'Penis soup is something I'll treasure for ever': Adventurer Simon Reeve reveals the most stomach-churning dishes he's encountered

 

My stomach has endured the full scope of awful foods this planet has to offer Trying adventurous food is a big part of travelling, but India, where I'm travelling through now, has more problems with [food] hygiene than anywhere else in the world. It's a cultural problem, as eating meat is a rarity in rural areas, so they treat it like a vegetable, keeping it in a cupboard. So when the occasional Westerner passes through, by the time it's pulled out, it's been in there for a few months. When travelling across poorer parts of India now, I try to survive off rice and dahl.

Eating penis soup in Madagascar is something I'll treasure for ever I was filming [BBC travel series] Tropic of Capricorn and our guide said he loved eating it: the penis comes from a zebu bull – they're a cattle you see across the tropics. I wanted the crew to think I was adventurous, so I tried it. It was diced and placed in a pretty insipid broth and as I chewed it, it was like chomping on gristle. I won't rush back to it, but it's something I'll tell my son when he's old enough.

Whether it scampers, crawls or flies, people in Laos will eat it In fact, there was one time my driver there sat down at a restaurant and had what looked like a plate of spinach, but when I asked him what it was, he told me it was buffalo poo. Though I think eating that was more a sign of a lack of availability of other foods than it being a local speciality. I had a little try and I wouldn't go there again.

The harvesting of shark fins is one of the world's great obscenities When I was in Mozambique I saw fisherman killing sharks for the Chinese market. The increasing wealth and consumption in China has pushed some endangered species to near extinction. It's enormously destructive for our oceans, our wildlife and our planet. Though the corner has possibly just turned as there is now disapproval coming from the Chinese government and there are some bans on shark-fin soup over there.

I was struck by how Saudi dining culture differs from our own In Christian countries, hosts are taught to share what they have with their guests, but in Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, they give everything. When I was visiting, several feasts at which we were honoured guests were Roman in scale: towers of food, an entire sheep killed and roasted for us. I got to eat the eyeball; they popped it out of the socket and into my hand; then I was allowed to crack open the brain to have a nibble on that while the hosts sat and watched.

I went through a decade thinking Britain was cold, wet and crap But having since travelled to over 120 countries, I've been surprised by how much I've realised that I love our little island: my travel has given me an understanding of what life is like for our brothers and sisters in less developed parts of the world, and I can assure you, Britain works spectacularly well.

I failed miserably at the 'Great British Bake-off' last year I was asked to appear on the charity special. I thought, well, it's not like being asked to walk into the jaws of death, so I agreed. I had to cook a show-stopper cake: a big chocolate gateaux. The judges said I'd burnt it, that it tasted heavy and got stuck between their teeth, and I felt rather humiliated by the experience. It's made me realise that baking is not my forte at this stage in my life: perhaps I'll explore it further when I have more time.

My best holiday experiences have been unplanned ones I remember booking an impromptu romantic trip to Sharm El Sheikh, in Egypt, with my then girlfriend.  On a whim we hired a car and drove off into the middle of the desert. It took a daft turn, though, when I drove us into deep sand and got us stuck. I didn't know what to do next, but my girlfriend stood up, stripped down to her bikini, and crawled under the car to let the tyres down [to increase tyre traction against the sand] and we managed to escape. How could I not love her and marry her as a result? Spontaneity can end with a minor mishap, but it tends to be the most memorable thing that happens on a trip.

Simon Reeve, 41, is an explorer, author and presenter of TV shows including the BBC's 'Pilgrimage'. He is lead judge for lastminute.com's search for Britain's most spontaneous traveller. For more: lovelivinglastminute.com

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Travel
travelWhy Japan's love hotels are thriving through an economic downturn
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week