No, Thanks: 45 Peculiar Global Foods All The Adventurous Souls Should Try Once In Their LivesBy Jishnu B
Nothing defines life like food. When you think about it, food is quite literally running the planet. Every living creature consumes something for sustenance. Trees blossom because they take nutrients from the earth. Meanwhile, we humans eat to function throughout our daily lives.
Food is literally pushing society to evolve. However, we don’t just eat for nourishment. Food is also one of the greatest joys of life. Those who eat only to live are completely missing out. Food brings people together. Parties are never complete without dishes. Food also comforts you.
We’ve all had ice cream after experiencing heartbreak. Most importantly, food represents our culture. Every country and ethnicity has its distinctive cuisine, representing millennia of history. Some of these may be too strange for you. However, you should still experience them as life is too short. In this list, we have compiled 45 peculiar foods to show you.
Spam – United States
You either love this or hate this food. We have all heard of spam. This canned pork concoction from Hormel Foods Corporation was a lifesaver for both soldiers and civilians during WWII. This luncheon meat gained mass popularity due to its cheapness and shelf stability. It’s a staple in Hawaii to this day.
Despite spam’s benefits, many stay away from it due to finding it repulsive. The idea of canned mystery meat irks many people. Spam is also accused of being too salty. However, the company came up with many modified recipes. They made versions with less sodium as well as halal variations.
Century Eggs – China
The average Chinese man will drool at the sight of century eggs. However, those who are not familiar with them will probably gag. Despite the name, these eggs aren’t actually 100 years old. Due to their rotten appearance, they are called century eggs. They are often enjoyed with rice.
The off-putting looks and the pungent smell of these preserved eggs have warded off many. Despite looking rotten, the eggs are actually fermented in clay and lime for months. That’s how they gain their signature grayness. The strong taste of the preserved eggs pairs very well with soups and porridges.
Vegemite – Australia
Australia is often dubbed as the devil’s pet shop. Well, they also seem to have devilish diets alongside thriving wildlife. Vegemite is notorious among non-Australians. While Aussies adore this bizarre yeast extract, others detest it with a burning passion. You’ll find many YouTube videos of foreigners trying vegemite and absolutely hating it.
Vegemite is mostly eaten as a spreadable condiment on toast. Australians adore slathering this yeast extract on some heavily-buttered toast in the morning. This concoction is obtained as a by-product of yeast-brewed beers. We don’t understand. How can something related to beer taste so atrocious?
Escargots à la Bourguignonne – France
If you like eating seafood such as abalone, oyster, and mussels — perhaps escargots won’t be too challenging for your palette. Escargot is a variety of land snails prepared with French culinary techniques. It can be quite delicious. However, many stay away from these…understandably.
Despite the icky factor, escargot is widely considered a delicacy. Thus, it is sold for quite a high price. A pound of this extravagant snail will easily cost you around $80. Despite the luxurious price tag, there are many people who won’t eat escargot even if they are offered it for free.
Black Pudding (Blood Sausage) – Asia, Europe
Most people consider blood inedible. Therefore, it’s usually discarded when an animal is slaughtered. However, in Europe, Africa, and Asia, animal blood is stewed and eaten on a daily basis. Black pudding is widely included in the English breakfast. Koreans have Sundae, and Filipinos make slow-braised curry with pig’s blood.
Black pudding is regarded as one of the oldest types of sausage. The animal blood was preserved in order to preserve sources of protein for a long time. While the smoky, metallic taste of these puddings and sausages is enjoyed by many, others tend to avoid this sausage.
Tripe – Everywhere in the World
This one might be repulsive to those who refrain from eating animal innards. Tripe is basically the stomach layer of a ruminant such as a cow, goat, or pig. They look a lot like a honeycomb, though they taste like meaty elastic. Tripes are eaten by almost all ethnicities.
Different countries have their own preparation of tripes. However, regardless of the recipe, tripes must always be deep cleaned beforehand to get rid of the gamey taste. These are often eaten in stews, hotpots, or stir-fried. You might find tripes nasty. However, we do suggest you should try it at least once.
Chicken Feet – Asia, Latin America, Caribbean, and Africa
Unpopular opinion: chicken feet are heavily underrated. There is so much to love about this bizarre-looking claw. The gelatinous texture of these chicken claws is an absolute delight. Chicken feet are cooked in various cuisines all over the world. Dim sum restaurants are well-known for preparing this item deliciously.
Just like tripe, this one irks many. However, if you clean it properly, the feet are perfectly edible. Chicken feet are really good for our health. It’s filled with beneficial collagen, which makes our skin smoother. Therefore, we think you should challenge your palette a little and try this dish.
Pickled Egg – UK
Even those of us who like pickled food might find this one off-putting. Pickling veggies is universally acceptable. However, pickling proteins are definitely pushing the boundary. The Brits have been crossing that line for centuries since pickled eggs are one of their staple foods.
Pickled eggs are preserved in the same brine used for vegetables. Hard eggs are submerged in seasoned vinegar. After the pickling process, the egg sours all the way down to the yolk. After the marinating process, the egg whites gain a rubbery texture. The Brits make salads and devilled eggs with them.
Fugu – Japan
You should approach this dish with heavy caution. We’re not playing when we tell you that this one has the potential to kill you. Fugu is a Japanese pufferfish. The issue is that these pufferfish are lethal enough to rival cyanide. Every year, many end up in the hospital due to carelessly prepared fugu.
Thus, these fish have to be butchered by certified chefs who have studied the pufferfish anatomy for years. They earn their certificate only after passing tests issued by the Japanese government. This is precisely why fugu is one of the most expensive fish preparations. The price is basically the cost of not killing you.
Kangaroo – Australia
You’d be very surprised to learn that Australians have the habit of unapologetically eating their national symbol — the kangaroo. Historically, Aussies have been eating these oversized muscle rats for hundreds of years. Although kangaroos are still a beloved part of Australia, they have gotten to the point of becoming a pest.
They have become a nightmare for the natives. Kangaroos often harm domestic animals unprovoked. Therefore people are encouraged to eat kangaroo meat. These are also considered a very healthy option for protein as kangaroos have very little fat. Kangaroo consumption is more environmentally-friendly as they produce less methane.
Shark Fin Soup – China
Unlike the other dishes on the list, we highly discourage you from trying shark fin soup. Not only is it wasteful, but this is also driving sharks towards extinction. Unlike other species, sharks have irregular mating cycles. Therefore, shark fishing is not sustainable. This is also affecting the ocean ecosystem.
As apex predators, sharks play a crucial part in maintaining balance. The fishing industry as a whole will be affected due to this. Not only is shark fin soup outrageously expensive, but researchers also say that it’s bad for our health. Sharks have mercury and methylmercury, which can lead to a myriad of diseases.
Whale — Japan, Greenland, Norway, Iceland
This is yet another item we discourage you from trying. When you think about it, the meat and fish industry is a brutal affair. However, the idea of murdering whales is somehow far more painful. Whales are majestic. They are also very intelligent. It’s devastating how cruelly these otherworldly giants are hunted.
Although many countries had already shut down the barbaric whaling industry — Japan and several Nordic countries are still very much involved. Sadly, the business is still booming to this day as their population has been used to eating whale meat for centuries. Just like sharks, whales contain high concentrations of mercury and other harmful toxins.
Drunken Shrimp – China
It’s exactly as it sounds. In this particular dish, you literally have to get the shrimp drunk with alcohol. Allow us to elaborate: when the shrimp are submerged in wine, they are forced to extract all the impurities in their bodies. Then, those shrimps are eaten raw.
It’s just raw. The shrimps are basically drunk and alive when they are consumed. Some regions of China prefer to cook shrimp before eating them. It’s undoubtedly the better and safer method as raw protein contains many health hazards. Raw drunken shrimp carry the risk of paragonimiasis.
Frog Legs – France, Southeast Asia
In this list, you will be introduced to numerous odd and frankly repulsive sources of meat. You’ll probably be shocked to learn that eating frogs is among the least bizarre of them. Frogs are surprisingly a very popular food in many regions. In France, it’s considered a delicacy.
Southeast Asian nations have been eating these reptiles for centuries. They are commercially cultivated in these areas. It is said that frogs taste like fish and chicken. The meat is quite succulent. Those who had tried it sing high praises of this dish.
Steak Tartare – France
You will either love this or absolutely hate this; there is no in-between. Those who like eating raw fish might want to give steak tartare a try. This one is a French preparation where raw ground beef is seasoned and served commonly with egg yolk.
The tartare is spread on toast. This is basically the raw version of steak and eggs. Steak tartare is meant for those who like to taste and appreciate ingredients in their most natural form. Sometimes the French sear the sides of the tartare and keep the middle raw.
Haggis – Scotland
Haggis is widely regarded as the national dish of Scotland. Despite being the beloved staple of millions of Scots, countless people refuse to look at or breathe near a haggis. Those who dislike animal internal organs especially avoid haggis since it’s basically an oversized sausage filled with sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs.
The sheep’s internal organs are ground and seasoned with various spices. The savory meat mixture is then stuffed into the animal’s stomach. Yeah, that doesn’t sound very appetizing anymore. Thankfully, haggis is poured into artificial casings. That reduces the yuck factor by a lot.
Surstromming – Sweden
Oh, boy, this one will make the majority of you squirm. Surstromming is notorious for being the world’s smelliest food. Even Japan made it illegal despite their own set of challenging cuisines. You can forget about stepping into an international flight with surstromming as it is banned.
Surstromming is a variety of fermented fish eaten in the Nordic region. Herrings caught from the Baltic sea are cured in salt for months. It prevents the fish from rotting. However, it also gives the dish a putrid smell. Surstromming is commonly eaten with flatbread, cheese, and fresh vegetables.
Bird’s Nest Soup – Southeast Asia
This soup truly makes us wonder what was happening in the brain of whoever invented this dish. Who in their right mind sees an innocent swiftlets’ home and thinks, “hey, that looks delicious. I should put it in my soup.” These nests are literally solidified bird saliva.
These swiftlet nests are dubbed the “Caviar of the East.” It’s literally one of the most extensive sources of protein in the world. It’s very labor-intensive to find these nests in the wild, thus the high cost. Tragically, these nests cost everything but taste like nothing.
Turtle Soup – UK, USA, China, and Singapore
God rewarded turtles with mighty shells to protect themselves from outside dangers. Sadly, they are not strong enough to fend off the greedy humans. Despite all those layers of protection, humans still managed to crack them open and stew them in a soup.
Turtle soup is considered a delicacy in some Asian regions. The turtle innards apparently have very succulent meat, which pairs well with warm broth. If you eat them, do keep in mind that you have a chance of having chelonitoxism — a lethal variety of food poisoning.
Rocky Mountain Oysters – United States
This might be the ultimate prank food. If you wish to trick your friend into eating these, keep in mind that they might cut you off once and for all. Unlike the name of the dish, it has nothing to do with oysters. Instead, these are deep-fried bull testicles.
Cattle owners sometimes have to neuter their breeding bulls in order to control the calf population. Instead of discarding the severed testicle, Americans found a way to utilize it. There are varied opinions about how this dish was named “rocky mountain oysters.” It’s commonly served as an appetizer.
Bushmeat – Africa
This is another dish we discourage you from trying. Not only is it unethical, but it is also downright dangerous. In case you don’t know, bushmeat is the meat collected from animals from the wild. Commonly bats, rats, antelopes, and even primates are hunted for their meat.
Not only is it lowkey cannibalistic to eat primates, but there are also other factors that can make bushmeat lethal. You need to remember these are wild animals. Therefore you do not know what they ate or what diseases they have. Thus, you should not eat them.
Hákarl – Iceland
Poor Greenland shark! Imagine being blessed with an average lifespan of 300 years, only to end up in some basement in Iceland. It is not a good way to go, especially since their bodies are dried and cured for months — giving them a strong fishy odor.
Hákarl is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes even Nordic people don’t like it. Hákarl is an acquired taste, for sure. Even Anthony Bordain, the man who traveled all over the world and experienced all sorts of cuisine, claimed Hákarl was the most repulsive thing he ever tasted.
Shiokara – Japan
For those who like to eat raw fish but are also looking to challenge their palette a bit more — they should give shiokara a try. ‘Shio‘ means salt in Japanese. Shiokara is a salt fermented fish viscera that is often paired with rice or saké.
They taste a bit like cured anchovies. Even for the average Japanese, shiokara can be too much. Only those with acquired taste can appreciate this dish. However, shiokara also has a lot of historical significance. They were immensely popular during WWII when refrigeration was scarce.
Cherry Blossom Meat – Japan
Japanese wagyu has gained a lot of notability in the last few years. Allow us to introduce you to another variety of Japanese meat delicacies: cherry blossom meat, AKA horse meat. If you are a horse lover, you’d definitely feel agonized by this.
Horse meat is called cherry blossom meat due to its intense red coloring. The Kyushu region specializes in this delicacy. The meat is commonly served raw on sashimi or nigiri. The texture of horse meat is said to be tender, despite being low in fat or calories.
Guinea Pig – South America
Poor guinea pigs can’t ever seem to catch a break! Not only are they called pigs despite being a rodent, but they are also often used for scientific experiments unethically. The tiny fluffy critters deserve better treatment. However, South America crossed the line this time.
Say it after us: guinea pigs are pets; they do not belong on plates. Feed them; don’t eat them. Sadly, the people of Peru consider these chunky cuties a delicacy. ‘Cuy‘ is a favorite of the Peruvians. Animal rights activists have been trying to stop guinea pig consumption for many years.
Starfish – China
Patrick should never swim in the Chinese waters. You don’t know if he’ll end up on someone’s plate. God gave starfish spikes to fend off predators. Sadly, humans are a bit too advanced (and greedy). There is no armor that can contain the hunger of humanity.
Starfishes are popular street food in China. You will often see vendors selling deep-fried starfish in the streets. Sometimes they are grilled on charcoal with salt and other seasonings. Starfish are also dried up and put in soups. Some accounts say that starfish taste like sea urchins or lobster head innards.
Shirako – Japan
Shirako ranks quite high in Japan’s list of strange foods. Even most of the natives keep a safe distance from this dish. Shirako is basically fish semen. It’s amazing how people manage to make food out of things you didn’t know even existed.
It certainly is an odd dish. However, when you think about it, shirako does not seem strange. Caviar is the egg sack of sturgeons. Meanwhile, ikura is marinated salmon roe. These items are celebrated despite it being basically underdeveloped fishies. If you can eat them, why can’t you eat fish semen?
Casu Marzu – Italy
Italians are renowned for their delicious and elegant cuisine. However, we don’t know what went wrong here. How can the country that created divine dishes like pizzas and pasta also create this abomination? Even the avid cheese lover will hurl at the sight of casu marzu.
In layman’s terms, casu marzu is rotten maggot cheese. Yes, you read it right. Live larvae are put inside a block of sheep milk cheese. The maggots then eat the cheese and excrete it eventually. That pushes this cheese beyond fermentation and softens it. How yummy…not really!
Escamol – Mexico
The concept of caviar is quite unappetizing when you think about it. It’s basically raw, unborn baby sturgeons. You’d be alarmed to know Mexico had pushed it even further. Their version of caviar comes from the land. It’s ant eggs, and they have been eating them since the Aztec age.
Farmers harvest these ant or other insect larvae from tequila or mescal plants. Those are then prepared in various ways. These Mexican caviars are commonly stir-fried with butter. It’s very popular in Mexico City. Escamol is said to have a nutty taste akin to cottage cheese.
Grasshoppers – Thailand
Are pesky grasshoppers eating up all your crops? Are pesticides not working anymore? Thailand has come up with the perfect solution for that. Well, if they won’t let you eat your crops, you might as well eat them. Perhaps this is the secret to their booming agricultural industry.
Crickets or jing leed are popular Thai street food. The grasshoppers are stir-fried with various spices such as ground pepper salt, cumin, and salt. Jing leed is said to taste like popcorn. Though, when you bite through the crunchy exterior, the juicy insect innards will pop inside your mouth.
Tuna Eyeballs – Japan
Listen, folks, this isn’t even that odd. The Japanese eat fish semen, and no part of the fish is ever wasted. Even the carcass is used for soup. So what makes you think the eyes will be spared? Compared to the other things in their cuisine, tuna eyeballs are rather tame.
Tuna eyeballs are rather big, each measuring up to a tennis ball. It is traditionally put in soups or grilled. These eyeballs are popularly served in bars and izakaya restaurants in Tokyo. The ‘tuna tears’ apparently taste like an octopus. It is often enjoyed with alcohol.
Khash – Middle East, Turkey, and Armenia
For some reason, the facial regions of animals have always made people angsty. It’s almost as if they can’t seem to face the fact something had to die for them (no pun intended). Khash is bound to set off the demons in these kinds of people.
Khash is basically a meat broth made from the odd parts of an animal. Heads, legs, and tripes are commonly used in this dish. Khash originated from Armenia and is currently enjoyed in various regions of the world. It’s a very comforting delicacy for cold winter nights.
Crocodile – Australia, Southeast Asia, and Africa
What you need to take away from this article is that humans are masters of making prey out of predators. An estimated 1000 people die each year from crocodile attacks. Meanwhile, a whopping 1.33 million crocodiles are slaughtered by humans each year.
The only good news we can give you is that these edible crocodiles are not wild. Thankfully, these are farmed; therefore, this protein source is sustainable. Crocodile meat is said to taste like a mix between chicken and fish. They are often deep fried or stewed.
Balut – Philippines
The Filipinos have diverse cuisine. On the one hand, they have sublime dishes such as chicken adobo, Kare-Kare, Lechon, Sinigang, and sisig. If you have tried them, chances are you will never forget them. It makes you wonder, how did they even think about inventing balut?
Respecting cultural relativism becomes quite difficult when you think about balut. This is basically a fertilized egg that is eaten before it can fully develop. The eggs are eaten between the 14-21 day mark. How anyone can eat these is a wonder — especially when you can see the dead baby bird.
Cobra Heart – Vietnam
God gave cobras potent venom to fend off predators. When you see a king cobra, your reaction should be to run for the hills. That’s normal. However, God also made the Vietnamese people, who like to eat the raw, beating heart of a cobra.
It is as simple and brutal as it sounds. They cut open a live cobra and pull out their hearts. Then they serve it to you with wine. A cobra’s heart supposedly increases a man’s vitality. The heart is said to taste like chicken. Just eat your farmed organic chicken, guys. Stop bothering wild animals.
Ying-Yang Fish – China
There is a difference between eating fresh and eating ethically. Surprisingly, you can still maintain ethics while eating meat. You just have to make sure to give the animal the least amount of pain possible. It’s okay if you want to eat fresh. However, don’t be cruel and torture the animal.
Yin-yang fish is what nightmares are made of. The chefs cook the lower part of the fish while the head is still alive and still can feel every ounce of pain. When it’s served, the fish is still gasping for breath. Do better and stop eating like this.
Southern Fried Rattlesnake – United States
Rattlesnakes are characterized by their tail which rattles like a drum due to the keratin trapped in them. The rattling sound scares the predator in the vicinity. They are also one of the most venomous subspecies of snakes. Sadly, they still end up on the plates of humans.
It seems southern hospitality does not apply to these majestic reptiles. The snakes are seasoned and battered like fried chicken, and then they are deep-fried. Those who tried it also commented that it tasted like chicken. In that case, why don’t you just eat chicken and leave the snakes alone?
Wasp Crackers – Japan
It’s going downhill from this point on. If you are disgusted by insects, now is the time to look away. You would be surprised and triggered to see how many cuisines allow the usage of insects. Japan will, of course, not back down from making questionable foods.
We all love cookies, right? Let’s see if you can say the same after seeing this one. The Japanese like to add wasps to their cookies for some unknown reason. They don’t even take the stingers out of the wasp. Don’t ask why they do it. We do not know either.
Fried Spider – Cambodia
If life gives you lemons, you make lemonade out of them. God gave Cambodia a mass population of tarantulas; therefore, they started deep frying and eating these critters. This is both the dream and nightmare of someone with arachnophobia. Fried tarantulas are popular in the city of Skuon.
The spiders are marinated in various seasonings, such as MSG and ground pepper. The outside is crunchy, while the interior is gooey. Honestly, don’t try this one. The spider’s insides are full of excrement. Even the locals don’t like it. Fried spiders are nothing but a tourist trap.
Beondegi – South Korea
Beondegi is an underdeveloped pupa of a silkworm. It’s quite the popular snack in South Korea. The silkworms are frequently served freshly prepared in the street carts. The pupas are boiled and lightly seasoned. Apparently, they taste like shrimps, though many people claim they taste like wood.
The emergence of Beondegi is rather recent. During the Korean War in 1920, South Korea was suffering from a food shortage. Regular people could not afford protein. Thankfully, there was a boom in the silk industry in that era. People started eating the pupas out of necessity.
Stink Bugs – Africa
Stink bugs are a popular delicacy in the rural regions of South Africa. The bugs are caught in traps by the hunters. These insects are commonly used to flavor soups or are eaten boiled on their own. Sometimes they are stir-fried. The bugs supposedly taste like apples.
Only the green/yellow variety of stink bugs is edible. The bugs apparently have a crunchy texture. They are called stink bugs because they shoot pungent pheromones in order to ward off predators. That is not gonna save them, though. People tolerate the smell just as they tolerate an onion.
Sannakji – South Korea
Just like the yin-yang fish, this preparation is equally rebukable. It’s basically the tentacles of Korean long-arm octopuses. The tendrils are cut down and seasoned simply with sesames. That’s not the issue, though. The issue is that the octopus is still alive. The tentacles keep wiggling when they are served.
If you eat animals, that is okay. However, causing animals more pain than necessary is not okay. You should always support humanely giving the animal a quick death before starting the cooking procedure. Sannakji is also very hazardous. Since the tendrils keep moving as you are swallowing them, there is a high chance of choking.
Mopane Worms – Southern Africa
Mopane Worms are the caterpillar form of emperor moths. These moths are the biggest variety of moths in South Africa and grow up to be majestically beautiful. Sadly, some worms never live long enough to sprout their wings. The underdeveloped moths end up in the bellies of Africans.
Mopane Worms are supposedly quite delicious. They happen to have a meaty texture. Africans tend to smoke these bad boys and use them throughout the years. When put in soups, the worms rehydrate. According to Food Network, they taste a lot like honey BBQ chicken.
Witchetty Grub – Australia
Australia has an abundance of wildlife. It’s not too surprising they made food out of some of these creatures. The witchetty grub has been eaten by the indigenous Aussies for centuries. It has been a huge source of protein for them. These things do not look the best.
However, they apparently taste like almonds and chicken. These grubs are commonly eaten raw and alive. The taste differs based on how it’s prepared. When it’s cooked, the grubs gain a scrambled egg-like texture. Apparently, the taste is a bit sweet. Australian diners serve them sometimes.
Cats and Dogs — Korea, China, and Vietnam
We saved the worst for the last. We are, in fact, clutching our beloved cat protectively as we are typing this. When people see cats and dogs, the right instinct is to coo in awe — not salivate. Tragically and horrifically, that is the case in various parts of east Asia.
What we consider family is food to many, and it’s terrifying to think of that. Korea has decreased the trade of these meats due to international backlash and disapproval from the natives. However, in Vietnam, not so much. Even pets are stolen for meat, and it is heartbreaking!