In honor of our new book, "A Stingray Bit My Nipple! True Stories from Real Travelers," we've compiled a slide show of some our favorite food-and restaurant-related anecdotes. The full text is below, and the photos are in the slide show. Bon appétit!
Just peel and eat
"After spending two months in Africa, my husband and I invited my 20-year-old nephew to visit us in Malawi. Having never left his little town in Texas, he jumped at the chance. We picked him up at the airport, complete with his macho attitude. After we stowed his luggage in the car, we told him we'd stop for a snack on the way home. My nephew, hungry from his long flight, was all for it. All the macho left him, however, when my hubby pulled over to buy a few dried mice from the guy who sells them on the road outside the airport. (We called them mice jerky.) This trip was certainly an eye-opening experience for our little Texan." Jennifer Martines, Los Lunas, N.M.
Reason #2 not to eat bugs
"In the Oaxaca market, I spotted a woman with a basket of chapulines, the tiny dried grasshoppers that are a popular snack in this part of Mexico. A fellow shopper asked in broken English if I had ever tasted them. I replied that I hadn't, and he bought a small cup. He popped a handful in his mouth and passed the cup 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.
Welcome to veganism
"'Eat it first and ask what it is later' was my mom's motto on our two trips to Japan. One night, 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. I could have sworn the eel was still wiggling when he placed it over the coals. As I pointed at the grill, the cook's wife presented me with a small 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! I screamed. It was the still-beating heart of my eel." Emily Mosqueda, Eugene, Ore.
You are what you...tweet!
"We did our own cooking when renting a house on Mexico's Soliman Bay. At the produce stand, there were several varieties of grains and nuts. One of the grains looked familiar, close to brown rice, and the vegetarian among us approved the choice. 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.
You'll thrive in corporate culture
"My friend Ellen and I, while at the Daintree Rainforest in Australia, spent the day with a guide who took us hiking through areas with various animals and plants. One of the most bizarre experiences was when we were asked to lick the backside of a green tree ant. Yes, its butt. We both laughed and said, "You've got to be kidding." The guide held the ant in his fingers—it was so small you could hardly see it. We took our turns licking away. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would lick the backside of an ant, think it would taste good—just 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 me a side dish called "We tell you that 'You are beautiful' All Night Long." (It was listed on the menu for $2.) When the waiter brought our food, he looked me in the eye and, much to my surprise, told me that I was beautiful. This continued for the entire meal. Between the waiter, the bartender, and the busboy, I was told 10 times that I was beautiful. The food and service were hands down the best we had in Vietnam. My only complaint: I wish that we'd had a waitress!" Jason Mullin, Singapore
Telling you certainly defeats the purpose
"While serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Jolo, Philippines, I was invited to a banquet hosted by the community leader. The main course was a fruit salad served on a banana leaf. Thinking the leaf was part of the meal, I picked mine up and chewed on it. The others also chewed their leaves. After the meal, one of the braver guests told me that I'd eaten my plate—everyone else followed along simply so that I wouldn't be embarrassed by my actions." Don Yates, Normandy Beach, N.J.
And they probably had some cute little word for it
"One night in Henley-on-Thames, England, my boyfriend and I went to a tapas restaurant. There was a terra-cotta dish on the table. Wondering what it was, I picked it up and saw that it had liquid in it. Richard dunked his fingers, tasted them, and declared that 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.