Eating food is one of the few things that all human beings do. No matter who you are or what country you come from, you will still depend on nourishment from a variety of different meals. What does change though, is the food that is eaten. There is a huge variety of different cultures and nations in terms of what the population likes to eat and drink. This can range from different animals that are slaughtered for meat, fruit and vegetables that are harvested, and manufactured products that are consumed by the masses. Obviously, with such a range of different food types, there are plenty of meals that are deemed completely acceptable by some but that others feel are utterly repulsive.
Increasing globalization means that people are exposed to more exotic and foreign foods on a daily basis than they would have at any other time in history. This problem has grown even worse over the past few years, as celebrity chefs and restaurants try to experiment with new foods to grab the attention of diners in the hopes that they can bring in more customers. Expensive high-end restaurants are the most likely to come up with outrageous dishes that might gross out some people as they hire the most imaginative and eccentric chefs.
As these establishments look to create ever more imaginative menus and begin to incorporate traditional foods as delicacies, more and more disgusting items are appearing on menus. In some cases, they are so horrific that you will wonder why anyone would pay to eat them.
15 Tête De Veau
Tête de veau is a French dish that can be literally translated as “head of calf.” As you might have guessed from that name, this meal is made using the skull of a cow and has become a delicacy in France where it is often served in high-class restaurants. Its exact origins are unclear, as it is also popular in Italy, but most people agree that it evolved from a similar meal that involved a pig’s head.
Due to the fact that it is so difficult to get right and takes such a long time to prepare, tête de veau isn’t something that people cook themselves at home very often. Instead, it has become a meal of choice for special occasions at Michelin Star establishments. The head must be boiled in spices for a number of hours while it is covered in fat before being served with a variety of different sauces.
The past few years have seen an explosion in the popularity of seafood, with recipes that were once exclusive to places like Japan now becoming more widespread in Western countries such as the United States. This has also been combined with molecular gastronomy, where chefs experiment with food by creating meals that alter the shape and makeup of ingredients, to create some bizarre dishes.
Perhaps the strangest of them all can be found at the Burh al-Arab hotel in Dubai. Australian chef Adam Melonas put together an item on the menu that is essentially an octopus lollipop. He roasts octopus meat and then uses a special vacuum method that involves an enzyme to create special patterns that can be imprinted onto the food and give it a shiny coat. Despite this, it has become one of the most important items sold at the restaurant.
13 Century Eggs
Century eggs are a type of food that also go by the names "thousand-year-old eggs" and "preserved eggs". They look like incredibly old eggs due to their deep black color. Mainly a Chinese delicacy, they are sold by street vendors but have also become an expensive delicacy in restaurants in the past few years due to the popularity of the dish.
The strange coloring comes from a process where duck, chicken or quail eggs are preserved in a mixture of ash, clay and salt. This causes the yolk to turn into a much darker color than normal while also altering the flavor thanks to the ammonia and hydrogen sulfide that is created due to the alkaline salt. Essentially, many of the substances in the eggs that usually don’t have any flavor are given a new taste by the chemical reactions.
12 Liquid Nitrogen Food
Despite the fact that liquid nitrogen isn’t something that should be played with, more and more fancy restaurants are using it in the preparation of all types of food and drinks. Everything from ice cream to cocktails are being cooled using liquid nitrogen as it not only is very effective at freezing whatever it comes into contact with, but also provides a very nice visual effect as steam rises from the dish. Some establishments will even prepare ice cream at the table directly in front of customers using the supercooled substance.
What makes it so disgusting is the fact that liquid nitrogen is most commonly used as cooling for computer equipment and in medicine to remove skin, warts and tissue. It can be incredibly dangerous to handle, as it is able to cause cryogenic burns, frostbite, and even asphyxiation if it isn’t handled correctly. Some people have even had to have their stomachs removed after eating food with liquid nitrogen inside it.
11 Casu Marzu
The entire cheese making process is not exactly the most appetizing, it does produce a food that many people really enjoy. Cheese though, comes in all kinds of varieties – some with pungent smells and others with distinctive flavors. This means that some cheeses are less loved than others and some are even considered disgusting.
There are probably none that are held in such low regard as casu marzu though, a special Sardinian cheese that is made using sheep milk. The expensive cheese is often served in Italian restaurants near Sardinia and is famous because of the fact that it contains live insect larvae. These maggots help to ferment the cheese to a state that most other types never reach and is often even served to customers with the larvae still alive inside.
It is difficult to describe oursins as a meal because they are actually sea urchins. They are the small underwater creatures that are covered in spikes, which are commonly seen on the ocean floor. Like oysters, they need to have their shell cracked open before they can be eaten and can be incredibly off-putting to anyone who has never ordered them before. This is mainly due to the strange texture of the sea urchin’s flesh and the horrific smell that it emits.
The vast majority of people eat oursins in restaurants despite the fact they can be routinely bought in supermarkets. While they are freely available to buy, they can be extremely difficult to prepare as a person will require special tools to break open the shell and protect against the sharp spikes. Top restaurants in France even have their own experts to cut open the sea urchins correctly.
Blodplättar is a Scandinavian meal that can be found in expensive restaurants all around the area. It is particularly popular in Sweden and Finland, where it is known as veriohukainen. At first glance, it may appear to be some form of chocolate pancake but the truth is that blodplättar is actually a dish that is made using whipped pig’s blood.
Although it isn’t unusual for people to eat food made with blood, as indicated by the likes of black pudding, though the method of frying the mixture into a thin and crispy meal is unique. At home, the blood pancakes will often be served by themselves, though restaurants tend to accompany the food with cuts of reindeer meat, beef or pork.
Durian is often regarded by people in Asia as being the best fruit in the world, yet it has continued to prove disgusting to the vast majority of people. This disgust doesn’t come from the taste of the spiky fruit, instead, it is the smell that proves most off-putting for those who might be considering eating it. The odor produced by the durian fruit is often described as resembling rotten onions, excrement, and even vomit. The smell is so pungent that many hotels and airports in Asia have had to ban the eating of the fruit for fear of driving off customers.
This strong odor means that restaurants typically don’t serve durian by itself but rather include it in dessert recipes. These dishes, such as ice cream, candy, and soup help to disguise the smell while retaining the taste, yet the odor is still incredibly strong.
7 Pressed Duck
Pressed duck, otherwise known as Caneton Tour d'Argent thanks to the fact that it was invented at the noted French restaurant the Tour d'Argent, is a complicated meal that basically involves a duck being served in its own blood. Due to the extensive preparation and skill needed to create the meal, it is very exclusive and is only available in a few select establishments in the world – with most of these being located in France.
In order to ensure that the slaughtered duck retains all of its blood, it is asphyxiated and then partially roasted before the liver is removed and seasoned with spice. The rest of the carcass, minus the breast, is then placed in a special press that crushes the flesh to extra blood and juice. This liquid is used to make a sauce to layer over the breast and liver.
Served in countries such as Iran, Turkey and Albania, khash is a dish that can be found in many high-end restaurants. It is a traditional dish that has become a delicacy that is eaten on special occasions. Essentially, khash is a soup-like meal that is made using the heads and feet of animals that include cows or sheep.
The body parts of the animals used to make khash are usually what is left over when all the useful meat and fat is removed from the carcass. These materials are then boiled together in water, with all parts of the head used as the tongue and cheek are often considered the most delicious parts. Most restaurants will serve the meal alongside bread, although some may remove the eyes and brain from the cooking process.
5 Helium Balloon
The edible helium balloon is unique in that it is not just something that you would never expect to find in an expensive restaurant, but also that you will look like a complete idiot when trying to eat it. The Alinea restaurant in Chicago still offers the food though, along with an ever-growing number of establishments around the world.
While it doesn’t come cheap, just like everything else in an eatery that has three Michelin Stars, the experience of eating the helium balloon certainly makes up for the price. Made using granny smith apples and sugar, it also has a string made out of dehydrated apple that can also be consumed by the customer. The helium not only helps the entire structure to float but provides some fun for the customer by allowing them to use it to make their voices go higher pitched.
This traditional Norwegian dish is often served at Christmas and has become an expensive delicacy in many fancy restaurants. The name smalahove literally means sheep’s head and it sees the head of a lamb boiled or steamed for several hours after the skin and fleece have been torched from the skull. It is then served with the head intact on the plate alongside mashed vegetables and potato.
Originally, smalahove was a foodstuff that was eaten almost exclusively by the poorest in Scandinavian society. Such people didn’t have much money to buy food and had to make the most of every animal that they would slaughter for meat, meaning that they would be forced to find ways of making use of the head of an animal as it contained nutritious material.
Chicken is one of the most popular foods on the planet, with billions of people regularly eating parts of the bird in all varieties. While it isn’t unusual for people to make use of almost all of the chicken for food, most tend to favor specific parts such as the legs, wings or breast. Something that rarely gets a mention is the cartilage, but the Japanese have a particular liking for a dish known as nankotsu that is exactly that.
Popular in bars and cafes, nankotsu has become a delicacy that is also sold in high-end restaurants. The cartilage is usually grilled and offered as an appetizer before larger meals, often after being dusted with salt or a light sauce. However, it is a versatile meal that can be eaten with different garnishes and sauces.
Any kind of seafood can prove to be repulsive to a large number of people. The smell and look of fish and other marine life are just too unappealing for many to even consider eating them. However, sannakji would probably test even the most ardent lover of seafood. It is a Korean dish that, like sushi, is served raw. However, this octopus meal is also served incredibly fresh; with the creature either having just been killed or even still alive as it is consumed.
Eating a live octopus isn’t something that a lot of customers would be happy to pay for at the best of times, yet it becomes even grosser when you consider the danger that comes with eating it. As the octopus is still alive, it is able to move and use its powerful suckers that line the tentacles, causing a serious choking hazard.
The sheer sight of balut would probably be enough to put off the vast majority of people. Although eggs are a common ingredient in all types of food, they are generally unfertilized eggs that don’t contain any living creatures. Balut on the other hand is a duck or chicken egg that contains a developing bird embryo that has been incubating for between two and three weeks. They are then boiled in water and served with garlic, salt, vinegar, or chili, with the whole contents of the egg often eaten.
Although balut is most common in Asia, where it is often sold on the street through vendors and markets, it has also become a delicacy in other places. The Maharlika restaurant in New York is particularly famous for its balut dishes but there are hundreds more in the United States and Europe.