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Controversial cuisine: Fish head pie and ‘devil’s dung’

By Maureen O’Hare, CNN

This week in travel news, we bring you fish head pie, “devil’s dung,” mummified crocodiles and a cane toad named Toadzilla. Also, we want to hear your craziest, wildest travel stories.

Tell us your hair-raising adventures

We’ve all had trips that didn’t go according to plan. Maybe you got in a motorbike accident that sent you home stitched up and wised up; maybe you were stolen from, beaten up and swindled — but still managed to have the best summer ever.

We want to hear your most hair-raising travel stories with a happy ending, where you lived to tell the tale and now have a blockbuster yarn. Send us a short summary by email, and we could be in touch to turn it into a CNN story to share with the world (

Cutting-edge cuisine

If you accidentally get a smidgen of the divisive Indian ingredient hing on your hands, the pungent scent will linger no matter how many times you wash them, earning it the nickname “devil’s dung.” But fans of the wild fennel plant say it’s a base note flavor that perfectly bridges the gap between garlic and onion.

On the other side of the world, Cornwall’s Stargazy Pie, made in the seaside village of Mousehole, sounds delightfully whimsical — until you learn its central ingredient is bulging-eyed fish heads, gazing open-mouthed toward the heavens from their pastry prison. The taste, it’s said, is like a “custard of sea flavors.”

Reindeer brain custard and fermented rice ice cream with oyster caramel are some of the cutting-edge concoctions to have been served at Copenhagen’s Noma, one of the world’s most feted restaurants, which will close to diners next year. It’s set to be reborn in 2025 as a “giant lab,” dubbed Noma 3.0, dedicated to “food innovation.”

Wild world

China’s northernmost city — Mohe, near Russian Siberia — recorded its coldest day ever on January 22: a toe-tingling -63.4 F (-53 C). East Asia has been gripped by a severe cold snap, and climate experts warn that extreme weather events like this are the “new norm.” Farther southeast in New Zealand, Auckland was hit Friday by torrential rains that flooded the city’s airport.

California has also recently been battered by wild rainstorms, with some of the state’s beloved parks and forests so hard hit they still haven’t been able to reopen. Closures include Los Padres National Forest and El Capitán State Beach. There’s better news next door in Arizona: The Grand Canyon’s Havasu Falls is reopening to visitors after three years.

A humongous cane toad that might be the largest toad on record has been found in northeastern Australia. The jacked-up amphibian, clocking in at a mighty six pounds with no excess flab, has been dubbed Toadzilla.

And a massive rare American eel — four fleshy feet of it — just washed up on a Texas beach. For footage that looks like a deleted scene from “Tremors,” watch here.

Egyptian treasures

One mummy’s little “golden boy” is even more precious than previously thought: Computer scans have digitally “unwrapped” the remains of a 2,300-year-old Egyptian teenager, revealing that 49 exquisite amulets adorn his body. The unidentified boy’s remains were first uncovered in a cemetery in southern Egypt in 1916.

Of course, it wasn’t just humans who got the drain-and-dry treatment. Archaeologists unearthed 2,000-year-old mummified crocodiles near the city of Aswan in 2019. Watch here to see the five ancient reptiles, thought to be from two different species.

Finally, following a two-year joint investigation by United States and Egyptian authorities, a 500-kilogram ancient Egyptian sarcophagus lid, known as the “Green Sarcophagus,” has been recovered by Egypt after being looted and smuggled to the US in recent years.

European islands where you can escape the world

Poet W. B. Yeats was homesick in London when he dreamed of escaping alone to an island cabin in Ireland where he should “have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow.” Yeats didn’t have the benefit of seeing our guide to the best islands in Europe for getting away from almost anyone, but you can read it here.

Bring Your Own Bottle

The days of wrapping a T-shirt around a bottle of local booze and hoping you’ll make it home before your suitcase resembles a glass fight in a brewery are over. The VinGardeValise Grande suitcase comes with 12 foam inserts that hold bottles of any shape and will keep your purchases tucked up safe. Our partners at CNN Underscored, a product reviews and recommendations guide owned by CNN, put it to the test.

In case you missed it

Lunar New Year celebrations are in full swing: Here’s our illustrated guide to the most common traditions.

Then find out your zodiac predictions for the Year of the Rabbit.

Disney’s Splash Mountain fans are grabbing up all the souvenirs they can.

Those include plastic cups, Ziploc bags and dubiously sourced “Splash Mountain water.”

There’s an Alpine hotel with an international border running through its rooms.

Guests can sleep in France and Switzerland at the same time.

Top image: Cornish delicacy Stargazy Pie (Anabel Dean).

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