Some says that a vacation isn’t really completed without trying the local dishes. Nowadays, people are much more adventurous about tasting unfamiliar dishes. But as much as you may love to try new delicacies, there are plenty of exotic specialties you may think twice after seeing on your plate. So here I present world’s top 16 scariest food items that are notorious for stinking and look weird.
A palm-sized species of black tarantula, which are bred in underground lairs and fried with garlic, sugar, spices and salt until their legs are crispy and their bodies turn a dusky red, is known as ‘a-ping’, that is well-known culinary specialty of Skuon, a small Cambodian village north of Phnom Penh. Sometimes the rural area is called ‘spiderville’ for the street venders selling heaping trays of whole arachnids.
It is made by draining blood from a duck and using the gizzard, feet, bones, liver, heart and neck for stock. Then blood and vinegar are mixed into the broth to give it a rich flavor and color. The meat is used directly in the soup, and various other spices and vegetables are added. Noodles are cooked in it all, and then it’s served on special occasions. This traditional polish dish has been around for centuries.
1000-year-old egg, Pidan, China
It’s a Chinese preserved food product and delicacy made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months, depending on the method of processing. The yolk becomes a dark green to grey color, with a creamy consistency and strong flavor due to the hydrogen sulfide and ammonia present, while the white becomes a dark brown, translucent jelly with a salty flavor. They’re served with silken tofu or pork, scallions and ginger, in the rice porridge known as congee, or simply as part of a banquet platter of cold finger foods.
Made of sheep’s heart, lungs and liver, haggis is a traditional dish that’s encased in the animal’s stomach and boiled for about 3 hours, then served with “neeps and tatties” (turnip and mashed potatoes). The resulting sausage is a little spicy and goes great with a traditional shot of whisky.
It’s a variety of hoe, or raw dish especially in South Korean cuisine. It consists nakji, a small octopus that has been cut into small pieces while still alive and served immediately, usually lightly seasoned with sesame and sesame oil. The nakji pieces are usually still squirming on the plate when served. It can also be served as a whole, live baby octopus.
Blodplatter, Finland & Sweden
It’s a pancake made by using pork blood. The blood is whipped to give it a thick consistency, mixed with flour, molasses, onion, and a few other spices, then cooked the same way you’d make any other pancake. The finished product is an iron-rich pancake that’s often served with sweet fruit jam or syrup or rolled like a crepe.
Bats are food source for humans in the Pacific Rim and Asia, they are also consumed in various amount in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Guam and in other Asian and Pacific Rim countries and cultures.
The flavor of fruit bats is similar to that of chicken. Bats are prepared in several manners, such as grilled, barbecued, deep fried, cooked in stews and in stir frys. When deep fried, the entire bat may be cooked and consumed. During cooking, bats may emit strong odors reminiscent of urine. This is reduced by adding garlic, onion, chili pepper or beer during cooking.
Soups, stews and curries using bat meat are prepared. In Palau, bat soup is considered a delicacy. Fruit bats are used in a Palauan soup that includes coconut milk, spices and ginger.
Originally eaten before Chistmas, the name of the dish comes from the combination of the Norwegian words hove and smale. Hove means head and smale is a word for sheep, so smalahove literally means sheep head. The skin and fleece of the head is torched, the brain removed, and the head is salted, sometimes smoked, and dried. The head is boiled or steamed for about three hours, and is served with mashed rutabaga and potatoes. It is also traditionally served with Akvavit. In some preparations, the brain is cooked inside the skull and then eaten with a spoon or fried.
Fugu is a Japanese pufferfish that contains enough poison to kill 30 people. The chefs who prepare this expensive Japanese delicacy must undergo years of training. Served in a stew, grilled or as paper-thin sashimi, any small mistake in preparation could mean an untimely end to the consumer. Those wishing to try this deadly delicacy should visit Japan during October to March when fugu is in season.
Casu Marzu, Sardinia, Italy
It is rotten/putrid cheese, and is a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese, notable for containing live insect larvae (maggots). This cheese is made by allowing flies to lay eggs on the surface of Pecorino cheese that has had the top cut off to allow for easy access. When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat through the cheese breaking down the fats and softening the usually hard middle. Strong and rich, the aftertaste of this pungent cheese lasts for hours.
Durian fruit, Singapore
It’s the smelliest fruit in the world, some people describe as ‘rotting flesh’, which is why it’s banned in most public places in Singapore. As for the taste, either you’ll like it or hate it, though most first timers say the latter. The fruit is often described as sweet, somewhat almondy in taste, and dry, though “disgusting” is also a common description.
It’s a national dish of Iceland consisting of Greenland shark or other sleeper shark which has been cured with a particular fermentation process and hung to dry for four to five months until it rots. Some have compared the strong ammonia taste to eating solid urine. Vomiting is a frequent response gor newcomer to this food, but drinking a shot of Brennivin, the local booze charmingly known as ‘Black Death’, makes it go down easily.
Black pudding, Great Britain & Ireland
Pig’s or cow’s blood cooked with filler until the blood congeals. It is often served in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland that’s made using blood. Variants pop up in various parts of the world, but the most traditional kinds are found in the British isles. Blood is mixed with oats, spices, meat, and fat, before being stuffed into casings and either grilled or sliced thin into little rounds. It tastes strong and dense.
Balut is a developing bird embryo (usually a duck or chicken) that is boiled and eaten from the shell. It originates and is commonly sold as street-food in the Philippines. They are common food in countries in Southeast Asia, such as Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. They are often served with Beer. The length of incubation before the egg is cooked is a matter of local preference, but generally ranges between 14 and 21 days. It might not be bad for your system but it will sure scare you as you can clearly see a leathery little half formed bird inside.
Snake wine, China
It’s an alcoholic beverage produced by infusing whole snakes in rice wine or grain alcohol. There are two varieties of snake wine, ‘steeped’- A large venomous snake can be placed into a glass jar of rice wine, sometimes with smaller snakes and medicinal herbs and left to steep for many months. The wine is drunk as a restorative in small shots or cups, and ‘mixed’- The body fluids of the snake are mixed into wine and consumed immediately in the form of a shot. Snake blood wine is prepared by slicing a snake along its belly and draining its blood directly into the drinking vessel filled with rice wine or grain alcohol. Snake bile wine is done through a similar method by using the contents of the gall bladder.
In some parts of Asia, newborn mice and rats, sometimes called ‘pinkies’, are eaten whole, either crispy fried or grilled, such as the way author Jerry Hopkins samples them in his 2004 book Extreme Cuisine. You may have them like spring rolls: with a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce of ginger, garlic, chilies, cilantro, fish sauce and rice vinegar.