They Eat WHAT?!
Far-out foods, eerie eats, and ghastly gourmet bites - from the stomach-turning to the eye-popping, come take a tour around the globe and discover some curious cuisine you may want to pass on. Warning: these foods are not for the faint-hearted!
Not-So Eensy Weensy Fried Spiders
Those with an aversion to spiders might want to look away now. If the thought of a spider occupying the same space as you do creeps you out, how about nibbling a fried one spiked through a skewer? A favorite snack in Cambodia, this local species of tarantula is tossed in a mixture of sugar, salt, and garlic, fried until fragrant delighting locals with its crispy exterior, soft centre and a taste that is reportedly a cross between chicken and cod. *Shudder*
Slurp on Some Fruit Bat Soup
Ah, there's nothing like a bowl of steaming soup to warm the soul. . . but how about when it's got a fruit bat inside it? A famed local delicacy in Guam, Micronesia, it doesn't entail much in the way of preparation, surprisingly -- it's boiled fur, teeth and all, with not much more than some ginger, onion, and coconut cream. While the meat is apparently gamey, and strangely fragrant, the fur is (thankfully) not consumed but chewed to release its musky flavour. Delish!
Slippery Sperm Sacks
Few would raise an eyebrow about eating fish eggs à la caviar but how about just the male's part -- a sperm sack? Shirako is a spiralling, silky, and slippery popular Japanese delicacy of milt which is otherwise known as the sperm sacks of cod. Served steamed or pan or deep fried, locals rejoice in its creamy and custard like texture. Scrumptious or nauseating? You decide.
Whale Blubber, Anyone?
A firm favorite with Eskimos who love to chow down is muktuk, otherwise known as frozen whale skin and blubber. Revered for its unique flavor and tender-crisp texture, it's often likened to fresh coconut (yes, really). Sliced up thin, served raw with nothing more than a sprinkle of salt, this is certainly one unconventional way to get your daily dose of omega-3.
Fried Grasshopper Snack Attack
A big hit in Thailand and Mexico, these unsuspecting insects make the perfect snack that's washed down with a beer. In Thailand, they are fried up in a wok with a little Thai spice and in Mexico, they meet their end by being toasted with garlic, lime, and salt or sometimes chili. Said to taste much like chicken, but hey -- doesn't everything?
A Glug of Snake Wine
Widely found across Asia, this not-so delightful drink is made by infusing whole (preferably venomous) snakes in rice wine or grain alcohol. Enjoyed for its reported health benefits, including fertility and virility, the snake venom is thankfully deactivated by the denaturing effects of ethanol. Choose from varieties steeped with medicinal herbs (wine only) or mixed along with the body fluids of the snake in question in a shot a-la snake blood wine. Mmmmmm, just what the doctor ordered!
Brew Me Some Kopi Luwak
Not only is this the world's most expensive coffee, but it is also made with partially digested cherries selected, eaten, and pooped out by the Asian palm civet. This animal is an Indonesian cat-like mammal with reportedly picky taste. Although some say that the coffee doesn't taste THAT much better than other high quality coffee, best not tell the farmers running around chasing the cats and collecting the droppings.
Developing Duck Embryo What?
Essentially a hard-boiled egg with a partially formed duck fetus inside (squirm!), balut is a commonplace street food in the Philippines and is also eaten across other parts of Southeast Asia. Aficionados of this dish, which features a 17-day-old duck (or sometimes chicken) embryo, savor the delicacy by sipping the broth out of the shell before peeling it off and eating the chick and yolk (eek!).
Said to be the perfect marriage of flavor and texture (once you can get out of your head you're eating an embryo), it is occasionally seasoned with a mixture of vinegar, garlic, chili, and salt.
Eeeek! Baby Mice Wine
If you thought snake wine was weird, then how about this? A traditional drink and health tonic in China and Korea, baby mice wine is made from baby mice taken from their mothers at three days old while their eyes are still closed (sob!) and effectively drowned alive in rice wine and left to ferment. Reported to taste like raw gasoline (why oh why?!?!), it will send you off the rails after a couple glasses, by which point you will have hopefully forgotten about their trauma.
A Fermented Shark Feast
When living a life isolated from the rest of the world, being picky just isn't an option. And with that in mind, meet hákarl, an inconceivable dish of buried, rotten, fermented, and dried shark. Although a decomposed shark carcass may leave a lot to be desired in other countries, in Iceland, this national dish is served as part of a þorramatur, a selection of traditional Icelandic food served in midwinter. Its overwhelming pungent aftertaste makes this a strong contender for the world's foulest food.
Eat Up Your Escamoles
A firm favorite in Mexico, though the thought of eating ant larvae and eggs that come from giant angry ants may make you heave, these little ovums are lauded for their creamy texture and buttery flavor which is similar to cottage cheese. Fried up with butter and garlic, and served with a taco and some guacamole, it almost sounds passable -- if you just don't think about what you're actually consuming.
Lick It Like an Eskimo Ice Cream
Sounds delicious but hold your horses! This is a far cry from anything you'd pick up from an ice cream truck. Another not-so mouthwatering survival dish, akutuq, otherwise known as Eskimo ice cream, is a delightful concoction of reindeer fat, seal oil, fresh snow and -- here's the good bit -- fresh berries, sometimes rounded off with a sprinkling of ground fish. Yes, believe it or not, this was once viewed as a wonderful treat, and today is a favorite dessert in western Alaska.
Finger Lickin' Fried Lizards?
Another culinary favorite in Thailand, which can often be picked up skewered on a stick on the street-side, these crunchy creepy-crawlies are stir-fried with a medley of garlic and Thai spices. Apparently they taste rather like fried shrimp. You'll never look at those innocent looking critters the same again.
Maggots 'n' Cheese
Taking moldy cheese to an entirely new level, casu marzu is a unique cheese eaten in the island of Sardina, South Italy which contains none other than live insect larvae. Pushing the boundaries of typical cheese decomposition, casu marzu is created by purposely introducing larvae to the cheese, which hatch and then eat through it, creating a next level fermentation process which renders the cheese exceptionally soft, but with an ammonia taste in you mouth that can last for up to several hours. Pass the mints.
Ingest Some Intenstines
More charmingly known as chitterlings (or chitlins) across the world from Europe to Asia and, closer to home, down south, these intestines -- be they lamb or swine -- are often loved dearly. Whether stuffed and grilled on a spit in Turkey and Greece, fried in their own fat as in Spain, or guzzled up in pig blood stew in the Philippines, the preparation to make these innards consumable require many rounds of cleaning so the guts pass the foodie grade.
Stick This Scorpion!
Not so deadly now, huh? While many people would run a mile upon spying a scorpion, in parts of Asia, particularly in China and Thailand, the idea of a venomous tail and sharp claws doesn't seem to put locals off its munch potential. Fried, roasted, or grilled on a stick, they're so commonplace in these areas they can be eaten straight out of a can or bag.
All these dishes makes tonight's dinner seem a little bit snore, don't they?