The Horrors of International Food Abroad

Warning: this post contains pretty disgusting food pictures.

Most world travelers love a great variety of foods from across the globe, and this is often our downfall. It’s very hard to be satisfied when the dish you’re craving is half the world away.

Sitting here in Mexico, for example, I have all the tacos in the world at my disposal yet I can’t help craving a savory bowl of pho or a basket of steamed dumplings. I pay too much for tiny tubs of hummus and sub par sushi because I just can’t help myself. Conversely, when I lived in China and had access to the most amazing street food in the world, I found myself dreaming of pizza and well, Mexican food.

It’s these incongruous cravings that lead to some really poor decision making when it comes to food. Like ordering pad thai in Mexico (mistake), a cheese plate in China (mistake) or a quesadilla in England (big mistake… peas and carrots!).

A couple of weeks ago I asked a few of my blogger friends what the worst international meal they’ve had abroad was. They sent me some truly horrifying pictures and stories.

So let’s dive right in. Hope you’re not hungry:


Kristiansand, Norway – This was supposed to be a cheese pizza but came out with corn and Doritos on top in edition to cheese. It wasn’t horrible per say, but it wasn’t good either.- Kelly Paras, FlipFlop Caravan
Ekaterinburg, Russia – Pepperoni pizza? It had little strips of bacon (the pink stuff) and then a lattice-work of shredded potato. And because it’s Russia, it had to be topped with dill and sour cream. Again, not horrible, but one of the weirdest flavor combos I’ve had on a pizza.- Kelly Paras

Santiago, Chile-   I figured I’d send you what a place in Santiago considered a “pizza.” Just for reference… it was the size of a bagel… – Tony Rulli, LandingStanding

Mexican Food

By far the worst offender.

2 tacos in Irkutsk, Russia, with a side of tartar sauce. The taco shells themselves tasked like fried wontons and the so-called chicken inside them was unrecognizable.- Katie Aune

Perm, Russia – Mexican food gone bad. The nacho cheese sauce poured on top of what was supposed to be an enchilada was cold and literally formed a hard crust. Inside was chopped up hot dogs, carrots and something that was trying to be refried beans. Probably the single most disgusting thing I ate in Russia.- Kelly Paras

As you know, it can be near impossible to find good Mexican food in Asia. In Hong Kong, we have maybe 10 places that serve anything resembling Mexican food, so we’ve given most all of them a go. The worst by far though, was when we ordered nachos at one place in particular.

The server brought us a plate of Doritos, that had been burnt, with some melted cheese on top. It was horrific! And the first thing that made me get sick in Asia! – Beth Williams, BesuDesu Abroad

This dish from Freiburg Germany is allegedly tacos. You can read about Ali’s horrific experiences with Mexican food in Germany on her site.


HCMC, Vietnam- The time I realised I should have stuck with pho instead of treating myself to steak on a date night. Yep, that’s strips of meat wrapped around raw carrot sticks. Yum- Lauren Juliff, Never Ending Footsteps

We went to a small restaurant in Ancient Corinth, Greece. It was one of those awkward restaurant moments when you sort of want to leave, but have already committed by sitting down at a table. In the end we ordered “lasagna.” What we got didn’t have lasagna sheets but was instead made with macaroni!- Jade Johnson, Our Oyster

a Thai take on a full English breakfast, safe to say I’ve never seen salad served with an English breakfast and the bacon was well…ham that was incredibly bad tasting. This can be found in Bangkok at Sivali Place, other than that the hash browns were pretty good!- Sally, Traveling Sally.

Sometimes you just want McDonalds when abroad. Sometimes you are disappointed to find out that a McDonalds doesn’t actually exist in the country, and a fake knock-off that imitates everything about the Golden Arches exists in its place. This is the Albanian version of McDonalds, and tastes just as bad as you would expect from a description like this. But still, there was something quite familiar about it…- Jeremy Jones, Living the Dream RTW

What about you, do you have a horrific international food tale? Send me your pictures and I’ll post them in an upcoming post! Steph(@)

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