Top 5 Weird Foods We Love + Blackberry Crisp

+ Blackberry Crisp

When you first land in a new place, the foods tend to be super exciting and all the things seem exciting to try. Eventually, the honeymoon phase ends and you begin to discover some of the weird foods in your new home. Some of the weird things you know you’ll want to avoid. Others become favorites! When it’s difficult to find foods similar to ones you’re used to, new favorites are a must.

A few years ago, I wrote a Top 10 Unique Foods list. It was fun to recall all the crazy things we’ve eaten over the years. In the comments, you all added your odd food experiences as well! Oh, the things we go through to save face in the cultures we serve.

This time, I want to highlight some foods that may be considered weird in my home culture, but that we have grown to love. My kids have spent their entire lives here, so they think most of these foods are completely normal, only to find out when they try to describe them to friends and family, they get all sorts of weird looks. Oh, the life of a TCK!

Top 5 Weird Foods We Love:

  1. Bean Sprouts—Tiny bean sprouts mixed with vinegar is a common dish here. They’re crunchy and sour and a great balance when eating sweet or spicy foods. Our whole family gobbles them up, and we’ve even found ways to incorporate them into some of my cooking as well.
  2. Tofu—Tofu isn’t common in the States, but it’s a staple in our country of service. While the US only has one or two varieties, this country has so many varieties! Soft and jiggly, dried and flat, or fried and stinky. Because locals don’t eat a ton of meat, they rely on tofu, eggs and beans as their protein. If you ask my oldest son what his favorite local dish is, he’ll say, “band-aid tofu {dried and flat} with cucumbers.”
  3. Lotus Root—I didn’t even know what this was until someone ordered it for us at a restaurant, and it was delicious! The vegetable itself doesn’t have much flavor, but the texture is crunchy and can be prepared in many ways. One favorite is stir-fried with various spices and sauces, and another is served cold with rice stuffed in the tiny holes. Locals definitely know how to utilize all parts of the plant! Another favorite (although it leaves our breath stinky for days) is garlic shoots. Who even know garlic had another edible part?!
  4. Dried Beans and Peas—The kids love these, especially, because they come in handy little snack-sized packs and in various flavors, such as crab, beef, garlic or spicy. If you’ve ever tried roasted chickpeas, these are similar! Baked/roasted green peas or broad beans are a favorite snack around here, even for us adults. Since the chip flavor options are less than ideal (Italian meat, cucumber, yogurt, chicken, etc.), these snacks are a great crunchy option.
  5. Dragon fruit—The inside can be white or fuchsia, but the flavor is the same for both. Once you remove the weird, thick peel, the flesh resembles the texture and even the little black seeds of a kiwi. The flavor is also similar, although a bit sweeter. Lately, we’ve been adding the fuchsia ones to our smoothies for the most fun-colored drinks!

*Honorable Mention: Donkey—I’m eating less meat these days for various reasons, but my husband and kids enjoy some good donkey once in a while. Some places make a donkey sandwich by putting slices of the tender-cooked meat on a hoagie bun, while others put it in a stew. It has a slight gamey flavor, which immediately turns me off, but everyone else thinks the tenderness can’t be beat!

What unique foods from your country of service have you grown to love? Do you think people in your home country would enjoy them as well? What foods have you taken back to let friends and family try?

*****

Blackberries are very hard to come by in this country. Occasionally they pop up in grocery stores, but they’re expensive and often not fresh. However, several weeks ago I walked into a small fruit shop and saw 3 big baskets (about 500g each) of blackberries! Even better, they were about $1.50 per basket! What an amazing steal! I bought all three. Then I told the seller as long as he provided them, either my foreign friends or I would buy them up. He kept them supplied for about two weeks, then they were gone. I was able to sneak in making a blackberry crisp in between gobbling up all the fresh berries. If these berries (or raspberries or blueberries) are in season for you now, this crisp is the best! I’m a big fan of equal amounts of crisp to berries, and this recipe is just that. Yum!

Simple, straight-forward dry ingredients.
YUM. If the locals have figured out how to grow these, I’ll be one, happy gal!
A little flour helps absorb some of the juices. Don’t worry, it doesn’t get goopy!
You know there has to be a good amount of butter for it to be tasty. 😉
Ready to get crispy!
Juicy and bubbly underneath, chewy and crispy on top. The perfect combo.

Blackberry Crisp

Serves: 10-12

Ready in: 1 hour

Slightly Adapted From: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

  • 1 1/2 cup (5.25 ounces) old-fashioned or quick oats 
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (7.5 ounces) brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 16 tablespoons) butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
  •  8-10 cups fresh blackberries (about 24-36 ounces), washed and dried well
  •  1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  •  1/3 cup (1.65 ounces) all-purpose flour
  •  1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt. Add the butter and cut it into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or a couple forks until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is evenly cut in. Set aside.

In another bowl, add the blackberries, sugar, flour and lemon juice. Stir until combined.

Lightly grease a 9X13-inch pan and spread the fruit mixture on the bottom.

Sprinkle the crisp topping evenly over the top.

Bake for 45 minutes until the fruit is bubbly and the crisp topping is golden (add time, if needed).

Remove from the oven and let the crisp rest for 10-15 minutes before serving (the fruit layer will thicken as it cools). Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or sweetened, whipped cream, if desired.

Photo by Cooker King on Unsplash

12 Comments

  1. Ruth Lemmen August 25, 2020

    And now I’m craving dragon fruit! I actually wouldn’t have identified any of theses as “weird foods,” although as I think about how I can’t buy this stuff in mainstream grocery stores in the U.S., I guess they are weird to most Americans.

    1. Ashley Felder August 26, 2020

      They really make the best smoothies! We’ve been making these amazingly pink smoothies with the pink dragonfruit—yum!

  2. Michele August 25, 2020

    I kind of forgot that any of those was strange except for donkey- which I can say I have never tried! But it makes me think through my favorite foods list for ones that would be strange to most people in my passport country and maybe some other places:
    Durian (yep- I love it)!
    Mangosteen
    A sweet drink made from green lentils
    Tempe (fermented soybean cake)
    And some meats that are not favorites (I’m not a big meat eater) that I’ve had- frog, dog, EVERY part of the cow or chicken- from feet to brain, and in my current host country- buffalo.

    1. Ashley Felder August 26, 2020

      I’m weak and just can’t get past the smell of durian! But mangosteen-yum! They’re so fun to eat, too!

  3. bigblueseaservices August 28, 2020

    Well, wouldn’t pretty much be considered as weird enough compared Chinese delicacies. But sure they are “weird” to most Americans.

    1. Ashley Felder August 29, 2020

      Haha so true! The “delicacies” are in the post I mentioned in the beginning, and definitely don’t fall in the “favorite” category. 🙂

  4. Grace L August 28, 2020

    Hi Ashley. Fun post to read, although when we were in your country of service, we were a bit timid on some of the strange foods. But we loved how cheap the veggies were compared to what we can buy locally back in our passport country. Just a question – are you and your family still in your country of service and is everything going okay for you all. We miss that land and the people.

    1. Ashley Felder August 29, 2020

      Yes, cheap veggies abound! It’s a hard reality when we go back for a visit.

      Yes, we are still here. (And I still use the cast iron skillet you sent me all the time!!) We we’re fortunate and returned from our conference in Thailand in the best possible window of before mandatory quarantine and before borders closed. Most of our team made it back after their CNY travels, and we realize we’re some of the only ones like us in the country. It was tough in the beginning with strict lockdown, but we see His wisdom now. We lift often for all of you “stuck” to be able to return soon!!!

      1. Grace L August 29, 2020

        Just tried to email you but you must have changed your email address. Our abrupt departure was not due to the coronavirus but was rather a request to leave by the authorities. I don’t think we will be able to return to the country we have come to love. But I am so glad to know that you and others on your team were able to make it back into the country and are still able to be there. Blessings and peace on all of you!

        1. Ashley Felder September 1, 2020

          Feel free to email me if you want to chat more. Ashley.felder28 at gmail

  5. Alisa September 1, 2020

    I live in Ireland and it’s blackberry season now. They grow wild and everyone picks them wherever they want to. My son has been so excited as we go on walks to fill a little cup. I’ll actually have to take him full on picking soon so we have some to freeze.

    1. Ashley Felder September 1, 2020

      I’m SLIGHTLY jealous!! Yum! What a fun little treat along the way!

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