We all have our favorite foods. It is most likely because our mothers used to prepare it for us as kids or because you have some attachment to it somehow or simply because you like the taste or rarity of the dish. While we all like our dishes for whatever reason behind it, have you ever stopped to consider what you term as food in your area could be totally gross to someone else in another part of the world?
For instance, you could walk in to any restaurant and order fries and a burger because it is a standard meal but in that burger is meat. If you would be having beef or maybe pork, that seems perfectly normal unless you are in India or in the Arab world. Similarly, in China, eating dogs is nothing strange but the thought of you chopping up your little pet for the main course is just unbearable.
When taking a trip around the world it is often exciting to try new and exciting dishes but before you take up that menu and order, here is a list of dishes you may want to try but I would consider to stay away from but then again it does depend on how strong your stomach is.
The puffin is a species of Auk that inhabits the northern hemisphere and its heart is considered a delicacy in Iceland. An Auk is a short-winged diving seabird found in northern oceans, typically with a black head and black and white underparts.
Fried Brain Sandwich
Largely a dish of the past, these used to be popular in the Central United States until mad cow disease became a concern. Although people still eat them, serving brain from a cow that is over 30 months old at slaughter is no longer legal in the United States.
It is fertilized duck embryo, it is boiled alive and served. Eaten in South East Asia, the filipino word balut means “wrapped”.
Ant larvae harvested from the roots of the agave plant, these are considered to be a delicacy in Mexico. In fact, they are sometimes even referred to as “insect caviar” . It is said that they taste like butter but slightly nutty.
Bird’s Nest Soup
For hundreds of years the Chinese have used saliva nests in their cooking, primarily in this soup. While there are many varieties, birds nest soup as a whole is one of the most expensive foods on the planet with the red nest variety costing up to 10,000 USD per bowl.
Typically eaten in Iceland, they say that this fermented basking shark is an acquired taste. Hákarl is served as part of a þorramatur, a selection of traditional Icelandic food served at þorrablót in midwinter. It is readily available in Icelandic stores and is eaten year round.
A northern swedish dish that consists of fermented baltic herring, it is usually sold in cans like the one above. While they are being shipped the cans sometimes bulge due to the ongoing fermentation. Recently, a study in Japan found that surstromming releases the most putrid odor of any food in the world
Here is an interesting one for all you coffee lovers. Just how far would you go to get your ideal cup of coffee? It is made from coffee berry beans that have been defecated by Civets, small mammals native to Southeast Asia.
In indonesia they love these little stinkers. Supposedly though, they taste like bitter sunflower seeds without the salt.
Like many eastern foods, this one is served raw. Just watch as the chef dismembers a small octopus before your eyes and seasons the pieces with sesame oil, if he can hit them that is, because many times they are still moving on the plate as you reach for your chopsticks.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
They are not oysters. They are actually bull-calf testicles – peeled, flattened, and deep fried, yum.
Very much like sannakji, this time the octopus is eaten whole. Like some of the other foods on this list though, it doesn’t come without its dangers. The suckers on the octopus are known to stick to the tongue and mouth presenting a choking hazard. There are several deaths reported every year as a result.
Usually eaten in Scandinavia this delicacy is made from aged stockfish and lye. The corrosive alkaline substance also known as caustic soda is used to soak the fish for several days. After being removed from the lye the fish is so corrosive that it requires almost a week long bath of cold water just to become edible again.
Generally found on Mopane trees (hence the name), this caterpillar is an important source of protein for millions of people in Africa. Typically they are dried out and eaten as a crispy snack.
Fairly cheap, these can be found in most Japanese grocery stores for about 1 USD. It tastes something like squid and should be boiled prior to consumption. Once again, don’t forget to season.
In some Asian cultures these are used for soup and sometimes they are infused with alcohol to extract medicinal properties. The process, however, supposedly takes years.
The Farsi name of this dish literally translates to “head and hoof” and for good reason, as these are the central ingredients used to prepare it. While the main ingredient is cow feet, the head and stomach also contribute.
Considered a delicacy in Cambodia, it is said that fried tarantula first became popular during the food shortages under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. After Pol Pat was ousted though, the fried tarantulas stuck around and Cambodians today eat them like candy. Talk about hazardous food.
Fugu is Japanese for “pufferfish” and they are poisonous. Japanese law strictly controls their preparation in restaurants and only highly trained chefs are allowed to handle them. They are so dangerous in fact that domestic preparation has been known to cause accidental death.
Also known as “dead and alive” fish it originated in Taiwan where it is now illegal to prepare. It has recently become popular in China after chefs figured out how to keep the fish alive as it is deep fried. Why would anyone do this? Supposedly to prove how fresh the fish is.
Having been banned in several countries including Australia and Germany it consists of the customer picking out the animal they would like to eat from a tank. The chef will then fillet it before their eyes…without killing it. It is then served on a plate with its sliced flesh on top for decoration and its heart still beating. Alternatively, you can have the already filleted fish returned to the aquarium where it will swim around until you are ready for seconds.
Also known as “Dragon in the Flame of Desire” this dish is famously served in the Guolizhuang Restaurant of Beijing. It is believed to be good for the health by many chinese folk.