You’re a couple of cocktails in, which means it’s time for some munchies—or, drunchies, as the booze-friendly snacks are more affectionately known. While we here at Supercall prefer to chow down on nachos, bar nuts or spicy, sticky wings, there’s a whole world of insane late night nibbles out there. From China and South Korea to the U.S. and Latin America, people satisfy their booze-induced cravings in very different ways, like downing live sea creatures in a single bite or throwing back some larvae. The next time you get a craving after a Margarita or two, draw some inspiration from these six crazy bar snacks from around the world.
Drunken Shrimp, China
A Chinese specialty often served in bars, drunken shrimp are just that: freshwater shrimp that have had a few too many. Served live, the shrimp get a quick soak in the Chinese spirit baijiu, which helps placate the wriggling sea creatures, before hungry drinkers scarf them down, whole. The boozy bath works like a charm—most of the time—but the dish isn’t for the fair weather seafood fan, as you have to be comfortable biting the head off a still wriggling shrimp. Just take a few more shots of baijiu—you’ll be ready to crunch down some crustaceans in no time.
When it comes to head cheese, think pork, not diary. Served in pubs, bars and restaurants throughout Europe and in parts of South America (where it’s known as queso de cabeza), head cheese is made by boiling the head of the pig—usually (but not always) with the exception of the brains and eyes—with spices and vegetables. After the head is sufficiently tender, cooks scrape the meat from the skull and shape it into a dense, gelatinous loaf. Though a more accurate name for the offal dish might be “head jelly” or “head loaf,” we have to admit that “cheese” is at least moderately more appealing—especially when it’s served with an ice cold beer to chase it down.
Rocky Mountain Oysters, United States & Canada
There’s nothing like an oyster, washed down with a cold brew or a spritzy glass of Prosecco—only, these oysters don’t come from the sea. Often found in landlocked parts of the United States or in Canada, these nuggets take offal to its most nether regions and have become something of a delicacy. They are most commonly bull, pig or sheep testicles, coated in a flour batter and fried. If you prefer your cojones pan-fried or braised, look for criadillas in Mexico, Spain and Argentina.
Anyone who’s ever visited a fried chicken-centric restaurant has probably seen a few unexpected chicken parts on the menu like liver, gizzards or heart. Chicken feet, though, are reserved for the true connoisseurs. In China, they’re often served with beer and come hot or cold, saucy or fried. If you’ve ever been to a serious dim sum restaurant, you’ll be familiar with the dish—and the skills required to eat them. True chicken feet enthusiasts can suck all the meat and collagen off the bones using only chopsticks and their mouths. Try doing that after a few beers.
Solæg, Germany and Denmark
If you’ve ever noticed a jar of eggs sitting on the back bar while you’re out drinking, it’s possible you’ve seen Solæg or some iteration of the German and Danish bar snack. Essentially, Solæg is a hard-boiled egg cured in vinegar or brine (shell and all) that’s then preserved in salt water. To eat the egg, which is served sliced in half with spices, herbs, oils and other sauces, first pop one half in your mouth, chase it with a shot of aquavit, and repeat.
Though not strictly a bar food, Beondegi (which translates to “chrysalis”) are roasted or boiled silkworm larvae served commonly as a snack in Korea. Often sold by street food vendors, these edible pupae can even be found in a can, much like peanuts in an American grocery store. Supposedly, the little morsels have a slightly waxy outer layer and a juicy inside, with a mild nutty and sour flavor—perfect for eating by the handful with many, many beers. If eating larvae is a bit too much for you, perhaps start with fried grasshoppers (chapulines) in Mexico. They’re still packed with protein and have a nice crunch without the ooey gooey center.
Pickled Pig’s Feet, Southern United States
Nachos, guacamole and fried pickles may be among the most popular bar snacks across the U.S., but the deepest parts of the south lay claim to one of the most bizarre bar foods: pickled pig’s feet. Cooks boil pig’s feet until tender, then submerge them in vinegar along with spices, peppers and other seasonings. Though unusual, pig’s feet don’t taste much different than your average boiled pork—if a little more gelatinous. Pickled pigs feet, on the other hand, do get that extra burst of brine. Better order another round of whiskey.