Snails for breakfast at Tsukiji Fish Market

Snails at Tsukiji fish market

At least one person who clicks on this blog does so because and I quote ‘I like to see what weird thing she’s eaten now’ – well considering some of the things on offer in Japan you’d think I’d have been full of them wouldn’t you – but no, I did go out one day intending to eat squid ice cream – but I watched a YouTube video en-route of a guy trying it who threw up, so when I went to the Ice Cream Theme park, I just had one that looked like a penguin instead.

Doesn’t contain actual penguin

In fact, only two things I ate struck me as super odd. The first was a surprise, which is why I have no picture of it – by the time I realised it was something strange it had a huge spoon shaped hole in it. It was a dessert I bought from the 7-11 thinking it was chocolate mousse – turned out it was red bean paste. Now I knew red bean paste was a common filling for pastries in Japan but I wasn’t planning on trying it – particularly in the form of a trifle type number covered in fake cream and with jelly balls. My verdict? Imagine sweet Taco Bell bean burrito filling. Other than ice cream/chocolate (you know, the essentials) I’m not a fan of sweet so I wasn’t hugely struck at all but apparently red beans are a great source of anti-oxidants, plus of course a bean paste filling will give you some fibre with your dessert so maybe you should.

The second thing though was far more interesting. It was a giant snail – well I say this, it could be a giant whelk or a giant conch – and I’ve spent far too long googling to try and work out the difference. I bought it at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo and it was cooked in front of me and served, with a little bit of juice and a toothpick. Like insects, which we eat a lot on this blog, sustainability surveys are suggesting snails are very under-rated food – high in protein and cheap to farm and so we could all be eating them one day (although admittedly perhaps not at 9am as I was). I therefore wanted to see what joys this food of the future might hold.

The first mouthful was amazing – I actually let out a little groan of pleasure. The second mouthful was chewy but tasty. The third one was disgustingly bitter and I might have spat it out and hidden it in the shell so the chef man couldn’t see it but I’m not confessing to anything.

Do not eat the black bits okay

Of course now I’m home and red bean paste and snails aren’t in the supermarket – but this weekend I went to the farm shop and custard apples were. This is another food I’ve never tried – and as such I didn’t know that they’re supposed to be slightly squishy to the touch before you eat them. I tried chomping into mine while it was hard which was not pleasant.

The leftovers have been ripening downstairs for a few days now though and so I had another go earlier today – they taste like sherbert and aren’t unpleasant – but they score low on my patented fruity point scale as they have annoying seeds in them that you have to spit out. Apparently, traditionally Custard Apples fight upset tummies – and dried they kill lice. I’m glad I didn’t read that before I tucked in.

You’ll find more strange food posts over at NYNHB’s sister blog  Destination>Differentville . It’s a travel blog which aims to find the plain bonkers sights, ideas and places around the world. Click the link above to check it out.

Custard apple image:


  1. gracegothealthy

    I love trying new things. Awesome!
    Glad I found this blog!

    1. healthehelen

      Glad you did too. Thanks for the follow. I most commonly try odd things on holiday (There’s a thai stink bean with my name on it in the future) but the supermarket keeps surprising me with oddities so watch this space…….

  2. Arian

    In NZ they are called cherimoya, not sure about the spelling. I never ever saw snails on sale in Japan, but then I wouldn’t have visited the fish market either. Glad you are out there trying this stuff, so I don’t have to.

    1. healthehelen

      You’d have liked the red bean thingy…..except for the jelly balls. You might have had to leave those!

  3. Pingback: Concerning the eating of whelks. - cooking, cuisine, meat, vegetables, restaurants, diet, prices, allergies... - City-Data Forum

  4. Pingback: It’s A Bug Based Snack - by Helen from NYNHB this thing on? Talk to me, it's lonely down here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox:

%d bloggers like this: