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The World's Strangest Street Food

World's Strangest Street Food: Reindeer Hot Dogs

Gary Wiviott

Reindeer Hot Dogs, Anchorage, AK

When crowds show up every March to watch the start of the Iditarod dogsled race, they stay warm by bundling up, rubbing their hands together—and snacking on sizzling, grilled reindeer hot dogs. The dogs (the ones in the buns, not the sled harnesses) are actually only part reindeer meat; they're also made with pork and beef, to offset the venison-like leanness and gaminess. Fans, who scarf them down with grainy mustard and onions, swear that they're way tastier than ordinary hot dogs. And if you're worried about eating Rudolph, take heart: The hot dogs you usually eat probably contain worse.

Where to find them: M.A.'s Gourmet Dogs, 4th Avenue and G Street, in downtown Anchorage; also, the Anchorage-based supplier Indian Valley Meats (indianvalleymeats.com) sells the reindeer dogs and sausages online.

From the article The World's Strangest Street Food

World's Strangest Street Food: biltong

TNT MAGAZINE / Alamy

Biltong, Cape Town, South Africa

Introduced by Dutch Voortrekkers who colonized and traveled across South Africa in the mid-1800's, biltong—jerky made from the dried meat of exotic local fauna like ostrich, springbok, and kudu—is now sold in packets at Cape Town market stalls, at roadside gas stations, and in supermarkets. The meat, which is cured in apple cider or malt vinegar and then rubbed with spices (usually black pepper, coriander, brown sugar, and garlic), is addictively salty and chewy. It's also tough enough to withstand a nuclear holocaust (or at least a long flight layover).

Where to find it: Joubert & Monty's Biltong (joubertandmonty.co.za) has several stalls around the city, including at the Clocktower Center along the Victoria & Albert waterfront.

From the article The World's Strangest Street Food

World's Strangest Street Food: ABC

Denise Soong

ABC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The initials stand for air batu campur, or "water stone mix"—but this concoction is actually a variation of that universal Asian heat-beater, shave ice. Malaysians like theirs served in a plastic bowl with condensed milk, palm sugar, roasted peanuts, red beans, canned corn, and cubes of black grass jelly. This last ingredient, known in Malaysia as cincau,is a Jell-O-ish creation made from boiling a leafy herb related to mint; its taste has been variously described as "refreshing," "medicinal," and "like iodine."

Where to Find It: Streetside stalls all around the city, especially in Jalan Alor (Kuala Lumpur's red-light district-turned-outdoor food emporium).

From the article The World's Strangest Street Food

World's Strangest Street Food: stinky tofu

Nicole Sikora Heschong

Stinky Tofu, Taipei, Taiwan

The smell may prompt you to run in the other direction, but devotees of this fried-tofu dish mob the carts that sell it. The, ahem, aroma (which even enthusiasts compare to garbage or manure) comes from the brine the tofu is soaked in before frying—a rancid broth of fermented vegetables and shrimp that can be up to six months old. After the tofu is dunked into the brine for several hours, it's deep-fried into crunchy golden cubes, then topped with a spicy sauce made from vinegar, sesame oil, shredded cucumber, and pickled Chinese cabbage. The taste is, reportedly, much milder than the smell—something along the lines of bleu cheese.

Where to Find It: Night markets around the city, including the famous Shilin Night Market, in the Shilin district, and the Linjiang Night Market, in the Xinyi district. Follow your nose.

From the article The World's Strangest Street Food

World's Strangest Street Food: yak butter tea

NORMA JOSEPH / Alamy

Yak Butter Tea, Lhasa, Tibet

Thick, salty butter tea—called po cha in these parts—is more like a savory soup than the sweet tea known to Western palates. It's made by churning or shaking yak butter, black tea, and salt together in a covered container; the result is best consumed when it's hot and foamy. Locals usually drink dozens of cups a day; it's an easy source of calories, and more pressingly in these high altitudes, heat. It's also served in practically every Tibetan home—and if you're staying in one, you'd better develop a taste for the brew: Local custom dictates that a guest's cup should be refilled after every sip.

Where to Find It: Any of the many streetside tea shops around Jokhang temple in Lhasa's old Tibetan quarter.

From the article The World's Strangest Street Food

World's Strangest Street Food: Laverbread

foodfolio / Alamy

Laverbread, Swansea, Wales

The not-especially-breadlike laverbread (in Welsh, bara lawr) is a dish made from laver, a black seaweed that grows on the rocks along the Gower Peninsula. The laver is boiled for several hours until it forms a jellylike paste—which is then rolled in oatmeal and fried into cakes. The resulting "bread," when layered with bacon and cockles (small, clamlike shellfish, usually harvested from the mud flats around the port town of Penclawwd), is considered the traditional Welsh breakfast. Just something to be aware of, in case you were expecting eggs and toast.

Where to find it: The covered stalls of Swansea Market, in Swansea's Castle Square.

From the article The World's Strangest Street Food

World's Strangest Street Food: Bake n' Shark

M. Timothy O'Keefe / Alamy

Bake n‘ Shark (or Shark n‘ Bake), Maracas Bay, Trinidad

If swimming in tropical waters gives you shark anxiety, exorcise it with one of these deep-fried sandwiches. Chunks of fatty black-tip shark meat stuffed into a pocket of fry bread, then topped with a sauce of tamarind or "shadow benny"—otherwise known as Mexican coriander—are yummy in a greasy beach-food kind of way. (Plus, when's the next time you'll get the chance to bite one of them?) Accidentally getting a little sand in your sandwich, and washing everything down with a cold Carib beer, is near mandatory.

Where to Find It: Open-air vendors sell the dish all up and down the beach at Maracas Bay, but connoisseurs swear by only one: Richard's Bake n' Shark. It's the one with the red-and-white awnings and the long, long line.

From the article The World's Strangest Street Food

World's Strangest Street Food: roasted cuy

Bert de Ruiter / Alamy

Roasted Cuy, Otavalo, Ecuador

If you ever kept a guinea pig as a childhood pet, you'll probably want to avoid the open-air vendors (here and in other Ecuadorean cities) that sell roasted cuy. These rodents—farm-raised cousins of your old pal Fluffy—are spit-roasted whole, with their heads and claws still on. And smoky and delicious though the meat may be (reportedly the taste is similar to duck), watching the locals gnaw on it can be disconcerting.

Where to Find It: Among the artisans' stalls at the outdoor Otavalo Market. More refined meals of cuy are also served at sit-down restaurants in Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil.

From the article The World's Strangest Street Food

World's Strangest Street Food: Pie Floater

Boris Karpinski / Alamy

Pie Floater, Adelaide, Australia

Street-hawked meat pies—small pastries filled with mincemeat and gravy—are more or less the national dish of Australia. But this Southern-Aussie variant is a little more creative: The pie is—yes—floated in a bowl of thick pea soup, then topped with a dollop of ketchup. Floatophiles claim that once they've gotten their fix, they don't need to eat again all day. They also claim the snacks are best enjoyed when drunk. Somehow, we believe them.

Where to Find Them: From carts at parks and main thoroughfares all around Adelaide. Cowley’s Pie Park is stationed outside the General Post Office (GPO) on Franklin Street.

From the article The World's Strangest Street Food

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