It’s amazing what passes for “food” in some parts of the world. The insides of animals that many people would never think of eating, even “live” animals, are delicacies in some countries. Not all of the foods on this list are strictly found in foreign countries, however – the United States has its share of weird foods as well. Here are ten of the strangest foods from around the world.
1. Rocky Mountain Oysters
Rocky Mountain Oysters aren’t really oysters. Rather, they are the name of deep-fried buffalo,boar or bull testicles. Say what?! This food is actually enjoyed in the United States and Canada,where the buffalo still roam. Interested in how to cook rocky mountain oysters? Peel the testicles, boil them, roll them in flour, and fry them. Serve them with a side of cocktail sauce. Chances are, if you don’t tell them, your guests will have absolutely no idea what they’re eating– just that it’s tasty!
2. Fried Cow Brain Sandwich
This isn’t something you’d typically find on McDonald’s menu. In places such as Missouri,calves’ brains are battered, fried and put on a bun. Other countries, such as El Salvador and Mexico, enjoy using beef brains in tacos and burritos. Brains themselves apparently are said to have little taste and a mushy quality to them (as you can imagine) so if you douse it with hot sauce, you probably won’t even realize you’re eating a poor little calf’s brain.
Hakarl is created by gutting a shark (usually in places like Greenland and Iceland) and fermenting it for two to four months. This fish, as you can imagine, is highly odorous, smelling strongly of ammonia. It is served in cube form on toothpicks in roadside stores and stands. Some, such as the Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain, say that hakarl is the most disgusting food in all the world.
Think you’d like to eat a duck or chicken fetus instead of an egg? If so, you’ll like Balut.Fertilized duck or chicken eggs are boiled just before they’re due to hatch, making the yolk oozes out followed by the fetus. Balut is best enjoyed when the fetus is from 17 to 21 day sold. However, if you wait too long to eat Balut, you might also have a beak, claws, bones and feathers to contend with. This dish is popular in the Philippines and sold on the streets just like hot dogs are sold in the United States. Some people serve Balut with salt and pepper, or even vinegar. Those who enjoy Balut say the way to eat it is to crack open the egg, drink the broth and then eat the yolk and the fetus.
5. Fried Tarantulas
Cambodians view fried tarantulas as a real delicacy. The tarantulas are fried whole, with legs and fangs included. While once Cambodians ate fried tarantulas just to survive, they are now regarded as a treat, and are often enjoyed by visitors to the country. Those who have eaten them describe fried tarantulas as crispy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside.
6. Casu Marzu
Would you like some larvae with your cheese? If so, go to Sardinia or Italy and order casu marzu(also known as maggot cheese). This cheese comes with live insect larvae teeming inside of it.The larvae are added to the cheese to help ferment the cheese. Most people will brush off the larvae before eating the odorous cheese. Because of health issues, casu marzu has been banned in most countries, but can still be found in Sardinia and Italy’s black market.
Live octopus, or Sannakji, is enjoyed in Korea. The octopus is cut up while alive, seasoned and served while it is still squirming on the plate. It is said that this food actually fights back as you try to eat it, with the tentacles sticking to everything trying to survive before being placed inside your mouth. Then, the tentacles will suction to the roof of your mouth, your tongue, and your teeth as you try to choke it down. This is supposed to be part of the joy of eating Sannakji – the squirming of the food inside one’s mouth. However, it could be a real choking hazard if not chewed thoroughly.
8. Kopi Luwak
You’ve probably heard of those coffee beans that are pooped out of cats? Well, it’s not a tall tale. In Indonesia, Kopi Luwak is a rare coffee bean that is first ingested by the Luwak cat. After the cat has excreted the beans, they are used to make the most expensive coffee in the world.Because the cat’s stomach cannot digest the beans, they do come out intact. This “fermentation” inside the cat is said to give the beans a special smell (one can only imagine!) Kopi Luwak can actually be bought in the United States for $120 to $300 a pound, if you want to give it a try.
The Japanese enjoy eating Fugu, or poisonous puffer fish. This fish is so deadly that chefs are specially trained for three years in how to prepare it without killing the recipient of the dish. Some poison is usually left inside the fish to cause a tingling sensation when eaten. The poison found in this puffer fish is 1250 times more deadly than cyanide, with no antidote. Thailand has outlawed Fugu after people died from eating it. Fugu is now sold on the black market there.
10. Birds Nest Soup
Actual birds’ nests are used to make this Chinese delicacy. The nest of the swift bird,made of the bird’s saliva, helps to create birds nest soup. The swift’s saliva is rubbery and in a gelatin-like form, and only built during the birds’ breeding periods. This saliva is only harvested three times each year, which is why birds nest soup is so expensive. It is sold in the United States and Hong Kong, with a bowl of the soup costing from $30 to$100 each. Many enjoy this soup believing that it is an aphrodisiac.