"My husband and I invited my 20-year-old nephew to visit us in Malawi. Having never left his town in Texas, he jumped at the chance. We picked him up at the airport, complete with his macho attitude. We told him we'd stop for a snack. My nephew, hungry from his flight, was all for it. But the macho left him when my hubby pulled over to buy dried mice." Jennifer Martines, Los Lunas, N.M.
"In the Oaxaca market, I spotted a woman with a basket of chapulines, tiny dried grasshoppers. A fellow shopper asked if I had ever tasted them. I replied that I hadn't, and he bought a small cup and passed it to me. You know how a popcorn kernel gets caught in your throat? I had grasshoppers stuck there for the rest of the day." Megan Dorr, Moran, Wyo.
"One night in Japan, I ordered grilled eel. The cook lifted my dinner out of a bucket of water and, with a thud, drove an ice pick through the eel's eye. The cook's wife presented me with a dish bearing a maroon morsel of meat garnished with a lettuce leaf. My sister and I were peering at it when suddenly it began to throb! It was the still-beating heart of my eel." Emily Mosqueda, Eugene, Ore.
"We cooked when renting a house on Mexico's Soliman Bay. At the produce stand, one of the grains looked familiar. We cooked it for over an hour, but it still tasted oaky, so we cooked it longer and added seasoning. The property manager and the caretaker stopped in as we were about to eat. They were in awe of our ignorance. We had cooked a bag of birdseed." Brenda Bluske, El Verano, Calif.
"My friend and I spent a day hiking in Australia's Daintree Rainforest with a guide. One of the most bizarre experiences was when we were asked to lick the backside of a green tree ant. The guide held it, and we took our turns licking away. Never did I imagine I'd lick an ant, think it would taste goodjust like lemon-lime soda!and live to tell about it." Laurie Bushkoff, Silver Spring, Md.
"At Restaurant Bobby Chinn in Hanoi, Vietnam, my wife secretly ordered a dish called "We tell you that 'You are beautiful' All Night Long." When the waiter brought our food, he looked at me and, to my surprise, said I was beautiful. Between the waiter, the bartender, and the busboy, I was told 10 times that I was beautiful. My only complaint: I wish we'd had a waitress!" Jason Mullin, Singapore
"While a Peace Corps volunteer in Jolo, Philippines, I was invited to a banquet. The main course was a fruit salad served on a banana leaf. Thinking the leaf was part of the meal, I chewed on it. The others also chewed their leaves. Afterwards, one of the braver guests told me I'd eaten my plateeveryone else followed along so I wouldn't be embarrassed." Don Yates, Normandy Beach, N.J.
"In Henley-on-Thames, England, my boyfriend and I went to a tapas restaurant. There was a terra-cotta dish on the table. I picked it up and saw it had liquid in it. Richard dunked his fingers, tasted them, and declared it was oil for dipping bread. Then he said it might be a finger bowl. So we asked the waitress, who told us it was an ashtray." Kristen Bergevin, Los Angeles, Calif.