There are some strange foods out there, and there are also a lot of really tasty ones. People who like the weird ones have learned to like them, but first-timers might not like them because of how they look, smell, or taste.
Some of them can even be so strange to eat that you wonder how you can ever eat something like that. Here are some strange foods and dishes that you might need some time to get used to.
Eggs With Sperm, The Philippines
Balut is a Filipino dish that tastes like a chocolate Kinder egg. There’s a surprise inside these eggs, but it’s not a plastic toy. Instead, it’s a chance to eat your chicken and your egg at the same time.
When fertilized eggs are boiled right before they hatch, the yolk leaks out first, then a chicken (or duck) embryo. They are cooked when the foetus is between 17 and 21 days old, depending on your taste. However, when the egg is older, the foetus starts to have a beak, claws, bones, and feathers.
Balut is almost as popular in the Philippines as the hot dog is in the United States, and street vendors shout out loud its name as they push their carts down the street. People often think they boost libido, and they are also a hearty snack that is high in protein.
People often think they boost libido, and they are also a hearty snack that is high in protein.
Balut are usually eaten with beer and are made with a pinch of salt, lemon juice, black pepper, and coriander. Some Balut eaters like to add chili and vinegar to their Balut, though. Balut is eaten by cracking the egg open, drinking the broth, and then eating the yolk and foetus.
Fried tarantulas, Cambodia
The tiny spider made its way up the water spout…
If you are afraid of spiders, you probably don’t want to try to eat these monsters with eight legs. They are not little house spiders, but big tarantulas that you can buy on the street in Skuon, Cambodia.
They are fried with their legs and teeth. They were first eaten by Cambodians who were starving during the cruel and violent rule of the Khmer Rouge. Now, tourists come from all over the world to try them because they are considered a delicacy.
They have a flavor that is reminiscent of either chicken or cricket and have a crunchy exterior with a gooey center and a gooey body.
Korea, live octopus
Sannakji is a raw dish from Korea that is made with live octopus. Octopus that is still alive is cut into pieces, lightly seasoned with sesame oil, and served right away while the tentacles are still moving. It is very hard to eat a live octopus. Aside from the mental challenge of trying to figure out how to eat something that is still alive, the tentacles make it hard to fight with your food because they stick to everything they touch.
When the octopus is in your mouth, it will stick to your teeth, your tongue, and the roof of your mouth.
The first problem is getting the tentacles off your chopsticks. Once the octopus is in your mouth, it will stick to your teeth, the roof of your mouth, and your tongue to try to stay alive. Some locals think it’s fun to eat because the tentacles move around in your mouth as you chew. Make sure to chew well, though, because if the suction cups get stuck in your throat, you could choke.
The black hairy spiders that live in the jungle near the market town of Skuon have made the area famous and rich because busloads of people stop to try them on their way to other places. They are delicious right out of the burrow, fried in a pan with a little garlic and salt, and only cost a few cents.
Indonesia, Excrement Coffee
If you visit someone in Indonesia and they offer you a cup of this coffee, you might want to think twice about it. Or maybe not. Kopi Luwak is the world’s most expensive and rarest gourmet coffee. Sounds good, doesn’t it? It is actually made from the waste of a cat-like animal from Indonesia called a Luwak.
The Luwak only eats the ripest coffee cherries, but its stomach can’t break down the beans inside them, so the beans come out whole.
The Luwak only eats the ripest coffee cherries, but its stomach can’t break down the beans inside them, so the beans come out whole. People say that the coffee that comes out of this process is unlike any other. The stomach acids and enzymes that ferment the beans give the coffee a unique smell.
In the Indonesian Archipelago, this happens on the islands of Sumatra, Java, and Sulawesi. If you want to try this gourmet coffee, which costs anywhere from US$120 to $300 per pound, you might want to start saving now.
Snake Wine, Vietnam
Want to try something different? A bouquet of snakes, maybe with a hint of poison? Snake wine is made with rice wine and a poisonous snake. Because there is snake blood in it, it has a slightly pink color, like a nice rose. It’s thought to be good for your health, but it’s probably more useful as a conversation starter. The venom is no longer dangerous after being mixed with ethanol.
The poison is taken out of the snake by letting it soak in rice wine for a long time. The venom is no longer dangerous after being mixed with ethanol. This wine came from Vietnam, where people believe that snakes have healing powers. It is now popular in other parts of South East Asia and Southern China as well. Snake wine shouldn’t be confused with snake blood wine, which could be more dangerous. Snake blood wine is made by cutting the snake’s belly and letting the blood flow into the wine.
People say that if you put a piece of Hákarl in your mouth, you would spit it out right away. That might be a sign that you shouldn’t eat this dish. If not, here’s another reason why you might not want to try Hákarl: it’s been called the single worst, most disgusting, and worst tasting thing. So, what is Hákarl, and why does it smell so bad?
This strange dish is made from the rotting body of a Greenland shark, which is the world’s longest-living vertebrate and lives in the deepest waters of the Arctic and North Atlantic. First, the shark’s meat is buried for a few months, and then it is hung to dry for even longer. Because shark meat is poisonous because it has trimethylamine oxide and uric acid in it, it needs to be fermented and dried. Even after all the processing, the ammonia-rich smell that some chefs have said smells like urine is still there.
So, only people with strong hearts and maybe no sense of smell should go to Hákarl.
Qarta (Pan-Fried Horse Rectum), Kazakhstan & Uzbekistan
Take a road trip through Central Asia along the old Silk Road, and your eyes will feast on a nearly endless
variety of historic treasures, such as the beautiful Registan in Samarkand and the Miri-Arab Madrasah in Khiva, which is full of bright colors and has a lot of history. What you won’t find, which is a bit of a letdown, is very tasty food. Even though the area has a long history of trading spices, the most common dishes are plov (a type of fried rice made with sheep’s fat) and lagman (a soupy noodle dish). Because there isn’t much to choose from, a certain traveler (ahem) might have to be a little more daring than usual in order to find a dish that requires a little bit of chewing. This traveler might even eat a plate of delicious meat before asking what part of the animal was used to make the “cutlets.” This traveler should have been smarter.
Central Asians don’t waste a lot of food, just like Chinese people don’t. Qarta comes from this very old cultural trait. One of the strangest foods in the area, qarta is made from the rectum of horses, which is the part after the intestines but before the opening. It is said to be an art form to make qarta. After being thoroughly washed and smoked-dried, the meat is cut into thin slices, boiled in a tasty vegetable stock, and served with a big handful of dill, which, let me tell you, makes all the difference.
That is just a description … until you taste it and find out what it really is…