Food for the mind, body and soul. We all love our food, have our favorites, family secrets and specials too. What equally interests foodies are lists of bizarre foods such as cricket-based protein bars, turtle soups, deep fried coke, smoked bear and so on. Eating bizarre foods like these have spawned full-blown food festivals. Four of them are included here:
Noche de Rábanos—Night of the Radishes
Where: Oaxaca, Mexico
When: Christmas Time
What: We stop first at the only festival on this list where you don’t have to actually eat anything, and instead channel your artistic energy into carving giant radishes—a big part of what the artisan folk do in the community.
Originated in the 16th century, when Spanish monks brought this root vegetable to new colonies, farmers began carving out interesting sculptures at the market to grab the attention of shoppers. This soon turned into an annual tradition in 1987, and today there are three different categories in which you can compete for cash prizes.
Waikiki Spam Jam
Where: Waikiki, Hawaii, USA
When: Last Week of April
What: Back during WWII, this region had scarce meat, and hence they adopted this canned pink meat—now one of the biggest markets for the canned meat. This street festival is the perfect blend of all your Hawaiian elements in one spot: Performing hula dancers, a Mr. and Mrs. Spam contest, celebrity chef sightings and, then of course, you get to sample everything from Spam burgers, to Spam Musubi (which is Sushi with Spam)—all while doing your charitable bit with proceeds going to the Hawaiian Food Bank.
Olney Pancake Race
Where: Olney, England, UK
When: Pancake Day/Fat Tuesday
What: Every year, at 11:55 AM on Shrive Tuesday—aka Pancake Day—the ladies of the town all dress to perfection in their traditional housewife attire—complete with skirt, scarf and apron, and take to the streets. As a true test of their skillet skills, these women have to flip the pancake in the skillet and run 415 yards along the street. The winner has to flip it once more at the finish line before she reigns supreme! This Olney tradition that has been carried on since 1445, sure has the neighborhood women fighting to flip.
Gilroy Garlic Festival
Where: Gilroy, California, USA
When: Last Week of July
What: Reigning as one of the official Garlic Capitals of the world, the Gilroy Garlic Festival attracts crowds as large as a 100,000. It is estimated that about two and a half tons of garlic is consumed during this event alone. Everything garlic, from cooking demonstrations, lectures about its traditional uses and health benefit talks. Of course the spotlight is on the Great Garlic Cook-off, which serves dishes like garlic ice cream, garlic soft drinks, walnut-garlic tarts, and event garlic-infused cream and chili syrup—can it get anymore pungent than this?