Think about the thing that you least like to eat. If you live in the Western world, it’s probably something fairly mundane, like broccoli or Brussels sprouts. But elsewhere in the world, there are a lot of crazy dishes that we would probably never consider eating unless travelling. There’s something about being away from home that tends to make us a bit more daring. We might try the local delicacies just to see what they are like. Some of you may have eaten unusual meats, such as crocodile or kangaroo, while abroad.
But there are some dishes that you should avoid at all costs. These are the foods that you would have to think twice about trying. The meals that no sane person can possibly think are appetising. Whether it’s a cultural thing or not, most of these dishes are truly disgusting if you think about them. A lot of them are fairly disgusting to look at, too.
Come on a journey around the world with us as we highlight the 15 most disgusting foods in the world. Just remember, if you head to one of these locations, you should be careful about what you order in a restaurant. If you put a foot wrong, you might end up with one of these delicacies ending up on your plate. As you read, make sure to ask yourself this question: would you dare to eat any of the foods that we have prepared for you today? If you answer yes to all of them, you are undoubtedly a liar!
15. Chicken Feet
If you ordered a burger at your local fast food place and it turned up with a chicken’s foot in it, you would probably be thinking about compensation immediately. In a few other countries around the world, however, you might think you had a bonus item added to your meal. Chicken feet are popular to eat in East Asia, South Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. They are mostly skin despite their appearance, and the bones are the most annoying part of the dish. If flavoured properly, they are considered a great food, but of course there’s always the chance that they will be cooked wrong. Also, it’s the foot of a chicken. Not the first thing that comes to mind when looking at a chicken and thinking about lunch. There’s something to be said about using the whole animal, but this case might just stick in your throat.
14. Bird’s Nest Soup
In southeast Asia this is considered to be a real delicacy, so much so that you’ve probably heard of it already. Bird’s nest soup is a charming little name, but it’s probably just made with eggs or something, right? Well, no. It’s made from an actual bird’s nest. See, there’s a bird called the swiftlet that doesn’t bother going round and getting twigs for its nest. Instead, it just uses its own saliva, which is nice and gummy. It hardens on contact with air and therefore makes a great building material. A lot of people die every year climbing high up on cliff faces to get the nests. Even with this fact, you will be disappointed to know that it reportedly has a rubbery taste. That doesn’t exactly seem worth the effort. Mind you, it’s what you might expect gummy saliva turned into a soup to taste like. Have fun eating something that was already in something else’s mouth first.
13. Fried Spiders
We travel to Cambodia for our next dish, which I’m having a lot of trouble looking at. Honestly, it’s pretty high on the disgusting thing. I get the idea of conquering your fears by literally eating them, but this has all 50 shades of nope. Anyway, in the town of Skuon, this is considered to be a special regional delicacy. They marinate the huge spiders in MSG, sugar, and salt, and them fry them whole in garlic. They are not complete without the brown sludge which remains in their abdomen until you take a bite. What’s the sludge made of, you ask? Oh, just their innards, their eggs, and their excrement. A holy trinity of yum. There are lots of insect dishes out there which seem too nasty for words, but this one is definitely the pick of the whole bunch. Spiders and their hairy eight legs need to stay away from me, fried or not.
For this entry we’re coming right on over to Alaska in the good old USA. You thought this was all going to be exotic and far-flung locations, didn’t you? Nope – Alaska happens to be on the map for the rotten food market. They have a special dish over there called stinkheads, because apparently in Alaska they know how to make something sound like you would want to eat it. What you do is get the head of a king salmon, and then ferment it. You bury it underground for a few weeks, a process which must have been discovered by a very, very hungry person at some stage in history. Then, you dig it back up and eat it. It is a putty-like mush at this stage, with a very strong smell. Doesn’t it just sound wonderful? A rotten fish head, just what every gourmet dreams of putting on their plate.
Next up, here’s another example of fish served up in a way that should never have been thought of at all. We all know how they love eating raw fish in Japan, but this dish takes it to the next level. To make it at home, you grab the meat from a selection of sea creatures. Then you get their viscera and salt and ferment it. Next, you use the resulting paste to swish those bits of flesh around in and get them all coated up nicely. Now you serve it. Notice how I didn’t say anything about cooking? The whole thing, viscera paste and all, is served raw. Often on a bed of plain white rice, because of course that’s just what this needs to make it look tasty. If anyone feels like trying this one, let us know how it tastes. And how much vomiting it caused over the resulting few days.
This one is eaten in Iceland and prepare for a tale about a food that should never have been eaten in the first place. We start our journey with a basking shark, also known as a Greenland shark. Because it lives in very cold waters, this shark is full of internal fluids to keep it warm. Those fluids are poisonous to humans. Is this ringing any alarm bells yet? Well, don’t worry, because they drain those fluids. By burying the carcass underground and pressing stones on it. Then it gets hung out to dry and cut into strips, ready to eat. Just like that. Wonderful. It’s described as having a strong fishy flavour and a smell of ammonia. Anthony Bourdain once described it as “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing” in the world. What a glowing recommendation! Are you tempted to try it yet? Better hope they got the poison draining bit right.
9. Cobra Heart
Eating a cobra heart in itself likely wouldn’t be bad enough to make it onto this list. A heart is a heart, right? But it’s the way that they eat cobra heart in Vietnam that deserves special mention. You don’t buy this from a butcher or have it served up in a restaurant. You need a living cobra in front of you to do it right. First you slit open the struggling snake and pull out its heart from its body. As it bleeds out, you drain enough to fill a shot glass. Then you take the still beating heart and put it into the glass with the blood. Now you knock back the lot in one mouthful. The idea is that the heart should still be pumping at the moment that it enters your mouth. Because there’s nothing like that little extra bit of animal cruelty to make it seem all the more appetising.
8. Dragon in the Flame of Desire
It sounds really exciting, doesn’t it? A dragon! But… what’s that flame of desire bit all about? I mean, when you start to look at the word choice, it can only point to one thing. And that’s exactly what it does point to. If you order this dish, you will indeed be eating a penis. Disappointingly, they didn’t even manage to track down a real dragon. The member in question actually comes from a yak, which seems to be about as far from a dragon as you could get. The Guolizhuang Restaurant in Beijing serves it up roasted and displayed on a large platter with an elaborate plating. It’s their signature dish, and I don’t know why anyone would ever go there with that knowledge. When something is a Bush Tucker challenge on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, you know it’s not something that you should be consuming in a restaurant.
7. Century Egg
It’s also called a millennium egg, a 100 year egg, and so on and so forth. The truth is, the egg isn’t really as old as the name makes it seem. That’s just a little romanticism to make it seem more appealing and elite. Actually, it is only a few months old. Of course, that’s still enough time for it to be fully rotten. The eggs are preserved in ash, clay, and quicklime until they are ready to serve. At this point, they have a dark green or black yolk with a slimy texture. The white, meanwhile, becomes a brown translucent jelly. The smell has been described as a mixture of sulphur and ammonia. Brave people who have tried it explain that it tastes like a hardboiled egg, so long as you don’t breathe in. Which rather begs the question of why you wouldn’t just eat a hardboiled egg instead of this monstrosity.
Nothing about balut looks or sounds appealing at all. This food is prepared by taking an egg which has been fertilised by a duck. As the embryo inside starts to develop, the egg is then boiled. This allows the little duck-to-be to die before even taking a breath. It sounds awful, and it doesn’t look much better. There’s something inherently unappetising about the corpse of a baby duck. Still, it is actually a common street food in the Philippines. Don’t be surprised to see it being served at food stalls alongside beer if you head out there. Some other southeast Asian countries also consider this a great food. You eat the embryo right out of the shell and it’s possible to pull it out and see all of the tiny features of this duck that never was. It will even have tiny pre-wings and clawed feet by the time that you get to eat it.
If you fancy eating Dragon in the Flame of Desire, then shirako might also be something you enjoy. This time, we turn to the cod to harvest its reproductive organs. When it is carved up, they make sure to remove and carefully preserve the sperm sacs. These are then served up either steamed or deep fried, often with sushi. They are allegedly soft and creamy in taste. There are so many sperm jokes that we could make here, but we’re going to stay away. It is considered to be a bit of an acquired taste, especially thanks to the odd texture that it carries. Fun fact: shirako is Japanese for “little children.” I’m sure that piece of information will make the dish all the more palatable for you. It’s mostly in season in the winter, and has other names too, such as kiku or tachi, which you can look out for.
4. Casu Marzu
This food is from Sardinia in Italy, and on the surface at least, is conservatively described as a cheese. It is made from “sheep’s milk,” but the real twist in the flavour is the live insect larvae included in it. Supposedly they make it taste even better. However, they also tend to jump around when they feel threatened, which is what they will definitely feel when you try to eat them. Just watch out for them going for your face, basically. You can either eat them live, or if you are feeling less cruel, suffocate them first. You could also kill them by putting the cheese into the fridge for a while. Of course, you will still be eating maggots whether they are alive or not. By the way, the living ones do have a habit of surviving the journey through your stomach once in a while. If they do, they will burrow into your intestines. That’s a hell of a way to get a self-inflicted infestation.
3. Drunken Shrimp
Here’s the start to a joke: a shrimp walks into a bar and gets drunk. Then someone eats it! Oh sorry, that’s not a joke, that’s a description of drunken shrimp. This delicacy involves placing the live shrimp into a strong liquor called baijiu. This allows them to stay alive, but also intoxicates them, much as it would a human. In order to enjoy them to the fullest extent, you first have to bite the head off the shrimp. You then eat the rest of the body. The great thing about this dish is that eating live shrimp also comes with a risk of paragonimiasis. What is that, you ask? It’s a parasitic infection in your lungs, where the eggs hatch into worms that live there for up to 20 years. They take up to 90 days to hatch properly, too, so you wouldn’t know anything was wrong for a long time.
If you’ve ever seen Oldboy, you might see this one coming. Sannakji is a plate of octopus. More specifically, it’s the tentacles from a baby octopus. And they are served so fresh that they are still wriggling when you eat them. They literally cut them off in the kitchen, put them on a plate, and serve them up to you. There’s just one small added factor with this dish to watch out for. The octopus, of course, has suckers on its tentacles, designed to help it hang on to things. If you happen to have them go down just at the wrong time, those suckers can cling on inside your throat. People regularly choke on sannakji as a result. It’s bad enough that someone looked at an octopus and decided they would be better fresh, but when there’s a high risk of choking, it makes you wonder why anyone would eat this at all.
1. Yin-yang Fish
This dish has to take the prize for being the most disgusting, as well as the most cruel. To create it, chefs take a fish and deep fry it. Only the body is cooked, with the head remaining free of the oil. It is then served with the head still on. Oh, and there’s one thing we didn’t mention yet… during this whole process, the fish is still alive. It is plucked from water and placed directly in the oil, and will remain alive for several minutes as it is served. Diners can watch the fish gasping for air in terrible pain before they start to pull it apart with their chopsticks. It’s considered a great symbol of how fresh the fish is – you absolutely couldn’t get it any fresher than that. It’s also normal for diners to poke its face and eyes with chopsticks if it isn’t moving enough to amuse them. The meal here is so disturbing that the closest thing to it is a picture of Bear Grylls eating a raw fish and even that is less disgusting than the meal mentioned.