Here at BookCulinaryVacations.com, we find joy in experiencing and tasting the myriad of cuisines and dishes we find all around the globe. This certainly includes foods and beverages that may not sound nor look appetizing but are often considered as a delicacy and/or a daily staple in its origin country. If you too happen to be a food lover who is always on the hunt to try and taste something new and unconventional, we’ve got the perfect list of food for you!
That said, if you’re a vegan, a vegetarian or are easily put off with odd looking and what some may refer to as “disgusting” dishes, you may want to steer clear of this list. If you’re up for a daring gastronomic adventure, however, you’re in for a treat! Here are 10 of the most shocking foods and beverages from all over the globe that we dare you to try (that is, if you haven’t already tried them). Bon Appétit!
Image credit: Giant Bomb
Before you open up a tin of Surströmming, be sure to hold your breath because you probably won’t want to smell its stench! Considered as a staple in Sweden, this dish has got to be one of the smelliest foods in the world. Because of its overwhelming odor, the Swedes usually open their can of Surströmming outside but would enjoy it indoors as its smell often instantly attracts flies. This pungent Swedish delicacy is actually fermented Baltic herrings, usually caught in the spring and left salted and ‘soured’ (fermented) in a tin for about a month or so.
The traditional way of eating this dish is to wrap it around a klämma (a flat bread). One would then spread a layer of butter on the bread, place the herring on top of it together with slices of almond-shaped potato (mandelpotatis) and chopped onion. Once it’s folded, it’s ready to be enjoyed with your hands. Surprisingly, its taste is not as fishy as it smells!
Image credit: WikiHow
From the outside, Balut sure does look just like a regular hard boiled egg, but this particular Filipino delicacy is anything but that! For those who are first-timers at eating Balut, they’ll likely squirm once they peel it open.
This is because this seemingly unsuspecting delicacy (commonly sold as street food in the Philippines) is a fertilized egg with a developing duck fetus in it. It is usually boiled and eaten in the shell, traditionally consumed with salt, vinegar or soy sauce. What you might not know is that the Balut is a nutritious snack high in protein and calcium that comes with quite a few health benefits. So, would you give it a try?
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Referred to as a rustic savory pudding, Haggis is a popular traditional Scottish dish. What makes this pudding unique is that it is made with sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs), mixed with beef or mutton suet, oatmeal and seasoned with minced onions as well as salt and spices (cayenne and ground pepper). This mixture is then spooned into the sheep’s stomach and boiled for approximately 3 hours with the lid open.
Once cooked, this dish is then ready to be served traditionally along with neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes). It may not look all that appetizing, but even those who are not Scottish are slowly growing to enjoy this pudding recipe. For example, Jamie Oliver, a wildly popular English celebrity chef, admits loving the taste of “the good old haggis”. Fancy giving Haggis a go? Whip up Jamie’s very own version - Haggis shepherd’s pie style!
Image credit: The Japan Times
Would you eat something that you know could potentially kill you? You’d be interested to know that the risk of death wouldn’t deter many Japanese people from enjoying a plate of a poisonous puffer fish (also known as a Fugu). According to Mother Nature Network, a puffer fish typically contains a deadly toxin that is up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide. Simply put, one pufferfish (if consumed) can potentially result in 30 deaths!
Due to the high risks, only highly trained and licensed chefs are allowed to prepare this deadly dish because if you were to be served a portion of Fugu that has not been properly prepared, the meal may turn into a horrifying nightmare that results in severe food poisoning or – you guessed it, death!
Image credit: Top Luwak Coffee
How shocking can a coffee get, you asked?
What if we were to tell you that the world’s most expensive coffee (approximately 3000 USD per kilogram) actually comes from the feces of an animal? Would you still be willing to have a cup or two?
Luwak coffee is literally the result of a Luwak’s (an Indonesian cat-like animal) excretion aka poop. Also known as the ‘cat poop coffee’, this coffee is the product of coffee cherries that have been eaten, digested and pooped out by these civet cats. The feces are then collected, washed, dried, pounded, sorted, roasted and ready to be brewed like any other coffee. When you do decide to get a cup, avoid adding sugar, milk and/or cream to it or you get the most of its unique, vibrant flavors!
Sannakji (Live Octopus)
Image credit: Travel Magazine
When it comes to compiling a list of shocking foods, we simply can’t leave out Sannakji. Being served a live octopus on a plate may be strange to us, but it is a common delicacy in Korea! Caught fresh from the sea, the octopus is usually cut into smaller pieces (yet, it still moves!) or served whole with a |light seasoning of sesame seeds and sesame oil. The sesame oil helps to prevent the octopus’ tentacles from sticking to your mouth or throat.
If you happen to be a risk-taker when it comes to food, we dare you to try it! Blogger Sarah Shaw of Mapping Words who has tried Sannakji advises you to chew and chomp the octopus’ pieces, especially the tentacles thoroughly before swallowing. Though they may seem harmless, they can potentially be choking hazards as they have suction cups that can stick to your mouth or throat.
Fried Brain Sandwich
Image credit: Daily News Dig
Though it may look like a harmless looking piece of sandwich, this ordinary-looking dish is actually heavily battered slices of calf brain served on a hamburger bun.
In order to prepare this interesting sandwich, one must properly clean the brain before slicing and deep frying it. This dish is usually served with a slab of onion, pickle, and mustard. It may be a surprise but this sandwich is a popular item in restaurants in some regions of the US. However, due to outbreaks of mad cow diseases, some restaurants opted to use pig brains instead of calf brains, which apparently results in the same delicious taste. Want to try some? Make one in your own kitchen with the help of Chichi Wang’s recipe!
Whale Meat (Muktuk)
Image credit: Knom Radio Mission
Popular in Alaska, Muktuk is a dish made from the skin and blubber of the bowhead whale. High in omega-3 oils and a good source of Vitamin C, this meat is a staple of the Inuit’s (a tribe native to Alaska) diet. It is typically enjoyed raw with a sprinkle of the right amount of salt.
When the Muktuk is chewed, the blubber melts and has an oily texture. Alternatively, you can enjoy its meat finely diced, breaded, deep fried, pickled or even served with soy sauce - whatever way you prefer. People often describe Muktuk to be similar to beef with a fishy aftertaste, but we are not so convinced whether ‘beef’ is the right meat to compare its taste to.
Image credit: AsianSnakeWine.com
If you consider yourself a wine enthusiast, why not have yourself a fine glass of snake wine to compliment your dinner tonight ?
According to the teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the snake’s venom comes with a long list of health benefits. It is also believed that it was first consumed in China to help reinvigorate and increase strength. This is why you can find snake wines commonly produced and sold in various Asian regions.
To prepare this wine, one would stuff and infuse an entire live snake (preferably a venomous type) into a bottle of rice wine or grain alcohol and leave it for several months. This is so that the “essence” and the snake venom is able to be broken down and absorbed into the liquor. Even so, there were some (rare) cases where even when the snake has been immersed and soaked in alcohol in the bottle, it manages to stay alive and attack when the bottle is opened. So, be sure to choose your bottle of snake wine wisely and open it carefully!
Image credit: The Food Bible
Does a Pecorino cheese with a side of live maggots strike your fancy? As bizarre as it sounds, this cheese dish actually exists and it is called Casu Marzu, a traditional delicacy found in Sardinia, Italy.
The way one would typically make this dish is by leaving a wheel of traditional pecorino cheese at room temperature for a couple of months, inviting flies to lay their eggs in it. As the eggs begin to hatch, the larvae will then eat the rotting cheese and leave behind excretions that help to soften the cheese and add distinctive flavors to it.
If that is not strange enough, the cheese is thought to be best enjoyed when the maggots are still alive! That said, one must make sure they are dead (by chewing thoroughly) before swallowing or they may live in your body and rip holes in your intestines! Due to the fact that it causes much health implications, Casu Marzu has been banned and is now almost impossible to find. So if you’re daring enough to want to give it a taste, you may just be out of luck!
Thanks for taking the time to check out this post. To read more great content on food, wine and travel, please visit our blog section. If you’d like to taste more cuisines and dishes across the world, then be sure to take a peek at the variety of culinary holidays, vacations and getaways through our vast number of choices!