May 2, 2024 | Sarah Ng

Bizarre Foods From Around The World


Bizarre Dishes Are Everywhere

No matter where you travel, the cuisine can be exciting and new. However, some traditional dishes aren't for the faint of heart. Here are some of the most bizarre foods from around the world.

Bizarre-Foods-Msn

Stink Bugs 

Location: Africa

Now, don't be put off by the stink bug's unfortunate name. Surprisingly, stink bugs are said to taste like apples. They can be used to enhance a stew, or even eaten as is.

Harvesting of the edible stink bug Encosternum delegorguei in South Africa.Cathy Dzerefos, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Balut

Location: Philippines

In the Philippines, balut is often purchased from street vendors—but for foreigners, the visuals are often too extreme to stomach. The dish is made from an egg containing a duck embryo, which is boiled. 

You can still see that tiny bird's body when you dig into your shell.

A balut or balot is a developing duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in the shell.shankar s., Flickr

Cobra Heart

Location: Vietnam

This delicacy is a tad gruesome. The snake's heart is taken out while it's still alive, which is then placed in a shot glass filled with the animal's blood. The worst (or best) part of all? The heart is still beating.

A rice wine snake wine bottle from Vietnam.niko si, Flickr

Casu Marzu 

Location: Italy

Casu marzu is also called "maggot cheese," and as the name suggests, it is riddled with insect larvae... which are still alive.

Casu Marzu, sardinian cheese with larvae of Piophila CaseiGengis90, Shutterstock

Casu Marzu

Supposedly, the larvae in casu marzu are flavor enhancers, but not everyone is ready to chow down on these live wrigglers. Many people opt to kill the larvae before consuming the cheese—usually by putting them in the fridge or smothering them.

Famous Casu Marzu or Casu Martzu Cheese with Worms from Sardinia Italy.Fotopogledi, Shutterstock

Hákarl 

Location: Iceland

The process of making Hákarl is pretty intense. It is the rotting remains of a Greenland shark. First, the body is buried in a shallow hole. Next, rocks are placed on top of the shark so that the toxic fluids are drained, making it safe for consumption. But that's not all.

Hákarl, a culinary adventure from Iceland, showcases fermented shark meat with a distinct aroma and robust flavor.Pasindhu sandeepa, Shutterstock

Hákarl

Once the shark's fluids have been drained, the meat is hung up and dried. Finally, after drying, it's sliced into pieces and served up. Trying Hákarl is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience...

Hákarl shark meat.Funky Tee, Flickr

Hákarl

The flavor of Hákarl is not for the faint of heart. It's very fishy and tastes like ammonia. Anthony Bourdain was not a fan of this unique dish, calling it, "the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing."

Hákarl has a very particular ammonia-rich smell and taste, similar to very strong cheese.Audrey, CC-BY-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Chicken Feet

Location: East Asia, Caribbean, South Africa, South America

Chicken feet are eaten in numerous places, so it's not as bizarre as it may sound. The most unique thing about this food is its rubbery texture. Even the flavor can be quite good depending on its preparation, but eating around the bones can be a nuisance.

Chicken Feet on plate.Alpha, Flickr

Cherry Blossom Meat

Location: Japan

People have very strong feelings about horses, which can make horse meat a controversial topic even though it's eaten in different places around the world. 

In this case, cherry blossom meat is raw horse meat. It can be served as nigiri or sashimi.

Raw Horse meat sashimi on blace ceramic plate served with soy source, lattuce, ginger and onionsgnoparus, Shutterstock

Haggis

Location: Scotland

To some, the recipe for Haggis might sound shocking. First, mince the heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep. Combine this mixture with onion, suet, and onions. Season it with spices and salt—and cook it inside the sheep's stomach.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy TasteRoland Tanglao, Flickr

Century Egg, 100 Year Old Egg, 1000 Year Old Egg

Location: China

These eggs are not as old as they sound, but they definitely don't look like your typical egg. The preservation process takes months, using a combination of quicklime, ash, and clay. 

Century Egg - close up.denn, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Century Egg, 100 Year Old Egg, 1000 Year Old Egg

This causes the egg white to turn dark brown, while the yolk often changes to a deep green color—even black. Most importantly, the odor changes dramatically, giving off notes of ammonia and sulphur.

Sliced Century EggFlorian, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Tripe

Location: Worldwide

Tripe is an animal's stomach lining. It doesn't have much flavor, but for those who've never tried tripe, it might be a step outside their comfort zone. 

Beef honeycomb tripe and tendonAlpha, Flcikr

Tripe

Tripe's honeycomb texture is quite rubbery and chewy, which some people love. It can be eaten in many forms: in soups, covered in sauces, or paired with onions.

Beef Tripe and Fishball Egg NoodlesAlpha, Flcikr

Escamol

Location: Mexico

Escamol is also called "insect caviar." Why? Well, it's made of ant pupae and larvae. This delicacy has the texture of cottage cheese and its flavor is said to be nutty and smooth.

Escamol on plate.FABIAN KRONENBERGER, Flickr

Black Pudding Or Blood Sausage

Location: Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe

Black pudding or blood sausage might turn people off because they can't stomach the idea of eating congealed blood. However, there's no denying that blood mixed with breadcrumbs and suet and piped into a sausage skin tastes delicious.

Black Pudding - Classic English BreakfastAlpha, Flickr

Khash

Location: Middle East, East Europe, Turkey

Khash was a comfort food eaten in colder weather, but these days, it's more of delicacy—stewed cow's head and feet.

Khash - dish of boiled cow's feet.Fanfo, Shutterstock

Tuna Eyeballs 

Location: Japan

Tuna eyeballs are pretty self explanatory. However, although they may sound like an offputting dish, the flavor of tuna eyeballs has been likened to that of octopus or squid.

Japanese cuisine lunch set menu with simmered tuna head in sweet sauce.ninekrai, Shutterstock

Spam

Location: United States

Spam is the mystery meat we all know and love. This canned meat is supposedly a mixture of ham, pork shoulder, potato starch—but many of us are left wondering what else could possibly be hiding in there.

SPAM - canned meat.timag, Flickr

Surstromming

Location: Sweden

To prevent this Baltic Sea herring from rotting, it undergoes a fermentation process that uses the perfect amount of salt. Today, it's usually found in cans and preserved in brine. However, it's the odor that sets this tinned fish apart. 

Apparently, the smell is so strong, it has to be eaten in the open air.

Serving Surströmming fish.Wrote, CC-BY-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Shiokara

Location: Japan

Now, this is a raw dish made from sea creature meat. But that's not all. What makes Shiokara so unique is that it's served up in a very salty, fermented paste made of viscera.

Oton - ShiokaraKirk K, Flickr

Jing Leed (Grasshoppers) 

Location: Thailand

Grasshoppers can be a pretty addictive snack when fried up properly. Throw in some salt, pepper, and chilli and you have a dish that kind of tastes like popcorn... with an unexpected juiciness?

Plate of crispy deep-fried insectskillerturnip, Flickr

Fried Spider

Location: Cambodia

The Cambodian town of Skuon is known for one of its regional delicacies—fried spider. Its preparation certainly sounds appetizing. The spiders are coated in MSG, salt, and sugar, before being fried in garlic.

Fresh fried tarantula's (Phnom Penh, Cambodia 2011)Paul Arps, Flickr

Fried Spider

Although fried spiders have more meat than grasshoppers, the contents of its abdomen might not sound so appetizing: eggs, viscera, and excrement.

Fried SpiderGusjer, Flickr

Wasp Crackers 

Location: Japan

Wasp crackers are exactly what they sound like...biscuits with wasps baked into them. Imagine a chocolate chip cookie, but instead of delicious chocolate chips, you crunch into insects instead.

Wasp Cookie - Japan.Foodfanatic83, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Marmite or Vegemite

Location: UK, New Zealand & Australia

Marmite is quite a divisive spread that comes from yeast extract. It is a by-producted of beer production. The stuff found at the bottom of the beer barrel? The slurry most breweries dispose of? That's what marmite comes from.

Marmite is better than Vegemite.Bill Bradford, Flickr

Marmite or Vegemite

In its concentrated form, this brown paste has quite a strong, savoury, salty flavor. Marmite or vegemite is often eaten on toast, or paired with cheese.

Marmite on toastSilverStack, Flickr

Witchetty Grub

Location: Australia

Witchetty grub are sizable, white larvae. In the desert, Indigenous Australians were known to consume this dish regularly. However, there are a few ways to eat witchetty grub. 

Witchetty Grub on hand.Darren Pearce, Flickr

Witchetty Grub

When eaten uncooked, witchetty grub's nutty flavor is reminiscent of almonds. However, when it's gently cooked, the larvae's skin gets crispy, while its insides remain soft.

Hand of woman holds on a bush tucker food with a Witchetty grubs grilledBenny Marty, Shutterstock

Sago Delight

Location: Southeast Asia

Sago grubs are said to be quite delicious... even though they may not look like it. Apparently, they have a creamy texture and flavor when eaten raw. However, if they're cooked, they can actually taste similar to bacon. 

Homemade sweet dessert consisting of refrigerated sago in mold / Sago PuddingYSK1, Shutterstock

Escargot à la Bourguignonne 

Location: France

Escargot are cooked snails. They're served in a luxurious sauce of butter, garlic, white wine, and parsley. If you're familiar with clams or mussels, they have a similar texture—though perhaps a tad more rubbery.

Escargot à la Bourguignonne - snailseatingeast, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Beondegi

Location: South Korea

In Korea, you can find beondegi at street vendors. It's a simple dish made of silkworms that have been steamed or boiled, then seasoned. Usually eaten as snack, it reportedly has a woody flavor.

Beondegi - fried silkwormsClément Gault, Flickr

Mopane Worms

Location: Southern Africa

Traditionally, mopane worms are preserved through smoking or drying. When used in cooking, these dried worms are often re-hydrated before being fried up—often with spices and tomatoes.

Mopane worms - foodNigel Hoult, Flickr

Pickled Egg 

Location: UK

If you're a pickle lover then pickled eggs might be a preserved food worth trying. These hardboiled eggs are preserved in vinegar, and become sour little sponges. People either love them or hate them.

pickled eggsCharles Kremenak, Flickr

Bird’s Nest Soup

Location: Southeast Asia

Bird's nest soup is a popular, yet controversial delicacy. The swiftlet bird makes its nest out of saliva, which eventually hardens. Bird's nest soup is made using this saliva. However, this dish comes with a risk.

Bird’s Nest Soupstu_spivack, Flickr

Bird’s Nest Soup

Harvesting these nests is actually quite dangerous as they can be found on high cliffs. Every year, people lose their lives trying to get their hands on them.

crab meat & bird's nest soupJanine Cheung, Flickr

Fugu

Location: Japan

Fugu is a delicacy made from pufferfish, which can be poisonous if it's not made properly. That's why the chef preparing the sashimi has to be properly trained. But no matter what, it's still a risk the diner takes.

Fugu sashimiRaita Futo, CC-BY-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Steak Tartare

Location: France

Not all foreigners are familiar with steak tartare, so although it's a well-known delicacy, some diners don't realize what they've signed up for.

Steak Tartare on a plate.NwongPR, Flickr

Steak Tartare

Steak tartare is raw ground beef. It's often seasoned with Worcester sauce and served with capers, onions, and a raw egg. You'll most likely pair the meat with some form of carb, like fries or bread.

Steak tartare in Loża RestaurantKgbo, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Frog Legs

Location: France, Southeast Asia

Frog legs are said to taste like chicken and can be prepared in a variety of ways: stewed, baked, grilled, or fried. Depending where you order them, the flavors and pairings will differ.

Fried Frog's LegsAdam S, Flickr

Kangaroo

Location: Australia

Kangaroo has been a popular dish throughout history for Indigenous Australians. It's a healthy option due to its high protein and low fat content. This gamey meat can be prepared like any other—made into burger patties, piped into sausages, or grilled up as steaks.

Kangaroo meatChen Wu, Flickr

Kangaroo

That said, there are animal groups that protest the consumption of kangaroo meat. Ecologists, on the other hand, have a compelling argument to make. They claim that farming animals native to the land would be better for the environment.

Kangaroo Steakjshyun, Flickr

Southern Fried Rattlesnake 

Location: United States

Does fried rattlesnake taste good? Well, according to the folks from the Southwestern US, yes. First, the snake meat is boiled off the bones. That meat is then soaked in an egg mixture before being coated in a mixture of flour, breadcrumbs, and seasonings. Finally, it's deep fried and served up.

Fried rattlesnake meatKimberly Vardeman, Flickr


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