Vacations are known to release the risk taker hiding within our pragmatic personalities. We let our hair down – and, with absolutely no experience – grab a bungee cord and hurl our aging bones into a cavernous opening below.
Surviving the death-defying feat, we immediately dash off to a sidewalk café, ordering a batch of deep fried scorpions, proving that our brains escaped during the fall. There are other foods, spices and beverages that exotic and common that should be avoided when vacationing in the U.S. and around the world.
Exotics That Can Cause Illnesses
What is considered a delicacy in one country may be a contaminant to a tourist. Unless you have a doctor traveling with you – or you are Anthony Bourdain – avoid these tasty treats abroad.
- Deep fried tarantula includes the spider egg-sack and excrement still in the digestive track.
- Balut is a boiled duck egg with a duck fetus a week or so from birth surrounded by amniotic fluid.
- Fruit bat soup made with a real live bat who gazes up at you with intact eyes and hairy wings.
- Casu Marzu – Sardinia’s [an Island of Italy] special cheese – this is made with maggot larvae and served when the little ones are bursting to life and jumping off your bread.
- Escamoles – a generic name for insects – grasshoppers, giant black ants – and insect parts –eggs and egg sacs of local insects – found served in tacos in Mexico and Latin America.
- Deer Penis and Animal Testacies may be contaminated with virus similar to syphilis or bacteria that can infect humans.
It really doesn’t matter what country you are in, these are to be reserved for the locals only! In addition to contaminants, you have no way of knowing if you have an allergy to any of these foods; you could go into anaphylactic shock, which can lead to death in less than 30 minutes.
Across the world, water shortages and old-fashioned methods of farming should have travelers concerned about everything that they put in their mouth – even if you don’t swallow.
- Water – drink only familiar brand name, sealed, bottled water in any country when away from home. This includes when brushing your teeth – boiling water does not kill the viruses or bacteria.
- Ice – ice is made with contaminated water – avoid using ice in your drinks.
- Milk and Cream – do not drink any milk or cream in other nations – some countries require pasteurization in only certain sections or counties. Since you don’t know where milk originated – avoid all milk products or foods cooked with milk
The solution? Drink only American brands of sealed and canned beverages.
Local Fresh Foods
Local foods may look and smell delicious but E. coli and other microbes may be alive and well and looking for a new home – in your body.
- Boiled or steamed foods – unless you pour the bottled water into the pot, do not eat boiled or steamed meats
- Vegetables – grown in fields where human excrement is one of the fertilizers and contaminated water is sprinkled into the soil – needs to be avoided. Do not eat fresh vegetables. Instead, buy canned veggies and eat them straight out of the can
In short, you want to enjoy a vacation that does not equate with living on the edge of the toilet.
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