This article originally appeared on gosocial.co
Haggis, a Scottish food made of sheep’s heart, lungs and liver mixed with onion and oatmeal, is one of the world’s most unusual dishes. Although it has been banned from import into the United States since 1971 due to its inclusion of lung tissue (which can contain a parasite) it is still widely enjoyed in Scotland. If you’ve never tried haggis, think of it as a crumbly sausage with a coarse, grainy texture and a warm, peppery flavour. It’s most commonly served with mashed turnip and mashed potatoes and washed down with whisky.
Tripe, also known as stomach lining, is a type of edible meat found in the stomachs of farm animals. Because of how tough this meat is, it’s almost always boiled or stewed to get its texture chewier for eating. It’s also typically added into soups, stews, and sausages. It’s a popular dish in many countries served with a sauce to add flavour or simply with an accompaniment like onions.
Blood sausage is made from various meats, mixed with fresh blood, and then cooked. It has a dark color and a distinctive taste that varies by region. In the UK and Ireland, blood sausage is referred to as black pudding. This dish contains a high concentration of oatmeal mixed with pig’s blood. Black pudding can be eaten boiled, fried or grilled, and it’s actually part of a traditional full English breakfast.
Hákarl is a traditional Icelandic delicacy made from the flesh of Greenland or basking sharks that has been fermented for several months in order to remove potentially poisonous toxins. The next step is to hang the salted fish in the sun to dry and cure for a few months before it’s cut into long strips and served. With a smell that’s described as “ammonia-rich” and a strong “fishy flavour”, it was described by chef Anthony Bourdain as “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing” he’d ever tried.
Century eggs, also known as thousand-year eggs, are a Chinese delicacy that visitors to China should try. They’re made by preserving duck, chicken, or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, quicklime and salt for several weeks or months. The eggs have a blackish-green outer shell and a soft texture on the inside. They are often eaten with rice or congee. Some people say they have a slightly sulfurous taste. When you bite into them, each part of the egg will have a different flavor.
Wasp crackers, also called Jibachi Senbei, are a classic Japanese snack. The crackers themselves are crunchy and salty, filled with digger wasps and flavored with soy sauce, sesame seeds and sugar. Old wasp-hunting families set traps near the fields to catch wasps. They boil them and dry them, then add them to a mixture of rice and wheat crackers. Then they stamp out a round shape using an iron mold. While they may not sound like the most appetizing thing in the world at first, these salty crackers have a surprisingly spongy texture that’s similar to bread sticks.
Stinkbugs, often eaten in parts of Africa like Cameroon, are said to have a crunchy texture and taste somewhat like apples when boiled. But don’t let their unpleasant name fool you—they’re not that smelly and definitely not dangerous. When you boil them, the stinkbugs release pheromones that sting the eyes in a last-ditch attempt to survive; and while it hurts, it doesn’t work any better for bugs than it does for onions.
Sardinia is an island in the Mediterranean Sea, just off the Italian coast. It’s known for its cuisine, and one of the most famous Sardinian dishes is casu marzu, unripe cheese that’s riddled with live maggots. The maggots make the cheese pungent and strong-tasting, and some people even say that it’s an acquired taste. Apparently, these little creatures are supposed to enhance the flavour, but are prone to jumping when they panic, so watch your eyes! Another fun fact about this cheese is that it’s illegal to consume in the EU and has now become a sought-after delicacy on the black market for brave foodies.
Korea is famous for its unusual culinary customs. One bizarre dish is sannakji, which means live octopus and consists of chopped pieces of octopus served in a spicy sauce. The octopus is cut into small pieces, served immediately, and eaten while still wriggling on the plate. It’s said to taste like a combination of chicken and shrimp, but if you’re not careful, the suction cups can stick to your throat and choke you. If you’re looking for sannakji, you can often find it at fish markets, but it’s also served at several restaurants.
Balut is a Filipino delicacy that’s prepared by placing a fertilized duck egg in hot water and then incubating it for 14-21 days. The resulting egg has a partially developed duck embryo inside, and the dish is often eaten with salt or vinegar. Some people find the idea of eating partially developed duck embryos hard to stomach, but balut is considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. If you’re ever in the Philippines, you should try balut at least once.
Lutefisk is a traditional Norwegian dish made from dried cod that has been soaked in lye. The fish is then boiled or baked, and it is often served with potatoes and cream. Some people find the taste of lutefisk to be off-putting because of its strong fishy flavor. This famous dish has also migrated to the United States, where it is most commonly found in the Norwegian heritage states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The word “silkworm” is misleading since they are not actually worms at all—they are the larval stage of a moth. Today, when you’re eating silkworm, you’re likely eating the male silkworms after they have helped to create the silk-making process. Traditionally, people eat them by battering them lightly in a tempura batter. They are then lightly fried, allowing the batter to become golden brown and crisp. The silkworms roast in their own juices for a while and are then served, with sweet and sour sauce over rice.
Making blood soup is pretty difficult. It requires some time, effort, and patience. First, you must get your hands on a sheep or goat. Then, you’ll need to slit its throat and drain its blood into a container until it’s full. Once that’s done, add some salt and pepper before mixing everything together to a sludge-like consistency. Dig in once the dip has had a chance to fully cool. Serve it with crusty bread for dipping or as an appetizer or main course; just make sure everyone knows what they’re in for before diving in.
Despite the fact that most cockroaches don’t produce milk, one type of cockroach does—the Diploptera punctate. This particular species pumps out a sort of ‘milk’ containing protein crystals to feed its young. It’s been discovered that cockroach milk has up to three times the energy content of cow milk. It’s also high in proteins, fats, and carbohydrates; one of the only known milk alternatives to have all nine amino acids. Since this revelation, the unusual beverage has been embraced by health conscious consumers.
This dish from the Kumamoto region of Japan is made from raw horse meat – a far cry from sushi! It may sound strange, but if you give it a try, you’re sure to be won over by the meat’s tender texture and rich flavour. Just like sashimi (raw fish) and raw beef in Eastern Asia, raw horse meat is often served on a “bed” of leaves, with soy sauce to dip it in. As a complement to the dish, why not order a bottle of sake?
Kiviak is a traditional Greenlandic dish made of hundreds of dead auks stuffed into a dead seal, which has been sealed up to be completely airtight. The seal is then covered in oil to prevent flies and maggots from being attracted and fermented for three months. The pungent, toxic-smelling flesh of the fish definitely isn’t for the fainthearted! It reportedly tastes like very mature cheese or liquorice and is often eaten over the winter months when it is harder to catch food. It’s especially popular on special occasions such as Christmas or birthdays.
Surströmming is a delicacy in Sweden, but it’s also known as the smelliest food in the world. This fermented fish stinks so much; it has been banned from airplanes. The herring is caught in spring before they spawn and are fermented in barrels for 1 to 2 months before being canned. The fermentation continues in the can for several months. Swedes usually eat Surströmming with thin flatbreads and oat breads, though some prefer thin rye bread. It reportedly has a very sour, sharp, peppery taste with a salty baseline of flavor. Most people say the dish tastes awful! This is a dish for only the bravest eaters.
If you’re traveling to Peru, Bolivia, or Ecuador, you may be wondering about how to prepare cuy – a type of guinea pig commonly eaten in these countries. It may not be the most conventional dish, but many say it tastes like chicken. Tourists often seek out cuy when travelling, as it has gained a reputation as a must-try dish among visitors. Consequently, restaurants and street vendors will serve it to tourists all year round despite its being considered a special occasion food. If you’re looking for something different to eat during your travels, cuy is definitely worth trying.
Stuffed moose heart
Canada is known for its wildlife, and one of its most popular dishes, the moose heart, uses its native animal. Much like other dishes that feature offal or unusual cuts of meat, this dish uses every part of the animal. Once the moose heart is removed, it is cleaned, trimmed, and stuffed with garlic, celery, onion, sage, and herbs. It is then roasted to serve sliced up as a meal.
Fruit bat soup
Fruit bat soup was once a staple of the Pacific island of Palau’s diet, but it is now considered more of a delicacy. Fruit bats are a great source of protein, so this dish was very useful for Palauans to cook. Fruit bats are also known as flying foxes, due to their resemblance to foxes and their diet of fruit, as opposed to most bats who feed on insects. There are mixed reviews about the taste of fruit bat soup with some very passionate advocates whereas others who are slightly underwhelmed by the flavor.
Coconut worms are a type of snout beetle at their larvae stage, known as Duong Dua in Vietnamese. They’re generally sweet in taste and about 3-5 cm long. In the Southwest region of Vietnam, you can find coconut worms in a variety of dishes, including grilled and pickled. These big worms might look intimidating at first glance, but they can also be quite tasty!
Many weird foods come out of Western Europe. One of them is pigeon, which is considered a delicacy in France. Pigeon was first eaten during the Middle Ages and has been enjoyed by French people ever since. Pigeons can also be found at many dinner tables in Britain and Ireland during the autumn, when they are hunted for their meat.
A common drink in Vietnam, snake blood can be found in many restaurants throughout the country. Regardless of whether you’re in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City; either place is likely to have a restaurant with a broad selection of snake dishes. Traditionally, you choose the snake to be killed and drink two shots – one with the blood and the other with the bile.
A popular dish in the Southwestern United States, fried rattlesnake is said to taste like frogs’ legs. To prepare them, boil the meat off the bones before dipping in egg and covering in seasoned salt mix, flour, and breadcrumbs. Deep fat fry and enjoy!
If you’re up for an adventure, try eating cobra heart in Vietnam. The taste is unlike anything else, and the dish is said to have medicinal properties that can boost your longevity. The cobra is slit open in front of you, and they serve you a shot glass of blood with the heart still beating in it. You drink while it’s still pumping. Tempted?
Kopi Luwak is a gourmet coffee made from the excrement of an Indonesian cat-like creature called the Luwak. The Luwak eats only the ripest coffee cherries, but its stomach can’t digest the beans inside them. The coffee that results from this process is said to be like no other—its special aroma comes from the fact that coffee beans spend time in the animal’s stomach! To try this gourmet coffee, you’ll need to be ready to spend between $120 and $300 per pound.
One of the most popular street foods in Cambodia is deep-fried tarantulas. The spiders are dipped in oil and served with a dipping sauce, so it’s not unusual for them to taste like chicken. Cambodians discovered that the grubs of these insects were edible in the days of the Khmer Rouge. Nowadays, tourists travel from afar to sample them. If you’re brave enough to try them, be sure to remove the fangs and venom glands first!
Hormigas Culonas Big Butt Ants
You’ll have a hard time trying to find this dish outside of Colombia, making it a true treat to taste while traveling. People in Colombia eat fat-bottomed ants, known as Hormiga Culona. They are either roasted or fried, and eaten like peanuts. People enjoy eating Hormiga Culona for their nutritious value and aphrodisiac properties. They taste smoky, crunchy, and delicious! Some restaurants serve ants as part of a dish, and street vendors sell them as snacks.
When you visit Greenland, be sure to try muktuk! Muktuk is a traditional Inuit and Chukchi dish made from the skin and blubber of whales, most often bowhead whale. It is cut into chunks and served raw but can also be pickled or deep-fried before serving with soy sauce. The appearance of muktuk depends on the type of whale from which it is harvested. Muktuk made from white whales may look like a black cap of skin with soft, pinkish-white blubber, or layers of gray, white, and pink.
Moose nose is a traditional Canadian dish made from the nose of a moose. The nose is slow-cooked in a pressure cooker or crockpot until it’s tender, then served with gravy. Some people say it tastes like beef, but others find it too gamey. Moose nose is considered a delicacy in many parts of Canada, and it’s often served on special occasions. If you’re ever in Canada and have a chance to try moose nose, you should definitely do it. It might just be the best thing you’ve ever eaten!
This one is absolutely not for the squeamish, or anyone who’s a fan of The Princess and the Frog. Uncomfortably reminiscent of Aztec human sacrifice, frog sashimi involves cutting the heart out of a living frog and quickly consuming it while it is still beating. Understandably, a lot of people are likely to find this spectacle repulsive and upsetting, but it remains a popular dish in Japan, where people believe it confers virility.
A popular breakfast food in Japan, Natto is made out of soybeans that have been fermented with a strain of bacteria called Bacillus subtilis. The end result is an extremely pungent, slimy mess with a strong flavour that has been described as a mix between foie gras and old brie. Surveys have found that around 70% of Japanese people find the taste appealing, and even those who aren’t a fan still confess to eating it out of habit.
Squid ink pasta
Popular in Italy, squid ink pasta is made by mixing the ink of a squid or cuttlefish into the dough when making fresh pasta. The resulting black pasta is visually striking and has a distinctive taste, described as simultaneously salty and sweet. Squid ink pasta is often used in fish-based dishes, such as seafood linguine.
A traditional French dish, Sanguette is a type of pancake primarily made from fresh duck or goose blood. Prep for the dish begins by slitting the throat of a live bird and holding it upside down while its blood drains into a bowl. Next, garlic, shallots and lardons are heated with duck fat in a pan. Once these ingredients are cooked, the fresh blood is poured in and fried, resulting in a large black, crispy pancake.
Consumption of alligator meat has historically been confined to areas of the US where the predatory reptiles can be naturally found, such as Florida and the Deep South. However, the meat has been enjoying a surge in popularity in recent years, with alligator tail popping up on menus all over the States. The flavour and texture is often described as somewhere between chicken and fish, although it isn’t as nutritious as either.
Cazuela de llama
An Argentinian stew, Cazuela de llama is notable for, as you’ve probably guessed, containing llama meat. The meat is cooked along with rice, carrots, potatoes, and a number of herbs and spices. Llama meat is naturally tough, so the stew is normally cooked for a minimum of eight hours. The flavour is reported to be similar to lean beef, but slightly stronger.
Fried sea cucumber
Sea cucumber is a popular food in China. The meat is naturally relatively tasteless, but it readily absorbs the flavour of whatever it is cooked with, making it highly versatile and allowing skilled chefs to craft it into a number of delicacies. Its texture – which is described as gelatinous yet firm – might be unappealing to Western palates, but is highly prized in Chinese gastronomy.
The kangaroo meat industry has been rapidly growing since Australia legalised the consumption of the marsupials in 1980. Many Australians enjoy kangaroo, which tastes a bit like a cross between lamb and steak, and the meat is increasingly sought after by consumers across the globe. A recent study suggested that kangaroo is one of the world’s most sustainable sources of meat, although it raised concerns about welfare standards on kangaroo farms.
A Mexican delicacy, huitlacoche is technically a plant disease, caused by the pathogenic fungus Ustilago maydis. The fungus infects maize plants and causes grey, bulbous growths to sprout on the stem. Whilst that might not sound terribly appetising, these growths apparently have a sweet, mushroom-like flavour, and are often used as a filling for quesadillas.
Another questionable Japanese delicacy, ‘milt’ is a collective term for the seminal fluids of fish. Milt is collected by slicing open a fish’s sperm sacks, and is then fried until it has the consistency of raw egg. The flavour of the dish has been described as creamy and vaguely fishy, and it is widely consumed for its health benefits, which apparently include enhanced vitality and rejuvenated skin.
An infamous Norwegian delicacy, Rakfisk is made by burying raw fish, allowing it to decompose, and then digging it back up, sometimes up to a year later. The smell of Rakfisk is known to be extraordinarily pungent, and the internet is replete with videos of people gagging uncontrollably when presented with the dish. For the Norwegians, however, the aroma is pleasant, and Rakfisk is consumed raw soon after being dug up.
Rocky Mountain oysters
If anyone ever offers you ‘Rocky Mountain oysters,’ don’t let the name fool you. The principle ingredient of the dish is, in fact, bull testicles, which are cut into slices, coated in salt and pepper, and deep-fried. Traditionally, the consumption of bull testicles was popular amongst men looking to boost their virility and sexual performance. Whilst nowadays such rituals have been rendered obsolete by Viagra, Rocky Mountain oysters remain a popular starter in parts of Canada and the US.
A plate of crispy fried ducks’ tongues is a common sight in many parts of Asia, as well as in some more authentic Asian restaurants in the West. The tongues, which are generally about two inches long, are coated in herbs and spices before being fried in a wok. The flavour is described as similar to duck meat, but much more intense.
Tong Zi Dan
Tong Zi Dan is a traditional dish from the Zhejiang province of China. The dish has a single ingredient, chicken egg, but it’s the cooking process that takes things into totally bizarre and frankly disturbing territory. Tong Zi Dan translates to ‘boy egg,’ a name which is derived from the fact that the eggs are cooked in the urine of virgin boys. This tradition dates back centuries, and no one seems exactly sure why it began in the first place, but it is still practised throughout Zhejiang, where street vendors pay prepubescent boys for their urine.
The fibrous tissue that connects muscle to bone, tendon is extremely tough and is generally considered worthless by Western butchers. However, in many parts of the world, including Asia and Mexico, tendon can often be found alongside more traditional cuts at butchers and meat markets. Tendon has to be cooked for hours until it is soft enough to eat, and is then often added to stews or soups.
An Ethiopian speciality, Dulet is made from a combination of beef, liver, and lamb tripe. These are ground together and then fried in butter with chilli, onions, cardamom, and pepper. Dulet is something of a comfort food, and can be found at many restaurants in Ethiopia. For those with a taste for extremes, Dulet can also be eaten raw.
A traditional dish served in Iceland and Norway, Svio is essentially a boiled sheep’s head. Every part of the head is consumed, including the lips, ears, and eyes. This last part is particularly likely to turn the stomachs of the squeamish, as the eyes apparently have the consistency of grapes and pop when bitten into, causing vitreous fluid to gush into the mouth.
Cervelle de veau
A traditional delicacy in parts of Europe, the primary ingredient of ‘cervelle de veau’ is the brain of a calf. It is generally cooked in a butter sauce with capers, and then stirred into scrambled eggs. Brain apparently tastes entirely unlike any other part of an animal, with a delicate flavour and a firm, creamy texture.
Ubre Asada is a Chilean dish consisting of fried cows’ udder. The udders are cut into strips, lightly salted, and then fried on a hot skillet. Similarly to steak, the key is to ensure the udder is not overcooked, as it can quickly become rubbery and chewy. The flavour is supposedly not dissimilar to tongue, although with a slightly firmer texture.
A Chinese delicacy reserved for those with strong stomachs, Century Eggs are created by burying eggs (a variety of types are used) in a mixture of ash, salt, quicklime, clay, and rice hulls, and leaving them for up to several months. When they are dug back up, the yolks have turned a dark shade of green, whilst the egg whites have transformed into a thick, brown jelly. Century Eggs possess an extremely powerful taste and smell, described as a mixture of strong blue cheese and ammonia.