How experimental are your food choices?

How experimental are your food choices?
Jen Sahi is a UAE-based food blogger

Would you try scorpion meat? How about chicken feet?

There is no greater pleasure in life than connecting with cultures through food. I grew up in America with Chinese parents who loved to eat, so my formative years were filled with foods that some may find unthinkable.

We were doing nose-to-tail dining long before it was a thing. My dad would stew trotters for hours. My mom loved sucking on bone marrow. I had the aunt who fought over fish eyes and the grandma who wanted the duck butt. I would devour chicken feet, hundred-year eggs and freshwater eel with as much fervour as I would eat Lucky Charms and frozen dinners.
This open attitude towards food made me an adventurous eater - despite having once contracted giardiasis in Ethiopia and getting food poisoning from street food in Malaysia. I've had fruit bat curry in the Seychelles, reindeer in Finland, duck blood soup in China, and balut in Dubai.

In fact, Dubai is unparalleled when it comes to exotic eats. Octopus (which is unusual for some) is now a staple in fine dining menus. For local flavour, there's baby shark and camel burgers. And in a trip to Deira, you can indulge in Filipino delicacies like isaw (barbecued chicken intestines), and dinuguan (meat in blood sauce) - all of which I've enjoyed on more than one occasion.

However, I'm still reluctant to try casu marzu, the Sardinian cheese teeming with live insect larvae, and I struggle with wriggling scorpions on a stick. But in my home country, edible insects are the next hot trend. Millennial start-ups (and even restaurants) are serving up crickets, locusts and mealworms as an alternative source of protein, so prepare to find me eating a giant longhorn beetle biryani in Dubai one day.
- Jen Sahi
Is the blogger behind Follow her food journey and reviews on Instagram, Zomato and Twitter @dxbfooddiaries

Calling Dubai my home, there could not be a better place for me to be a food blogger. I say this because of the plethora of cuisines available in this city. Even before I was a blogger, while I was in hotel school, I was always adventurous when it came to food and continued to expand my Epicurean horizon.

Just because I am a blogger who loves experimenting with food, some people might (wrongly) assume that I would eat anything. The term exotic means different things to different people; to me, it means food from exotic places. Having said this, I'm all for trying new things - be it rare seafood, street foods, or regional delicacies. Suffice to say, I would eat anything and everything as long as it's halal.

Reflecting on my own experience of what I term exotic foods, I have tried a wide array of interesting options. These include shark sambosas, which were served to me in a traditional Emirati Iftar hosted by a renowned local restaurant.

Another delightful experience is having exotic fresh fruits such as durian, rambutan, mangosteens, kamquat and dragonfuit.

Lately, I have been fortunate enough to savour authentic Cuban food, including plantains in many different forms, a Cuban rice dish called Congri and, of course, Cuban Coffee, which was freshly brewed at home and did not need any additional sugar or milk in it.

One incident which I keep going back to while writing this article was at a live taping of Fear Factor in Orlando where a smorgasbord of insects and other creepy crawlies were offered to contestants. And I think that is where it should stay.
- Zahrah Noor
Is a foodie and blogger behind Follow her on Instagram @being_foodie

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