Don't be afraid to try the intestines, you might enjoy them
August 18th, 2011
02:00 PM ET
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Neal Piper picks up a big spoonful of a white, pasty substance and places it to his lips. He swallows it confidently, and smiles as he announces the taste is "not bad."

But the subtitle on the video explains what he was actually thinking: "This stuff tasted horrible." The whitish substance is actually a porridge of cooked soft maize mixed with milk that's been left to sour for a few days.

"My only comparison is sour chunky milk," Piper said.

But he laughs it off and washes the flavor away with a swig. It's important to take a few edible risks when you visit a new place, the Atlanta, Georgia, resident says. His video documents just one of the many culinary adventures he's had in Africa. Piper eventually submitted the piece to CNN iReport as part of the Destination Adventure travel series.

"To me, trying new food in an unfamiliar culture is one of my favorite parts about traveling," Piper said. "If you find yourself in Africa, you won't be disappointed by the number of unique dishes available. Here, even the most sophisticated palate will be in pure bliss."

Piper, 31, has traveled all over the world and seen all kinds of things. He first fell in love with travel in Africa - and the food - while visiting the Masai Mara, Kenya, in 2007. He was hooked and came back to the continent in 2009, this time working to boost community health care in Swaziland. That's where the video he submitted was shot. Piper says if you venture off the beaten path or into the murky abyss, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Take cow intestines, for example. The dish is quite common in Swaziland, even if it makes Western palates squeamish. For a first-timer, the sight of that first spoonful of stewing innards being spooned out from a murky-looking pot might be a bit intimidating, but Piper says it's nothing to really be scared of. The dish "actually wasn't as bad" as he expected it would be.

"Everyone says things taste like chicken, but it tastes like beef," he said.

He also demonstrated tasting a dish made from pumpkin leaves, which are reminiscent of spinach, along with ground nuts and pumpkin meat. Piper was happy with his culinary options.

"Overall, I absolutely loved the food in this region," he said. "A one-pound filet of steak costs the equivalent of $5 in the U.S., was grass-fed, and tasted better than any steak I've had at a high-end restaurant."

Piper says the food tasted fine, and he never got sick from it. There wasn't much Western food around except a KFC, so he ate as the locals did except for an American-style meal shipped to the U.S. Embassy. Piper says he did, however, get a bit sick when he returned home and began eating processed foods again.

Things went pretty smoothly for him, but that's not to say he didn't miss a few things from the States.

"I will admit, once I returned home, my first stop was eating at a local Mexican restaurant in Atlanta. Good Mexican food is hard to come by in most parts of Africa."

CNN's Destination Adventure series takes a look at great places for eager explorers. Each week, we'll feature favorite regional foods, secrets from the locals and the best photos and stories from readers. Have you been to Masai Mara? Share your story with CNN iReport. And next week, we'll journey to New Zealand.

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Filed under: Buzz • Destination Adventure • iReport


soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Celestial1

    I have the occasional tripe and beans stew ever so often. When well seasoned and cooked properly it's quite tasty. It's not something I eat often, and certainly not for everyone. The odour may take a little getting used to for someone who has never had it before, and visually, it is not the most attractive thing to look at. If you like trying new things then go for it.

    August 19, 2011 at 1:02 am | Reply
  2. Truth

    I used to go out with a lady who was born and raised in Ethiopia, and we went out once to an Ethiopian restaurant and I had absolutely no desire to go back. Ever.

    August 18, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Reply
    • Celestial1

      What does going to an Ethiopian restaurant has to do with food in Swaziland? If you had tried Greek food and hated it, would you have posted that on an iReport on eating snails aka escargots in France? You probably wouldn't. Just as how all the countries in Europe has their own cuisine and way of preparing food, it's the same thing with Africa. It is a continent with varying cuisines, cultures and belief systems.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:11 am | Reply
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants

        /facepalm at this guy Celestial1. Good thing he didn't pick "Intellectual1".

        August 19, 2011 at 11:23 am | Reply
      • Truth@JDizz

        Good to see you back Bro!
        How are things in your neck of the woods? What do you think of our new "upside down" format?

        August 19, 2011 at 11:30 am | Reply
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants

        Quite busy. In the midst of hearings to obtain primary placement of my daughter, numerous interviews, an adoption on the NGF part, the deaths of two cousins, the marriage (not to each other) of two others, fighting the city over an oil stain in the street in front of the house, NGF's issues at work, and constant masturbation. Pretty busy!

        August 19, 2011 at 11:38 am | Reply
      • Celestial1

        @Jdizzle McHammerpants

        Don't facepalm my comment, facepalm your life. From the looks of it only reincarnation can help you.

        August 19, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Reply
      • Truth@Celestial

        Congrats!
        You are the winner of today's "Rectal Wart on the Eatocracy" award. Your prize is a fully catered lunch in the STFU cafe. Please report there immediately.

        August 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Reply
      • Celestial1

        @ Jdizzle McHammerpants..Is that the best you can do? Just crawl back up in the poop shoot u descended from and start your life over again. Oh I forgot, bad things happen in threes so I am sure you'll have a head start on that soon enough.

        August 19, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Reply
      • MalaDee@Celestial0

        Here, take this Midol. You seem to need it.
        You made an ignorant comment and JDizz was right to ping on you about it. Own up to your shortcomings and learn from them. BTW, your seat in the STFU cafe is getting cold. Please feel free to go back and warm it up.

        August 19, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Reply
  3. JBJingles

    Be afraid, be very afraid...

    August 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Reply
    • RichardHead@JBJ

      Got any extra TP?

      August 18, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  4. RichardHead

    Hmmmm,sounds like something Sir Biddle would be familiar with. :))

    August 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Reply
  5. Evil Grimace

    Only if it's not lower intestines, and they are well washed out!

    But I'm all for trying different things, even if they don't sound so appetizing.

    August 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  6. Jerv

    Brave man and good job!

    August 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Reply

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