6 Unusual Foods Options for Dinner

Whether it be an office luncheon, dinner with the in-laws, or just a party with friends, potlucks can be a challenge. They are sometimes a classic example of the good intentions road leading straight to…well, Aunt Lucy’s Velveeta “dip” and a bowl of yellow Jell-O. In theory, they work perfectly.

In theory, they work perfectly. Everyone brings one dish, enough for a few people, and then all participants share a little of everything and everyone has a complete meal.

In practice, however, the potluck can be a more complicated social affair. Coordinating dishes to provide a wide selection can require a bit of effort – ever end up being the fifth person to bring a pasta salad to one of these events? And what about accommodating the gluten sensitivities, nut allergies and that one inevitable pesky vegan?

So help me Susan, if I have to eat one more piece of tofu…
Don’t get me wrong -I love a good spinach dip, and deviled eggs are a classic, but most people run around at the last minute and end up bringing something largely forgettable.

We have the solution for you here at INSH: six memorable and tasty dishes that you can bring to make your next potluck completely unforgettable.

1. Everglades Pizza

…with Python, Alligator, Hogg and Frogs Legs all from the local swamp.

Swamp Pizza includes Python, Frog Legs, Alligator, Hogg, and Swamp Cabbage. Evan's Neighborhood Pizza In Fort Myers
wamp Pizza includes Python, Frog Legs, Alligator, Hogg, and Swamp Cabbage. Evan’s Neighborhood Pizza In Fort Myers

Why not take the dish everyone loves and bring a variation no one will ever forget? We’re not talking about ordering a pizza with extra pepperoni, or adding a few capers – we’re talking about the type of pizza sold by Evans Neighborhood Pizza. They sell their “World Famous Everglades Pizza” which has: Python, Deep Fried Frog Legs, Alligator, Hog, Everglades Seasoning, Tomato, and Swamp Cabbage.

Can you image anyone forgetting a pizza like that?

2. Fly Burgers

These Burgers contain over 500,000 Midge flies
These Burgers contain over 500,000 Midge flies

The idea of eating bugs is a bit scary for some people in North America, but they can be a popular food source in other areas of the globe. This past summer at Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition, you could visit Bug Bistro for a ‘Bug Dog’ – a beef frank topped with seasoned mustard crickets, or a crispy beef taco with chili lime crickets.

There are over 55 thousand hits on Google for mealworm recipes alone. Let’s face it. Bugs can sneak into anything. It’s not just the ones the fly into your mouth while you’re sleeping or riding your bike, they can also be in food – food you already eat every day. It’s estimated that the average person eats about one pound of bugs and bug parts each year. Even the FDA allows for a certain amount of what they call “insect filth”.

But entomophagy, or the practice of eating insects, is considered by many as a healthy, eco-friendly and protein packed way of getting your grub on. With nearly 2000 known species of edible insects, why not embrace them and bring a plate of fly burgers to your next pot luck? Near Lake Victoria in Africa for instance (Tanzania, Uganda & Kenya), recipes vary from village to village during the annual mayfly swarms – but you too can make a tasty burger in at home if you catch enough.

Each burger contains about 500,000 mayflies and they are incredibly high in protein (as much as seven times higher than a beef burger), so you can finally satisfy people on extremely healthy diets who never eat anything other people bring. The flies are packed and pressed into patties and then fried or baked, so by the end of the process they look like black coloured hamburgers. But that’s pretty much the same thing as beef, right? Put some BBQ sauce on that patty and you are good to go!

3. Centipede Kabab

By Denise Chan from Hong Kong, China - Centipedes on a stick Uploaded by tomchen1989, CC BY-SA 2.0,
By Denise Chan from Hong Kong, China – Centipedes on a stick, uploaded by tomchen1989, CC BY-SA 2.0,

While we’re on the subject of bugs everyone loves a good kabab, right?
Kababs can come from a variety of countries and include different kinds of meats, but the earliest mention we know of comes from a Turkish document in 1377. It’s inevitable that in over 600 years, there have been a few creative ideas put together.

The city of Shenyang in China has a summer food festival that is focused on insects as food. You can get deep fried centipede and millipede kababs, fried scorpions, and more. Maybe you can pass these out as a tasty treat while those fly burgers are cooking.

4. Skunk Meat

Skinned skunk by Travis on Flickr
Skinned skunk by Travis on Flickr

In North America, we’ve basically been socialized to avoid skunks. They smell bad, and if you happen to run into Pepé Le Pew, they have no concept of personal space.

It turns out though, they are edible. Skunk meat is reported to be “light in color and well flavored”. Skunks were even caught for food by some native tribes and trappers. All the same, I bet you won’t be seeing it on the menu of your local restaurant.

But, maybe we should think about adding it because of a man named Carmelo Flores Laura of Bolivia. Carmelo is thought to be the oldest living person ever recorded (though this record is disputed). Birth certificates didn’t exist in Bolivia when he was born, but he as a baptismal certificate from the local church indicating he was born in 1890.

Carmelo died in 2014 at 124 years of age. He attributed his longevity to avoiding sugar and pasta, taking long walks, and – eating fox and skunk meat.

5. Oil Fish and Escolar

Fish is healthy. Everyone likes fish. There is even a name for people who eat only fish and no other kind of meat – pescatarian. Oil fish and escolar are popular seafood dishes in Asia.


While these dishes might be tasty, they come with a surprise. They contain a very high quantity of wax ester, which is a fatty acid. That might sound like it’s similar to Omega 3, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. If you eat more than about 170g of oil fish or escolar, the quantity of wax ester you consume can lead to something called keriorrhea.

Keriorrhea means “flow of wax” in Greek, and the symptoms can include either stomach cramps or “explosive, oily, diarrhea”. On second thought, maybe you should save this last dish for a pot luck that you don’t want to be invited to next year.

6. Spider Eating

Eating spiders is a popular delicacy in Cambodia. It is not uncommon in Cambodia to see street vendors selling fried spiders as a snack. It has become a popular tourist attraction in recent years. Spiders are bred for eating. They are fried in oil, and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Fried spiders for sale at the market in Skuon A. www.viajar24h.com - http://flickr.com/photos/soschilds/375166267/ Close up of crunchy fried spiders from Skun town, Cheung Prey district, Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia
Close up of crunchy fried spiders from Skun town, Cheung Prey district, Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia

Happy eating!

  • This ‘Nutritious Burger Patty’ Is Made Out of 500,000 Flies, WowAmazing.com
  • “Skunks, are they edible?”, Root Simple, 2013
  • “The Lake Fly Burger”, Nkwichi Blog,
  • Wells, Andy, “Do you have a veggie menu? Food fest offers deep-fried SPIDERS and CENTIPEDES”. Daily Star, 2014
  • Hill, Kathryn, “Use caution when eating Escolar.” Kitchn, 2008