Bizarre Food Rituals & Traditions Around the World

Travelling around the globe can be an eye-opening experience, especially when it comes to local traditions. Often, many of these traditions revolve around food and trust us when we say there are a lot of bizarre food rituals out there.

So, whether you fancy throwing wine over each other in Spain, or drinking cow’s blood straight from the wound with the Maasai tribespeople in Kenya, there’s no shortage of weird and wonderful things to get your teeth into (literally!).

Japan – KFC Christmas Dinner

This is a relatively new “tradition” in the grand scheme of things, but an unusual one all the same. In Japan, Christmas isn’t as revered as it is in the western world, though they do still celebrate it in their own way. Since 1974, KFC Japan has produced the “Special Christmas Dinner” which many families (estimated to be over 3.5 million) treat themselves to on December 25th.

The popularity of the festive meal, which includes, chicken, cake and wine,  means that it often requires ordering weeks in advance. Those who don’t order, have to wait in line to get their hands on one, sometimes for hours.

Kenya – Drinking Cow’s Blood

You might need a strong stomach for this one! Blood drinking is probably one of the more obscure traditions but actually serves a purpose. Historically, drinking the blood of cows helped travelling tribespeople cross the vast deserts of Africa when food and water were in short supply.

The warriors of the Maasai tribe still practice this ritual today, either as a delicacy mixed with milk or directly from the veins of the cow. The cow isn’t usually killed, however exceptions are made at big ceremonies where the animal is passed around.

The Maasai people see great value in the blood of cows, and it’s noted that when it’s available, every growing child, or pregnant/lactating woman receives a daily ration of raw blood.

Indonesia – The Last Meal of the Dead

In the Sulawesi region of Indonesia, when a member of the indigenous Toraja people passes away, they’re not buried or cremated… at least not straight away anyway. Nope, in fact, it is customary to keep the loved one’s dead body around for a few weeks, months, or, in some cases, years, before they’re laid to rest.

This includes keeping their place at the table. The husband/wife and children will speak to them as well as provide food four times a day—breakfast, lunch, dinner, and mid-afternoon tea. This tradition is thought to have originated in the ninth century and is still practiced today.

Siberia – Magic Mushroom Parties

In the cold, harsh, barren landscape of north-eastern Russia, it’s not surprising to hear that there’s not much to do of an evening. The Koryak people, however, have discovered a novel way to entertain themselves… by the way of hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Since ancient times, the Koryak tribe get together and party the night away. After eating the mushrooms, the tribesmen fall asleep for a time and then awaken filled with awe. For a number of hours afterwards, the Koryak mushroom-celebrants enjoy boundless energy for physical activity, are filled with a sense of hilarity and well-being. Then, when things start to get really wild, they wash the mushrooms down with a nice cup of their own urine to keep the party going. Yep.

England – Cheese Rolling

The British love their cheese, and what better way to celebrate this than by hurling an 8lb wheel of the stuff down a steep hill and then chasing/falling after it?

The Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll and Wake was originally created for the locals in the nearby village of Brockworth, Gloucestershire (hence the use of Double Gloucester cheese). However, the hilarity and sheer danger associated with the event has gained international attention over the years, with entrants from all over the world taking part. If you’re the first to reach the bottom, and you’re still in one piece, you get to take home the cheese… and a whole bucket load of pride, obviously.

The tradition is thought to have Pagan origins, though this has been disputed. There is one thing for sure though, there’s no denying the love for cheese at this annual event.

Spain – Wine Fighting festival

If you love red wine, you’ll love this festival. Taking place on the outskirts of the small wine-producing town of Haro, which sits right in the heart of the Spain’s La Rioja region, the locals celebrate San Pedro day with a week-long festival of singing, dancing and drinking… but that’s not all. The Wine Fight (or Batalla de Vino as it’s locally known) takes place on the 29th June every year as part of the celebrations.

The tradition is rooted in the 13th century when Haro officially marked the property lines between itself and the neighbouring town. The lines had to be marked every year to maintain their position, otherwise the towns would become one. Fast-forward 400 years and this observation broke down, so they began throwing wine at each other. This became known as the “War of Wine”.

While the festivities play a huge part in the town’s history, the real attraction is the wine fight, drawing attention from visitors across the globe. Nowadays, there’s one strict rule to adhere to: to take part, you must wear white clothes with a red scarf… you’re free to use whatever means necessary to drench other revellers though!

Thailand – Barbaric Veggie Festival

Don’t be lured into thinking this is a just a lovely little festival filled with vegetarian delights. No, the Nine Emperor Gods Festival is a Taoist celebration that spans nine days, beginning on the eve of the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar.

While the origins of the festival are religious and vegetarian food plays a big part, the real “fun” begins to unfold on the 9th day when many devotees perform ritualistic mutilations upon themselves and others whilst in a trance-like state.

Impaling their cheeks, arms, legs and pretty much any other part of the body with anything from syringes to huge skewers is common practice. Lets not forget the partial “skinning” either. Oh and it’s all done without anesthetic too. Great fun.

United Plates of America

We’ve all seen the countless headlines over the years suggesting American foods are particularly unhealthy but how true are those claims? We set out on a food tour of America to look at each state’s most favoured dish before breaking down the contents nutritionally to see just how bad the dishes really were. We then used our findings to create a heat map and compare how healthy each state is.

How Healthy Are America’s Favourite Foods & Which State Is The Healthiest?

how healthy is america

High Calorie State Dishes

The amount of calories in each of the state foods can vary widely. Green Chili Stew (Caldillo in Spanish) from New Mexico for example has approximately 225 calories per serving. Compare this to the likes of a New Jersey Hot Dog which come in at roughly 425 calories each (that’s minus any fries, sauces or sides that you might add) and it’s really quite a healthy option wherever you’re from!

The New Jersey Hot Dog takes the top spot when it comes to highest calories per serving size, however there are a few other state foods that give it a run for its money. Buckeyes, the state dish for Ohio comes in at 210 calories for just 3 pieces, packing a whopping 19g of sugar.

Other state dishes that aren’t going to do your waistline any favours include Chicago’s deep pan pizza, at approximately 380 calories per slice and crab cakes from Maryland, which deliver around 265 calories per serving. Again, that’s not including any sides or sauces, so those calories can easily add up if you’re not paying attention!

High Fat State Dishes

Much like calories, the amount of fat in each states favoured dish can differ greatly.

Considered a superfood by many Hawaiians, Poi is low in calories and extremely low in fats, with just 0.3g per serving. It is however a naturally high carb dish, so it’s the perfect choice if you need an energy boost.

As you might at expect, at the other end of the scale the foods that pack the most calories are also guilty of containing the most fats. However, these are beaten by some way by bratwurst and sauerkraut, the state dish for Wisconsin, which has 25g of fat per serving (one sausage and one cup of sauerkraut). Whilst sauerkraut is naturally low in fat, the fact it’s traditionally cooked in bacon and duck fat, adds a large amount of saturated fat and sodium to the dish.

High Carb State Dishes

When it comes to carbohydrates, it stands to reason that the dish with the lowest level is the one that’s most meat heavy; Chislic (effectively, red meat popsicles) from South Dakota holds this crown with zero carbs per serving.

Move over to North Dakota, and the state dish of Lefse is the polar opposite, with 85% of the dish dedicated to carbohydrates. Effectively potato pancakes, they’re only 90 calories each and low in fat, however they contain a staggering 20g of carbs.

The king of carbs (and ultimately sugar) however, is the Mississippi mud pie. The sweet treat provides us with an eye watering 49g of carbs per 100g on average, 42g of which is sugar!

So, here’s a rundown of what we found to be the top “performers” in each category:

Top 4 states whose iconic dishes contain the highest amount of calories:

  • New Jersey – Hot Dog
  • Ohio – Buckeyes
  • Illinois – Chicago Deep Pan Pizza
  • Maryland – Crab Cakes

Top 4 states whose iconic dishes contain the most fat:

  • New Jersey – Hot Dog
  • Maryland – Crab Cakes
  • Ohio – Buckeyes
  • Wisconsin – Bratwurst and Sauerkraut

Top 4 states whose iconic dishes contain the most carbs:

  • North Dakota – Lefse
  • Ohio – Buckeyes
  • Georgia – Peach Cobbler
  • Indiana – Sugar Cream Pie

What Are America’s Favourite Foods?

food tour of america

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How Much Beer Would You Get For $1 Around The World

Some folk like a nice glass of wine, others like a cheeky gin and tonic every now and again but what about those that love beer? Have you ever wondered how the price of beer differs around the world? Perhaps when travelling abroad you were outraged at the price of a pint and felt hard done by. Well we’ve put together a graphic showing exactly how much beer you can get for your money elsewhere in the world. How does your country compare?

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Firstly, we chose to use the dollar as this is the most common currency used internationally, and we chose to base the calculations on a $1 benchmark to offer a fair comparison. We decided to display our findings on a 568ml pint pot, instead of the obvious map choice, so you could visualise exactly how much beer you would get for your money.

If you’re looking for the cheapest pints in the world, based on our research Paraguay and Vietnam are the best countries to visit. At just one dollar for a beer, and that’s in a bar not the supermarket, you won’t need much to spend much to get a little merry.

The most expensive bar prices for a pint around the globe are in Iceland. $12.75 is the price you’d need to pay in a Reykjavik bar for a beer. Second on the list is Oslo in Norway where it would cost you $11.30 for a beer, followed by Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates where it would set you back $10.83. You would barely get enough for a sip in those countries for $1.

price of beer around the world

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Where does your country sit in regards to cheap beer prices? Find out below how much it costs on average for a pint in a bar in each country.

Note – If you want to convert the prices below: $1 = €0.86 and $1 = £0.75

  1. Iceland – $12.75
  2. Norway – $11.30
  3. UAE – $10.83
  4. Israel – $9.43
  5. France – $9.20
  6. Bermuda – $9.09
  7. Finland – $8.87
  8. Singapore – $8.44
  9. Denmark – $7.94
  10. Sweden – $7.79
  11. England – $7.53
  12. New Zealand – $7.11
  13. Ireland – $6.84
  14. USA – $6.82
  15. Australia – $6.78
  16. Switzerland – $6.78
  17. Luxembourg – $6.58
  18. Italy – $6.58
  19. Canada – $6.05
  20. Scotland – $6.02
  21. Netherlands – $5.92
  22. Croatia – $5.34
  23. Belgium – $5.26
  24. Greece – $5.26
  25. Austria – $5.00
  26. Germany – $4.53
  27. Malaysia – $4.27
  28. Japan – $4.10
  29. Spain – $3.94
  30. Turkey – $3.60
  31. Chile – $3.57
  32. Latvia – $3.28
  33. Slovenia – $3.28
  34. Thailand – $2.81
  35. Poland – $2.76
  36. Indonesia – $2.65
  37. South Africa – $2.53
  38. Kenya – $2.48
  39. Argentina – $2.47
  40. Brazil – $2.39
  41. Portugal – $2.29
  42. Slovakia – $2.24
  43. Mexico – $2.18
  44. Peru – $2.09
  45. Hungary – $2.03
  46. India – $2.01
  47. Serbia – $2.00
  48. Romania – $1.98
  49. Russia – $1.82
  50. Czech Republic – $1.78
  51. China – $1.77
  52. Bulgaria – $1.68
  53. Egypt – $1.59
  54. Ghana – $1.57
  55. Tunisia – $1.31
  56. Rwanda $1.30
  57. Philippines – $1.27
  58. Colombia – $1.17
  59. Nigeria – $1.10
  60. Ukraine – $1.08
  61. Ethiopia – $1.02
  62. Vietnam – $1.00
  63. Paraguay – $1.00

Translating Transatlantic Foods

You might have seen the recent controversy surrounding Dutch Baby & Yorkshire Puddings. Brits have reacted to Americans suggesting they’ve invented a fluffy pancake named Dutch Baby, with their response saying that food item has been around in the UK for a long time and it is actually identified as the Yorkshire Pudding. We set out to look at what other food items the UK and US describe differently, and we also decided to have a little fun and mash up the terms too. Because let’s face it, some translations are that different, when combining the two you get some weird names… like Yorkshire Baby.

Here’s what else we discovered when translating transatlantic foods:

us-uk food translations

Advocaat + Eggnog = Advonog

The British call it Advocaat, the Americans called it Eggnog, put together we get Advonog. Turns out whatever side of the pond you’re from, both are wrong. It’s a Dutch alcoholic beverage made from eggs, sugar and brandy and they call it Advocatenborrel.

us-uk food translations

Chickpeas + Garbanzo = Chibanzo

The British know them as Chickpeas, the American as Garbanzo, they ‘both refer to a plant in the legume category with the scientific name Cicer arietinum’.

us-uk food translations

Crisps + Chips = Chrisps

The British call them crisps, the American’s chips, together we get chrisps. While this mashup is not as drastic as the others, it’s important to highlight as chips in the UK refer to fries in America. See below.

us-uk food translations

Chips + Fries = Frips.

us-uk food translations

Coriander + Cilantro = Ciliander

The British know this Mediterranean herb as coriander, but the Americans know it as cilantro, together we get ciliander. Cilantro is also the term used by the Spanish.  While generally both terms refer to the same food product, there is a difference. Cilantro and coriander refer to the same plant, however cilantro describes the leaves and stems and coriander describes the seeds after the plant has flowered. The seeds and leaves have specific roles in cooking as they give off different tastes. Cilantro is used when cooking Mexican dishes, in seasoned rice dishes, chillis and salsas. Coriander however is used in curries, soups and stews and is used as a flavouring for food. Of course, while these differences between the two terms are factual, when using the term coriander Brits often refer to the leaves. In the UK they may distinguish between seeds and leaves by saying fresh coriander and coriander seeds.

us-uk food translations

Courgette + Zucchini = Courghini

Courgette is the British term and Zucchini is the American translation, we mashed them up to give you Courghini. There are two key differences between the terms, the derivation of the name and the stage and size of the plant. Zucchini arose from the Italian word zucchino, meaning tiny squash or undeveloped marrow, whereas courgette arose from the French. While both terms refer the same vegetable however there are some key size differences. Zucchini can be harvested at an early age, usually when they reach approximately 14cm x 4cm, and vegetables around this size are normally called courgettes. Once the vegetable grows between 15cm and 20cm it is then classed as a zucchini.

us-uk food translations

Aubergine + Eggplant = Eggbergine

Aubergine and eggplant are exactly the same thing with the only difference being their translation. The English know the fruit as aubergine and Americans know it was an eggplant. Brinjal is also a name used in Asia.

us-uk food translations

Fish Fingers + Fish Sticks = Fish Stingers

Fish fingers to the British are known as fish sticks to the Americans. There are no key differences in appearance although the American versions are said to be slimmer in size.

us-uk food translations

Gherkin + Pickle = Gherkickle

Gherkin to the British, Pickle to the Americans, together we get Gherkickle. Gherkins are often described as a young cucumber however they are not actually a cucumber. They do belong to the same gourd family however. The term is derived from the Dutch word ‘gurkkiin’, and when they measure 1-3 inches they are pickled as soon as they reach that size. Pickles are a type of young cucumber that are also pickled, however the pickling process often takes hours compared to the days it takes for gherkins. Pickles tend to involve putting the cucumber in a can or jar of brine and vinegar. The nature of pickles and gherkins is different but also gherkins tend to be smaller and crunchier.

us-uk food translations

Jam + Jelly = Jamly

Jam to the Brits, Jelly to the Americans, together we get Jamly. Jelly in Britain however is Jell-O in American.

us-uk food translations

Lolly + Popsicle = Lopsicle

Ice lollies in Britain are more commonly known as popsicles in America, although popsicle is in fact a brand name. Ice pop is the correct name in America but people are more familiar with the term popsicles.

us-uk food translations

Prawns + Shrimps = Primps

Pawns in Britain, shrimps in America, mashed up we get primps. Is the only difference the translation however? Actually no. Both shrimps and prawns have ten legs and look similar, however they belong to different groups of crustaceans. Prawns have branching gills, where shrimp have lamellar gills. Prawns have claws on three pairs of legs while shrimp have claws on only two pairs of their legs. Prawns don’t have the same bend in their bodies that shrimp have either, and shrimps tend to be smaller in size also.

us-uk food translations

Rocket + Arugula = Rockula

The English refer to the green leaf as rocket, which is taken from the French ‘roquette’, and the American use the term arugula, which is taken from the Italian word.

us-uk food translations

Sweets + Candy = Swandy

Sweets to the British and Candy to Americans, mashed together we get Swandy.

Place Settings Around the World: Traditional vs Modern

We’ve put together an illustrated guide to place settings around the world. You will probably be more familiar with the traditional settings but as fast food culture expands its reach and people’s lives become busier, the modern settings we’ve created become more representative.

Traditional Place Settings

Below you will find the traditional cutlery set ups for different cultures around the globe.


traditional place settings in China

The Chinese tend to use round tables with Lazy Susan turntables for larger groups of people as this enables easy sharing of dishes, although square and rectangle tables are used also for smaller groups. Table settings include chopsticks and a spoon for cutlery and a large plate, small bowl, empty rice bowl and a teacup for dining. The cutlery tends to be situated to the right of the plate.

There is also a seating order when it comes to Chinese dining etiquette. The oldest person or the person with higher status faces the entrance and has the most central seat at the table. Guests higher up the hierarchy within the group sit closest to the person with the most status. The chair for those with the lowest social standing is situated nearest the kitchen entrance.


traditional place settings in India

In Indian cultures it is common to eat with your fingers and traditionally food is eaten with the right hand. It’s viewed as unclean to use your left for dining. There are two dining setups traditionally; thali which is a round platter with multiple katori dishes on, and a large banana leaf. Both are used to serve diners a little bit of everything.


traditional place settings in Japan

Japanese cutlery centres around chopsticks which sit directly in front of the diner. The style of their food settings is Ichiju-Sansai, which means one soup and three dishes – one of the dishes is usually rice.

Traditionally table settings in Japan would require an individual wooden table for each person, although this is less common today and western style tables have been greatly adopted.

Commonly on a table you will find chopsticks and a chopstick holder, soup bowl, rice bowl, a plate, a bowl and a small bowl.


fine dining setup in Britain

Traditionally the British dining set up resembled that of the modern fine dining experience. Everything is based around utensils, a central plate and a smaller plate. You have several utensils for different courses, the smaller plate for bread, and a napkin to put on your lap while eating. Everything on the table tends to be lined up in order of use, with the outer cutlery being used first and you make your way inwards towards the plate as you go through servings.

Modern Place Settings

The above artwork is historically what you’d find in those cultures and it does remain the typical way for dining. However, modern dining is more likely to be based on convenience. Fast food restaurants are now readily available around the world and their impact has changed how cultures eat their meals.

Traditional dining is now seen as a formality but day to day dining can resemble the following styles:

The Meal Deal

meal deal place setting - modern dining

Eating at your desk or in the office is not uncommon and in the UK this typically involves drink, sandwich and either a packet of crisps or chocolate bar.

The TV Dinner

tv dinner place setting - modern dining

There is a decline in family meals sat around the table, and it is now common for families to eat in front of the television. While it is likely for children to eat their meals at the table still, parents are eating later after the children have gone to bed and they are combining parts of their day to save time. TV ‘microwave meals’ are a convenient food option for busy lives and with the meal already set out in a tray style that can be disposed of, they are taking over traditional place settings.


takeaway setting - modern dining

Similarly, to the TV dinner and meal deal, takeaway food is eaten from disposable items and there is little need for cutlery or traditional place settings. Simply eat from the containers and bin when done.

While the modern dining illustrations centre on Western food types and meal choices, our research shows that other cultures around the world are now just as likely to sit in front of the TV with their dinner or eat on the go.