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ESL Intermediate Lesson Plan - Weird Food

This ESL Lesson Plan Contains:

  • Reading activity
  • Reading comprehension questions
  • Discussion questions
  • Vocabulary match
  • Idioms
  • Speaking activity
  • Answers

Level: Intermediate, upper-intermediate and advanced

Time: 60 minutes

Fried Tarantulas

Reading - Weird Food

What do tarantulas, smelly sharks and rotten eggs have in common? They are considered to be delicacies in different countries around the world. Most people do not think their meals are strange, but to a foreigner it could be the most repulsive food they've ever encountered. So, let's take a culinary tour around the globe and see what weird food our fellow humans are eating today.

Crispy Tarantulas

Fried tarantulas are a popular snack in Cambodia. During the dictator Pol Pot's regime, food was scarce and so the people resorted to eating these gigantic spiders. The head and body contain white meat, but the abdomen contains a brown coloured paste made up of eggs, excrement and organs. But they have proved to be well-liked and these days Cambodians eat them like candy.

Thousand-year old eggs

These eggs aren't as old as they sound. The process takes from a few weeks to a few months. The eggs are preserved in a saline solution and the whites turn into a dark brown colour while the yolks turn to a dark green and grey colour. The eggs smell like a mixture of ammonia and sulphur.


A balot is a developing duck embryo that is boiled alive and sold on the streets in Southeast Asia. Around 9 days after fertilisation the baby duck begins to form. They are cooked and then stored in sand to keep the eggs warm. Some countries prefer the ducks to be more developed. For example, in the Philippines the perfect egg is 17 days old and the chick has not developed its beak, feathers or claws. Whereas in Vietnam the preference is when the baby duck is recognisable and has formed bones too.

Hakarl - Dried Shark Meat


The rotting carcass of a basking shark is buried underground for a few months. Stones are placed on top of the shark so that the poisonous body fluids leak out. These fluids help the sharks survive the extreme cold waters, but are unsafe for human consumption until it has been hung out to dry for a few more months. The result? Rotten flesh that smells like a mixture of ammonia and fish.

Bird's nest soup

One of the most expensive foods in the world is a Chinese dish that involves using a real bird's nest. Instead of using twigs to make a nest, this particular bird uses its own saliva. These red nests can cost up to $10,000.

Fried-brain sandwich

Thinly sliced calves' brains were hugely popular in the United States. That is until people became worried about catching Mad Cows Disease (BSE). Cows' brains older than 30 months are no longer permitted in human food, though some restaurants still offer this dish. Chefs are now turning to pigs' brains instead, but as pigs' brains are smaller, they take longer to prepare and produce fewer slices.


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One of the most brutal dishes created is known as “Dead and Alive”. The recipe comes from Taiwan, where it is now illegal to serve it. Chefs cut open a fish and preserve the vital organs while they deep fry it. The fish is still alive as it is being cooked. Diners poke the head and eyes of the fish to watch it moving, alternatively you can ask the chef to put the filleted fish back into the tank to let it swim around until you are ready for seconds. Chefs claim it proves how fresh the fish is.


This dish is quite dangerous and causes several deaths a year - it is not a meal for the faint-hearted. A live octopus is chopped into pieces in front of you and served with sesame oil. The octopus continues to squirm on your plate, but watch out! If you don't chew the poor creature properly, then the suckers on the tentacles can stick to your throat and cause you to choke.

Reading Comprehension Questions

  1. What's another word for 'disgusting' in the article?
  2. Name the dishes that are dangerous to human health?
  3. Name the foods that mention a strong odour?
  4. What's another word for 'move'?
  5. How do chefs keep the fish fresh?
  6. What is the expression in the text that means you want to eat more of something?
  7. Which country prefers to eat a more mature looking embryo?

Discussion Questions

  1. Which dish (if any) do you find the most disgusting?
  2. If you had to eat a dish mentioned in the text for your next meal, which would you choose?
  3. What's the weirdest thing you've eaten?
  4. How do you feel about eating cats, dogs or rabbits?
  5. What one animal you would never eat? Why?
  6. Do you think any of the foods you eat would be considered strange by foreigners?
  7. Forests in Latin America are being torn down to make land for cattle grazing. Do you think we should be more concerned about the food choices we make?
  8. What stories of animal cruelty have you heard about in the food industry?
  9. If you had to choose between eating a rat and your pet, which would it be?

Vocabulary Match


small tree branches


twisting and turning movements


the mouth of a bird


the liquid your mouth produces


very small in amount or number


the toe of an animal


salt water


a large container for water


decomposing or decaying


what covers a bird


extremely cruel


organs that allow a fish to stick to a surface


to push your finger at something


boneless fish


to be unable to breathe because of an obstruction in the air pipe

Idioms - Circle the correct idiom and the match them with the definitions

Eat us out of family and home

Eat us out of home and land

Eat us out of house and home




Sofa potato

Couch potato

Bed potato

Food is the spice of life

Variety is the spice of dreams

Variety is the spice of life

There is no such thing as a free dinner

There is no such thing as a free lunch

There is no such thing as free money

Spill the beans

Spill the tea

Spill the coffee

Cool as an ice-cube

Cool as a leather jacket

Cool as a cucumber

Bitter pill to buy

Bitter pill to swallow

Bitter tablet to swallow


  1. You can’t get something for nothing.
  2. Something that is hard to take.
  3. Someone who watches a lot of TV.
  4. Differences give life interest.
  5. Someone who doesn’t get easily upset.
  6. Something that was not thought through.
  7. To eat a lot.
  8. To tell a secret.

Thousand-Year Old Egg

Group Work (4-5 per group)

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation estimates that 2 billion people rely on up to 1900 insects for food on a daily basis. Most people in the the western world would not consider eating bugs as part of a healthy diet, but insects can be raised in small spaces without growth hormones and are low in fat and high in protein. Today your group is going to try to change the perception of eating insects.

You and your group are going to market a product that contains insects.

Consider the following:

  1. Name of product.
  2. Which insects the product will contain.
  3. What form the product will take e.g. health food bars, protein shakes...etc.
  4. How much you will charge for each unit.
  5. How you will focus on the positives of eating bugs.
  6. What your logo and slogan will be.
  7. Who your target consumers will be.
  8. Who you would get to feature in an advert for the product.

Adapted from

Answers to Weird Food Lesson Plan

Reading Comprehension Questions

  1. Repulsive.
  2. Nakji and brain-sandwiches.
  3. Hakarl and thousand-year old eggs
  4. Squirm.
  5. By filleting them alive and putting them back in the tank.
  6. Ready for seconds.
  7. Vietnam.


  • rotten-decomposing or decaying
  • scarce-very small in amount or number
  • saline-salt water
  • beak-the mouth of a bird
  • feathers-what covers a bird
  • claws-the toe of an animal
  • saliva-the liquid your mouth produces
  • twigs-small tree branches
  • brutal-extremely cruel
  • poke-to push your finger at something
  • filleted-boneless fish
  • tank-a large container for water
  • squirm-twisting and turning movements
  • suckers-organs that allow a fish to stick to a surface
  • choke-to be unable to breathe because of an obstruction in the air pipe

Answers to Idioms

Half-baked - Not thought through

Eat us out of house and home - Eat a lot

Couch potato - Someone who watches a lot of TV

Variety is the spice of life - Differences give life interest

There is no such thing as a free lunch - Can’t get something for nothing

Spill the beans - Tell a secret

Cool as a cucumber - Doesn’t get easily upset

Bitter pill to swallow - Hard to take

© 2015 Muttface

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