1. Squid Ink Paella
As a travel expert, I’m not that adventurous when it comes to food. I won’t, for example, order the monkey brains to be eaten from the animal’s cranium while it’s still alive. No, I leave that to the sadistic celebrity chefs. But I do occasionally get talked into dishes like this one, in which saffron rice and seafood are served simmered in octopus ink. It tastes like the seepage from a bag of body parts that was left behind a dumpster for a month.
2. Blood Pudding on a Stick
What’re you, Dracula? This popsicle from hell consists of fried sticky rice soaked in pork blood. I bought it by accident once because, let’s face it, I’m American and any fried food on a stick sold from a street cart is gonna get my attention. One bite and I felt like I was about to barf myself inside out. It’s also known as Pig Blood Curd, Black Pudding and, in my own travel notes, Satan’s Anal Plug.
3. Spotted Dick
Some things you should inherently know never to put in your mouth. This is one of those things. It’s a pudding made from suet—a hard, white fat found on the kidneys and loins of cattle and sheep. Spotted Dick also contains golden raisins, thus the “spots” in the “dick.” I remember pudding as being the best part of the crappy TV dinners my dad made me. What have they done to pudding? I mean, cattle-kidney fat? Raisins? They might as well add arsenic and be done with us.
Tripe is cow stomach, but usually just the first three chambers of the stomach. Any further and you’d be into the cow colon, I guess, and further still you’d just be eating it’s asshole, and the French are not Philistines, you know. But then again they think a delicious sauce will “elevate” anything, so don’t be surprised if you see Cow Ass Confit on a menu in Lyon soon. Anyway, regarding tripe, it stinks like a lonely suicide victim whose body had been left inside to rot in record heat until the neighbors complain to the police about the smell. In short, no amount of béchamel sauce is gonna elevate that rank stank.
5. Tête de Veau (Calf Head)
France gets two spots on the field guide, because the French will eat anything, even the decapitated heads of baby cows. Have you seen a baby cow? Its head is the cutest part! You’re a monster if you kill a baby and then devour its head. You’re worse than that dentist who recently shot a prized lion off a game reserve in Africa. At least that lion got to keep its head for a few years. This poor calf, on the other hand, was whacked as a toddler, then had its head served to you on a plate, wrapped in its own tongue, with its brains sitting beside it. So basically, you’ve just murdered and horribly mutilated a baby animal. That’s how serial killers get started, you know. So good for you.
Hollis Gillespie writes a weekly travel column for Paste. She is a writing instructor, travel expert and author of We Will be Crashing Shortly, which hit bookstore shelves July 22. Follow her on Twitter.