Here in America we have an abundance of food. In cities like New York there are sometimes up to four or five restaurants on one block, and another four across the street. When it comes to food, our riches are almost embarrassing. Hell, we’ve even associated the sheer lascivious abundance and extravagance of our culinary indulgences with the adult sex industry. “Food Porn” is a term that has popped up over the past few years and it refers to the excessive and unthinkable things that we create in the kitchen these days.
Some of these creations are so over the top, they couldn’t possibly be eaten. Not by one person anyway. This is why you sometimes hear parents telling their children not to waste food. “Don’t throw that away, there are children starving in Africa.” And for the most part this is true. When it comes to the cakes, pies, burgers, and drinks being concocted on the internet, you wouldn’t dare throw any of that goodness away. However, those kids in Africa might choose to starve if some of the items on this list were presented to them.
It goes without saying, to each his own. That goes for who you find attractive. What sports team you follow. And what food dishes call out to your palette. The world is a big place and when it comes to food, the choices are endless. But many of the following dishes will make you wish it would stop. Warning: we are not responsible for what comes out of your mouth and onto your electronic device during the reading of this article. So get your bucket ready and take a look at 15 stomach-churning things you can actually eat.
15 Drunken Shrimp
Shrimp. We’re all used to shrimp. It’s a common seafood consumed in the States. Usually breaded and deep fried. Sometimes steamed with a delightful cocktail sauce. Usually, even if the shell is still on, the head has been removed so we won't have to look into their beady eyes as we consume them.
Well, what if the head was still on and not only were they looking at you as you were about to bite into them, but they were fighting for their lives during the process? That’s what you have to look forward to when you eat drunken shrimp. The shrimp are soaked in alcohol to subdue them while they are completely alive on your plate. But like most of nature's children, they know when the end is near and they fight with everything they have. That might be the lure for the partakers in China where this dish is a hit. I suppose if you subdued the shrimp with roofies they would be called “Cosby Shrimp”. . . . . . . Too Soon?
14 Hákarl (Treated Shark)
Hákarl is Icelandic for “treated shark.” The treatment of these sharks will make you quiver. The good news is that the sharks are killed right away so there are no torturous conditions they have to endure like the shrimp above. The torture comes at the hands of the consumer, more specifically their nostrils.
This process was started by the folks who settled Iceland way back in the days, the Vikings. Vikings are not known for their culinary finesse, so this may not come as a surprise to you. It’s still gross however. After the shark is killed, it is beheaded and then buried in a shallow grave for about 6-12 weeks. Stones and gravel are placed on the shark to squeeze out poisons such as trimethylamine oxide and uric acid. Then it is dug up, cut into pieces, and hung to dry for a few months. When the putrid smell becomes accompanied by a brown crust, then this baby is ready to eat.
The first thing that comes to mind when you say “rooster” is probably Foghorn Leghorn from the old Looney Tunes cartoons. Good ole Foghorn. Probably the most likeable southerner ever drawn. That’s why it is such a shame to think about Foggy being scalped along with his cousins for some crazy meal.
We are used to eating birds here in America. Mostly chickens and Turkeys. You get your occasional quail or pheasant mixed in, but the parts are still the same. Legs. Wings. Breasts. Not hairpiece. That red mohawk on roasters is called the “cockscomb” because it looks like a fleshy comb on the head of a cock (another name for rooster). Well, apparently you can fry, sauté, and bake them right before you pop them in your mouth. Some swear they are an unconventional but tender alternative to the boring chicken parts served by the truckload in the U.S. Not buying it, literally and figuratively.
12 Escamol (Ant Larvae)
At first glance, you might say this looks like brown or long grain rice. Perhaps oddly shaped couscous. No my friends, that would be a catastrophic mistake. In fact, these are ant larvae that have been prepared for your dining pleasure.
Apparently, in central Mexico, this is a popular dish (the grossest dishes are always the most popular). Harvested from local plants, these bug babies can be fried with butter and spices. They are said to have a slightly nutty taste to them. I’m sure the Planters Peanut manufacturers would beg to differ.
Here is the terrifying part. It is said that they can be found in tacos and omelettes in Mexico. Now, one would hope that the native Mexicans are aware of our sensitive palettes and our litigious nature before they serve anyone of us a larvae taco. Hey Taco Bell, you wanna take it to the next level? Here ya go!
11 Tuna Eyeballs
No need to translate this one. It is exactly what it says it is. The eyeballs of a tuna fish. The disturbing part about this gastronomic selection is the sheer size of the damn eyeballs. It looks to be about the size of a Magic 8-Ball and it just looks at you. The Japanese laugh at our tuna sandwiches. Only geisha-men eat tuna fish sandwiches. We cook it, chop it up, and slather it in mayonnaise so that it no longer resembles a creature from the sea.
Not in Japan. They hack those eyes out whole, plop them on a table and then have a staring contest before the food preparation begins. That preparation can take place by way of boiling the eye or sautéing it. Either method requires a short period of time as the tuna eyeball is best when it’s barely cooked. Good luck with that.
10 Tripe (Cow Stomach)
To be fair it’s not the entire cow’s stomach, but merely the inner stomach wall that is a delicacy in several parts of the world. Also, many have eaten pig, sheep, and ox tripe. Let’s just call a spade a spade, this looks nauseating. The honeycomb pattern and membrane texture are just far beyond what could pass for edible around these parts.
And of course, you can cook this thing in a myriad of ways. You can deep fry it, stew it, sauté it, and lord knows what else. It looks like a seamstress can cut it into condoms that are already ridged for your pleasure. But before you can cook it, you have to clean it so that you won’t be bombarded by stomach microbes or its “interesting” smell. The cooking process is a slow one, so you may want to research what lube works well with your tripe condom.
9 Casu Marzu (Maggot Cheese)
This starts going downhill pretty quickly. Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and they apparently need to get out more. This maggot cheese has been made on this island for thousands of years in the fashion pecorino cheese is made, but not quite. After the cheese is made, they cut a hole in the top of it and put it outside. “Cheese Flies” fly inside of the cheese and lay eggs in it. The eggs hatch and then become larvae (more damn larvae).
The larvae start to consume the cheese and then poop it back out. So in fact, not only are you eating cheese that has been infested with flies; not only are you eating the larvae which were birthed insides the cheese; but you are eating the poop of the larvae that was birthed in the cheese from the flies. One woman who had this cheese noted on her blog that the Casu Marzu looked normal at first. But when she brought a piece to her mouth to eat it, it was then she noticed the squirming larvae partying on her fork like it was 1999. UGGGGHHHH.
8 Sannakji (Live Octopus)
You knew you couldn't escape without another “live” submission on this list. This one comes from good old Korea. No mention of whether it’s North Korea or South Korea. It could be both, but the safe money is on North Korea. It totally makes sense that under Kim Jong Il and now Kim Jong Un, eating live octopus would be “a thing.”
The preparation is quick and painful. A baby octopus is cut up quickly and then splashed with sesame oil, then served. It has to be quick so that the sick thrill of eating a live creature can be attained by the patron. Even though the octopus is cut up, because of the fresh kill, the individual pieces are still moving and squirming from the dismemberment. Oh and there is a warning given to those being adventurous by partaking. You have to chew the pieces quickly and thoroughly because the octopus suction cups may stick to your throat and choke you to death. Here is a video in case you have not been creeped out enough.
7 Shirako (Sperm Sacs)
Does it in any way make you feel better to know that they are the sperm sacs of a cod fish as opposed to something like, a Kodiak bear, for instance? Well, that is what Shirako is, the sperm sac of a cod fish. Funny how we have no issues eating the eggs of chickens, ducks, and even fish (for whoever can afford caviar). But when some sperm sacs are put in front of you, all of a sudden your jaws lock up and your appetite goes the way of the dinosaur.
Like many Japanese delicacies, Shirako is usually consumed raw. Although it can be enjoyed cooked in many restaurants in Japan. That is if one can actually enjoy the consumption of sperm sacs. Fun fact: Shirako means “white children” in Japanese. So eating “white children” is a delicacy in Japan huh? Iraq is probably saying to themselves “and we get invaded?”
6 A-Ping (Fried Tarantulas)
Believe it or not, this is a snack which is sold by street vendors in Cambodia. For those of you who are unfamiliar, tarantulas are a species of spider. Big ones! The tarantulas used to make A-ping are the size of your palm. Not the tiny ones scurrying around on your porch or driveway. You squeeze these babies and spiders guts are likely to shoot you in the eye.
Amazingly, that is part of the appeal of A-ping. They are fried in garlic, sugar, salt, and MSG (as if eating a spider wasn’t bad enough). Once the outside gets crispy and their legs get stiff, they are ready for snacking. In this state the guts (which could include organs, eggs, and poop) are still warm and soft. A delightful contrast for the adventurous and insane.
5 Fruit Bat Soup
You know, the reality is you can make a soup out of almost anything. But that doesn’t mean that you should. The Indonesians don’t subscribe to this philosophy however. They have chosen to put a bat in some soup.
Now, the more sophisticated diner may require their fruit bats be boiled for 40-minutes in a pot with seasonings before being skinned and deboned, and then going back in the pot with additional veggies and extras.
OR, you can go old school and clean your bat (or bats if you're entertaining a large dinner party of lunatics) thoroughly before putting him into your pot with your goodies. And really, if you want to make a statement to your dinner guests that screams “look at what’s in your bowl then look into my demented eyes. I dare you to criticize my cooking;” a whole bat in some soup does it every time.
4 Blodplättar (Blood Pancakes)
If you saw this at the I-Hop, you would think “Oooh red velvet pancakes.” And on this side of the Atlantic, you would most likely be right. However, across the ocean in Finland or Sweden you would be sadly mistaken to assume such a thing. That is because in those otherwise normal countries they serve blood pancakes.
You might have your fingers crossed thinking to yourself “please, please, please sweet Jesus, let it just be named that because of the color of the strawberry syrup they are made with.” Sorry, Timmy, they are blood red, because they are made with blood. Pork blood to be specific. Blood, milk, flour, molasses and a handful of other less repulsive ingredients.
If you take out one simple ingredient it sounds completely normal. But that pork blood just puts a spin on it that may not be recoverable. Even though the blood pancakes are normally consumed with lingonberry jam, that won’t clean the psychological “blood stain” in your mind left by those blood pancakes.
3 Balut (Boiled Duck Embryo)
Let me start out by saying “HOLY CRAP”! This “dish” is served throughout several countries in Southeast Asia. The general preparation is as follows. A duck egg is selected fresh from the duck's butt. Then it is kept warm from anywhere between 14 to 21 days. These variations depend on what geographical location the preparations are taking place in. Needless to say, the longer the egg is allowed to develop the more and more it looks like a duck.
This means that in countries like Vietnam where they let the egg develop for between 19 and 21 days, the embryo has legs and a beak and looks like a baby duck. At this point they boil the egg with the embryo inside of it. They cook the baby duck in its own embryonic juices. I guess when you’re at the top of the food chain you can do anything you want, but damn.
2 Bosintang (Dog Soup)
Come on, you knew this was coming sooner than later. A long running joke/fear about Asian cuisine is that they use dogs or cats as their source of meat. Well it’s true. Not sure if they do it here, but they sure do it overseas and Korea (AGAIN) is the home of Bosintang.
A few years ago, NFL quarterback Michael Vick became the most hated man in America because he participated in dog fighting which resulted in the killing of several of his fighting dogs. And with all the animal protection agencies in this country, there is no mystery about how we feel about dogs, let alone eating them. I will say however, that is just our cultural choice, just like eating steaks from cows which horrify the East Indian culture as well as many who are vegetarian.
Which brings us back to our Rover ribeye. Or in this particular case, our Shih-Tzu stew. For a culture that has been cooking dogs as long as they have, you would have to believe they know how to make them kinda tasty. Korean food is a well liked ethnic cuisine here in America, as are many other Asian cuisines. Oh, it may cross your mind every now and then if that beef you’re eating is actually cow. But the taste never stops you from scraping that fork against the bottom of your empty plate, does it? Just sayin’.
1 Sourtoe Cocktail
After any meal, even ones as vile as the ones on this list, you always need a good drink to wash it all down. Well to make this list, you’d have to be one hell of an interesting drink and the Sourtoe Cocktail is just that.
In the chill of Canada is the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City. It is here that you can find the Sourtoe Cocktail. Apparently a few decades ago someone came across a human toe that was preserved in a jar of moonshine. Of course the next logical step would be to put that in your drink. Right? But that is exactly what they did at the Downtown Hotel. You can go there and order any drink or shot and for $10 turn it into a Sourtoe Cocktail by having them put this human toe in it.
The only rule is that the toe must touch your tongue or lips for it to count and apparently the twisted bartender will be watching you. Oh and if you swallow the toe you have to pay a $2,500 fine to the hotel. It was $500 until some maniac came in and swallowed it intentionally. But he paid the fine without even being asked and left. I guess that’s just proper toe-swallowing etiquette.
Sources: worldatlas.com, bbc.co.uk, vietnamesefood.com, seriouseats.com, atlasobscura.com
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