Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
26 Mar

Primal Abroad: Food Adventures from Around the World

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This is a guest post from Eric Bach, primal enthusiast and member of The Modern Gypsies. You may know The Gypsies as the winners of the 2011 adventure race television show Expedition Impossible, and perhaps remember them from this MDA interview. Well, their adventures didn’t end after the show. Since then, they’ve ventured out on a “Compassionate Adventure” of their own making, and have been met with some, let’s say, diverse dishes along the way. Enter Eric.

Ok, so you know the story, eat fresh, organic, unprocessed foods which includes meat, veggies, nuts and seeds. It’s simple and straightforward, the primal way of life is second nature to you. In your neighborhood there’s that quaint little butcher that always has your grass-fed beef, or you can swing by Whole Foods and make a rainbow assortment of varied nuts and seeds; oh and while you’re there, you may as well pick up a can of organic coconut oil. Everything is readily available, taunting you with attractive labels and promises of grass-fed, high omega-3, non GMO goodness.

Now picture this, you’re high up in the Ecuadorian highlands, you just reached the 19,347 ft summit of one of the tallest peaks in the country, Cotopaxi, and after the glorious descent your body is yearning for primal fuel. What are the options? Sure there is a plethora of potatoes and corn (the standard diet of most villagers in Ecuador). However, you just got your ass handed to you by Mount Doom and you need some proper sustenance. After asking local villagers in broken spanglish about the whereabouts of cooked meats, they point to a bag on the ground. You open this bag, expecting freshly grilled goodies, only to discover a pack of adorable, furry Guinea Pig friends. You grew up with a guinea pig, his name was Biscuit and now you are confronted with beautiful childhood memories. Quickly you snap to your senses, wiping the goofy smirk off of your face. Here, Biscuit is food and you’ve got a decision to make.

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This was the situation that confronted us this past year in Ecuador. Myself, along with my two teammates Taylor Filasky and John Post, had been in the country for several weeks on a “Compassionate Adventure.” Our group, “The Modern Gypsies” had utilized our fan base to vote, raise funds and help to complete a clean water project for over 400 people, as well as summit the stratovolcano, Cotopaxi. Our goal for this trip was to complete one major act of compassion, have one epic adventure and, with a small camera crew, document the experience (guinea pig snacks and all). We truly believe that it is crucially important to not only push your limits physically, but also to give back to the communities whom you encounter along the way. Little did we know, one of the ways we would test our boundaries would be with the long-lost relatives of a childhood pet.

I had been in this questionable consumption situation before; wriggling, fat grubs in Myanmar, Balut (half developed duck embryo) in the Philippines, crickets, chicken heads, scorpions and many unknown meats that I simply cannot put into words (mostly in India). However, staring at a bald, dead guinea pig on a stick, did not give me the traditional Pavlovian salivating response. Then I took a step back and looked at the process. Here we were in the middle of the beautiful Ecuadorian countryside in the tiny village of Gulahuayco. During the days we worked side by side with the men, women and children of the village, digging over 2 kms of trenching and eventually laying the pipe which would bring clean water to the entire community. We were all exhausted; the work was strenuous and our tools for completing the project were…well, they were “primal”. Yet here we were again working side by side, heating up a giant cauldron, husking corn, peeling potatoes and killing guinea pigs (not as glamorous as I make it sound…). Everyone was smiling and laughing, mostly at us. Our common bond was hard work and a desire to better the community.

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So we went for it. A large group came together in a small dining hall and we all ate together. The guinea pig was tough, but tasted fairly mild, like a chewier, gamier chicken. Thankfully they cut the heads off (which by way of the Ecuadorians were the first to go for some reason). Upon putting a piece in your mouth, you might still end up with a paw or tiny ear, which was cute. While the dish may not be on the top of my list, the experience of eating the meal together is one I will always remember.

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Sometimes in life, we have to make interesting decisions regarding what we put into our mouths. I have been confronted with many of these situations and what I’ve learned is to not think too deeply, or too “Westernized,” into it. Following a primal way of life, we are always thinking about what is going into our mouths and what effect it will have on our body. However, when traveling to exotic corners of the earth, this privileged way of thinking can often be a major hindrance.

As you know, one of the keys to living a successful primal lifestyle is varying your routine. This can come in the form of exercise, diet or life experience. When traveling to foreign lands, partaking in the local dining experience is not just a choice, in my opinion it is your duty. Don’t you worry, you’ll usually have the standard options of chicken, beef, or fish. It’s cool, you know what it will taste like, you know the consistency and your vanilla palette will be satisfied…you did good, you stayed primal! However, in the sense of adventure and life experience, when presented with a more “unique” option, stop thinking and go for it!

Follow The Modern Gypsies on Facebook, and check out the first episode of their Ecuador Compassionate Adventure at TheModernGypsies.com.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I’m headed for ecuador in the summer. I’m curious to see what I’ll stumble upon.

    Peter wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • Woo! First!

      Peter wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • I’m all for the spirit of adventure, but how do you intend to protect against things like toxoplasmosis in these novel situations?

      Dane wrote on March 27th, 2013
    • I’ve eaten guinea pig (called cuy) in the and termites (in the amazon) there. My guinea pig was deep fried though. Not bad

      Nicky wrote on March 27th, 2013
  2. I would be open to trying most things particularly when I’m traveling, I mean having the local fare is part of the experience. Must admit Balut would be tough!

    Judging from the horsemeat lasagna that so many people were up in arms about I don’t see your average person chowing down on guinea pig anytime soon lol,
    I would definately give it a try though!

    Okay off to the pet store! Jk

    Luke DePron wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • +1 re. the Balut – that’s hardcore

      Primal V wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • I had Balut in the Philippines, and I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about. If you love eggs (and I do) and you love chicken (again, yes!), then you will love Balut! It’s like a super tender, kinda eggy-tastying chicken. Yum!

      Agnes wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • I’ve looked up all of what GoogleImages has to offer me on what balut looks like, and it seems to vary in degrees of maturity. I really don’t think I could deal with eating beak, feathers, tallons, and all that. I am a pretty darn adventerous eater – I get tongue, intestine, and sweetbreads (brain) at restaurants when it’s offered on a regular basis. But this is making my stomach turn just thinking about it.

        Sarah A wrote on March 26th, 2013
        • sweetbreads = thymus. But yeah.

          Julie wrote on March 27th, 2013
        • Apparently you are correct about the sweetbreads! I only go to one restaurant that serves “sweetbreads” and when I asked them what that was they told me brain. I would say what I’ve eaten Looks like brain. So, it’s strange that they don’t know the correct terminology – I’m guessing it’s a language barrier, as it’s an Argentine restaurant. Hmmm. So I suppose I’ve never eaten “sweetbreads”

          Sarah a. wrote on March 27th, 2013
  3. Good morning… What a kewl story! We really do take for granted where and how our food sources are prepared. Some neighbours raised some chickens last year, so I learned quickly how ( YouTube Video ) to slaughter and clean them, great experience for all involved…. Except the chickens!
    My hat is off for eating Guinnee Pig though! Why does everything taste like chicken!
    Have a great day everyone!

    Rod Hilton wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • Why does everything taste like guinea pig? All about frame of reference.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • Because american chickens don’t taste like anything. Eat a mexican chicken. There is also the fact that many foods are very mild flavored. White fish for example. How many kinds of white fish are there that all taste extremely similar?

      Joshua wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • Or eat a really good, air dried chicken… that was the best chicken I ever ate in my life. And I can’t remember where I got it. Failure.

        AriaDream wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • Hi Joshua, I am really interested in trying the Mexican chicken. Who is your source or insider across the border? How do you verify auththenticity? I love the nutritional profile of chicken, and am very interested in trying this more flavorful version you speak of.

        Jessica wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • What are you talking about? Mexican Chicken? you do know that chickens were originally imported from southeast asia some like 3K years ago brought over from the spanish conquistadors. What makes you think you are eating mexican chicken anyway. you saw its papers?

        James wrote on March 26th, 2013
        • I was sitting in central Mexico.

          TylarDerdin wrote on March 26th, 2013
        • Conquistadors, heh? So it really does “take a tough man to make a tender chicken”…

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on March 26th, 2013
        • James, ease off the coffee brother. I was at a booth in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I suppose it could have come from Tyson, but that would be strange considering the stack of recently plucked chickens on the counter.

          Joshua wrote on March 27th, 2013
        • Apparently, torturous play will make an animal more tender, such as when a cat plays with its catch.
          I first read that in Dexter is Delicious.. those are very entertaining books.

          Animanarchy wrote on April 2nd, 2013
  4. One thing to be careful of is to try to avoid eating endangered species. The locals may need to subsist on these animals, but when tourists create a demand for wild game, the wild populations truly suffer. Look up “bushmeat” for more info.

    On the other hand, guinea pig and grub populations seem to be doing just fine. . . dig in! ;-)

    Erica wrote on March 26th, 2013
  5. Sort of interesting to me. But the story illustrates why I would never, ever tell anyone “Check out marksdailyapple dot com” although I frequently refer people to specific pages. Nearly everyone I know would read today’s post and say “No thanks. I don’t want to be a cave wo/man.”

    Harry Mossman wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • Harry, I *was* referred specifically to the main website first. The first post i read referred to the “squat to poop” post, which had been posted just the day before. I am still here, reading every post. You never know what some people will find attractive in these pages.

      Jeremy wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • Nope. I will continue to refer people to specific pages that don’t involve squat to poop, guinea pigs or mucho macho guys playing Tarzan.

        I would have eaten the potatoes and corn.

        Harry Mossman wrote on March 26th, 2013
        • Hahaha! Too funny!!!

          (I would have eaten the spuds and corn, too.)

          Helga wrote on March 26th, 2013
        • I would have shat corn-riddled feces from a tree.
          I bet some real life Groks did that. Doesn’t a tree seem like a safe place to poop from?

          Animanarchy wrote on March 27th, 2013
        • Actually I have used a five foot high or so pile of boards as a squatty potty.

          Animanarchy wrote on March 27th, 2013
        • Everyone has their limit. I’m fine with this article, but if I were trying to persuade someone to go primal, I’d never show them the article about eating human placenta. I can eat just about anything from another animal, but I draw the line at eating human organs. ;0

          Mark A wrote on March 28th, 2013
        • And if you poo from a tree, you likely have leaves within arm’s reach to wipe with.

          Animanarchy wrote on January 13th, 2014
  6. The last 2 paragraphs struck a particular chord with me. I love routine, and I struggle when it I have to vary it. Which, is odd, since I love to travel. But looking back on my travels, I stick with the cuisine I know. I promise my next trip will include some local cuisine. Thanks for the post. Great story.

    James wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • Food is ultimate expression of culture. Glad to read you will be taking in more culture on your future travels.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • Food is the ultimate expression of geography. The French eat the way the do because they live in the one of the better food producing regions on the planet. The Germans eat a lot of sausages because they didn’t live in the better food producing regions on the planet. Ditto with the Italians who were eating dressed up poverty food.

        We associate foods with cultures, but only because it was those cultures are intertwined with their landscape.

        Amy wrote on March 26th, 2013
        • I agree with you epistemologically in the local food/culture relationship.

          I disagree that a culture has to be intertwined with their landscape to produce a culturally known product using foods not available locally.

          Global trade provides food types that cannot be grown through normal, local means. Cacoa beans aren’t grown in Switzerland, neither is sugar, but their culture is known for producing great chocolates. The Pacific Northwest does not grow coffee beans but its culture is known for coffee.

          Cacoa- my new safe word. (see website link. Love “Portlandia”).

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on March 26th, 2013
        • Don’t forget “Coffee Land”! (see website link)

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on March 26th, 2013
        • Ain’t gonna lie. I picked that bone just to weave in the Portlandia skits “Cacoa” and “Coffee Land”. I just did a Portlandia marathon.

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on March 26th, 2013
        • I’m not sure that’s really true. German and Italian cuisine both have elevated and humble origins, just like French. French and Italian culture both feature charcuterie and salumi, respectively, which are ways of preserving the less desirable (to Americans anyway) cuts of pork and other animals. Meanwhile, Germans have strudel, which takes years of practice to perfect the technique of stretching and layering the dough. France may be the land of cheese, but the Germans and Italians are no slouches in this department either. And in all cases, cheese is just the best way to preserve the most nutritional parts of the milk for long periods of time. France may have large expanses of fertile soil, but German and Italian agriculture are certainly not lacking. Germany offers more cool-climate products – including the wondrous Riesling grape, while Italy ranges from sub-tropical to Alpine.

          Some of your generalizations may hold water, but stating that “Germans eat a lot of sausages because they didn’t live in the better food producing regions on the planet” is just plain wrong. Sausage would never have been invented if it weren’t for an abundance of meat that needed to be preserved in some way for long-term storage. And the part about the Italians eating “dressed-up poverty food” is a little offensive even. Almost all foods we see today that stand out as hallmarks of a culture’s food – cassoulet, paella, pasta, sauerbraten, etc. – have their origins in agricultural regions and farmhouse kitchens.

          Mark A wrote on March 27th, 2013
        • German food is delicious, it’s been years, but I still miss it.

          Vanessa wrote on March 27th, 2013
        • What a great topic. :)

          On Switzerland – chocolate is also a dairy product. What grows best on the mountains of Switzerland are dairy cows. We live in a global age, but what people do even with imported food very much depends on they can come by steadily and locally. Geography still counts, today as much as ever.

          On my other generalizations regarding – hey, they are totally generalizations but I stand by them. :) You don’t eat goose if you don’t have the time, the mild weather, or the steady food supply to feed them. You don’t bother to grind up pigs/dairy cattle into sausages if you can eat them fresh during the winter. (It suggests only a fair to middling growing region if you can’t support your food on the hoof all winter.) You don’t come up with a 1000 different ways to shape and cook noodles if more substantial food is readily available.

          So yes, in my mind, there’s no escaping that the food landscape is part and parcel of the real one, even down to the way imported foods are handled.

          Amy wrote on March 28th, 2013
  7. I am lucky to have an adventurous pallette from having grown up eating organ meats as if they were normal. I am surprised by the squemish responses so far. Guinea pig really isn’t that weird. It’s like eating rabbit. I have eaten a lot of things people might think weird in my travels but this is one of the tamer ones.

    The most revolting things I have eaten are natto and durian. The smells of both were the worst though I did gulp it down trying not to offend my hosts. Never had a problem with any proteins however. I have eaten fermented squid guts, fermented shark, scorpion, crickets, rat, full cobra including beating heart and all sorts of organs inicluding uterus, eyes, lips, testicles, penises, stomach parts.

    It is all meat, get past your mindset and you will probably find things to enjoy. Grok ate anything that crawled, swam or walked.

    Steve wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • We don’t actually know this. Grok probably had food taboos, too.

      Helga wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • I agree. Food taboos could easily be learned as a means of survival.

        Amy wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • Grok “the metaphor” ate everything that moved, over the course of millions of years, given the likelihood that no taboo has ever been universally intersecting. Pedantry isn’t very helpful or informative.

        John wrote on March 26th, 2013
        • How does the phrase “we don’t actually know” qualify as pedantry?

          Helga wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • Really? Most indigenous cultures eat all proteins available to them as well as all of the organs they can without modern plumbing. I think food taboos probably only came along once we started forming larger societies.

        Steve wrote on March 27th, 2013
    • Oh durian smells GROSS man.

      Madama Butterfry wrote on March 26th, 2013
  8. hey, am really curious what all unusal meats you tried in India??? I am in India nowadays and really bored of standard chicken and goat. Please please let me know what all you had in India.

    Siaah wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • While India is not known for it’s meat, I would get up to Kashmir and try some Yak…it’s actually really good! In some of the more tribal areas you can find monkey, and several protected species, which is sad.

      Gypsy Eric wrote on March 26th, 2013
  9. Why not try something at least once?

    Matt wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • Sooooo true! I tried mussels last week after being prompted by the coconut lime mussels recipe… I know, not super adventurous but I never wanted to try them before.
      I LOVED THEM!! They were so yummy I’ve been craving them!

      Jennapher wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • If you liked mussels and get the opportunity I suggest hunting some crayfish, which taste like lobsters. The shell is edible after it’s cooked.

        Animanarchy wrote on March 28th, 2013
    • If you’re not prepared for totally negative reply, skip this response ;) :

      Because it could kill you. Giant swaths of the planet kingdom are poisonous. Ditto with most mushrooms.

      Most meats are an exception. However, I do know of an arctic shark with poisonous flesh.

      The take away lesson: let the natives eat first.

      Amy wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • Yes, but the natives have immunities to some of the local germs and parasites.

        A few years ago a group of friends went to South America to visit family. The only one who had grown up locally was fine, but his wife and son ended up very ill with parasites. The daughter-in-law lived on diet Pepsi and didn’t get sick the entire time!

        Helga wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • My Paleo dog will spit mushrooms out. Ptooey! Not food! (He has been known to eat shit, so no accounting for tastes.)

        Pure Hapa wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • Actually, most mushrooms are not poisonous. Read Mushrooms Demystified and you will learn this.

        Diane wrote on March 26th, 2013
        • My feeling on it is like snakes. Sure most aren’t poisonous. I’m not walking encyclopedia of either snakes or mushrooms. If I’m wrong with my guess, then someone either gets hurt or dies. Therefore, unfortunately, the default answer is to assume they are poisonous.

          Amy wrote on March 28th, 2013
  10. Mark, how bout putting together a list of MDA’ers by country…that would be sooo cool for us travelers needing contacts for primal eating ideas! I’ve had monkey and the grubs and guinea pigs in Ecuador. Grasshoppers and crickets in Mexico and rabbit in Greece. This was long before going Primal. I ate those things just to experience the cultures I was visiting, but now I would eat them to survive and thrive and cut out most of the carbs those countries provide. It would seem to be much more challenging on the road now trying to stay 90% Primal. I’ll search for other Primal eaters in specific countries now before visiting.

    Nocona wrote on March 26th, 2013
  11. That remembered me to my China travels, dog, snake, muddy fish, small crabs (with chopsticks) and sinews (very hot).

    That was before i even got primal. :)

    Vollzeitvater wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • I loved China! I had some of the most delicious and AMAZING food there! You just have to go for it and become part of the culture. I hate when people turn up their noses at something that looks a little different! One of my favourite dishes was the turtle :-). Can’t wait to go back again this fall!

      Lindsay wrote on March 26th, 2013
  12. “…when traveling to exotic corners of the earth, this privileged way of thinking can often be a major hindrance”

    Truth.

    What’s the point of travelling all over the world if you’re going to just do the same thing you do at home. If you’re going to experience something, go for it and dive in 100%. We’re so close minded in the Western world sometimes and it’s such a shame — we are missing out on the most beautiful and important parts of being a human being.

    Lindsay wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • I don’t understand vacations just to relax on a beach all day. That seems like a waste of money.

      Animanarchy wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • +1

        Nocona wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • Live a stress filled life in a cold climate and the comfort of a warm beach can do wonders.

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on March 26th, 2013
        • I do live a life like that. I’ve camped almost the entire winter. Now I know that’s possible with enough blankets and warm layers. I’m eager for warm weather so I can enjoy water and sun again – it makes me feel good (and regular showers when the local campgrounds open for the season.. it’s been about a month since the last one), but I wouldn’t invest money for the privilege unless I had enough to take a vacation on a whim without thought to budgeting.

          Animanarchy wrote on March 27th, 2013
    • “…we are missing out on the most beautiful and important parts of being a human being.”

      …like…um…eating a guinea pig with a stick up its kazoo???

      Helga wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • Ha, ha, ha !!! Good one! And I personally don’t think traveling has to be about eating everything local. I don’t eat all of the “local specialities” of my own country since some of them are awful (rotten fish anyone?) – then why would I suddenly go all crazy and eat weird things when I am abroad?

        Lisa wrote on March 27th, 2013
  13. In an odd coincidence I just came across the word Balut for the first time in my 47 years reading an old sci-fi story last night.

    From ‘The Golden Age of Science Fiction: An Anthology of 50 Short Stories’, A World by the Tale by Randall Garrett:

    Earth had nothing to sell to the [alien] tourists.

    Ever hear of baluts? The Melanesians of the South Pacific consider it a very fine delicacy. You take a fertilized duck egg and you bury it in the warm earth. Six months later, when it is nice and overripe, you dig it up again, knock the top off the shell the way you would a soft-boiled egg, and eat it. Then you pick the pinfeathers out of your teeth. Baluts.

    Now you know how the greatest delicacies of Earth’s restaurants affected the Galactics.

    Sean wrote on March 26th, 2013
  14. Why did I click on this during lunch?

    ChocoTaco369 wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • +1

      Joy Beer wrote on March 26th, 2013
  15. The guinea pig part reminds me of my own childhood and having pet rabbits…nowadays, I eat them instead of own them.

    Wenchypoo wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • Ha ha…my neighbours bought three pet bunnies for their kids for Easter to play with then got tired of them and ate them for Thanksgiving.

      Tracy wrote on March 31st, 2013
  16. For some reason I have that line from “Finding Nemo” in my head – “Fish are friends, not food!” But I would probably eat my friend if the situation called for it.

    Emily wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • Vegetarian propaganda.

      Madama Butterfry wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • Maybe NWO propaganda, subliminally influencing people not to consume enough Omega-3, or sea food in general, to undermine the power of brains.

        Animanarchy wrote on March 27th, 2013
  17. Such an inspiration! Thanks for taking us along with you on your travels Eric!!!!

    Alex wrote on March 26th, 2013
  18. Asw it turns out, John the Baptist, of Bible fame, and his vows were not so far off. eating wild Locusts and honey. Locusts (grasshoppers), as it turns out, have a very high percentage of protein, yum. And we know that a little Honey is also very nutritious.

    John Pilla wrote on March 26th, 2013
  19. Oh for the love of it all. It I can catch it I will eat it. I ate guinea pig in Peru. Not all that bad, not all that good. I will say this. I think they can tell. Every time I pass a pet store those little furry bags of protein get nervous. Just saying! GROK ON BABY!

    borderblue wrote on March 26th, 2013
  20. Sadly, the most interesting meats I’ve had are yak and caribou. Caribou is REALLY good by the way… I’d love to try guinea pig and grubs but, alas, there’s no market for them up in Canada. :) I’d love to try horsemeat too, but good luck getting it.

    AriaDream wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • New Brunswick is now selling horse meat commercially (and intentionally not as in the European mislabelling). g

      Ginger-eight wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • I live in new brunswick and I had no idea! Definetly something to ponder, though seems slightly less appealing then most meats to me personally (minus guniea pig), perhaps this is a good time to branch out.

        Nick wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • For horse meat try Ikea…

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • Hahaha your comments always make me laugh..

        Off to Ikea for horse meatballs :D

        Jennapher wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • Kekeke.

        Oddly, since the European horse meat “scare” the sales of horse meat here in Alberta have increased as people decide to give it a try. I’m going to buy a few ounces of smoked meat myself this week.

        BTW: Your linked “cacao” skit is hilarious. ^_^

        Jasmine wrote on March 31st, 2013
    • This post is starting to sound like some bizarre game of foodie one-upmanship:

      “The most exotic thing I’VE ever had was manatee muzzle sauteed in badger bile!”

      “Oh, is that anything like camel colon smothered in snake snot?”

      Helga wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • You don’t want to know about some of the things I’ve eaten. Rotten fish? That’s close. Blah.

        Animanarchy wrote on March 28th, 2013
  21. I tried guinea pig in Peru also. It was served on a plate with it’s little face up and paws (mostly to freak out the tourists I think). It was pretty greasy dark meat and served with a lot of side dishes for those who I guess just pick at it. It was my sister’s pick for lunch but we all tried a piece.

    As far as locals raising them, I’m sure they breed well, don’t need much food, grow quickly and produce fertilizer – a pretty good resource you must say. g

    Ginger-eight wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • I have a guinea pig and she eats all the scraps from my vegetable prep so gladly. I often think about how easy it would be to have a colony of these enthusiastic eaters and maters… but I do love her and she’ll continue to eat organic with me and my daughter.

      Until the End Times.

      Joy Beer wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • Actually, they leave the heads on until after it’s served to show it’s really guinea pig, and not some other meat. I live in Ecuador, but on the coast. Guinea pig is mostly eaten in the mountains here by the indigenous people, but it does show up elsewhere as well. I haven’t eaten it, but I’ve had goat, and some other un-identified meat. But mostly I happily eat the free-range chicken and beef (yes, it’s noticeably tougher), and the fresh seafood. All are plentiful, but unfortunately bacon is expensive and hard to find. I buy it anyway!

      Aly wrote on April 3rd, 2013
  22. “…vanilla pallette”???

    Vanilla bean is the second most expensive spice (after saffron) — it’s not as if you can grow it in your back yard!

    Although his humanitarian efforts are to be lauded, Gypsy Eric comes across in this article as condescending and dismissive of anyone who chooses not to partake indiscriminately of the local cuisine; and patronising towards the villagers whose meal he shared (why WOULDN’T they eat the heads?)

    As far as thinking too deeply or too “Westernized” goes, you would be hard pressed to find a culture at any time in history that didn’t have taboos and prohibitions against certain foods: Alcohol, beef, pork, dog, fish without scales, bottom-feeders, etc. Julius Caesar commented on the ancient Celts’ taboo against eating rabbits and hares.

    The anything goes mentality has always perplexed me. And to eat something just because someone else does is nonsense. A friend refused to eat shark fin soup when he was dining with a co-worker and that man’s Vietnamese family. Were they insulted? Yes, but my friend left the table with a clear conscience. Another friend living in Africa responds to the offer of unpalatable foods by smiling disarmingly and saying, “No, thank you, I’m not starving.”

    As the song says, “you’ve got to stand for something or you’re gonna fall for anything”.

    Helga wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • Thank you for your feedback, you make some interesting points. Most of our time during the project in Ecuador spent was living and working with the people of Gulahuayco. We worked with them by day and ate with them by night. We prepared our meals together and the Guinea Pig was a meal had in celebration of our efforts. Luckily, guinea pigs are in abundance and not a protected species (unlike fishermen depleting our oceans of sharks for fin soup). I have the utmost respect for the villagers which we worked with and befriended many of them.

      I’m sorry if I offended you, I was not trying to be dismissive of people who choose not to partake in local cuisine. However, my opinion is that it is important to push your boundaries when traveling and in my experience, this is often a result of the local dining experience. Opportunities like eating Guinea Pig with the local community are often few and far between. Thus the experience of dining together and appreciating each others company often outweighs whatever the meal may be. As far as the heads go, I was just surprised that they went first (i know they would go at some point, but that was the first thing they went for!). Nothing patronizing there, just was a surprise.

      Gypsy Eric wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • I wasn’t personally offended, but I’m always wary when travellers insist on following their hosts’ lead in everything.

        A funny story: The mythical Irish hero, Cu Chulainn is offered dog meat by his host. The hero can either break his taboo against eating dog meat, or break the cultural taboo against offending his host. Knowing he’s in a no-win situation, he chooses to eat the meat, becomes “spiritually” weak (because of the broken taboo), and is defeated in battle.

        The history of food taboos is really quite fascinating!

        Keep up the humanitarian works!

        Helga wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • Helga – I’m glad to see that Eric has a positive response but I completely agree with you.

      It gets very old to be told repeatedly how “closed minded” Westerners are when it’s pretty obvious that staying in one’s comfort zone is a trait shared by humanity. I, for one, am glad I live in a region that can produce better food stuffs than guinea pigs for meat. I’m pretty sure if Eric had courteous enough to bring steak or the local recognizable luxury they would have been all over that,

      Amy wrote on March 28th, 2013
  23. Eric beat me to the punch! I write about Primal within an international context, and have emphasized in the past that trying traditional fare is much more important than sticking to your Primal guns. It’s great to see an article that goes into such details about the wonderful adventures in living, and eating, abroad.

    Paul wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • Thanks Paul! I’d love to check out your writing!!

      Gypsy Eric wrote on March 26th, 2013
  24. If the idea is to get out of one’s comfort zone and sample the local fare, why choose to eat guinea pig but not potatoes and corn? Because they’re not Primal? So it’s OK to have Primal taboos but not cultural ones? Sounds a little inconsistent. At the risk of seeming uncool and unadventurous, I would much rather eat corn and potatoes in Ecuador, than force myself to dine on guinea pig. For the same reason that I wouldn’t eat dog or cat, unless there was really no alternative. To me, an animal is a friend or a food but not both. That’s one comfort zone I have no wish to leave.

    Claire wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • Too right! By the eat-as-the-locals-eat reasoning, visitors to the US should dive into glutinicious Wonder Breads, GMO-corn-syrup-drenched sweets, antibiotic-and-hormone-laced meats, and over-salted, over-sweetened synthetic food-like substances in general.

      Comfort zones can be good things.

      Helga wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • After our grueling climb, we really wanted some quality protein. That’s not to say we didn’t dabble with ability corn and potatoes from time to time ;)

      Gypsy Eric wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • Excuse me for the typo ability= a little

        Gypsy Eric wrote on March 26th, 2013
        • Hey, I love ability corn!

          Nocona wrote on March 26th, 2013
        • As long as it’s not GMO! :)

          Helga wrote on March 26th, 2013
      • Guinea Pig is not exactly quality protein. It’s protein, for sure, and better than nothing but there’s not enough fat or offal (read calories) to keep someone going long term.

        Amy wrote on March 28th, 2013
  25. Hmmm.. not sure about this one. I think I have a problem with the idea of eating anything ‘whole’ (à la crickets/grubs) but could cope with ‘meat of’ something like guinea pig or turtle. Great article all the same!

    Grokesque wrote on March 26th, 2013
  26. This post makes me miss Kenya :(

    Jennapher wrote on March 26th, 2013
  27. Now I feel like people are just getting picky.
    Throwing stones at semantics.
    Are you afraid of trying a food you know is nutritious? Well you’re not alone. I can sympathize with that. I feel adventurous eating organs and new foods, even though I’ve been digging into the nitty gritty of the primal diet for around two years. I’m breaking through that conditioning though. I eat ants and shellfish raw even though sometimes, based on my mindset, it makes me cringe. It’s repulsion based on fear of the unknown, unused to, and things unexperienced.
    A survival mechanism that can be faulty. It can be an entrapment.
    I don’t need such inhibitions. Give me a food that’s good for me.. I’ll try it! I don’t want to be plagued by illogical fears and restrictions.
    Organ meat is outside of some people’s comfort zones even from the animals they already eat. I’ve seen people eat ribs, then say that me eating beef liver and kidneys is gross, not that they ever tried it, but because it’s something they aren’t used to. You can raise lots of animals to be friends or at least on comfortable terms with humans.. cows for example. I’ve stood at the fence of a cow field and fed the cows grass. Doesn’t mean I shouldn’t eat cows.
    Dogs are sometimes afraid of stepping into water, only to enjoy swimming eventually. If you never try you’ll never know.. I’d be willing to bet every person reading this has done something they were scared of and felt good about it after. Maybe that’s the sort of conditioning we should be going for.. trying to expand our boundaries.

    Animanarchy wrote on March 26th, 2013
  28. I have always been really picky, and at one point was a vegetarian. I have since realized that I was being unhealthy (not all vegetarians-just the way I was doing it). I have since fell in love with a very adventurous eater and have been slowly working my way through duck, frog’s legs, etc. and hope to someday be brave enough to travel, like you have, and eat the local food. I think it would be disrespectful to turn it down.

    Katie Henna wrote on March 26th, 2013
  29. A few years ago I visited Korea and we were looking for a place to eat in a small town. The restaurant we found had no English menus, no photos, so we pantomimed eating and the lady serving brought us a selection of dishes. One was definitely of insect origin – segmented, bean-sized things in an umami sauce. We ate them to be polite and realised they weren’t bad so polished off the bowl. She brought another bowl… We took one back to show our tour guide and she told us they were “beondegi” or silkworm pupae. I guess that’s the oddest thing I’ve eaten.

    Indiscreet wrote on March 26th, 2013
  30. Is it weird that I really want to try bugs?

    Sarah T wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • I’m not sure whether or not it’s weird, but I’m right there with you!

      Mandie wrote on March 26th, 2013
    • I don’t think so. What’s weird is an opinion.
      In my opinion most ants taste decent. After you pick them up they excrete an acid in self defense, which is like a sweet lemon sauce. I bite them with my front teeth to kill them and then usually chew them quick because I sometimes find the feeling of having a whole crawly insect in my mouth unpleasant.
      I’ve flashfried a couple grasshoppers in olive oil until they were crispy and they tasted similar to potato chips. I cut their heads off first. Even so, one jumped out of the frying pan. That almost made me jump.
      I’ve eaten bee or wasp, I believe wasp, larvae guts. They didn’t activate many taste buds. Aside: I once carried firewood inside with wasps frozen in ice on it and after the ice thawed they were crawling around.
      Raw snails I found too slimy and tolerable but not enjoyable with a weird inflammatory sort of response, which I think could have been partially caused by a combination of other factors and an icky placebo response.
      I lived with a cat that habitually ate flies. She usually caught them by windows. Sometimes I caught them for her. I’ve eaten tiny flies and spiders that I didn’t even taste. I like catching tiny flies in my mouth.
      Yesterday morning I had a big discarded salmon can out on the ground and watched a squirrel crawl into it and eat some of the remains or juice. Maybe it just wanted the salt but it was being omnivorous.

      Animanarchy wrote on March 27th, 2013
  31. oh geez! now that is a lil too primal for me

    Elisa @ Beach Girl Abroad wrote on March 26th, 2013
  32. It’s extremely easy to eat PRIMAL in Turkey, especially on the coast – I was there for 2 weeks and literally every night would stop at restaurants where you would just go up to a seafood counter, pick a whole food and they would just grill it up for you serving it with a little bit of lettuce. AMAZING. Seriously. I would move there just to eat like that nightly. Don’t know Turkish, but I do know how to point to a whole fish I want to eat!

    GiGi wrote on March 26th, 2013
  33. Unless a food is appealing to me, I won’t eat it. There are foods of my own culture which I don’t eat, so why should I bother eating disgusting food of another culture, even if it’s protein? I own a horse, a cat and four guineapigs – they are all my dearest friends and getting to know a certain animal of a species closer makes it impossible to me to eat others of that species. At the organic farm where I buy my pork and beef, I once cuddled a pig and since then I have to cope with this picture of this fascinating friendly and trustful animal that probably ended up as my food. It’s the same when I watch chicken closer, they are such cute and interesting animals. I love the taste of meat and my body needs it, but my mind is sad for the lives I took away. The only comfort I have is knowing the animal had a good and natural live until its death. BTW the guineapigs you buy in a pet shop are usually different from the ones eaten in South America. The food comes from a species called Cuy and they weigh twice as much.

    Margit wrote on March 27th, 2013
  34. I learned recently that eating a particular kind of grub uncooked can cause infection by a brain parasite. Obviously this, or something similar, applies to a lot of uncooked, or badly cooked foodstuffs. Is this a risk worth taking for the sake of life experience?

    Dane Thorsen wrote on March 27th, 2013
    • Toxoplasma is said to increase dopamine, maybe testosterone.
      But who knows how it could affect an individual.. it’s like Russian roulette. At the worst, my guess is it will do the same sort of stuff to people it does to rats.

      Animanarchy wrote on March 28th, 2013
  35. Had you not shared the favorite food of your guests, you would have insulted them…..that is so interesting is that you were eating as part of a community and not just as a tourist……tip of a hat to the gypsies!

    Babette Bach wrote on March 27th, 2013
  36. I think i’d go for the balut than the fried worms! But its great your up for a challenge and try different and EXOTIC dishes.

    Kelly Williams wrote on March 27th, 2013
  37. Great post with a really interesting background. The balut is pretty intense for most people (and myself); I think it’s the whole idea of the fusion of an egg/chicken… what came first in this case right? haha

    McKel | Nutrition Stripped wrote on March 27th, 2013
    • Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The rooster.

      Animanarchy wrote on April 2nd, 2013
  38. Great article, and great promo video! As someone else who loves to travel and has a bit of a “wanderlust” spirit, their lifestyle is very appealing to me! I find it fascinating to experience life, rather than letting it pass you by. What better way than to immerse yourself in different cultures?

    Elisa wrote on March 27th, 2013
  39. Oh wow, this post brings back some memories for me. I often visited Equador and Peru growing up and yet we typically ate in more upscale restaurants when visiting. One year, we traveled with a tour group and it included a visit to some ruins in the Urubamba Valley. Afterward we went back to the home of one of the locals for lunch and they had these adorable little guinea pigs running around everywhere. The hostess picked up one of the guinea pigs, killed it and started cooking it as part of our lunch. We ate it, but that was a little too much culinary adventure for me and the taste was not a favorite for me.

    Jane wrote on March 27th, 2013

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