sit away from heat for ten minutes, then add remaining ingredients.

Caakiri is a West African snack made with fermented milk that is similar to the rice puddings of the Middle East and Asia.

Technically anything that is buried in a salt stock is fermented, but foods vary individually in what it takes to ferment food. Traditionally, fermented foods are some of the healthiest on the planet when done correctly.

For many families food is a way to bring everyone in the family or maybe even the extended family together, or at least that’s what my family does. When I was younger my grandmother used to tell me “an apple a day will keep the doctor away” and I believed it until I was in the 4th grade and had a playmate that was allergic to apples, she once ate one while she was at school and had to be rushed to the hospital. So I ask, are all the myths about food completely true? Of course, they are not. I believe food does bring people together and may even lighten up some intense situations, but myths about them are culturally based. Culture is a learned behavior that is adapted from generations, so when I have a little girl I will tell her an apple a day keeps the doctor away and hope she is not allergic to them.
-- Courtney Franklin

Pickled Ginger
Called gari or sushoga in Japanese, pickled ginger is an obligatory accompaniment to sushi

4 lbs fresh ginger root
1 TBS pickling salt
½ package yogurt starter
1 cup distilled water

Peel and cut ginger into very thin slices. Pound ginger slices to expel juice. Place juices and ginger into a glass jar. Mix with salt and water. Add yogurt starter and seal. Let sit at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. Store in refrigerator.
The name Kimchi originated in Korea, meaning “immersing vegetables”

¼ head Chinese cabbage
5 cups rice vinegar
2Tbs salt
2 cups water
1 inch square yuzu, citron or lemon rind

Core and wash the cabbage. Pat it as dry as possible with a towel. Cut into 1 inch chunks and place loosely in a pickle crock. In saucepan, combine the vinegar, salt, sugar and water, Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring once or twice. Immediately pour boiling liquid over cabbage in crock, and tuck in rind. Cover with lid and weight it. Remove to a cool dark place and wait at least two days before eating.

Return to Anthropology of Food Website