Chile: My Worst Food in the World


This is the story of my experience with the Worst Food in the World. Do you have a story (video, print or photos) about your worst food experience? Tell us about it and we’ll publish the best right here!  

On the way to the headwaters of the Bio-Bio River in Chile, where we hoped to make the first descent, we stopped at a Mapuche Indian farm house and asked if we might camp in an untilled field.

Yes, Yaco, the owner, replied, but only if we joined for dinner.

Of course! We would be delighted.

As we sat at a long wooden table, Yaco served up Mudai, maize chicha, made by cooking ground corn in water, adding masticated maize meal, and allowing the mixture to ferment. It was a refreshing, milky and slightly sour drink, not at all unpleasant. But after a few glasses, Yaco asked that I follow him outside, to a small pen out back. “You are an honored guest. You will have Ñachi.”

There he grabbed a tethered goat, and cutting the line, circled the rope tight around the animals’ back legs, and with another rope, hung the goat by its hindquarters from an Araucanía tree branch. Then, with one hand, he grabbed a large wooden bowl, one of several on a low table, and with the other hand he picked up a machete. In a flash he slit the throat of the hanging goat.

As the hot blood poured out he captured it in the bowl, and then another bowl, and another, until we had enough for the place settings. We carried them inside, and there he added coriander and salt, and squeezed lemon juice into the steaming broth, which made the blood coagulate, turning it into a hot pudding. Then, the bowls were placed in front of the guests.

“Salud,” I said feebly, and lifted the heavy bowl to my mouth. The smell niffed my nose as the bowl reached my lips. I closed my eyes; I held my breath. I took a sip.

Before I could register my mouth was full, cheeks bulging with body-heat gore the texture of custard, silky and vital and forcing open my constricted throat. I swallowed. Great visceral chugs. It poured, velvety and unctuous, down my gullet, and I kept envisioning the goat, bleating in its last moments.

Then my throat seized, and the blood began to move backwards, upwards. I quickly excused myself, and ran out the backdoor, and there expelled all traces of the poor goat.

Despite attempts to assuage the host with niceties, it was the worst meal in the world.


Richard Bangs

Richard Bangs has often been called the father of modern adventure travel, having spent decades as an explorer and communicator, pioneering “virtual expeditions” on the World Wide Web and leading first descents of 35 rivers around the world. At present he lives in Venice, Calif. Explorer Richard Bangs has spent 40 years as an explorer, leading first descents of 35 rivers around the globe, including the Yangtze in China and the Zambezi in Southern Africa. During that period he founded Sobek Expeditions, the first multi-national river running company and the pioneering outfitter for global active wilderness travel. Author and Producer Richard has published more than 1000 magazine articles, 19 books, a score of documentaries, several CD-ROMs, and all manner of digital media. He has lectured at the Smithsonian, the National Geographic Society, the Explorers Club and many other notable venues. He writes a semi-regular feature for, occasionally freelances for other print and online publications, and produces and hosts “Richard Bangs’ Adventures with Purpose, as seen on national public television.

4 responses to “Chile: My Worst Food in the World

  1. Reading this story, I could just feel the hot goat blood in my mouth – so well written and descriptive! Honestly I don’t think I could have kept it down, maybe if I didn’t see the goat beforehand but … 🙁

  2. Wow! Having seen the goat killed I’m not sure I could have even carried on as long as you did – well done on surviving as long as you did. I’m actually feeling a bit nauseous now just thinking about it, urghhhh

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