10 Exotic Foods You Should Eat While You're On Vacation

Don't dismiss a new food before you've tried it.
Don't dismiss a new food before you've tried it.
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If you're squeamish about the idea of trying new foods, consider this: Not only do new tastes stimulate your palate, they can create new connections in your brain. Sampling exotic foods may actually improve your mind. It will most definitely broaden your culinary horizons and expand the way you think about food, and maybe even give you some ideas for making dinner at home. If you shy away from trying anything you worry you might not like, you eliminate the chance that you'll discover something new that you absolutely love.

Should you avoid any exotic foods? Yes. Anything endangered is not worth the threat to the species and the environment. For example, shark fin soup is considered by many to be a delicacy -- but between 73 and 100 million sharks are destroyed each year just for their fins [source: Heimbuch]. And more than a third of shark species are endangered. The United Nations is currently working to ban shark finning around the world.

But don't worry, there are still plenty of unusual dishes you can sample without worrying about sustainability issues. Prepare for experimentation by sampling new flavors at home before you travel. Pick up a new ingredient (a new spice, herb or grain) at your grocery store, or a new kind of fruit or veggie at your farmers' market. Do a little research about how to prepare these new items, and then cook and sample them to see what you think. Visit a new restaurant -- perhaps one that serves an ethnic cuisine you've never tried before. And when it's time to travel, keep an open mind and enjoy. Here are a few ideas, listed in no particular order, for what (and where) to try.