Goat testicle stew, superworm enchiladas, wasp larvae ice cream, cinnamon-sugar dusted crickets, or simply throwing tomatoes… does anything here appeal? Here’s a guide to the world’s weirdest food festivals.
Wildfoods festival, Hokitika, New Zealand: This raucous event, created in 1990, is phenomenally popular, and attendance has been capped at 15,000. Kiwis sure know how to party hard. It began when Hokitika local Claire Bryant decided to share her stock of homemade gorse flower wine with neighbours. New wild foods are introduced every year: seagull eggs, beetle grubs, wasp larvae ice cream, cucumber fish, possum hotpot, goat testicle stew, grilled blackened sheep’s tail, cow udders and magpie pies. to name a few. Festival-goers are encouraged to do fancy dress. Next fest: March 7-9, 2014. www.wildfoods.co.nz
Roadkill Cook-Off, Marlinton, West Virginia, US: Not quite as icky as it sounds. This festival, on September 28, serves up meals made from creatures who end up flattened on the side of the road. Actual roadkill isn’t used in the dishes, but visitors will be sure to get an authentic roadkill experience with sample dishes such as tacos filled with armadillo, porcupine stew and marinated bear. And squirrel gravy over biscuits.
BugFest, Raleigh, North Carolina, US: Only for those with a cast-iron constitution , the annual BugFest, sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, incorporates insects and creepy crawlers in all dishes. This festival, on September 21, encourages participants to try bug-inspired foods prepared by local chefs, and fine-tune their entomophagy skills – the practice of eating bugs. Some of last year’s popular dishes included superworm enchiladas and cinnamon-sugar crickets. www.bugfest.org
Cheese Rolling, Cooper’s Hill, Gloucestershire, UK: Yup, it’s rolling rounds of cheese down an extremely steep hill. From the top of the hill a 4.08kg (9 lb) round of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled, and competitors race down the hill after it. Bumps and bruises do happen. Cheese speeds can reach up to 112km/h. The festival has been an annual event each May since the 15th Century. In 1993, 15 people were injured, four seriously, chasing cheeses down the one-in-three hill, although the website says it’s a one-in-two. www.cheese-rolling.co.uk
Testicle Festival, Clinton, Montana, US: Here’s an event you’ll need balls for. This August festival is named one of the main dishes served – bull testicles. Reports from last year’s festival found that participants consumed an average of 50kg of bull and bison testicles served deep-fried, beer-battered or marinated. You’re sure to be chanting the motto: “I had a ball at the Testicle Festival”. www.testyfesty.com
La Tomatina, Bruñol, Spain: Feel like taking some aggression out on strangers by throwing crushed tomatoes at them? Then head to Spain on August 28 for one of the largest tomato food fights in the world. Join around 45,000 people to toss more than 120,000 kg of tomatoes at one another. The big question is: why?
Chinchilla Melon Festival, Queensland, Australia: Watermelon is a popular fruit in the Aussie summer – and Chinchilla is known as the melon capital. The 2014 fest will be February 12-15 and includes melon-skiing, melon bungee and pip-spitting games. www.melonfest.com.au
* Thanks to CheapFlights for some of the info. I’d love to put a link to your website, but honestly, it would be an open invitation to spammers and would-be bloggers all offering to write on behalf of Cheap Flights. There’s a gazillion out there, and I’ve heard from most of them.
* Melon-smashing pic courtesy of Tourism Queensland and TravMedia