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Adventurous Eating in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta

Our family loves to travel but I wouldn’t call us overly adventurous. You will likely never see us ziplining or sky diving. We love travel and experiencing new things…just not new SCARY things. One place we are a bit more adventurous is food. Adventurous eating is something we can do. We will try just about anything once. Though, generally, it has to look tasty and there needs to be pictues on the menu. Otherwise, we get a bit squirrely and just pick what we recognize.

Thankfully, when you visit places in the world where they have a lot of tourists who don’t speak the language, pictures on the menus aren’t that unusual. Occasionally, though, we get an even bigger push….whether we like it or not.

We picked Nguyen Shack as our homestay in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta for two reasons. 1) the other one that I found while researching never returned our numerous emails and 2) they offer lots of tours to get out and about in the Mekong. One of those was a food tour in Can Tho (the nearest city to Nguyen Shack). When we read about it online, we thought it was a normal Vietnamese food tour. We were wrong.

We signed up for the tour and our guide said “OOooh….are you ready to try some RAT?” I was SURE he didn’t actually say “rat” so I said “Sure!” and then asked Dewey what he said. We looked into it a bit more and yep…he said rat. Then I had to decide whether we should actually go or not. I was unconvinced if Evan would try it or freak out. We told him that there might be rat and asked what he thought. He said “Rat? Like *insert rodent face here*?” Even though the answer was yes, he agreed to have a go.

While all these discussions were going on, other visitors to Nguyen Shack heard and decided to join too. By the afternoon, we had a boat full of people ready to go. We climbed aboard the SS Minnow (I kid but it felt that way), a wooden boat with short legged wooden chairs as the seat. A life jacket for each of us completed our transportation needs and we were off.

Floating our way to Can Tho

We wound through the back water channels of the Mekong Delta on our way to Can Tho. I felt like a voyeaur because we could see in the backs of people’s homes built along the river. It was cool seeing people go about their every day lives, washing clothes, cooking, brushing their daughter’s hair, etc. The journey was almost as cool as the destination.

Snake Wine

Once we arrived in Can Tho, we headed to our first restaurant. On the menu? Snake and crocodile. We were easing in to this. The adults in the group all had a swig of liquid courage (aka beer and snake wine) but Evan and Nicole were going in with little more than Sprite under their belt. Down the hatch!

Curry Snake

We all agreed that the snake (curry snake above) was a bit fishy but not too bad. The crocodile (below) tasted like rubbery chicken. Neither were amazing but neither were terrible either.

Trying Crocodile

Next up….dum dum duuuuum….rat and frog. While the first stop was an actual restaurant with normal sized chairs, this stop was a real street restaurant. We sidled up to a tiny plastic table and sat on teeny tiny plastic stools. Your knees are up around your ears but it is more comfortable than you would think. The restaurant knew we were coming so the plates of frog and rat appeared as soon as we sat down (along with more liquid courage).

Frog Leg

First up, frog. In the past, I have had breaded and friend frog legs. They were tasty. These frog legs? Well, they looked more like actual legs…complete with toes and spotted skin. I must say that kind of gave me pause. Still tasted basically like chicken.

Grilled Rat

Next came the rat. It was grilled and tasted like pork. Honestly, I liked it more than any of the other 4 “weird” food items. I don’t know if I would order it again but I didn’t hate it. Evan was a hard no on the rat…until everyone else tried it. Never doubt the power of peer pressure! I even made a video!

After left this restaurant, we continued on to a “roll-your-own” salad roll place that was delicious and the finished off the night with rolled ice cream.

Ingredients for Roll Your Own Salad Rolls

Rolled Ice Cream at the market

It was a super fun night full of laughs, weird eats and new friends. Food tours are a great way to meet new people when you are traveling. Hanging out over food and beer always makes it easy to find common ground.

So tell me….could you try rat? Also, what is the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten?