Fermented, salted, raw, inside-out, upside-down, still wriggling or any other combination of the unexpected: trying new food when we’re traveling is all part of the adventure. As featured contributor Ben Groundwater finds, sometimes it’s the whole adventure.

’Salted squid’ doesn’t sound so bad. It seems like something you might order in a Thai restaurant back home, something deep-fried and delicious.

That was part of my thinking when I took the plunge and ordered it. I did this despite the local Japanese girl next to me explaining that the thing roughly translated on the menu in front of me as salted squid “wasn’t for foreigners”. In fact, I probably did it because she said that.

Not for foreigners? Perfect. I’ll take it. So I sat there in the izakaya—a Japanese drinking den—in Tokyo sipping my sake and awaiting my food, confident that the salted squid would be tasty, and relatively sure I would enjoy my meal. It was a gamble, particularly given the warning, but it would pay off.