Instead of Michelin-starred restaurants and lengthy cooking courses, a new range of Food Adventures give you the opportunity to meet artisan producers, visit authentic local eateries, and sample local delicacies such as grasshoppers in Mexico, fried bees in China and fertilised duck eggs in Vietnam at markets and street stalls.
Grasshoppers in Mexico
Thomasina Miers, cookery writer, former Masterchef winner and founder of Mexican market eating restaurant Wahaca, says: “The Mexicans have been eating insects for thousands of years and they’re a nutritious and plentiful supply of protein and minerals.” Wahaca recently announced it would be putting grasshoppers on the menu at its experimental Southbank branch of the restaurant.
And Thomasina Miers has curated Intrepid Travel’s new Mexico Real Food Adventure (8 days from £820pp) which offers the opportunity to try grasshoppers at Asbastos Market in Oaxaca. It also includes a late-night taco crawl in Mexico City, visit to a mescal distillery and a cooking class in Puebla.
Fried bees in China
“Fried bees are a delicacy in China and actually cost more than meat,” according to Daniel Klein, from US food documentary filmmakers, The Perennial Plate. Klein trained as a chef at restaurants including the Fat Duck and St Johns, but is currently travelling around the world with cameragirl and producer, Mirra Fine filming their food adventures with Intrepid Travel.
Fertilised duck eggs in Vietnam
Tracey Lister, an Australian chef and cookery writer with an expertise in Vietnamese cuisine, says: “In local markets you will see baskets of duck eggs with nets over them to prevent any ducks from escaping should they hatch! You can clearly identify the chick but if you can get past this, you will enjoy a creamy duck flavour that is delicious. The locals believe it gives you mental and physical strength, and will often eat one before an important meeting.”
Lister is endorsing Intrepid’s new Vietnam Real Food Adventure (12 days from £1,140pp) which includes a traditional tea ceremony, drinking bia hoi in colourful beer halls, and a cooking class in Hoi An.
Stinky tofu and scorpions in China
“They make fresh tofu and then ferment it in a sour vegetable juice to make it pungent,” says Mirra Fine, from food documentary filmmakers, The Perennial Plate. “If you’re a fan of stinky cheese, you’ll like stinky tofu. There are stands with ladies grilling the tofu, and you pick it up as they grill it. They keep count of how many pieces you’ve had with corn kernels, then when you leave they charge you according to how many corn kernels you have.”
The new China Real Food Adventure (10 days from £1,390pp) includes trying scorpions at Donghuamen Night Market, taking a ‘snack crawl’ through Xi’an and foraging for dinner at a village homestay.
Water bugs in Vietnam
“Water bugs have the most surprising flavour. They are only available for a limited time each year and so are considered a treat. The Vietnamese gather the insect’s liquid-producing sacs to extract an essence. Add it to dipping sauce or a broth for an intense apple flavour – a tiny drop on the end of a toothpick is all that you need to flavour a whole bowl of soup,” said Eliza Anderson from Intrepid Travel.
These travel adventures are from Intrepid Travel, which is a global company with 24 years’ experience of taking people off the beaten track to discover the world’s most amazing places. It offers more than 1,000 trips – including small group adventures, short break adventures and Urban Adventure day tours – in more than 100 countries and on every continent. Intrepid’s trips are carbon neutral and are designed to experience local culture – to meet local people, try local food, take local transport and stay in local accommodation.