Oct 13 2007

Gross foods from around the world

Akiou's birthday!
Flickr-Photo: Akiou’s Birthday by Akane*.

All the way up on Digg and Reddit and a myriad other aggregator-sites came popping up an article called “The 6 Most Terrifying Foods in the World” from Cracked.

Never one to shy away at the first signs of danger, I looked into them a little closer. And then, went beyond to find EVEN MORE FRIGHTENING food from around the world (nailbite, nailbite).

For starters, these are the ones Cracked came up with:

  • Escamoles – ant maggots (Mexico):
    “Oh, I’ve read about escamoles (es-ca-MO-lays), usually called ant eggs, but also “ant spawn” or, most accurately, “ant larvae.” Writers often remark that Mexicans “consider this pre-Columbian foodstuff a delicacy,” straining every drop of cultural superiority from the word “delicacy.” This word, as commonly understood, has no relation to “delicate,” “delicious” or “delight.” It means barf. A thousand times barf.”
  • Balut – fetal duck egg (The Philliphines):
    “Balut is a popular Filipino street snack and is essentially a duck egg with a fetus inside, typically between seventeen to twenty days in gestation. In the Philippines balut is so popular that it is equivalent to what the hot dog is in the U.S.”
  • Pacha – sheep’s head (Iraq):
    “Pacha is a slowly cooked combination of sheep’s head, stomach, feet, and other parts in a broth.”
  • Baby Mouse wine (Korea):
    “Used as a cure all in rural parts of Korea, it’s made by stuffing a hoard of two to three day old mice into a bottle of rice wine and leaving it to stew for, ooh, a good year or so.”
  • Casu Marzu (Sardinia):
    “Casu Marzu is a sheep’s milk cheese that has been deliberately infested by a Piophila casei, the “cheese fly.” The result is a maggot-ridden, weeping stink bomb in an advanced state of decomposition”.
  • Lutefisk (Norway)
    “To make lutefisk, catch yourself a cod. Take out the bones, skin it, salt it, and hang it out to dry for several weeks until it hardens and smells like a dumpster. Then, bring it inside and soak it in lye for several days. Yes, lye — a substance defined by dictionary.com as “a strong caustic alkaline solution of potassium salts, obtained by leaching wood ashes. It is much used in making soap, etc.” … You end up with a gelatinous blob that slithers down your throat and makes you wish you had cooked a turkey for Christmas dinner like a normal American.”

Onto our main dish: it’s not very hard to find other food that’s as least as gross as those… The things people eat, you wouldn’t believe (said he, in a posh British accent, munching on a Belgian chocolate)!

  • Durian (Sri Lanka, India …):
    A fruit as big as a football, covered with tough spiky skin. The pulp is pale yellow, with shape and consistency of raw brains. Smell has been compared to rotting flesh, old gym socks, or sewage. Yet the taste has been called so exquisite that a European explorer of the 1700′s claimed it was worth the journey to experience it; “the King of fruits.”
  • Fugu (japan):
    Fugu (blow fish) is a fish which contains deadly poison in the organs. Despite the risk, fugu dishes remain as special feasts in Japan.
  • Surströmming (Sweden):
    Some say surstromming, a fermented herring, smells like rubbish left out in the sun for days. The Baltic herring is fermented in barrels for months before being put in tin cans, where the fermentation process continues. Some say it is simply rotten fish, which smells like rotten fish. Others argue it is the finest of delicacies.
  • Natto (Japan):
    “Natto is a Japanese original and traditional food. Natto is a fermented food made of soybeans. Natto has a certain characteristic flavor, therefore some people do not like it. Also natto has sticky paste on its surface, and once it is stirred, the sticky paste increases its volume and becomes more sticky. When you get natto with spoon or chopstick, you will find that the paste pulls a part of as if a spider web. This is another case why some do not like natto.”
  • Hakarl (Iceland):
    In Iceland, fermented shark or hakarl is made uniquely. Just bury a shark in sand for three years, dig it up and dig in.
  • Grilled spiders (Cambodja):
    “They’re black, hairy, have eight legs and are delicious when fried with garlic and butter. Originally eaten out of necessity, the burrowing beasts have become a gastronomic landmark of the Skuon region.”
  • Oversized hamburgers (U.S.A.):
    “Starting last weekend, a Pennsylvania restaurant put a 15-pound burger on its menu, claiming the largest burger available anywhere. Any two people who can eat it within a three-hour sitting get it for free. For everyone else, it costs $30.” 1 pound = 454 g, so that’s a whopping 7 kilo!
  • Bhut Jolokia / Naga Jolokia Pepper (India):
    Weighing in at 1,001,304 Scoville heat units, the Bhut Jolokia chili from India has been named the world’s hottest pepper by the Guinness Book of World Records. Just to put that into perspective, the jalapeno sits at a meager 10,000 SHU.
  • Tordi (Sardegna) / Ortolan (France):

    “Tordi are small, 10cm-long songbirds that feed on the island’s plentiful myrtle berries. They are netted and poached, then served cold, three or four at a time, garnished with myrtle leaves. Their eyes are black, haunting, their necks spindly. They look like a plateful of baby dinosaurs. You are supposed to eat them whole – everything but the beak – in a few crunches”.
  • Giant steak (The America’s):
    “The FREE 72oz. STEAK dinner is still flourishing at the Big Texan. More than 40,000 people have attempted to consume the Free 72oz. Steak dinner since 1960. About 7,000 have succeeded. People from all over the world continue to visit us to take the challenge and claim the bragging rights.”
  • Haggis (Scotland):
    Haggis in Scotland is a “delicacy” wherein a sheep’s stomach is filled with oatmeal, organ meats, fat, spices and fruits and then boiled. Looks vile!
  • Fresh blood (Kenya):
    The Masai people in Kenya shoot an arrow into a cow’s neck, collect the blood and mix it with fresh milk for a refreshing drink.

As a desert: Closer to home, there’s also plenty of yuck about, so no need to go all “Oy, these foreigners are so gross” about it. Show these to any foreigner, and you’ll annihilate 10 years of foldering by Tourism Flanders in one go!:

  • we eat horses, don’t we
  • bloedworst (blood saucage)
  • américain préparé (raw minced meat with egg yolk, our version of the French Steak Tartare, eaten as sandwich-spread)
  • friet met stoofvlees én mayonaise (fries with meat-stew-sauce ànd mayonaise)
  • brussels sprouts

Bon appétit!


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